21 June 2017Supporting Each Other for a Healthy Lifestyle

We can learn and gain inspiration from each other to be healthy. I recently had a revelation about how my clients motivate me to live a healthy lifestyle. As a health care provider, I usually keep the focus on those I help. In a monthly support group at my recent job, I made a point to bring in a flip chart so that each participant could list one accomplishment they had made over the past month. It could be anything related to a healthy lifestyle. I got into the habit of bringing in the previous sheets each month, pasting them on the classroom walls. What an inspiration for all of us, including me! It was amazing and fun to see the list grow and to give each other kudos for accomplishments, both large and small.

Here are some of the accomplishments people made:

  • Tried new yoga class and videos
  • Added 30 minutes of water walking after water aerobics class
  • Started strength training
  • Stopped soda
  • Went for long walk with girlfriend, even though it was raining
  • Walk with son to school instead of driving him
  • Took shopping cart back into store
  • Started using food and exercise tracker
  • Reduced my A1C from 8.5% to 6.5%
  • Took healthy snacks on vacation
  • Quit eating ice cream at night
  • Making more home-cooked meals
  • Walked a lot on vacation

Positive social support for a healthy lifestyle is essential, especially with a society that tends to pull us in less-than-healthy directions. Our society is full of fast food marketing, large restaurant portions, and wonderful aromas of fried chicken and freshly baked breads in the grocery. Along with that, all of the modern conveniences like escalators, elevators, driving everywhere, and sitting too much can influence us to be less healthy. I was pretty discouraged recently to learn about a bicycle that has a motor you can turn on when you get tired from pedaling. Seriously? Why not push a little harder? With all of these types of influences out there, we really benefit from positive support to keep us on target with our health.

Positive social support may be in the form of:

  • Encouragement (Do you want to split this yummy salad? or You look so healthy!)
  • Feeling connected (Walking with a group of friends on Saturday mornings or seeing the same people at spin class)
  • Providing accountability (Going to a monthly support group or emailing your health care provider with progress)
  • Learning from others (Sharing recipes or finding out about great deals on sneakers)
  • Sharing a behavior (Learning about a new fitness class or an amazing hike)

In addition, you may need to evaluate the influence of those around you, who may sway you to be less healthy. Are there people in your life who criticize your healthy food choices or frequently pressure you to eat tempting high-calorie foods? You may need to have a courageous conversation with them or connect with these people in situations that do not involve food. How can you adjust these relationships in your life, and how can you filter the bombardment of unhealthy messages and triggers that come your way? For example, ask your family for positive support or order first when at a restaurant so you are not tempted to follow the lead of others and order unhealthy rich foods.

So, what could creating a positive healthy lifestyle support network look like for you? Think of family, friends, coworkers and acquaintances who can provide positive support. The more healthy role models and friends you have, the more likely you will succeed in your quest for a healthy lifestyle!

Brenda Braslow, MS, RD, CDE
Registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator in Indialantic, Florida
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Disclaimer: Please note that we cannot provide personalized advice and that the information provided does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit a medical professional.

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Weight Loss/Family & Friends

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