There’s no denying the power of peer pressure, especially among teens. Even adults are not immune. Peer pressure is everywhere – work, school, church and at home. You may think that you’re above the influence of others, but few people are completely. If you’re doubtful, just think about the last time someone commented negatively on your haircut, your man or the clothes you were wearing. Even about your weight. How did you handle it? If you stuck the clothes in the back of your closet, felt bad about your hair or felt a blow to your self esteem, you may have been influenced by peer pressure.
Peer pressure works in much the same manner among all age groups regardless of the thoughts or actions being influenced. As humans, we all have an intense need to fit in. When it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle, we are apt to go along with what those around us choose to do. If our family and friends lead an unhealthy lifestyle, it’s very easy to follow suit.
I hear from women all the time who are dealing with negative comments from family members, boyfriends, friends, co-workers, etc. They want to stay on the path of health and wellness, but they are dealing with the assumptions of others and being told things like:
- You are losing too much weight.
- Don’t lose your curves.
- Why do you want to be thin.
- Oh…I forgot…You don’t eat.
- Why are you eating that? Enjoy Yourself.
While it’s natural for people who love you to want the best for you, there is a difference between looking out for your interests and wanting to control you or having a problem with you losing the weight. Sometimes you may feel as if your loved ones would prefer that you stayed overweight and if you bow to the pressure you just might.
Your Weight and Negative Peer Pressure
If your family and friends are overweight, sedentary and consume junk food, chances are, they will have something to say about you being on the path to health and wellness. It’s not always about jealousy, and you have to know that your actions may make them feel like they need to change. That can be uncomfortable. However, your friends and family can still affect your efforts negatively by:
- Temptation – When you’re alone, it’s easier to choose items from the healthy menu. Put a couple of friends in the mix and things get tricky. Whether you’re at a restaurant or fixing a meal for your family, the food eaten by those around you often looks better, more satisfying than your own healthy choices. It’s very tempting to forgo the salad for a couple slices of pizza in these situations.
- Lack of Motivation – Ever notice how active people hang out together and other groups of friends sit and play video games all day? If you’re around people who don’t move, chances are you won’t.
- Changing Your Views – Once you’re around people who think it’s OK to live an unhealthy lifestyle, you might begin to think the same way. You might start thinking thinks such as “I’m still smaller than so and so” or “I’m a little heavy not gaining weight, so I’m fine.” These thoughts can devastate any movement toward a healthy lifestyle. Don’t compare yourself to others or let them compare you. You have to define your goals based on your health and lifestyle needs.
Positive Peer Pressure
Just as negative peer pressure can affect the way you eat and how much exercise you get, the opposite is also true. Surround yourself with active people and people who eat healthy and you will start to make healthy choices simply from their positive influence. If your friends and loved ones aren’t living a healthy lifestyle, be encouraging and do what you can to help them.
The key is to increase positive peer pressure and to decrease negative peer pressure. While you can remove a great deal of negative influence from your life, you might not be able to stop associating with all of the people who influence you negatively, like family or a spouse. Therefore, it’s important to have a clear plan of action when encountering situations involving negative peer pressure. The most important thing you can do is be very clear on WHY you are losing the weight in terms of what your motivation is. That why is the truth you have to hold on to.