Who is your most challenging client to get results for? This is a question I occasionally get asked, and for me, the answer is simple. It is the client with an unsupportive spouse (hardest) or unsupportive family, friends, or coworkers. Basically, the client with the most unhealthy social circle has the hardest time getting the results they want.
Because the moment you start losing weight, feeling better, becoming happier, is the same moment your social circle may become envious, jealous, and uncomfortable. Your success forces them to put a mirror up to their own faces and come to grips with the fact that they themselves might NOT be healthy, fit, and/or happy. In turn, they may start self-sabotaging you in the hopes that you will become the old you – the friend/co-worker/spouse that doesn’t bring them discomfort. OR, they may just start to not invite you to social gatherings as a way of punishing you for not fitting their mold anymore.
Fear of rejection from loved ones is one of the biggest fears we face and this fear is why we continually go back to our comfortable state with our same group of friends (and even why some people go back into an abusive relationship). This fear of rejection is actually a biological fear and was very important to our survival a long time ago.
Let me explain…
Way back when, in the cave man (and beyond) days, we had constant threats surrounding us- from predators, the weather, famine etc. Scientists believe that we became “social” because it was the only way for us to survive long term.
The following excerpt is from the book Art of War, by Sun Tzu…
“Humans evolved over the last few million years in a world filled with risks like large predators and starvation… early humans were probably commonly hunted by a wealth of large predators. One common defense to predation displayed by primates and other animals is to live in groups. The advantages of living in a group probably are the reason why early humans and other large primates evolved to be social, and why we are still social today. Failure to be a part of the social group, getting kicked out, probably spelled doom for early humans.
Anything that threatens our status in our social group, like the threat of ostracism, feels like a very great risk to us. Ostracism appears to occur in all social animals that have been observed in nature,’ said Kip Williams, a professor of psychological sciences at Purdue who has studied ostracism. ‘To my knowledge, in the animal kingdom, ostracism is not only a form of social death, it also results in death. The animal is unable to protect itself against predators, cannot garner enough food, etc., and usually dies within a short period of time,’ said Williams.”
We fear failure because we fear being kicked out of our social group. So how do we overcome this deeply seeded biological fear? The key is to begin to surround yourself with a new group of people that are currently living out the habits that you want to adopt. In time, you will connect with these people and friendships will develop. This way, you don’t have to fully leave some of the other friends you have had for many decades. Although you may find yourself identifying less with these old friends as time goes on and consequently spending less time with them.
Without your new circle of friends, this would be devastating, but since you have this new group to connect with, it won’t feel like you are out on your own. I believe adopting a new supportive community is the best, and almost only way, to lose weight, become healthy, and maintain that health long term.
For 2015, my team at the Transformation Center came up with the slogan: “Drop your gym and join our community.” This is not to say that gyms are bad or completely ineffective, just that our team at the Transformation Center prides itself on doing a much better job at creating and supporting community building within our walls.
Only 20% of America has a gym membership, yet I would estimate at least 90% of the population need guidance and support in making regular exercise and nutrition part of their daily lives. If you live near Madison and aren’t part of our community yet, I would like to invite you to join us. For those of you who can’t be with us in person, we have taken the best of what we do in Madison and packaged it up into a life transforming 6-week program that includes online support. We have about 110 challenge groups around the country that meet in homes, schools and churches. You can join an existing group or start your own and get paid to be part of an incredibly supportive community.
I know how hard it can be to change the type of people you associate with. I have had to do this myself on a couple of occasions. It isn’t easy, but it is totally worth it. After looking at the thousands of clients I have personally trained, nearly 100% have at some level embraced our community and invested their time and energy into developing friendships. When your social circle is fit and healthy, the last thing you want to do is skip workouts or consistently eat unhealthy because this behavior may lead to being ostracized, and as far as our human evolution is concerned, that is dangerous to your well being.