You’re fat and its totally not your fault. There is nothing you can do about it. We just need to cry together and learn to accept ourselves. Don’t feel bad about wanting something you can’t even have anyways. Look: Your hypothalamus won’t let you.
Plus, SCIENCE even says you can’t: statistically, only less than 1% of people can keep the weight off after 5 years. You’ve tried everything: diets, exercise regimes, over and over. You stick to them for a bit, but discipline gives in to temptation, carrots start turning into Cheetos, and resilience fades to shame. Your willpower wasn’t enough, oh well, we will try again next January.
I can’t do this. I fail every time. You are right. Now, forgive the corniness and cliché, but maybe we can.
Here’s why: the problem may not actually be YOU per se. Broaden your scope of the problem: it might by the social circle you’ve found yourself in. For years, sociologists had an inkling that behavior was contagious, but there was no proof to indicate that this was the case; no large documentation that could put large amounts of social interaction in a community into a quantitative or semi-quantitative format that we could test. Little things would pop up, like how Bruce Sacerdotes 2000 study of Dartmouth dorm mates found that a roommate with a high grade-point average would drag upward the G.P.A. of his lower-scoring roommate, and vice versa. A 2006 Princeton study found that having babies appeared to be contagious: if your sibling has a child, you’re 15 percent more likely to have one yourself in the next two years. Good stuff, but we would need to map interaction for YEARS across +1,000 people to have any real significance.
Enter Nicholas Christakis, a medical doctor and sociologist at Harvard who had already studied social connection with the “widowhood effect,” the propensity of spouses to die soon after their partner’s deaths. He and a graduate named James Fowler asked for $25 million from the National Institutes of Health to fund a 31,000 subject study, but the NIH wouldn’t fund unless there was some preliminary evidence. The ongoing Framingham Heart Study provided just the thing: tracking of interaction between 15,000 people for 50 years, spanning three generations. Staff members used forms to collect information each time someone had their physical — and it asked them to list all their family and at least one of their friends. Who is your spouse, who are your children, who are your parents, who are your siblings, where do they live, who is your doctor, where do you work, where do you live, who is a close friend who would know where to find you in four years if we can’t find you?
It took years to map how 5,124 subjects were connected, tracing a web of 53,228 ties between friends and family and work colleagues associated with medical data, tracking patterns of how and when Framingham residents became obese. Soon they had created an animated diagram of the entire social network, with each resident represented on their computer screens as a dot that grew bigger or smaller as he or she gained or lost weight over 32 years, from 1971 to 2003. When they ran the animation, they could see that obesity broke out in clusters. People weren’t just getting fatter randomly. Groups of people would become obese together, while other groupings would remain slender or even lose weight.
And the social effect appeared to be quite powerful. When a Framingham resident became obese, his or her friends were 57 percent more likely to become obese, too. That effect didn’t stop there. A Framingham resident was 20 percent more likely to become obese if the friend of a friend became obese — even if the connecting friend didn’t put on a single pound. Indeed, a person’s risk of obesity went up about 10 percent even if a friend of a friend of a friend gained weight
Our physiologies are difficult beasts to tame. Some of us are more successful than others for myriads of different reasons and as we learned, sometimes through no fault of our own. How can we take advantage of this then, if the same physiology can be enticed to change its behavior just by the people around us?
Find as many good influences as you can. Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company, said Booker T. Washington, and he is right It takes an entire community to change the course of a river.
Start finding those good people, those who embody what you want, THEN TRY YOUR DAMNEDEST to keep up with them. Change your environment so that it can change you. Terraform.
You want to make money? Deal with businessmen. Become an entrepreneur.
You want to get smarter? Discuss with professors. Become an intellectual.
You want to get healthier and more fit? Train with athletes. Become strong.
I have never been stronger, leaner, and healthier than when I started hanging with people who where stronger and in better shape than me. Now who do I associate with 90% of the time? Other trainers and people trying to do the same thing that I want to accomplish. They’re stronger, so I get strong. They eat perfectly, so I eat healthier. They train harder? I challenge myself to train just as hard.
Find some good influences find a good trainer, they could be your first good, maybe even best influence. Just don’t find anymore excuses.
And understand that when you succeed, when you change, YOU WILL CHANGE OTHER PEOPLE.
Craig is the founder of LifeGuider, he is dedicated to improving not only himself but also others in being more physically fit and mentally capable of handling life’s challenges. He is not your regular life coach, no fancy clothes or fast cars, just a regular “Ole Joe” who has experienced the ups and downs of life like everyone else.
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