When I was a kid, my dad used to tell me that “if you walk through the sewer, you’re bound to get some crap on you.” Really and truly, that was just his version of Proverbs 13:20 “The one who associates with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” I got the idea for this post a couple of weeks ago when a facebook friend posted something from the Secret. Now I generally discount the Secret as a new age belief that treats the creation (the Universe) as the Creator, but in this case, it lines up with the Bible. The point of her post was that you will become those with whom you hang out with. The bible makes the point more clearly by showing that you can either become wise, and therefore improve yourself, or you will suffer harm.
I think the same holds true for people who are trying to live a healthier life, whether it be through a paleo diet or through something more neolithic like Weight Watchers. No matter what program you are following, if you associate with people who constantly through their un-healthy food at you, you are bound to crack.
I am not saying that you should disassociate from all of your unhealthy friends or get a divorce because your spouse insists on bringing doughnuts and oreos in the house. What I am saying is you have to control your environment the best that you can. Let me give you an example.
I live in Texas. So whenever anybody suggests you go out to eat, you can bet that there is at least a 50% chance you will be at a Mexican restaurant. Of course the biggest temptation of all is waiting for you at your local restaurante, and that devil is called tortilla chips. Shoot, they bring them out for FREE. How can you resist? For many people, chips are like the Borg…resistance is futile. They really don’t sing a siren song for me, but for people like my wife, they are worse than the serpent in the garden. So if your friends want to go Mexican, you have to get them to agree to skip the chips with you by agreeing to tell the waiter not to bring the chips to the table at all. Here is where the companion of fools part comes in. If your friends are unwilling to make that one small sacrifice for you, you simply don’t go. And then you start to examine if they are truly your friends at all. If you have explained to them that you are really trying to make changes that will improve your health and they can’t respect that, then you have to wonder how much they really care for you.
So maybe you have determined that your friends don’t give a hoot about you or your health. That is where the first part of the Proverb comes in. “The one who associates with the wise grows wise.” You could change that to read, the one who associates with the healthy becomes healthy. In todays connected world, you could start a meetup in your town by posting one on meetup.com. Another option would be to start to get to know people at your gym. It is kind of hard to do at your standard globo-gym, so maybe start doing crossfit. There is a real tight knit community of healthy people at every crossfit box that is very welcoming and friendly. Even if you think you can’t crossfit, I promise you they will scale whatever workout they are doing to your fitness level. Any decent box will require you to go through an onramp class not only to teach you the movements but also to assess your fitness level so they can scale the workouts. I also like to associate myself virtually with wise people by listening to podcasts. I regularly listen to Jimmy Moores Livin La Vida Low Carb Show, Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution and Sean Croxton’s Underground Wellness Show. These are all free on iTunes or if you are a Samsung person like me, on kiescast. Not only am I learning tons of information about health, exercise and nutrition, but I am filling my wisdom cup by listening to and being influenced by healthy people who have a lot of wisdom to share.
Spouses are a different thing altogether. There is not much you can do about them because at the end of the day, you have to go home to them. Again, if they are not on board with living a healthy lifestyle, I bet if you sat down and had a real heart-to-heart with them about what you are trying to do and how certain triggers make that harder, you could convince them not to bring those things in the house. Stress to them that you are not asking them to give up Reese’s Peanutbutter Cups. You are only asking them not to eat them at home. Be sincere and non-judgmental. Don’t come off like they are something less than you because they continue to eat those things. Just let them know that you are trying to improve your health by not eating them because they are a problem for you. Sure, they are really a problem for them, but we don’t want to make it about them. We want to enlist them in helping us.
What are your ideas on how we can better guard our environment to make sure we don’t walk through the sewer and get fat on us?