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Your Posse: Creating a Health Entourage



— April 29, 2017

Your Posse: Creating a Health Entourage

  • A health entourage consists of people who will help you
  • succeed in meeting your health goals. Who are they?

Clients often say that they wish they were a celebrity, that celebrities have it easy. It is part of celebrities’ job to work out and stay fit, and having an entourage—fulltime nutritionist, chef, assistant, and trainer—makes it almost impossible for them not to be fit. My response is something like, “Absolutely, full-time help would make everything so much easier, but if you think having an entourage would be useful, don’t use not having one as an excuse. Create your own.” Sure, there is obviously a kernel of truth to the “celebrities have it easy” lament; having a trainer and a chef does take much of the planning, thought and preparation out of adopting a healthy lifestyle. But…there are also many celebrities who struggle with their health. Money can also buy drugs, alcohol and copious amounts of unhealthy food. You have to choose to prioritize your health and choose to find opportunities to be active. Life is about creating solutions. When it comes to the “If I were a celebrity and it was part of my job to be fit, losing weight would be easy” lament, the trick is to focus on what celebrities are doing that you can reproduce, not what you can’t reproduce. Learn from fit people. Look for opportunities to be active. Look for solutions! Stop using what other people have, and your envy of their experiences, as a reason to abandon your goals. Cherry-pick the things that fit people and celebrities do that you can reproduce. Learn from their success. Be creative!

Supportive Family and Friends

These members don’t need to actually work out with you, or cook for you or help you in any tangible or physical way. They can simply be people who are encouraging and provide moral support. They ask suitable questions, provide positive feedback and offer a shoulder to cry on and an ear when needed. They absolutely shouldn’t be people who try to sabotage your process in any way. Get rid of anyone who urges you to have cake or drink wine when you are trying to abstain.

A Fitness or Gym Buddy

This member of your entourage is fairly self-explanatory. Fitness buddies meet and work out together. You are less likely to skip your workout if you have someone waiting for you. Plus, a fitness buddy can make working out more fun. Your fitness buddy can be a friend you meet at the gym, or your partner or spouse. Having a partner or spouse who doubles as a fitness buddy can be a time-efficient way of nurturing your relationship. Stay active and connected at the same time; commit to doing fun activities on weekends, going on active holidays, and/or walking daily. I know many husband-and-wife couples who have set up a home gym so they can work out together in the evenings. If you can afford it, consider sharing a personal training session with your buddy. Your buddy can even be your parent or child. I have mother-daughter teams who love training together. If you don’t want your buddy to be a family member, friend or spouse, partner with a colleague at work; commit to walking or running at work on your lunch break. If your office has a gym, make a date with a friend to meet before, during, or after work. You are more likely to stop typing or get off the phone if you have someone waiting for you. Just remember: Some movement is always better than no movement. Your health is like drops in a bucket. Every time you move, you accumulate health drops in your bucket. You might not think walking with a colleague for 15 minutes a day or doing body-weight exercises in the living room with your partner will make a difference, but small choices, like drops, accumulate over time. Making regular dates with a buddy is a fantastic and fun way to accumulate your drops. One note of caution—a buddy can be motivating, but she or he has to be the right buddy. Don’t pick someone who will encourage you to ditch your workout at the slightest obstacle, and don’t transfer the responsibility of training onto your partner. Sure, a buddy can help keep you motivated, but the operative word is “help.” You still have to find the inner motivation to train. Your health process is exactly that: your health process. When your buddy can’t make a workout, that is not an excuse to skip your session. You have to commit to training regardless of what your buddy decides to do. Frame your buddy as an added incentive, not as your driving force!

An Accountability Buddy

If working out with someone doesn’t appeal to you, or isn’t realistic based on your schedule or location, an alternative is to find an accountability buddy. An accountability buddy does exactly what the name suggests: He or she makes you accountable to someone other than yourself. You are more likely to get to that gym class or make a healthier food choice if you know you have to email or call your friend afterward. Decide to chat by email or phone daily, weekly or monthly. Make sure to schedule the times you will chat—if you don’t decide when you will talk, life will simply take over. Good topics of conversation are your weekly exercise plans, your fitness goals, meal plans, possible roadblocks to success and ideas for how to overcome those roadblocks. I have a number of clients who have email accountability buddies. They commit to emailing at least once per week about their health struggles and successes. They discuss upcoming events that might be potential triggers, share recipes and websites, compare workouts and generally offer a supportive ear.

A Nutrition Buddy A nutrition buddy can help you in different ways. Nutrition buddies can be fairly hands.

HANDS-OFF BUDDY 1: Nutritional sounding board. Your buddy can simply be a friend you use as a nutritional sounding board. Discuss healthy recipes and healthy-eating strategies together.

HANDS-OFF BUDDY 2: Cook and share. If you don’t want to cook with your buddy, or your schedules don’t permit you to meet, make food individually and split the spoils. That way you can have double the options of healthy food stored in your freezer. You will always have a quick and nutritious meal ready to go, and you will never have to reach for a frozen pizza. Nutrition buddies can also be more hands-on.

HANDS-ON BUDDY 1: Cooking buddy. A cooking date is a great excuse to socialize, catch up and prepare food for the month. Establish regular dates with your buddy; make six or eight healthy meals. There are tons of healthy soups and stews you can make in advance. Split the spoils and store the meals in your freezer. I have a number of mother-daughter pairs who meet regularly to make large quantities of four or five dishes. They each take home half to freeze, so that when they get home from work and need a quick meal, heating up something healthy will take just as long as warming up something unhealthy like a microwave pizza. The trick to healthy eating is preparation, preparation, preparation. When you make the process of preparing healthy options convenient and fun, you are more likely to maintain the habit long term.

HANDS-ON BUDDY 2: Shopping buddy. You have to grocery shop anyway, so make it a social outing. Meet your buddy once a week at the grocery store or local farmers’ market. Get lots of fresh local produce and catch up at the same time. As soon as you get home, cut up the produce and store it in containers so that when you’re hungry after work, you have stuff to eat already cut up.

A Fitness Club The more the merrier! Establish a fitness club—somewhat like a book club, but one that is centered on health. Meet once per month and discuss a health book or exchange health tips. Or decide to simply meet, chat, and offer other members a shoulder to lean on. If you don’t like the idea of a sedentary fitness club, create an active club that goes on weekly or monthly fitness adventures. Go running, organize a fitness adventure like rock climbing, go on active day trips to ski or snowshoe, try different fitness classes, or simply go for walks around the neighborhood. I had one group of clients who created a health group that was a really interesting mix of all three types of buddies. This particular client group discussed strategies for healthy eating and worked out together whenever they could. When their schedules didn’t mesh, they emailed and checked in with one another instead. If you don’t like the idea of creating a group, or you don’t have friends who would be interested, join a pre-established one. If you are interested in finding an emotional support system, try Weight Watchers, or do some research online. The Internet is a wealth of information. If you are a new mom, find an active “mommy group” in your area. Many of my clients with babies find these groups extremely helpful. With a little creativity and perseverance, you will be amazed at what you can find.

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