I started lifting at the end of high school. I first got into bodybuilding competitions, and became obsessed with fitness when I was a junior and senior in college. So, for what are probably two of most young adults' heaviest partying years, I decided to do the hardest things possible. When getting ready for shows, I couldn’t drink (which is all anyone does in college), or eat classic college staples like pizza, ramen, mac and cheese, and dining hall food. I had a point mid-prep, where I asked the sandwich lady for just a pile of turkey meat, no carbs, and chicken breast. My friends always teased me about how plain my food was, I couldn’t really go out to parties, and I always had meals packed with me.
I write all that to say, when it comes to pursuing fitness, I know how hard it can be to try establishing healthy habits, and feeling super self conscious about it because of how society interprets what you are doing. Eating healthy is a strange conundrum. It’s the ONLY POSITIVE habit that people give you a hard time for CREATING. How wild is that? Order a cheeseburger and fries with a beer, no one bats an eye. Order a salad, with dressing on the side, people ask you “I could never eat like that. It’s so boring.” or “man you need to live a little.”
A lot of times it makes you want to give up. It’s hard to start any new habit. It’s damn near impossible when everyone’s guilting you for it the entire journey. I want to help you guys make that transition easier.
Respect Your Lifestyle and That of Others
If there is anything the above taught me it’s to respect everyone has their own journey. At first, I got super bitter about people judging me for trying to do something positive with my life. “Sorry that I am not lazy. Just because you couldn’t do it doesn’t mean you have to shit on my process”, was a mantra I’d say in my head towards those haters. It’s not healthy.
Just in the same way you don’t want to be judged for your healthy choices, you shouldn’t still judge them. Try coming from a place of compassion and most times, others will follow suit. It goes both ways as well. Just because you have had great success following a particular regimen, be careful not to start preaching to everyone in your friend group about how they need to do xyz, and how if they just listen to you they’ll get great results. We all need our own timeline to realize what we want or don’t want. Be willing to give advice, but don’t get on a soapbox.
Know When to Pump The Brakes
The story I told of myself above is an extreme example. Let’s remember that. I was at a point where I brought tupperware meals to my friends' houses, wouldn’t eat the food they ate if we went to restaurants, and wouldn’t show up at their house if I had not finished or got my workout in yet. That’s extreme.
You may not get it right the first time, but try and strike a balance. If you are doing most things right 90% of the time (eating whole foods, and working out consistently), then it is completely fine to have a night or vacation where you go off your normal routine. Practice being comfortable saying no to alcohol, or extra foods if it doesn’t fit your regimen, but also feel comfortable saying yes to those things too. Let’s not forget stress plays a big role in our overall progress. If you are constantly worried about pleasing others, and not focusing on choosing what nourishes your soul (and not just your stomach), then you aren’t doing your body any favors.
Don’t Be Afraid to Meet New People
You are creating a new you, and a new lifestyle. That doesn’t mean your old friends have to go, but be open to the possibility that you can, and will meet a new group of people that may better match this lifestyle. Maybe you made a couple friends already at the gym, who you can go out with, or host get-togethers that support your lifestyles. There is no reason to keep people who are judging, or negatively affecting your life in your circle just because you’ve “always been friends”. Again, find what makes you happy.