Outside influences on your healthy lifestyle

May 1, 2021

 by Blair Rockoff

Prioritizing your health ultimately comes down to one person - you! However, there are many external factors to be aware of as you strive for a healthier lifestyle, including your home environment and social influences. Here are some things to consider and some small changes you can make to set yourself up for success!

Your family and home environment have a huge impact on your health as you grow up and well into adulthood. Habits, food preferences and your overall outlook on health and fitness are formed early on even if you don't realize it. For example, if your family growing up often ate meals while watching TV, perhaps you still find yourself reaching for a distraction while you're eating, like scrolling through your phone. If this is a habit that's not serving you (distracted eating often leads to less satisfaction and a desire to snack after the meal), acknowledging the habit is the first step towards making a change. Make an effort to put your phone in another room while you're eating and really try to notice the deliciousness of the food you're eating.

Or, if you grew up in a household where regular exercise wasn't a part of the norm, you might find it difficult to adopt an exercise habit, and that's OK! Understand that you're breaking the mold in some ways and have a little patience with yourself as you begin working exercise into your routine. Start small with a couple of workouts each week, and try a tactic called "habit stacking" where you attach a new habit to one that's already set in stone for you. Say, for example, that you have a weekly phone call with a friend every Saturday afternoon - try getting in a workout beforehand, or taking the call outside while walking.

As an adult, maybe you live with a roommate or partner who likes to eat carry-out most nights. If you're constantly feeling tempted by all that yummy but calorie-dense food, maybe it's time to suggest a change like cooking every other meal at home. If you're short on time or not super comfortable in the kitchen, try a meal service where the fresh ingredients are delivered with an easy-to-make recipe. This might be a fun activity as well as a more nutritious way of eating.

Often, our social time with friends involves a fun night out and maybe a bit of excess alcohol consumption. Every once and a while this won't derail your health, but if this becomes a habit that doesn't seem to be working for you, it may be time to explore some ways to hang out without risking a nasty hangover that keeps you from your workout the next day. If you are going to be drinking, it's helpful to have a plan in mind, like having two alcoholic drinks with soda water with lime in between. Or, suggest that every so often you meet up for an activity not solely focused on drinking, like a class of some kind (cooking, painting, etc) or something more active like a hike, bowling, or trivia. You might find you're less likely to toss back one too many when you have something else to focus on.