Under Pressure (Peer Pressure)

19 May

Do you remember the days of peer pressure in school? Where you felt the need to be “cool” and probably did and said things that you’d rather not remember? Maybe you started smoking when you were a teen. Maybe you picked up a potty-mouth vocabulary as a way to communicate with your friends in a way that they could understand. Ahhhhhhh…those were the days. But those days are over now, right? RIGHT?

Not really. I’d argue that those days are very much not over. I am fascinated at how people change their ways of behavior when in a group setting as a way of fitting in, even as adults. I am amazed at how easily people are persuaded to make choices that others think that they should make.

The other day, I walked into an exercise class that I was trying for the first time. It took me about 30 seconds to realize that I, in fact, had forgotten to wear my $200+ workout outfit.“Is it just me?”, I thought. Yup, it was. I literally took a look at EACH person in the class and saw them EACH wearing a very fancy (and expensive) brand of exercise wear. The irrational part of me thought,” Wow. I really don’t belong here. Maybe I should go shopping for some new clothes after this class!” Thankfully, my rational brain kicked in and realized, “It does not matter if I have a certain brand of workout gear on or not! I am here for me and not to impress everyone else!

This kind of peer pressure is rampant when it comes to eating unhealthy foods. How many times have you gone into the break room and found a few dozen donuts, bagels, cookies, or cupcakes? People bring in their leftovers from birthdays on any given day. Maybe there is a set day of the week for ” treats” to be brought in. When I was working in schools, I know that this was true. Every Thursday was Bagel Day. You had to get there early to ensure that you could get a warm, doughy, cream-cheese-slathered-bread-donut before they were all gone. I was always there early, excited beyond belief for a chance to eat a bagel. Do you know what? I ate that bagel every week and while I felt satisfied in the moment, I always felt famished by lunchtime. At the time, I never made the connection as to why I was so hungry later on.

We have learned to equate rewards with junk food. How is eating junk food rewarding? It has no nutritional value! It makes our brains foggy, makes us more hungry, makes our blood sugar spike and crash, and makes us overweight, yet it keeps us coming back for more. 

I recently performed in a show (I since and dance like the people do on GLEE) and while it was fun, it was a stressful and mentally/physically demanding time. It was difficult to “find the time” to eat properly. I was personally eating on the go and struggled to try to bring my own healthy options with me to rehearsals. 

Do you know what was brought in by other group members? COOKIES, LOLLIPOPS, and MORE COOKIES! While I appreciated the gesture, I had to decline those items. Was it easy to turn down a box full of ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies? No, it wasn’t easy to turn down! Was it was a choice that I needed to make for my own well-being? Yes. Were others offended that I didn’t eat the cookies that they brought in? Nope. More for them.

I’m not saying that people should never have treats or never celebrate occasions with food that makes them happy. However, I am proposing that we do not need to celebrate every occasion with unhealthy food. Especially at times when we really need to take care of ourselves.

Let’s find other ways to celebrate as groups. Let’s treat ourselves to a group hike, a massage, or a night out bowling instead. We can all influence each other to make healthier choices. Most importantly, we can do what is best for us and not for other people. Take ownership of your own behavior and personal health and soon you will be feeling better than ever! Everyone in the office will want to know your secret. 😉

As always, feel free to leave comments or message me at:

healthcoachmeg@gmail.com

for guidance or advice! 

In Health,

Meg 

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