Surround Yourself With Love
Words by Kiana Duncan
“They’re not even running that fast.” I watched my boyfriend stare at two women running through campus. They weren’t sprinting, but at least they were running. I didn’t say anything, even though I wanted to. Comments like these were pretty frequent. “I don’t know how they think this is doing anything for them.”
I wanted to say something every time he commented on the salad I was eating, and how it wasn’t that healthy for me after I added dressing. I wanted to say something when he told me going to the gym was doing nothing if I was going to continue to eat so poorly. I wanted to say something when he scoffed at me for thinking my yogurt with granola was healthy. I wanted to say something when he compared my body to his ex girlfriends. I especially wanted to say something when he said running with me was the slowest he’d ever run in his life.
But I didn’t. Because for the most part, I believed him. I continued to believe him, which led to me feeling depressed, restless, incapable, disgusted with my body and mostly stuck. Now, obviously there were some major problems with that relationship (ya think?), but I was at a point where I needed support. I wanted change, but didn’t quite have the tenacity to fix everything myself. Changing your lifestyle can be quite the upheaval, especially when you have such constant people in your life supporting the very habits you’re trying to kick.
It’s hard to run when your partner is telling you to walk. It’s difficult to stop eating meat when your family consistently offers you a burger every night. It’s painful to get out of a place of misery and despair when all your friends do is whine about how unfair life is.
It hurts so much when the people we care about most are the least supportive.
A co-worker of mine saw this problem hit home; her husband would grow frustrated every time she refused to binge nightly on high-sugar foods and choose to go on walks instead. He got used to it, but would still encourage her to go out to eat “just this once” because “you can start over tomorrow.”
We’re only as good as the people we surround ourselves with.
I’m not telling you to go dump your boyfriend (although it certainly worked for me), but re-evaluate your crew. Are they pumping you up? Are they motivating you to get that workout in, even when you have a million excuses on the tip of your tongue? Are they the friends you can vent to about your vegan problems? Are they the group who’s helping you pick out your outfit and running practice questions by you for that great job interview?
If you know your cousin is going to tell you your new food is stupid and your workouts are dumb, stop telling her about them and text your gym buddy if you’re needing support. If you know your boyfriend is going to ask you to pick up McDonald’s on the way home, make it clear that being around food you’re trying to avoid doesn’t help, and offer a trip to get sushi instead. If you don’t have any vegetarian friends, join a Facebook group. Be active instead of reactive. Know who you’re going to turn to when it’s -10 degrees and your bed looks cozy and the gym is far away.
That judgement doesn’t always come from a place of malice. It often comes from a place of deep-seeded insecurity, and we do it to others more than we think.
“If I tell her to watch Game of Thrones with me instead of studying, I won’t feel that bad about my D in Biology.”
“If he gets a milkshake instead of water, I won’t feel as bad for eating so much today.”
“If I convince my friend to blow their paycheck out at the bars, I won’t feel terrible for doing the same thing.”
Be intentional about who you talk to. There’s nothing wrong with having people to vent to when you’re upset, but don’t ask a drowning man for a life jacket. People who want to change will seek out others who want to change, just as people who love being miserable will seek out others who only want to talk about being miserable. Be mindful of who you’re reaching out to.
As soon as I let go of the negative boyfriend, I found there wasn’t that voice in the back of my head telling me how much fat avocado had in it, or that my time would be better spent watching Netflix instead of going to the gym. It was easier to make my own decisions instead of letting someone else judge and correct me (and inherently learning to judge myself).
Surround yourself with a go-team, a powerful crew, a kick-ass girl gang who gets shit done, not mopey Jim from work who can never keep a boyfriend around and is always complaining about his body. Jim doesn’t care if you make it to the gym.
This also relies strongly on you WANTING to change. Your bestie isn’t responsible for getting your butt on a treadmill if you don’t want to be there in the first place. Off days are understandable, especially at first, but don’t be the friend you’re trying to avoid and in need of a shoulder to cry on for a month straight. This is a give and take relationship. Get hype, give hype! Everyone wins.
Try straight up asking someone: “Can you be part of my go-team? Want to encourage each other to be our best?” Message that girl on Instagram with an amazing body and inspo for days. Make new friends, talk to the guy next to you on the elliptical and ask him what his routine is. That girl who’s always at work with arms like no other? She seems like she wants a gym buddy. If no one in your life can help you reach your goals, it’s time to make some new friends (and that’s OK). I’ve made some of my best friends in the world because they were my hype-men first.
You deserve to be loved, give love and most importantly, feel loved. So surround yourself with it, and watch your dreams turn into reality.
Kiana Duncan is a blogger, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.