I recently sat in a conference with about a hundred other very health conscious professionals. For three days I soaked in the “why” of protein, carbs, fat, cells, glycogen, heart disease, diabetis…the science of weight maintenance. To say it was interesting to me would be an understatement..to say I understood it all would be a lie (:0) …to say it opened my eyes to a world of reason would be spot on. I could write volumes about what I did learn and how it will help you in your daily health management. Over the course of time I will share that with you. But this morning I want to talk about people, their habits and the way they try to work through peer pressure.
The average age in that room for three days was probably 40. These were not teenagers, they were mature adults and many of them held a PHD in a medical field. And we were all there to learn about a weight loss product (Ideal Protein). So, of course, we were all very conscious of what we were eating and drinking the whole three days. The usual table of morning sweets…donuts, muffins, sweet rolls, croissants, jams/jellies, butter…were not present. There was no table of soft drinks, sweet fruit juice or sports drinks. At noon we did not have a buffet of fried chicken, mashed potatoes/gravy, chocolate cake and cherry cobbler. (By now you are probably thinking you are glad you weren’t there..HA!) No, we had choices of good health management.
What I found myself wondering was how many of these people would stop at Dairy Queen on their way home and have an Oreo Blizzard? We were all in a setting of “good choices”. The peer pressure was to make the ‘good choice’. And the opportunities for those choices were given to us. The only temptation was the bread at the end of the lunch buffet and a gravy they served with the brisket. And I saw very few take those options.
We were in a large hotel in Dallas, TX. One morning I walked out during a break to the Starbucks in the lobby to buy an ice tea. While standing there a beautiful lady came up and ordered a coffee. Placed with prominence on the counter was a glass domed cake server..all polished to a sparkle so you could see the hunks of chocolate swirled cream cake, oversized carrot muffins with pecans of course and jumbo chocolate chip cookies placed inside. I watched the lady (who was a part of the same conference I was) as she noticed the glass covered treats. She ordered her coffee, removed her money from her wallet and as the clerk handed her the coffee she slowly reached across the counter with a few dollars in hand only to slowly pull it back. I could see her hesitate, take a short breath, then say “I’ll have that piece of creme cake too. Please put it in a bag, I’ll put it in my purse.” She dropped her head as she said it, almost like a child getting caught with cookies stolen from the cookie jar. I tried so hard to look straight ahead, still waiting for my ice tea. With great shame the lady looked over at me and in a soft ‘please forgive me’ voice said, “I’m not on the diet. I just work for one of the clinics”.
Never one glance had come from me to her..not one word of ‘shame on you’..nothing to discourage or make her think I disapproved. But my very presence at the counter created a ‘peer pressure’ to not even look at the sweet treats! Peer pressure is POWERFUL! At any age! It can steer you to make healthy choices or choices that will affect your health in a negative way. In that room for three days I had strong peer pressure to make excellent choices. No one was tempting me with foods I knew would be a wrong choice for me. I LOVED it!! What a wonderful world it would be if we all were there for each other in a positive way every day!
Sadly though it is usually the opposite. We are surrounded by people every single day that WANT us to make bad health choices. They don’t do it intentionally. It is a part of the American Culture..to some it is showing love..it IS what we do. So how do YOU resist the peer pressure and make choices that will create weight management success for you? IT COMES FROM WITHIN YOURSELF! Inside has to be stronger than what is going on around you. You surround yourself with the Positive Peer Pressure! People that want your success too. You surround yourself with foods and an environment that are conducive to good choices. You PLAN AHEAD!
Social settings, eating out with friends, business banquets, cooking for your family…on and on I could go. They can all be the “Peer Pressure” in your life. Create for yourself a positive environment. Plan what you will eat, plan who you will sit by and have conversation with, plan..plan..plan! I can’t say it enough. Negative Peer Pressure will only work if you let it! And the easiest way to “let” it is to NOT PLAN!
What happened with the lady at the Starbucks counter? I assured her I was not there to judge. She paid for her coffee and cake, slipped the cake into her purse and went on her way. Later that afternoon I saw her in the hallway outside our conference room. As she walked by me she ducked her head. I”m not happy she felt like she had to do that but it does prove how powerful Peer Pressure is. Create positive Peer groups for yourself…Walk with your head held high!
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou