Influential FriendsResearch in many prestigious institutions has shown that our friends, family and social network have a direct influence on whether we lose or gain weight.  Have you heard the sayings, “A man is known by the company he keeps” or “If you lay with dogs, you’ll wake up with fleas”?  Friends and family are a crucial part of your life and they directly influence the choices you make in life. As portrayed in the movie, “Social Network”,  this phenomenon helped, Mark Zuckerberg birth Facebook — paving the way for other similar online platforms. The same applies when it comes to your body size and physical appearance.

Friends keep an eye on each other: The physical presence of a friend is not necessary to influence your weight gain or loss. Even if a friend lives far away from you, they can still influence your size. Connections are often made by email, phone or social media. When browsing on Facebook, seeing a friend looking much thinner in a profile photo, can definitely inspire you to action. By phone and email, I personally have supported a family member 3000 miles away, shed 30lbs.  In turn, several of her Facebook friends, noticed a difference in her new photographs and have contacted her to find out what they might do to create the same results in their life.

Birds of a feather… : There’s another saying that I’ve heard that says, “Misery loves company.” I’d rather  view things from a more positive standpoint though.  This concept also works in reverse. When people are happy about something, generally, they’d like others to join in the joy.  Studies have proven that people who have overweight members in their circle are most likely to become overweight or already are. This is because people find comfort in company. If you see that your best friend has gained 50lb then there is a strong probability you will also gain weight. And an excuse might be, “my friend has gained 50lbs, so no biggie if I’ve gained 20lbs”. This is how relativity tends to work within social networks. It works both ways, if your closest buds are fit or are losing pounds, then you will most definitely follow suit. You’ll possibly join the same gym or share diet plans with each other.

Friends and hobbies: Friends directly influence your activity involvement. You are most likely to adopt their hobbies. You know how groups of friends come together for poker or movie nights?  Well, if you’re looking to make a difference in your physical well being, how great would it be if your group of friends are much more active.  Perhaps a new sports activity could keep everyone’s blood pumping. There are many options, like: bowling, paintball or  a simple, brisk, scenic walk. Try to surround yourself with people that inspire you.  And don’t forget that YOU can inspire others too.

Humans are social creatures and tend to follow each other seeking social acceptance. The main reason why some of the weight loss programs are very successful is because they create interactive social environments for people. Remember how much friends matter. They influence your physical condition as dominantly as junk food, overeating or genetics.  My question for you: Is your social network leading you to FAB or FLAB?