Nov - Dec 2014

The Power of Positive People

By Natalie Suttmoeller, RN BSN CCRN CBN


Thinking positive may actually create a positive outcome. You will be able to lose weight, look younger, and feel better if only you believe you can. As promoted by the likes of Oprah Winfrey, the idea is to firmly believe you will get what you want, because visualizing something can actually make it happen.

 

Research also suggests that surrounding ourselves with positive thinkers will not only make us less stressed, it will also help us achieve greater overall well-being.

 

For instance, the greatest athletes of our time did not become this way over night. Each of them faced their own personal obstacles, set small attainable goals which they worked toward. But also important was the fact that they surrounded themselves with people who could help them achieve their goals. Attaining sustained weight loss in many ways is not very different. Every day I speak with bariatric patients who have fallen back into the cycle of excessive carbohydrate consumption, snacking, and general unhealthy food choices and lifestyles. They often come to the clinic after a prolonged absence stating 'I should have never restarted…'. Pulling away from those unhealthy eating patterns and establishing more positive ones, can be a challenge for anyone. Losing weight does not always bring with it a new set of friends, relatives or habits. So how do you go about creating a healthy, positive environment of supportive people?

 

Counting on your current social network to change their habits along with you as you lose weight is often an unrealistic expectation. Overweight individuals often have overweight friends and family with similar lifestyles, eating patterns, and behaviors.  Often social gatherings readily support the consumption of food because it has become an ingrained unhealthy habit in our culture such as 'let's meet for drinks after work' or 'let's meet and go for ice cream'. Likely very few in your network of family and friends say ‘let me meet you at the gym today’.

 

Engaging in new activities that you previously may have avoided due to your weight, may now seem overwhelming and sometimes very intimidating to try post weight loss. Surrounding yourself with individuals who are not only supportive of you and your efforts, but also ones that have active lifestyles can help infuse some new ideas into your routine, help break some of your own negative behaviors, and even add a little unexpected fun along the way. Picking out the right role models can help you retool your own life and can net you important behavioral changes. It can also open you up to a variety of things you may have always wanted to try but never felt you could do. Having people around you who are your own age with active lifestyles and like interests, can make your transition into improved health much easier.

 

If you are struggling to identify more healthy people in your life, consider talking with your healthcare provider to see if there are any patient programs or social groups. Likely there are others out there just like you trying to change their lives for the better and looking for a new partner to share the experience. Programs can often suggest individuals who are happy to mentor new patients to make your transition to better health more palatable.  Support groups are also a great way to network with your peers and connect with others who are searching for the very same things as you. You can also use your ‘water cooler’ time at work or family gatherings, to let others know that you are on the market for fun outside of the dining setting. You will be pleasantly surprised to find that many people love having company while enjoying indoor or outdoor activities together. All you have to do to become involved is ask!