The Company We Keep: Judgemental vs. Positive Attitues

An article in the Washington Blade on getting fit in 2015 has gotten a bit of a backlash in its commentary because of the seemingly ‘no fats’ take on who should be in your social circle:

Surround yourself with healthy people
There’s a reason Oprah is friends with Julia Roberts, the Obamas, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, because you are who you surround yourself with.

Just as this principle works in the land of business, it is equally important when it comes to health and fitness. So many times I see people trying very hard to make big strides toward eating healthier, working out more consistently and thinking more positively, but only to stay around the friends and family who helped to get them into their current state.

No tea no shade, but your fat friends are not going to help you do anything but stay fat. If an alcoholic only hung around his or her alcoholic friends while trying to get sober, we would all realize it’s not the right environment. Same holds true for changing your health.

I suggest finding new friends who are fit, healthy and have achieved some of the goals that you would like to achieve. Having a support system really helps change your mindset of what is the norm. ‘The Company We Keep’

The few comments that have been made in response to this article center around calling out this attitude as being stereotypical; i.e., ‘be hot to be validated and worthy’, which is sometimes communicated withing the gay community. Initially, my blog commentary on this article was going to be something similar; how we should judge based on attitude not just physical appearance. But When I realized that the writer, Gerard Burley, was someone within my own social circle I decided to contact him to to ask him what he really meant:

I think the first thing I need to say regarding the article is that I never meant to be insensitive. The point I wanted people to gather from my article is that when you are struggling with weight loss and adapting to a healthier lifestyle, the change is a very arduous one, one that most people are not able to adapt to and maintain on their own. We see this in our country’s current obesity epidemic.

The biggest misconception in my article was that everyone should get rid of their overweight friends. With that said, you can encourage your friends to get healthier with you, but if they are not ready, I think it is smart to expand your circle of friends to ones who are already living a healthy lifestyle. Once you have adopted a healthy lifestyle, you understand the balance and discipline needed to live a healthy life, and your environment is less significant than at the beginning of your journey. People who are just starting this journey have not yet mastered this process and their environment is crucial to their outcome.

Overall, weight and health are sensitive issues for many because pain is connected with it and people feel attacked. At the end of the day, as much as it may hurt to hear, those closest to you could also be the main ones holding you back from achieving your goals.

It is not lost on me that I was going to make a judgment commentary on an article that I thought was potentially judging others. I hope that is not lost on you, either.

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