Have you ever been so tied to your healthy eating or workout routine that you’ve said no to a night out with friends? You cancel on a dinner date because the restaurant menu isn’t healthy enough. You stay in because you can’t bear the thought of recording the calories for that glass of wine into your MyFitnessPal app. You ditch happy hour because you didn’t run yet that day.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for eating clean and working out. And yes, sometimes it is definitely the healthier option to choose those activities over some bar. I get that. BUT strict diet and workout routines can get addictive, and not in a good way. You may have good intentions to begin with, but then you start obsessed over the progress you’re making or the progress you aren’t making. You start restricting yourself more and more. You might lose a few pounds, but perhaps you’re also losing some friends along the way. If you take it too far, the health benefits will start to reverse.
As necessary as it is to focus on physical wellness, our social wellness is equally important. Social wellness is all about the relationships we have and how we interact with others. We may not notice at the time, but these group dinners and activities are how we learn to communicate, where we get to practice empathy, and where we learn to care for others who will in return care for us.
There are studies showing that spending time with loved ones improves your overall mood and outlook on life. It even makes us live longer! Our relationships help to reduce stress and give us a sense of self-worth. We check in with each other and show an interest in someone other than ourselves. We share thoughts and ideas, and it’s these relationships that provide the support when times get tough. It’s so necessary!
If you find yourself heading down this path and sacrificing your social life for your fitness goals, consider my advice:
Get creative! Being social doesn’t always have to mean going out to the bars. You can find events or places that allow for healthy choices. Get coffee or smoothies. Go on a walk outside. Host a game night. Go to the museum. Bring your friends to your favorite workout studio or gym. I’m sure you’re not the only one willing to change things up.
Branch out! Find your crew! Maybe you’re hanging out with the wrong people. People who go out every night or who make you feel bad for ordering something healthy, might not be the people you want to spend time with. Find other likeminded folks who have similar goals and plan something fun with them.
OR…here’s a crazy idea…just GO! That’s okay too. Plan ahead. Eat your beautiful meal prepped salad beforehand. Order a water with dinner. OR just go for that pizza and beer. You can eat clean tomorrow. Don’t run extra, don’t eat less, just return to normal.
Social wellness is about recognizing the importance of leisure, and allowing yourself to take the time to relax and indulge with loved ones, even if that means putting your health goals aside for a night. It’s about keeping that mental sanity, having fun and socializing with others. Otherwise you’re just skinny and alone on a Saturday night. What kind of life is that?