Friends or Foes?

by Al Coon

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by Al

Friends can be a treasure, and they can inspire you to reach heights that you never thought possible. However, unfortunately all too often they can be anchors that pull you down to the deepest depths. This is a fact of life that we all try and teach our children. We tell them that their choice of friends is important. Who they hang around with will very much determine how they will act. If your son is hanging out with a rough group of boys, he is going to get into trouble. If, on the other hand, he is hanging out with the kids who are getting good grades and staying out of trouble and enjoying good clean fun, he is very unlikely to get into trouble himself. Most parents instinctively know this. But as adults we can too easily forget this fact of life.

When you are going through a lifestyle change, you can see what your friends are made of. Do they support you, giving you praise for your accomplishments and moving mountains out of the way to make it easy for you? Or, do they make little cutting remarks about how now you cannot do what you used to do, and sticking temptation under your nose every chance they get? When someone starts on the journey to lose weight, and then maintain that loss, it is easy to see right at the start, that he will have a great deal of trouble if he is hanging around others who are very overweight and are not on a journey to change that situation. Everyday will be a struggle a he encounters doughnuts, and milk shakes in other people's hands while he eats his sensible meals. Such a journey is like trying to not only climb a mountain, but to climb it with an anvil, or maybe two, strapped to your back.

On the other hand, if this new traveler is spending most of his time with those who are also on a journey and are being successful, he will find it easy to stay on program. It is almost like there is an escalator to the top of the mountain at times because these friends will take you by the hand when you feel weak and help you along. They will never sabotage your journey, and they will be excited at all of your progress on the path.

Of course, friends are not everything and it is possible to succeed even if some of our friends are not supportive. However, it very rare indeed when someone succeeds in reaching their weight goal, and in maintaining their optimum weight, without at least one supportive friend. By and large, successful people hang out with successful people. It breeds feelings of success, it promotes success, and it tends to push failure out of the picture. Since attitude is such a huge part of staying on the path to success, it is hard to overestimate the importance of the right friends.

Looking at it from the other side, think of what being a good friend to someone else can do for yourself as well as doing something for them. It is a simple fact of life that when you are helping someone else to achieve, you are also helping yourself. An example of this process is the Weight Watcher leader. You will see these dedicated ladies maintaining their optimum weight for years and years. Dotti tells me that her leader Renee has maintained her weight for more than 20 years. While some leaders do fail and put some excess weight on, usually they bring it back down before too long. This process of reaching out with help to others that leaders are constantly going through, is also assisting them in their own journey. They are inspired at several levels to be successful.

    1. They are strongly motivated to be a good example for their people. Seeing a trim leader builds confidence in those who attend a meeting, and keeping that in mind inspires the leader.

    2. It maintains focus. The leader is dealing with the program every day as part of her job, and so it is never far out of her mind. When she eats something, that familiarity with the program assists her in determining exactly what that food will do to her weight. Is it within what her daily allowance is or not? She will know because she is an expert in the plan.

    3. The selfless act of helping someone who so very much needs it, fills a void in every human being. Reaching out to help another to stand will support your own vertical integrity. It makes you feel good about yourself, in ways that a box of cookies or a bag of potato chips never could.

What works for leaders can work for anyone. I have watched Dotti go through the same process as a leader does. She has created this web page and answered thousands of emails, helping others. She has shared information in such an enthusiastic way to those around her, that it has inspired many of her acquaintances to join Weight Watchers and reach goal. She knows that there are a great many people watching her and she is inspired to stay on her journey by that. She is always talking about the program and has what seems to me to be an amazing ability to tell the point value of foods she encounters throughout the day. She is continually focused by this process on the program. And there is no more giving person I know than my Dotti. She draws such happiness from helping others and I know this is something that makes food of secondary importance in her daily life, compared with what it was before.

The point is not that all people should be leaders or that they should start up a web page, although for some that will be the best choice. What is important is to be a good friend to others. Help them and it will help you. And in order to succeed, it is so very important to choose friends that are willing to support you and be supported by you. The old adage is true, "You cannot choose your family, but you can choose your friends!"

By Al, My Wonderful, Supportive Husband

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