We all have a friend that complains that their stomach is flat enough, a friend that complains their thighs aren’t toned as they want it to be, or a friend that complains about a different part of their body on several occasions. These individuals resolve to attend the gym more or pick up running, or even get a physical trainer. However, more often than not, this ‘resolve’, is short term because of the initial reasons, they HATE something about their bodies. Positive support and motivation from friends, family, co-workers, and peers can make that short term resolve a long-term resolve and ultimately a life-style. A person that loves their body and seeks to improve their body will ultimately stick to accomplishing different fitness goals rather than someone who hates what they have because they won’t see results fast enough.
According to Coutts, Gruman, and Schneider, social influence is the notion that our interaction with people can cause changes in our behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and values (2012). What can influence a person to love the skin they’re in? Media for one, social media to be specific. Social media is used so widely that informational appeals portraying the idea to love yourself and acknowledge your own accomplishments can help the confidence of individuals. Social media is also a way for family and friends to connect. Therefore, it is easy for family and friends to motivate a person with comments on pictures, videos, posts, etc. “In general, the presence of others has beneficial effects on our health in that the support we receive from our loved ones can help us to feel better, adopt healthier behaviors…….” (Coutts et al., 2012). Support from friends and family to love the skin we’re in, but also appreciate the ability to evolve and improve will ultimately lead to that one person’s improve health, but also possibly better health for those around as social influence can go both ways.
In addition to media, family, and friends, co-workers can greatly contribute to the motivation someone needs to improve on what they have. For example, in the beginning of my Marine Corps career at my language training school I met Major Haugen, she was a Captain at the time. Major Haugen was the leader of the detachment’s female run team. When I got to this school I had no confidence that I could ever run fast enough to practice with the team or even run an event with them because of how slow I ran. One week all females were required to try out for the team because of short manning and I didn’t do well, I ran 3 miles in 25 minutes, which wasn’t bad considering initially coming into the Marine Corps I ran 3 miles at 30 minutes. After the tryouts, Major Haugen gave us a little pep talk and the one thing she said that has always stuck with me was “Acknowledge your own accomplishments, disregard what others are doing.” That had such a significant impact on me because it allowed me to measure successes on where I’ve come from not where others are. I started with a 30 minute pace for 3 miles, but now I can run 18:20. And I attribute that to influence of Major Haugen because after her encouraging words I went to practices with the team and she would was always give me encouragement and helpful tips on how to improve. Although this was five years ago, her encouragement has stuck with me to where I’ve become so much more self-disciplined and motivated, so much so I was able to make the Marine Corps All Running team.
I think each one of us need to grow in some way, for some of that means improved health that can be attained with time in the gym or better physical fitness. Having the right reasons to propel a healthier lifestyle can make the change attitude and behavior more permanent, in addition to positive support from people around us.
Coutts, L. M., Gruman, J. A., & Schneider, F. W. 2012. Applied Social Psychology: Understand and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd Ed). Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications.