The importance of friends in fitness

August 1st we crossed the finish line at Ultraman Canada. Yes, we crossed. Me and my four friends that made the race possible for me — my crew.

Ultraman is an event that features a 10 km swim and a 145 km bike on day one, then a 276 km bike on day two, followed by an 84 km run on day three. It is a solo event, but really, it is a team event.

I’m not saying that a team is essential for your fitness goals, but it sure does make life a lot easier! If you decide to get in shape and change the way you eat, but your spouse or partner isn’t on board to support you or join you – that’s a tough journey! If your friends are trying to sabotage your efforts or you don’t involve your kids – things just got harder! Have you ever tried to drop some weight or get in shape and have everyone at work and at home trying to convince you to ‘relax’, ‘take a day off’, or say things like ‘don’t be so serious’, ‘it’s just one donut, what difference will it make?’

The trouble is, it does make a difference, and it does matter. One donut means extra calories, ok, fine, but more powerfully – it means you broke your word. You broke your word with yourself, and that is a tragedy that will haunt you. It makes you weaker instead of stronger. Each time you say no to a donut or refuse to skip a workout on your journey you get stronger! Every time you cave in to the pressure of those around you to indulge, or relax, or take a break, you get weaker.

One of the easiest ways around this is to build your crew around you. Get your friends and family on your side. Have a serious talk with them, let them know that this is important for your health, and that you have a goal and you really want to achieve it.

When I first started my fitness journey I struggled with office workers and friends attacking me and making fun of what I was doing, but I saw through it. I knew that they were really just upset with themselves for not doing what I was doing and their guilt was having them try to bring me back down so they would be comfortable. But something changed after a while. People began to expect that I would say no to treats and junk food. They began to know that I was going to the gym after work or that I was drinking water instead of pop. Then they began to support me and some even joined me!

Going to the gym, I began to meet people that were up to the same thing as me. I joined classes, I made new friends and soon new habits were forming. My new friends would get together and go for a bike ride instead of sitting around. My new lifestyle began to support my goals instead of try to destroy them.

Prior to Ultraman I had to pick out a support crew and with all of my fitness friends I had plenty of choices. Great people who were active like me and who knew what I was getting into. Friends who would support me and sacrifice sleep, a long weekend and their own comfort to ensure that I could race to my potential. It worked! With the amazing help of my crew I was able to recover from setbacks, swim, bike and run to my potential and in a field of world class athletes. I was able to finish in sixth place overall, much to the delight and surprise of me, and my crew (although my wife will tell you she always knew I could do it!).

On top of all that, I was able to share the greatest race of my life with my friends and that will always be one of the best things about it.

Set your goals and build your team. Your potential for success just went up…WAY up!

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake. He can be reached at 403-887-7667 or check out www.bestbodyfitness.com for more information.

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