Peer Pressure as a Motivating Factor
Article by Stephanie
Stephanie contributes ongoing food articles at Four Forks.
I endured middle school in the late 80’s and early 90’s, so I think that puts me squarely in the first generation that heard an awful lot about the evils of peer pressure. It was going to make you do all sorts of unspeakable things that you should definitely NOT be doing. Bad, bad, bad, that peer pressure.
Now that middle school is squarely behind me (though the 80’s legwarmers were pretty prevalent in my five-year-old’s dance class last week), I’m finding peer pressure to be a good thing, especially on the health-and-fitness front. When I surround myself with people who I think will notice the choices I’m making, I tend to make better choices and push myself harder. Below, three specific ways I recommend using positive peer pressure to stay motivated.
• Run (or walk, or bike, or join a gym) in an area where there’s a moderate to strong chance that, at least once during your workout, you’re going to be seen by someone you know. This way, when you’re heading up that hill and debating whether or not to slack, the sliver of possibility that someone might see you just might keep you going strong. (It does me.)
• Grocery shop as though you might run into your aerobics instructor, personal trainer, or (insert name of person whose magically fit body you admire here). Pretend that someone in your fitness peer group is going to assess your cart for health and nutrition at the check-out; it will slant your choices towards the healthy, nutritious food all the way through the store. I am telling you, the shame factor keeps those Oreos out of my cart every single time.
• Get a group of friends together to work out. This fall, we did this a few times in my neighborhood: cajoled one woman who had taken several “boot camp” courses to lead the rest of us early on Saturday mornings in sprints, stairs, dips, hills, and lunges for an hour. We ranged in age from 30 to 40 and were all over the place when it came to fitness levels, but nobody wanted to be last coming around the track every single time. I know that I worked a little harder than I would have on my own, all because of the pressure of the group.
So it’s official: peer pressure CAN be a good thing. (Also, legwarmers.) Tell me, what are some ways you’ve used positive peer pressure to motivate yourself?