8 Surprising Ways Your Friends Influence You to Gain Weight

How Your Friends & Family Influence Your Fitness Journey

Operative word here is “influence.” No one can make you gain weight, you ultimately have control. However, we are all human are heavily influenced by those we spend the most time with. I have personally experienced this “influence” not only with working on my nutrition, but when I was trying to quit smoking 10+ years ago. (Can you believe I’m an ex-smoker?! Yuk!)

But don’t just take my word for it. British researchers from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, say that social norms can strongly influence the type and amount of food we eat. In other words, if your friends and family think that fast food, processed foods or big bag of chips determines a meal, you’re less likely regularly eat healthy foods and more moderate portions.

Although your friends are probably not purposely trying to sabotage you … they still can have a huge effect. So listen up, so you’re prepared!

1.Negativity towards your new lifestyle
Your friends and family are supposed to be supportive, right? Especially during the ups and downs of your journey. But sometimes that just doesn’t happen. Negative feedback came come in all different forms. It can come through guilt, undermining your efforts or through direct criticism. But just like they’re voicing their opinion, you must also voice yours and tell them you just don’t want to hear it! Because you don’t need that in your head.  The more critical they are of your body, the more weight you can gain, according to a recent study in the journal Personal Relationships. As your working on your lifestyle, it’s important to have positive and affirming thoughts along with constructive, loving feedback that will help you improve.

2. Back-handed compliments
This ties along with #1, but I wanted to call it out separately because it’s so important to isolate. These are definitely negative, but they can be so indirect it’s heart-wrenching. Have you ever heard someone say, “oh girl you’re losing so much weight you’re going to disappear!” OR “You look great now, but I thought you looked better before.” OR “Why are you still worried about restricting your diet it’s not like you need to lose weight.” UGH! So frustrating.

Some of these comments are out of pure innocence. Sometimes people just don’t know what to say, so they just regurgitate some general common statements. Other times, it’s out of pure jealousy. Not because they don’t want YOU to succeed, but because they’re feeling stuck themselves and you’re a reminder of what they’re not doing (and they wish to be doing). I’m a pretty direct person generally, so my first recommendation is for you to lovingly share with them that their comments are hurtful and you hope that they can support you. My second recommendation is to follow my first one – haha. It will help cleanup any unnecessary future frustrations that can bottle up over time. Just nip it in the bud now.

3. Good ol’ peer pressure
Social pressure can definitely be overwhelming. Sometimes it’s in your face. You know, when you’re at a house party or restaurant with friends/family and you turn down the cheesecake you may receive comments like, “c’mon, have a slice – live a little.” OR “It’s the weekend, you can indulge, it’s not like you can’t afford it.” What’s interesting, however, is when it’s not so obvious and you give into these pressures without even realizing it …  especially when you’re in a casual, comfortable environment surrounded by your friends. Stay strong! A good response can be, “yeah, I know I can afford it, but I’m choosing to eat healthy and today is not my cheat meal.” Simple as that.

4. Mirroring
An even more subconscious influence is mirroring others’ behavior. It’s like silent peer pressure. Haven’t you ever wondered why you and your friends tend to choose similar type of plates when you order at restaurants? Even if you go with the intention of eating healthy, when someone orders the burger and fries, it gives you the “license,” “free card,” “allowance,” to then order the same … or something else similarly high in calories. I think we’ve all been there! So the trick is to get there first and order a healthy option right away!

5. Speed Eaters
In this high-paced world, everything is expected to be instantaneous, even how quickly our plates disappear. Do you know in Europe, the average dining experience is around 2 hours with smaller plates throughout the course of the meal. It’s social and forces you to take breaks between stuffing your face. In the U.S. the average time is around 45 minutes and that’s a server pushing for you to have an appetizer, bread, a dinner plate AND dessert. All in 45 minutes! YIKES. Lots of food in a short amount of time! In Europe, things have shifted towards a more American lifestyle and it’s no surprise that there’s now an obesity problem there. So if your friend shovels food in her mouth quickly, you’re more likely to do the same. So SLOW DOWN. Be the example. And I bet you’ll feel surprisingly satisfied with food rather than “full.”

6. Couch potato status
As you’re working on building a lifestyle (which is why I hope you read my blog!), you are moving towards more activity on a daily basis. So if one friend wants to sit on the couch all weekend and binge on movies (or go drinking all the time) and another wants to play beach volleyball or go paddle boarding, who do you think you will more freely support your fitness goals? A study in the Journal of Public Economics suggests that poor physical fitness is contagious among friends. It’s up to you to be good influencer now! Set up a walking/running/gym date after work instead of a happy hour trip to the bar.

7. They are drama queens
As women, we are already highly prone to emotional eating. When we are surrounded by someone (or multiple people) who are constantly in turmoil, complaining, or have a permanent cloud over their heads it can be completely emotionally draining. Sometimes they push their responsibility on you. That is a formula for disaster that can not only influence you to dig into some comfort food, but can ultimately be detrimental to your relationship. Create clear relationship boundaries where you can be a supportive friend, but not become their life-fixer for every single problem. We are responsible “to” others, not “for” others. It’s important we all know the difference between the two.

8. The infamous social media high reels
We all know this. We all tend to show our best selves on social media. You know, the kind that takes exotic vacations, has the perfect relationships, eats at hot new restaurants, and has all the friends in the world. And although we KNOW it’s all high-reel status, it still can impact us negatively if we are still working on strengthening our inner confidence. If you are constantly seeing your friends looking healthy, happy, fit, and doing fabulous things with their lives … it might just prompt you to question your life, decisions and situation. We start playing the comparison game and festering in our own misery. And there’s a study to prove it. In 2013, the Journal of Consumer Research found that following your friends on Facebook can be correlated with a higher BMI. This is possible because “stalking” your friends and playing the comparison game can trigger emotional responses that could lower your confidence, which then lowers your self-control. Social media is still a wonderful source to stay connected. But keep your emotions in check and remember your (and their) reality along with the amazing progress you’re making!


Your friends and family love you. It may seem they don’t want you to succeed, but 9 out of 10 times it has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them. People are afraid of change and having a feeling of disconnection from something familiar. They know you based on the way you are now. When they start seeing a major shift (that they’re not a part of), it’s a reminder that they are not making changes in their own lives that they want – or know they should. Plus, they’re afraid that you may drift apart from each other. By making a conscious effort to remind them what they mean to you is a great way to help minimize friction. Also, continue to invite them to join you, while also creating healthy boundaries if they decide not to (or if they continue criticizing).

If you, yourself, start playing the comparison game or start critiquing others, ask yourself why? Often times when we feel jealous/insecure is when we see something in others we admire or want to achieve. Figure out if that “thing” is something you truly want in your life, if it fits within your current life priorities and if it will ultimately make you happy to achieve. Sometimes we realize we don’t even want that – and then it become a HUGE RELIEF! If it is something you truly want to accomplish, then evaluate how you can take proper action to make it happen in your own unique way. We are all different!


how shakeology helped Kelli with her Crohn's DiseaseShakeology and Crohn’s Disease – how this nutrition dense shake helped Kelli gain control 

The best success stories arrive in the most unexpected ways!

One of my December challengers was struggling with being consistent with her exercise due to a variety of things from some personal matters and a VERY hectic work schedule … on top of it being the holidays. The challenge was an opportunity for her to FOCUS and get back on track. Working out to ChaLEAN Extreme and drinking Shakeology every day, I followed up with her progress within our challenge Facebook group along with private messages. About mid-way through the 30-day challenge she she shared with me that she had Crohn’s Disease and Shakeology was giving her RELIEF and CONTROL like nothing else had before. I was stunned and very excited and asked if I could share her story on my blog.

You know what she told me, “Yes. Absolutely! This was no info the Dr’s could ever provide me so if it can help someone else then I am all for it!”

I’m SO HAPPY for her … and when Kelli emailed me her story, it brought happy tears to my eyes! I’m absolutely thrilled that she’s been able to receive help in way she never imagined!

So here’s Kelli’s story – directly from her!

“I began experiencing stomach irregularities and knew something about me was different then anyone else was around 7th grade. Every doctor I went to tested me for anemia, low blood sugar, thyroid issues, diabetes, and the regular string of blood tests. I was very underweight for my age but ate very normal. Every doctor said it had to be low blood sugar and passed it of as “I would grow out of it.” Around 11th and 12th grade I starting missing more school because I always felt sick, and was finally referred to a Gastroenterologist.

I went through every test known for upper GI, lower GI, and tests for my colon.  No doctor could give me an exact diagnosis, but deferred it as Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS).  Still unsatisfied, I got a second and third opinion.  I had documented my symptoms in a diary by time each and every day and documented what I ate. The third and last Gastroenterologist pulled my Mom aside after reviewing my file and all my tests and recommended I see a psychiatrist, as he felt that my symptoms couldn’t be diagnosed so my symptoms must be something equal to a psychological issue.

At that point I gave up….for five years. My stomach controlled my life. I missed parties, couldn’t eat the same foods as everyone else, experience extreme irregularity, and at the same time, I worked out 6 days a week as a college athlete and ate very healthy.  In many circumstances, this could control IBS symptoms.  Yet, nothing got better.  I struggled through 4 years of multitasking 5am workouts, 18 credit hours, and working 30 hours a week.  Yet, nothing got better.

I moved to Florida from Michigan for graduate school and decided to give it one more shot.  I did a lot of reading on Crohn’s and knew medicine had advanced in the last five years.  The first Gastroenterologist I went to, now knowing that during the appointment I was experiencing a ‘flair up’ was quickly able to diagnose me.  Up until 2 months ago, I took my medicine to control my disease, but just could not gain remission.

I met Vanessa through a Bootcamp class, that up until now, I would not know how impactful this avenue would be.  I recently joined a small group run by Beachbody Coach Vanessa and I started the ChaLean Extreme challenge that included a product drank daily called Shakeology.  After two weeks I noticed immediate results.  I was regular, not getting sick as frequently, and finally starting to control my Crohn’s without it controlling me.  After four weeks, I can’t start my day without it and am finally feeling like there is hope at the end of the tunnel.  With my medicine, ShakeO, and living a healthy lifestyle, I am finally in control.”


You got 5 minutes? 

Quick 5 Minute Workout

Here are 5 moves, 1 minute each, that help spice up your current workout regimen by sprinkling it in OR by repeating each set 3-4x to make it a full 15-20 minute workout! Oh — and no equipment needed so you CAN do this during on your next vacation and/or during the holidays! [yeah I said that ;-)]

Watch the video and/or see my notes below. Enjoy!

1) Knee to Nose – start in plank position with your hands directly below your shoulders and bring your right knee in while you bring your nose toward it. Repeat left to complete 1 rep.

2) Mountain Climbers – right from plank position from move #1 run the knees into the chest while keeping the butt down and abs in tight.

3) Alternating Forward Lunges – come forward with your right leg making sure the knee stays behind the toes, go as deep as possible and push off from the heal to bring feet together. Repeat on left for one rep.

4) Star Plank – start in high plank then rotate to right side plank and lift the top leg as high as possible while keeping the hip lifted. Return to regular plank and repeat on left side for one rep. Modification = while in side plank drop the bottom knee to the floor/mat.

5) Lateral Side Shuffles – shuffle to the right and lunge down with left hand on thigh while right hand reaches for the floor. Repeat left to complete 1 rep. >>Tip: keep your head up and looking forward (instead of down) to avoid getting dizzy.

>>> If you decide to try this let me know how it goes by commenting below 🙂


Where do I start?

I guess we can start with how hesitant I initially was to put these photos up for the world to see. Only a select group had seen this so far. I mean, I knew that this could help inspire others, but my ego and insecurities made me hesitate and actually procrastinate. Because I’ve been wanting to put this up for a while now…

But I knew in my heart that I HAD TO! And if I could INSPIRE even a few people, it would be WORTH it being VULNERABLE and posting it up for whomever to see.

Instead of me just repeating what’s on the About Me page … I’ll share some different insights 🙂

→ So you know, the transformation goes from left to right. And the last photo – the one in the fuchsia pants – was taken around Spring. I’ll be posting some more after photos because I’m still transforming 😉

And don’t you love my mugshot look on the top left <insert sarcasm>!

Most of you know that my soul mate workout is Turbo Fire/Kick. So Turbo has A LOT to do with my transformation. But I was also doing ChaLEAN Extreme during this period, which is a strength training program designed to help build muscle and lean you out without the bulk! After all, “muscle does burn fat!”

I was also drinking Shakeology daily as either my breakfast or lunch. I now drink it generally as a snack for my daily dose of health, because my goals are less weight loss and more cleaner eating, strength/leaning out and overall health. But, what many people don’t often really talk about are your habits and/or your emotions. And to me, this is the MOST CRUCIAL aspect of getting healthier. Yes, working out and nutrition are VERY IMPORTANT. However, without really understanding what makes you tick and without being OPEN to working on YOU on an emotional level, it’s harder to make it a lifestyle. It’s harder to creative positive habits.
And this was key for me. Because it was a struggle at the beginning.

I was definitely losing weight by doing my workouts and learning how to eat better — and people were noticing! But what sealed the deal for making a permanent lifestyle change was truly working on me. I started reading more personal development and surrounding myself with more positive, like-minded people. (Some of the personal development that has REALLY helped me include: “PUSH” by Chalene Johnson, “The Slight Edge,” by Jeff Olson, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,” by Susan Jeffers and “People Follow You” by Jeb Blounts.)

Along with personal development reading, I also really worked on my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) … yes, you heard right, I have OCD! And not the Hollywood version of OCD, but the real tormenting one that makes you feel like a prisoner at times.

Working on my emotional help, provided me better opportunity to create those positive habits needed to help me continue improving and evolving as a person, wife, daughter, friend, professional… and I’m not perfect by any means! I’m still a work in progress. But going through this process has helped me with not only my fitness life, but in so many other areas of my life.

You see … everyone has something. No one is perfect. Even the ones you think are “perfect.”

So go work on that something. Go work on you.

And everything else, including a healthy lifestyle, will all fall into place!


Some great resources:







Are you new to working out and not sure how to start or stay focused?

5 Tips To Help You Get Started on Your Fitness Journey

Have you always stayed in shape by playing sports, dancing, etc?

Watch my 5 tips to help get you started on the right track! Like and/or comment on the video! And of course if you have any questions contact me.