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by Carole Carson, AARP Bulletin, October 27, 2008
With all the bad news about your friends making you fat, where's the good news?
I think that, rather than focusing on the negative, we can find some very encouraging insights here. If friends can make you fat, they can also help make you fit. But how can we make that happen?
We need to think "FIT" to make our fitness contagious:
● F = Food choices: Make fruits and vegetables your new best friends. While you needn't totally sever your ties with French fries, hamburgers and milk shakes, you need to put a good amount of distance between you and them. However, there's no need to starve. In fact, keeping calories too low will prevent you from succeeding, as it can slow down your metabolism. Instead, think about the colors of the rainbow, from purple eggplant and yellow squash to red apples and dark green lettuce. Experts recommend keeping the good oils, such as olive oil, in your diet. Find friends with whom you can share recipes and progress.
● I = res makeover: Update your body image and reinvent yourself as trim and fit. Our bodies are wonderfully forgiving at any age. When we lovingly nourish and exercise them, they respond beautifully. You don't have to accept elastic waistbands. You can reshape your body image by changing your eating and exercise habits. Over time, the mirror will reflect the new "you." Besides dropping 10 pounds, you may also find that you drop 10 years from your appearance.
● T = Total body workout: Find exercises you love to do and friends you love to do them with. Some exercises you may want to do alone, such as a meditative exercise every morning before you begin your busy day. Others will involve friends, like a spinning class at the local fitness center. Today's choices can be incredibly varied—kickboxing, walking, Pilates, fencing, table tennis, weight lifting, and rock-wall climbing, to name just a few. Find exercises that make you feel like a kid again, and don't be afraid to take up new forms of exercise. Becoming a student again will help keep you young at heart. By engaging in play in the form of exercise, you may help recover the ease and flexibility you once took for granted.
Two-thirds of us are overweight, so we can find plenty of companions to join us when we begin our weight-loss journey. Just as we had fun getting fat together, we'll have fun getting fit together. We can have an infectiously good time getting fit with friends and family.
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