“The Friend Effect” Why friends don’t really help friends

The Friend Effect

A New Year Blog Post by Peter Pinto
The New Year is here!  You’re probably thinking about your health or, more accurately, your weight.  The new year, of course, brings with it new hope, and therefore you’re most likely excited about hitting the gym or beginning a regiment of running and biking.  Regardless of the exercise you choose, you know exercise shall be done, along with eating smarter which will take place simultaneously… not a moment sooner.  There’s just one last thing you need to obtain in order for your goals to come to fruition.  A friend.  A comrade to help you stay disciplined while you share in the pain and starvation.  Someone who will accept your lies detailing the deliciousness of kale and pea protein smoothies.  
Now, exercise and cleaning up your diet doesn’t need to be as painful as I just made it sound.  I talk about smarter ways to make your diet and exercise plans more enjoyable often, but that isn’t what this article is about.  This is about one of the greatest flaws in habit change people don’t talk about.  “The friend effect.” 

Here’s a common example of the “Friend Effect” in play.  

It’s the new year and you’ve decided to get fit.  Most likely, this is the 5th 6th or 7th new year you’ve decided to get fit, but this year will be different.  Yes, you’ve failed all of those other times along with a handful of additional occasions that had nothing to do with the New Year, but this year… this year will be different!  This year you’re going to find a friend with a similarly shitty health situation and combine forces to keep each other on track.  Your friend has likely failed at losing weight and keeping it off even more times than you have, but she too will reap the benefits of this colossal, collaborative quest!  
Let’s set the scene.  You and your buddy are both, let’s say, 30 pounds overweight.  You both feel like you lack discipline. You discuss with one another how doing everything together will prevent you from giving in to the usual cravings and weaknesses to which you commonly admit defeat.  When one of you is feeling lazy, the other will be there to provide the proverbial boot in the ass!  While one of you reach for the slice of pizza the other will be there to slap it out of the weakling’s hand.  
The plan is flawless!  No one has ever failed to achieve their New Year’s resolution when they’ve teamed up with a partner in possession of the same goal!  

It’s Go-Time!

You start off, day one.  You and your teammate head to the local gym together and get a serious 1-hour workout in.  You may have overworked yourself, and you know you’re going to pay for it later in the form of soreness, but the energy was flowing and there was no way you were leaving that gym until you felt sufficiently worked.  This goes on for the next 2 or 3 workouts, and then one day your friend texts you just before you head out the door and says, ”I’m so tired.  Work was really stressful.  I think I need to let my body rest a bit and I’ll get back into it tomorrow. 
You give it the ol’ college try to motivate your pal with your text response, “Aw c’mon!  You’ll feel better once you start moving.  Let’s go! I’ll meet you at the gym (muscle emoji)!”  
Radio silence… 
Then the next text comes through, “I can’t.  I’m sorry.  Tomorrow for sure!”
And along with the sound of that last text alert comes the crashing of the first domino. 

A Crack in the Foundation…

On another day during lunch, you decide a salad just isn’t going to cut it.  You’ve been having a bad day since the moment you had opened your eyes.  You missed your alarm, woke up late, and didn’t have time to grab a morning coffee.  Then when you got to work, everything that could go wrong went wrong.  You know what’ll make you feel better?  Eating a familiar meal.  Maybe a turkey sandwich with all the fixings on some artisan bread, a soda… and a chocolate chip cookie to cap it off.  Luckily your friend is there put a stop to this madness.
“Just eat something healthy.  The bread is going to ruin your progress.”  Your accountability partner warns.
You quickly defend your decision.  “I know. I know.  I just need to have something right now.  I’m too stressed.  My day has been terrible from the start.  I just don’t care right now.”
Your friend, being sympathetic, understands what you’re going through gives you a soft look and simply nods.  She gets it.  She’s been there plenty of times herself.  

Support vs. Support

This is the “friend effect.”  Because you and your friend both struggle in this same area, you too easily sympathize with one another over the struggles of a stressful work life, a lack of energy, and feelings of guilt around self-sabotage.  Instead of supporting and checking each other in times of weakness, you support each other in another way by consoling one another in moments of failure.  You end up supporting each other emotionally when you fail because that’s what friends do.  That’s not the kind of support you were looking for when started this whole new year resolution thing, right?  You see where I’m going with this.
The point is, if you have a big goal you want to reach, you can’t team up with someone at the same level of success in that area.  You must seek out someone who has already achieved some level of success in that field.  We already intuitively know this when operating in the business world.  You most likely wouldn’t take someone’s advice on running a business if they haven’t already achieved a respectable level of success beyond what you’ve already been able to accomplish in yours.  When others try to give you advice on making more money and they’re broke, you kind of listen, but in your mind, you already distrust the source of information.  This is why you must find and partner up with someone who has achieved a certain level of health beyond what you have achieved.  
Seek out a friend whose new year’s resolution isn’t at all about getting fit and healthy because they already are!  Align yourself with someone who already has all the discipline and focus you need to grow in order to consistently take steps toward your goals.

Hire a Coach

When we work with people in our gym, we understand our role.  We’re not here to help you rationalize why you’ve failed in the past.  We’re here to help you make the right decisions and grow the habits needed to get healthy and fit. We’re here to guide and push you to stay the path. 
Most people just sign up to a local big box gym, like Anytime Fitness, LVAC, EOS, or 24 Hour Fitness, and 95% of people start strong, fail, feel terrible, and inevitably waste good money.  Don’t let this be you this year.  
Join us this January to get the best start you’ve ever had to your new year.  The FitLife Fusion New Year Challenge starts January 5th, it’s $97 to enter, and you’ll get all of the following tools to put you ahead of the game this year.  The best part is you will be assigned to a team and each team will be captained by one of our highly skilled NeuroPro Trainers.  Here’s what you get:
  • 4 weeks of unlimited classes at FitLife Fusion (fitlifefusion.com/schedule for our class schedule”).
  • Daily guidance and advice from your assigned NeuroPro Trainer
  • Nutrition Guidance, Meal Examples, Grocery List
  • Workshops on such topics of Pain Reduction, Weight Loss, Nutrition, Motivation. 
  • Invitation to a private support group on facebook supervised by our NeuroPro Trainers.

Visit fitlifefusion.com/my2018 and tell us what your goals are in  2018!

Teaming up with a friend for your new year resolution may not be the best idea. Here’s why…

About Peter

Peter Pinto is Co-Owner and Director of Training at the FitLife Fusion Training Facility (formerly The Fit Labs) and Sityodtong International Thai Boxing Camp in Las Vegas.
While his credentials are certainly impressive on paper, it’s his passion for helping athletes of all kinds move more efficiently, get stronger, faster, and watching them progress that really separates Peter from the pack. He exemplifies the modern athlete with diverse experience ranging from lacrosse and football to wrestling and kickboxing which informs his training of athletes from all disciplines and sports with clientele that ranges from UFC prize fighters and NFL players to fitness models, corporate executives, celebrities and anyone looking to maximize the athletic performance they get out of their own body.

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