Keep Your Friends Close and Your Best Friends Closer
When you get knocked down, who pulls you back up? When life just throws too many curveballs your way, who helps you knock one out of the park? Who will have your back no matter what happens?
Though the support of your family members and bariatric surgeon in Ypsilanti or Saginaw will be crucial during your weight loss journey, never underestimate the power of a strong friendship. Unlike your relationship with a spouse, sister or parent, the bonds you share with your closest friends are not legally-binding or based on blood—we pick our own friends voluntarily, and this can make our relationships with them stronger and even more substantial—especially after bariatric surgery.
A close friend is there through the good times and the bad, giving you a friendly face to laugh with or a gentle shoulder to cry on. Research has shown that close friendships can lower our blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce stress levels and even increase life expectancy. But more than that, our friends are pivotal parts of our lives—they help to define who we are and who we will become.
Unfortunately, some friendships slip away with the ticking of the clock, neglected in favor of responsibilities to our jobs and families. We move apart, we lose touch and soon even close friendships can fade into formality.
Maintaining your friendships is one of the best ways to stay supported, both in your weight loss program and beyond. Yes, your weight loss surgeon and support groups will be important elements of your support system, but your friends offer a different kind of support entirely: we share laughs with them, we confide in them and their patient ears are only ever a phone call away.
Here are a few ways to keep your close friends close:
- Plan activities together. Scheduling monthly or weekly get-togethers around your other responsibilities will ensure that you always have time to connect with your friends. This can mean a social gathering, but it can also be something related to your weight loss program. Talk to your friends about taking a walk together each weekend, going to the gym together once a week or having monthly dinner parties that focus on the healthy foods of your bariatric diet. Eating together may be a particularly potent way for all of you to stay healthy—some studies have shown that eating with friends or family can lead to healthier eating choices.
- Don’t just Facebook. Our modern society has developed many different ways to keep in touch without actually staying close. Though Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are great tools for reconnecting with old friends or keeping long-distance contact with some of your best buddies, we shouldn’t let our social media conversations become surrogates for face-to-face interaction. There are some things that you just can’t say in a message, text or tweet. Don’t let all of your friends become Facebook friends—the next time you’re about to message a friend or write on someone’s timeline, think about giving them a call or arranging an in-person hangout instead.
- Adapt. All of us change and so do our schedules, wants and needs. You should stay open and flexible, allowing each friendship to change and grow as each of you does. Remember that even when a friend seems more distant than before, friendships are fluid and will change throughout your life. A once-close friend may become close again, even if years later. The bonds you’ve built can last forever even when the conversations between you slow—don’t write a great old friend out of your life because the two of you have drifted apart. Just be sure that the changes in your friendships are comfortable for all involved.
A true friend is hard to find, but not hard to keep. By maintaining your close friendships, you can find the support you need for a successful weight loss program and a happy, healthy life.
How else can we stay close to our friends afteror Ypsilanti? Share your experiences, tips and questions with us in the comments below.