I used to think you couldn’t be healthy while having a social life. I couldn't separate being social from drinking, staying out late, missing workouts, and straying from my to-do list. It was an all or nothing mentality: a social butterfly had to sacrifice health.
I spent the younger part of my 20's yo-yoing between 6 months of being a strict health freak, gym rat, and not allowing myself any sort of social pleasure of any kind. Then I'd feel anti-social, off-balance and miss my friends, so I'd spend the next 6 months of going out and partying, not working out and treating my body poorly.
Fast forward to now when I make it a priority to spend time with people I love, to be spontaneous and say yes to weekend trips, to try new restaurants that might not have my menu of choice. What changed?
Friends and a Social Life are a Necessary Aspect of a Healthy, Balanced Life
I realized that friends, a support system and a social life are a necessary part of a wholesome and balanced life. Humans are social beings, and spending time connecting with other people enriches our lives in ways isolation cannot.
I decided that my need for a social life was greater than the fear of falling off the healthy bandwagon. Giving myself permission to enjoy life, spontaneous getaways, beach trips, road trips, barbecues, concerts and more, was extremely liberating. You really can have it all.
Great food nourishes my body, but being social nourishes my soul. They are BOTH important.
How I've Balanced Both
I enjoy social settings now without guilt.
I've since removed some of the pressure that often comes with going out. I feel totally comfortable being in a social setting and abstaining from alcohol. I know very well what works for my body and what makes me feel good. I go out in a social setting with long-term health goals. I want to feel good and have energy for years ahead.
It was hard to stick up for myself in the beginning when I began to decrease and limit my alcohol intake, but I stuck through it and reminded myself of why I was making this decision.
It doesn't make you "un-fun," a belief I ascribed to for too long. I'm not against drinking or a purist in any way, but right now I'm the girl drinking kombucha at the bar and I'm totally okay with that.
Keeping My Health A Priority
Although I let myself engage in social outings, I don't overdo it. My health is still one of my toppriorities. This means I don't stay out til 3am, and I'm not bingeing on an entire plate of french fries when I go to restaurants. I know what makes me feel good, and what doesn't. I use the wisdom I have gathered over the years. Being healthy lights me up so I don't lose all that when I walk out the door. Everything in moderation.
I know myself well enough to know when I need to say no and stay in for a night of self-care. As an introvert I need my alone time to recharge, which is something I have to honor.
Surround Yourself with Understanding Friends Who Respect Your Choices
When living a healthy lifestyle, everything changes. When I decided to be healthy for good and give up that partying side ofmyself, I completely switched my friend group. I lost a lot of “friends” in that switch. It helped that I moved across the country so I could start fresh, but it was still really difficult. I had to make new friends that loved me and understood my health goals. In fact, many of them too had similar health goals, and this made it easier. I chose new friends who either didn't drink or didn't drink often. I made friends with people who liked to camp, hike, do yoga. It made my own lifestyle choices that much easier when I had friends to share these experiences with.
I Have Grace With Myself
Being hard on ourselves only worsens guilt and stress, thus perpetuating our worries. Adapting an affirmation about self-forgiveness and grace can be helpful. Nobody is perfect, and we shouldn't expect perfection of ourselves. If I do stay out too long, or have a 2nd slice of cake, I don't get down on myself about it. I take it as a lesson and I move on with my life. Having a black or white mindset is toxic, unsustainable and doesn't make any sense. Do you really think you're never going to have another cookie again in your entire lifetime?
Some tips for staying healthy while being social:
Schedule an early morning workout the next morning so you have an excuse, reason, and initiative not to stay out too late.
If you do choose to drink, stick to 1 drink. And be sure to supplement with plenty of H2O!
Choose healthy activities: cook dinner at home, BBQ, go bowling, or go to evening yoga. There is the opportunity to be social everywhere we look…not just at bars.
If you choose to abstain from alcohol, make sure you are surrounded by loving and understanding people who respect your choices. If your friends are making fun of you or making you feel bad for putting your health and body first, then they probably aren't the most supportive friends.
Make friends in healthy settings- whether you go to the yoga studio, climbing gym, or the same smoothie place on the daily, start looking and cultivating friendships with people that have similar interests in mind. Most likely, these people also have their health in mind and will understand you.
Know when and how to say no. If you are tired, beat, etc, it’s okay to say no. Your true friends will not be bothered by this. Saying no gives you a higher level of self-care. Never stop putting your greater good first - only YOU know what’s best for you any given day, so always be ready to make that decision day in, and day out!
What are some things you do to stay healthy and social?
This post is sponsored by my friends at Blue Shield of California. I am grateful that these brands want to work with me to help spread my message of balanced living.