When you commit to losing weight, you are committing to making lifestyle changes. Your new lifestyle probably won’t have room for Thirsty Thursdays, Bottomless Brunches, Birthday Cake, Pub Crawls or any of the boozy, dirty, indulgent social occasions that life has to offer when you’re twenty-something. For anyone who falls into the millennial demographic, this feels like committing social suicide. You are faced with a choice: become a loner or become part of a fitness tribe. When people start smattering their Instagram page with pictures of food, gym selfies and smoothie bowls, it’s not because they think they’re better than you; it’s because they want to belong to something that means something important to them. It is an innate human behaviour to want to be part of a culture, part of a family, part of a movement or part of a group. Most of us don’t like feeling isolated and we certainly don’t want to feel like a social outlier. Whether it’s a language, a strong sense of culture, a worthwhile cause, a closely bonded family or something else, we want people who we can relate to, who make us feel like we are part of something. It’s a shared love, a bond or a feeling of community.
Enter: Fomo. Yes, FOMO is a real thing… even Time magazine has written about it. It’s in the Oxford dictionary. Read the article here. We all have friends and family, and sometimes these things are one in the same. Going on a diet or training for an event has a significant impact on your social life. The strict nutrition, the rigorous training regime, the extra much-needed sleep; these all have a huge impact on your social calendar. I’ve tried going all-in at social events and I just end up over-indulging and feeling sh*t the next day. I’ve also tried avoiding these events altogether and then I just get really sad. I’ve also tried finding a middle ground and that sort of works, but I always feel guilty or boring when I leave early as all the fun begins. And then the next day, I see all the photos on Instagram that I wasn’t a part of. And the late-night snapchats that I’m not in. And the WhatsApp messages that I don’t understand because I wasn’t there. But I tell myself that the FOMO feeling is not as bad as waking up alone with a stinking hangover and that feeling we all describe as “the fear.”
When you’re making a lifestyle change, there is an internal battle happening inside; a conflict. Half of you wants to stay committed to your #fitlife and the other half of you yearns for a shot of tequila in a sweaty club with a sexy stranger. Part of you sees your colleagues eating chocolate cake and you drool a little bit and wonder if it’s worth that extra hour on the elliptical you’ll have to do later. But another part of you laughs because you know that sugar hangover feeling is so much worse than feeling clean, hydrated and healthy. Having lived both lifestyle extremes, I can truly say that I live my life with an angel and a devil on my shoulder. Sometimes I imagine that this is what it feels like to overcome an addiction. My mind is telling me ‘No’ but my body is telling me ‘Yes.’ Am I really missing out on that pub crawl, those cupcakes, that fry-up? I’ve had it all before and I know it may bring me instant gratification, but in the long run, it will make me feel rubbish.
We are all faced with decisions every day, and these decisions determine what we do, where we go, and how we feel. We have a responsibility to ourself to make decisions that will make us healthier, smarter, stronger and more successful. We owe it to ourselves to do things that make us feel good. This is why you get up at 6:00am for a spin class. This is why you dip into your savings to book a last-minute spa vacation. This is why you stay home on a Friday night and pamper yourself instead of heading to the club. This is why you choose a chicken salad instead of a burger. You do these things, not because they’re easy, but because we have to work to be the best version of ourselves. This requires effort; it’s not a given. It’s in our nature to seek instant gratification and short-term highs, but you must learn to use your instinct and recognise when the highs aren’t worth the lows that will follow. Use your brain to judge whether something will benefit your health or damage it. FOMO sucks, but you’ll find your niche and you’ll find your tribe, and when it starts to make you who you are, it will be so worth it.