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Escaping Your Fitness Rut: How Environment Determines Success or Failure

Embarking on a journey to improve your health and fitness is a bit like setting sail into the unknown.


It requires preparation, determination, and a dash of hope.


While these things are a prerequisite for the exploration of change, the surroundings you choose to cultivate healthier habits within may play the most crucial role in the likelihood of achieving and sustaining your goals.


Picking the wrong environment can sabotage even your most well-intentioned effort.


In this article, we’ll explore the significant benefits of altering your environment to foster a successfully healthy culture and the drawbacks of remaining in an atmosphere that doesn’t want to see you win.


Why your Environment Matters


Immersion: Place


Let’s say you want to learn a new language.


Imagine moving to the native country and learning from the source. Being constantly engulfed by the local people, food, expression, and energy of what you’re trying to absorb.


The immersive experience accelerates your learning process because you're surrounded by the nucleus of the culture each and every day. You have no choice but to learn. To adapt.


Similarly, immersing yourself in a health-oriented environment surrounds you with positive influences and opportunities that make adopting and sticking to a healthy lifestyle more natural and intuitive.


Everywhere you look and everything you feel will reinforce this new identity of who you’re trying to become.


Influence: People


Now, let’s say you need to change some destructive habits that don’t serve you.


Imagine trying to get sober or maintain sobriety, while frequently being surrounded by addicts.


The constant exposure to substance abuse, persuasion to take part, and the human nature of wanting to fit in, would make resisting temptation and maintaining your resolve much harder, if not impossible.


This parallels the difficulty of trying to cultivate healthy habits when surrounded by individuals who engage in the kind of habits and lifestyle you’re trying to escape.


You’re highly likely to pick up the habits of the people you surround yourself with. Even if you don’t want to.


The Benefits of a Supportive Environment


1. Enhanced Motivation and Energy


A change in environment can dramatically boost your motivation. Being in a vibrant, health-focused setting can invigorate your spirits and energize your body, making you more eager to engage in physical activities.


This could be as simple as joining a gym where others are also striving toward similar fitness goals or moving your workout routines to a refreshing outdoor setting like a park or a beach.



2. Positive Social Influence


Surrounding yourself with health-conscious individuals can lead to a positive ripple effect.


People who prioritize their health tend to encourage similar behaviors in others, whether through shared activities, recipes, or healthful living tips.


This social support not only makes the journey enjoyable but also instills a sense of accountability, which is essential for consistency.

 

PFT Group Picture

3. Access to Resources and Inspiration


Changing your physical space often gives you better access to resources that can help you succeed. This could mean living closer to healthier food options or having access to better fitness facilities or parks.


Furthermore, being in an environment where health and fitness are valued can provide continuous inspiration and new ideas to keep your routine fresh and engaging.


Not to mention, there’s something tangible about consistently seeing the proof in the people around you that it can be done.


The proximity makes it feel close. Like you can almost touch it. That it is possible.



Pro Tip: Surround yourself with people who are living the way you’d like to live. This is the only “fitness hack” I’ve ever found.


Drawbacks of Negative Influences


1. Reinforcement of Poor Habits


Just as positive behaviors can be contagious, so can negative ones (maybe even more so).


Staying in an environment where unhealthy habits are the norm can reinforce your old ways and make changes much harder to implement.


For instance, if those around you engage in excessive eating, drinking, or sedentary behaviors, it might become more challenging to commit to a healthier lifestyle.


Your energy will start to mimic theirs, good or bad.


Plus, as sad as it is, they may secretly hope you fail so they don’t have to feel the weight of responsibility. Knowing that if you did it, so can they.


2. Pessimistic Attitudes and Discouragement


People who exhibit a negative attitude towards health and fitness can be a significant barrier to your progress.


Negativity can sap your motivation and might lead you to question the value of your efforts, potentially causing you to abandon your health goals prematurely.


I cannot stress enough; how important it is to change your environment if you’re struggling to make lasting change.


Lessons From War


During the Vietnam War, a significant number of U.S. soldiers were exposed to and subsequently became addicted to heroin.


Surprisingly, upon returning to the United States, these soldiers were far less likely to continue their heroin use compared to typical American heroin addicts. The key factor influencing this phenomenon was a drastic change in the environment.


In Vietnam, the stressful conditions of war, easy access to cheap heroin, and the camaraderie among users created an environment where drug use was highly prevalent and somewhat normalized.


However, once the soldiers returned home, they found themselves in a completely different setting.


For most, this new environment did not have the pervasive availability of heroin, nor did it have the same triggers associated with the stress of combat and daily survival.


Moreover, they returned to family, friends, and communities that generally did not support drug use.


This shift demonstrates the profound impact that environmental factors can have on behavior.


The soldiers’ likelihood of continuing drug use diminished greatly because their home environment did not reinforce the addiction cycle.


This example underscores the importance of environment in both the development and destruction of addictive behaviors.


Conclusion


Changing your environment can be the single most powerful step toward achieving your health and fitness goals.

 

By positioning yourself in settings that support your goals, you foster the conditions and connections necessary for success.

 

On the flip side, remaining in a familiar yet negative environment can impede your progress, drain your energy, and diminish your motivation.

 

Just as immersing yourself in a new culture can lead to fluency, and avoiding triggers can aid in sobriety, creating a supportive physical and social environment is crucial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

 

On a long enough timeline, you become your environment.

 

Make any necessary changes to ensure your environment mirrors your aspirations.

 

Committed to Your Success,

Coach Michael

 

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