The less you care about what others think, the better you will do in fitness.
Everyone puts pressure on themselves to improve their fitness levels. When this pressure is combined with outside influences, it can feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle.
We have established social norms in America. If people’s habits and behaviors don’t neatly fall into what we perceive as “normal”, then their actions fall into the category of “weird”.
Ignoring the thought that you’re “weird” and disregarding these bullshit social norms will help shrink your waistline and speed up your progress.
8 Stupid Social Norms to Avoid
Stupid Social Norm #1: You must eat yourself stupid at every occasion.
Nobody wants to pass on pumpkin pie and ice cream on Thanksgiving and open up their Tupperware container to stay on point.
At the same time, there is a strange, unwritten rule that if you don’t eat until you hate yourself, you have failed as an American.
With a bit of planning and strategy, you can make room for any calorie dense feast and stay on point with your goals.
Grandma might look at you weird, but she’ll get over it soon enough.
Stupid Social Norm #2: You must drink socially.
At times, it seems like your early twenties sort of morph into this “you’re still in your 20’s, but only on Saturdays” situation for the 30-something crowd.
Sipping on a water or an iced tea during a Saturday night dinner with others will garner you plenty of odd looks and inquiries about your straight edge decision.
The old adage “You don’t need to drink to have fun,” might fall on deaf ears for some.
But for those who truly feel anxiety and despair when their glass isn’t full on a weekend night or a social occasion? Those who rely on alcohol for their good time?
That’s called an “alcoholic”.
More of us are alcoholics than will ever admit it. If you depend on your booze to minimize your stresses about the week before (or the week ahead), you may want to do some self-reflection and ask yourself some hard questions.
Stupid Social Norm #3: You must dine out when asked.
There will be certain jobs which will require you to dine out with clients.
Most 9-5’s don’t have this expectation, however.
Every office will have people who don’t prepare their own meals. They dine out every day at lunch time, jumping between various eateries and nearby lunch joints.
While eating in this regard is fun as hell, your body fat levels will be screaming at you due to this decision.
All diets that “work” – low carb, low fat, Paleo, vegetarian, etc. – share one common thread.
They all rely on whole foods for the majority of their calories, and they will all require you to prepare your own meals.
Dining out will sabotage you quickly. Feel free to say “No, thanks,” when you get asked. It’s almost never a “job requirement” – it’s almost always a self-imposed feeling of guilt if you pass.
Stupid Social Norm #4: You must eat meals at designated meal times.
There is nothing wrong about your standard, American, 3-meals-per-day set up which is our template for acceptable meal times.
Except, of course, for the fact that most Americans fill in the gaps between the meals with an incessant barrage of snacks.
To stoke your “metabolic fire”, right?
When should you eat? How many meals should you eat?
That depends on your current lifestyle above all else.
Those with a sedentary office job may wish to utilize fasting, and eat two meals per day (lunch and dinner) or even just one (gasp – dinner only!).
Those with a physical, manual labor job may want to go the 3 meals per day, plus snacks in between route in order to properly fuel up with all the calories you’re burning.
Just remember – the time on the clock shouldn’t dictate when food goes into your mouth.
Your hunger levels, your energy levels, your goals, and your personal preferences should be making this decision.
And nothing else.
Stupid Social Norm #5: You must eat what others are eating.
Hopefully those who live under your roof are supportive of your fitness goals.
By default, this should also mean they understand when you pass on the delivered pizzas to opt for something a bit more diet friendly.
In a strange bit of pack mentality, we find it unsettling to be dining on a meal that’s different from the plate of a loved one.
Finding healthy and nutritious meals everyone can agree on is tricky at times. We all have our preferences – whether we are on a diet or not.
There is no reason why the items on your plate must mirror the items on another person’s plate.
In our house, there are times when 3 meals are made: One for myself, one for my wife, and one for my kids.
You may need to find yourself doing the same in order to stay on point.
Creating 3 different elaborate meals will take way too much time. Keep things simple to minimize your time in the kitchen.
99% of all healthy meals look like this: protein source, whole food carbs, and veggies.
No reason to re-invent the wheel.
Stupid Social Norm #6: You must eat dessert at celebrations.
Celebrations have become known for their sweet-tooth, calorie packed desserts.
With Hallmark in our back pocket, the number of “holidays” we participate in has exploded as well.
We’ve got Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Sweetest Day, Flag Day, and St. Patrick’s Day.
Just to name a few. I once ate dessert on Columbus’s birthday, just because.
If you want someone to look at you like you have three heads, say “No, thank you,” when someone hands you a plate with cake and ice cream at a birthday party.
People will be genuinely confused. Nobody turns down sweets.
Perhaps that should tell you something.
Nobody will think any less of you if you pass. They may make a comment, but it will be out of jealousy of your immense willpower.
Stupid Social Norm #7: Males must eat until comatose.
This bullshit social norm is especially true for large males.
I would know – I’m 6’8″ and 240 pounds.
One of the biggest reasons I used to look like a zeppelin is because I wouldn’t say no when someone would hand me a second plate……….and then a third…………and a fourth…………etc.
People will assume because you’re a male that you should continue to eat well beyond what any reasonable person would eat.
When my wife and I were dating, her (very gracious parents) would famously make two trays of lasagna: one for me, and one for the rest of the family.
It took me a long time to realize I would still have their approval if I only ate a small, reasonable portion.
Stupid Social Norm #8: Females must eat demurely at all times.
And of course, we have the flip side of this.
If a female loads their plate up with a significant amount of food – especially meat – they get labeled as a glutton.
Everyone does a double take when a girl has a healthy, substantial appetite.
Let me assure you, there is nothing wrong with taking down a large-sized steak with your dinner.
Next time you’re out at a steakhouse, let your man order first.
When it comes to your body and your fitness, remember, you are in charge.
Don’t let social norms – the way “everybody does it” – mean a damn thing to you.
Doing something different may be the catalyst you need to improve your life for the better.