Friday, September 14, 2012

Is FOMO Holding You Back?

A few months ago I read an article about FOMO -- Fear of Missing Out. The author argued that one impact of social media has been that we now overextend ourselves because we're so afraid of missing an opportunity. She used examples like seeing a friend post fun photos on Facebook of a dinner out that you couldn't attend. The result of having a few experiences like that leads us to say "yes" too often, wreaking havoc on our schedules, our bodies and our minds which all need some rest. As I read the article, I kept thinking about how for most of my life, being healthy was fraught with FOMO moments. Here are a few FOMO inducing situations and how you might be able to deal with them:

1. FOMO: Social Events -- In our culture, socializing and celebrating often revolve around food and alcohol. Sometimes, we feel like the only way to stick to healthy behavior changes is to avoid social situations where we will be challenged. Rather than feel like you are missing out, can you change the way you and your social circle spend time together? Here are a few ideas: 

Invite friends and coworkers for a walk or hike.

Instead of a dinner-out with your spouse, try a new fitness class together (like, maybe Zumba? wink-wink). Couples who take on new challenges together tend to be happier. Plus, studies show that when you work out, dopamine levels in your brain increase which makes you feel more loving toward your partner. Double-Bonus!

I will be teaching Stroller Strides soon and one of the aspects of the program I like best is that it gives parents a chance to socialize with each other and to build a community while everyone is getting fit! Much better than Moms and Muffins (or Moms and Margaritas).

Maybe exercise is not part of your Healthier You Challenge. Maybe you are trying to eat healthier foods, quit drinking alcohol, or quit smoking. What if you learned something new with your friends that didn't revolve around eating, drinking, or smoking? Take up knitting, or woodworking, or photography.
Maybe you are trying to get more sleep but you stay up late with your partner, or friends, or on social media like facebook. It may not be a matter then of changing your environment or activity but of setting clear boundaries with the people in your life and explaining those boundaries to them. "Hey, _________, I really love our late night chats but I'm trying to get more sleep. Could we get together for a walk twice a week instead?" If your social network is not on board with your healthy changes, it may be time to find some new friends. That may sound harsh, and I don't mean cut people out of your life entirely, but you may benefit from finding people who already engage in the healthy behaviors you are trying to adopt. Hang out with them, learn from them, be inspired by them. Create your own social events that incorporate your new, healthier lifestyle. You won't have FOMO because you'll be too busy having fun in different ways!
2. FOMO: Food --  For some of us, the only way to control what we eat is to control our environments and avoid being around certain foods that we tend to over-eat. You might be like me in that once I eat things like cookies or chips, I want to keep eating them, at that moment, and for the foreseeable future. I find that I have to pretty much eliminate high-calorie, low-nutrient foods to keep my weight stable (crackers, chips, sweets, ice cream). I found out a couple of years ago that I am allergic to gluten, eggs, and all dairy. While it is challenging to avoid these foods, I find I don't miss them as much as I thought I would. I use substitutions and I remind myself how awful I feel when I eat them. It almost always works. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that food is just food and that we really can live without eating certain things. Maybe not peanut butter. But just about everything else we can live without.

What provokes FOMO for you? How can you fill that space with something that will help you with your behavior challenges? Take some time this week to think about it and plan ahead for those FOMO moments!

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  1. I have tried to suggest some kind of physical exercise with my regular group of friends - just a walk. They are not really interested (including my husband). Plus, because my legs are so short, it is usually a stroll for my friends and a sprint for me.

    I tried a hiking club once. When I was left so far behind at the beginning of the hike, I almost started crying and turned around and sneaked back to my car to escape. The leader saw where I was, came back for me, and encouraged me all the way to the destination. I really appreciated that, but OMG, I never did that again!

    I try to provide healthy food options when hosting a meal. Weight Watchers has some great recipes, are very flavorful, and no one knows they are eating "diet" food.

    1. Might I suggest roller skates ;)You are in a unique position with your stature. Keep trying to think of creative ideas that might entice them and where you wouldn't feel like you're playing catch-up the whole time. What about bowling (minus the pizza and beer)? Or, not joking now, roller skating? Or miniature golf? Any movement is better than sitting at a restaurant, right?

      I am glad that you've found some great recipes for entertaining. It's important to provide ourselves options and frequently, those are the most popular dishes. I have a few healthy party food recipes I will be sharing on the blog soon.

      Keep at it Julie. Despite obstacles like the ones you mentioned, you are focused, dedicated, and successfully working your challenges! :)