This week both Marty and Chris discussed the importance of relationships. This is such a crucial (and often forgotten) component to successful change. Many scientists have studied the impact of social networks on health and well-being. At first, researchers evaluated whether people had friends and interacted frequently with family members. Then they studied whether the number of these interactions was related to health. The problem with this approach is that a person may have many social contacts, but the contacts may not all be positive. More recently, experts have agreed that the quality of a person’s relationships is the key. People who have relationships they can count on for emotional support (love, care, concern) and tangible support (financial assistance, baby-sitting) live longer and are healthier and happier than those who do not have these relationships. If support can be so helpful, you have to ask yourself two questions:
1. Why is it so helpful?
2. What can I do to get more support or to take advantage of the support I have?
In answer to the first question, support may be helpful for many reasons. Just feeling cared for may help inspire you to lead a healthier lifestyle, to do things that make you more joyful, and perhaps even influence your immune system. As for the second question, ultimately you know your friends and family best. You know who would be best to pursue a partnership with in order to get healthy and well. It may be a coworker, good friend, neighbor, or relative. Always remember that when thinking about social support, the number of friends you have may be far less important than the quality of those relationships.
I have greatly enjoyed getting to chime in during this sermon series. As my time on Jim’s blog comes to an end, I want to reference one of the most impactful resources that I’ve found in my career as a dietitian. The National Weight Control Registry is the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance. The NWCR is tracking over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time. Here are the top ten habits of these individuals:
1. Journal their food intake.
2. Count calorie or fat grams or use a commercial weight-loss program to track food intake.
3. Follow a low-calorie, low-fat diet. Take in about 1,800 calories a day and less than 30% of calories from fat.
4. Eat breakfast regularly.
5. Have a positive self-esteem.
6. Eat similar foods regularly and don't splurge much on holidays and special occasions.
7. Walk about an hour a day or burn the same calories with other activities.
8. Watch fewer than 10 hours of TV a week.
9. Weigh themselves at least once a week.
10. Dine out an average of three times a week and eat fast food less than once a week.
Most of these habits should not surprise you, as we’ve touched on them throughout the series. The missing piece to these, of course, is our faith. As we continue on this health journey, we must remember that without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrew 11:6) and that, above all else, we are to love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength (Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark 12:30).