“Really successful people just say no to fat friends” #FFS

It’s November. Like Susan and Tracy, I’m also doing less than I usually do. I try not feel guilty. It’s part of the ebb and flow of the fitness year.

But I’m casting about in the dark and the cold for fitness inspiration. I guess that’s what led me to click through on the following Outside headline, Four Things Top Performers Do Every Day: The best performers in the world share a few key habits, and a new book helps you implement them. It’s the sort of thing that from which I usually shy away. I just know the best performers are going to be men without big family responsibilities or women who’ve made fitness their life. Neither is me.

It turns out it’s a review of Michael Joyner’s book Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success.

The article, I don’t know about the book, is the usual stuff about building fitness into your life and establishing routines that make fitness easy. Habits not choices. Blah. Blah. (Sorry. That’s my November voice.)

Joyner is an early riser, of course.

According to the article he’s built “his days… really his entire life, around eliminating distractions and extraneous decisions. For example, he protects dedicated time for deep-focus work (early in the morning, before his family rises), prepacks his gym bag and lunch with the same contents every day, and even deliberately moved to be within a 15-minute bike commute from his office. In doing so, he reserves energy and willpower for the activities that are critically important to him.”

Nothing new here. I know the prescribed drill. And for some periods of my life I’ve even been that person, setting alarms for 4:30 or 4:45 in order to train before work, getting up well before anyone else in my family.

Not this November though. There’s something about dark, fall mornings though that makes the extra time in bed seem precious. See my post on hugging the blankies in the autumn.

So far all as predicted. But I didn’t expect this in the middle of the article: Apparently successful, physically fit people avoid fat friends.

“Studies show that if one of your friends becomes obese, you are 57 percent more likely to become obese yourself. If one of your friends quits smoking cigarettes, the chances you’ll smoke decrease by 36 percent. These social influences remain surprisingly strong even in the case of second- and third-degree connections. If a friend of a friend becomes obese, your odds of gaining weight increase by 20 percent.”

The article goes on to suggest you should avoid making friends with fat people.


Should I even try to redeem this?

At its heart is a very old idea. You should choose as friends people you admire, who you want to be like. We are by nature social and friendship is very important to us.

I’m more likely to have friends who don’t drink alcohol, for example. And I’m unlikely to count among my friends people who drink a lot.

But you can’t judge habits by appearances. Lots of my skinny friends, don’t have food and exercise habits I want to emulate. Likewise some of my larger friends are terrific cycling companions and cook great meals.

So I choose friends with good habits not friends who look good, by mainstream thin loving standards.

Still, even then there’s scope for some variety. While it’s true that I’m unlikely to be good friends with drug and alcohol using habits, I’m okay hanging out with them once in awhile.

Not all of my friends are non drinking, bike riding, vegetarians. Someone even might smoke cigarettes occasionally.

And once you’re a friend you don’t need to worry about losing me if your healthy living ways take a setback. I also hope you don’t rule me out as a friend because of my size. I suppose if you do that’s okay. I wouldn’t want you as a friend either.

9 thoughts on ““Really successful people just say no to fat friends” #FFS

  1. The self-focused culture of peak performance ‘let nothing stand in my way’ is not for me. My friends are a beautiful tribe of diversity and I love them.

  2. Honestly, you are too kind to this author. How the heck are we equating being overweight (the definition of which and equation to various ills being nebulous to begin with) with being addicted to smoking and drinking excessively?! Adding to your acronym. . .BS! I have fat friends and I love them. If some skinny friend gets fat I will still love them. If I get fat they better fucking love me.Ya, I’m mad.

    1. I actually want to take back the drinking/smoking comment but I’m leaving it there so I’m transparent in my process. If one of my friends takes up smoking, I will still love them. If one of them starts drinking more or slips in sobriety, I will still love them. The thing that is missing in this world view is connection and love and if you are giving up on that just so your abs still show, well, screw you.

    2. I wasn’t trying to be kind. I was trying to find the grain of truth there. I do choose friends I admire. I want to be like you! But that’s not about looks. And there are exceptions. And things can go wrong once we’re friends and I’m not going anywhere.

  3. I think what this really drives home is the point that moralistic judgments about fat are normalized to the point that someone can make this offhand comment and it isn’t automatically recognized for what it is.

Comments are closed.