Caroline Shannon-Karasik’s Afterglo

Buddy up for a healthy life

 By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

When we were younger, the adults in our lives urged us to never talk to strangers, chew with our mouths closed and stand up straight when the I’m-too-cool-to-even-stand-up-straight teenage years kicked in.

They often also implored that we use the buddy system. We were to use the buddy system when crossing the street; Use the buddy system when walking home from school; Use the buddy system; Use the buddy system when hopping in the pool.

The method, of course, was developed to teach us that things were better, more effective and often safer, when done with a friend. Should a mishap arise, then you were there to help each other out.

I was on the phone with a friend the other day who mentioned she had skipped her workouts for the last few days as a result of Important Thing #1, Important Thing #2 and Important Thing #3 that had gotten in the way of her sweat sessions.

“Bullshit,” I told her. “I’m not saying you’re not busy, but you and I both know there was some room for a workout in there.”

Was it tough love? Sure. But I said it because I have not only been in her spot in the past, but I knew she needed a little bit of a push to get out of her funk.

We talked about a few different ways she might be able to squeeze in workouts during busy days and then made plans to meet for a run the next day. The rest, as they say, is history.

The truth is, it’s easier to skip a workout when the appointment is made with you and only you. It’s a lot tougher to bail on a friend who has carved out a section of his or her day to sweat it out with you. The same goes for food choices – if you have a confidant who is willing to listen and encourage you along the way, then your journey might seem a lot less daunting.

Try these tips for scoring a healthier bod with the help of a pal:

1. Enroll in a fitness class. Not only will the two of you be making a commitment to each other, but you will also have made one to the instructor and other students who attend. It might only be a silent agreement, but go ahead and let your ego get in the way for this one. Sometimes, the last thing I want to do is go to my regular yoga class, but thinking, “What will [insert instructor’s name here] think?” motivates me to get moving.

2. Plan a double duty date. Meet for a workout at a local park or trail area with your little ones. Give the kids time to play and then plop them in the stroller for their “post-workout” nap. Then, it’s time for the momma’s to get moving. Not only will you both be getting in a sweat session, but your children will soak up some quality outdoor time, too.

3. Schedule phone dates. No, not the naughty kind. Instead, pencil in some time to chat with your pal about health goals, in addition to some issues you might be having with staying on track. Sometimes all we need is a solid vent session and some support from a friend to help us get on the straight and narrow.

4. Have a joint goal-setting session. Sit down with your friends and talk about fitness, health and other goals, and then make a pact – like you did in the good ole days – to check in with each other. For example, if you know one of your friend’s goals is to run a half marathon by the end of the year, then be sure to check in with her every once and a while to see how her training is going. You might also want to send her information about various races as you come across it and simply attach a note that says, “So excited for you!”

All of these buddy-required suggestions are a prime way for helping you to not only get or stay in shape, but to connect with your friends on a different level. A runner’s high is awesome, but it’s also completely stellar when you are sharing it with your BFF.

Who knew using the buddy system could keep you feeling like a healthy rock star? Thanks, Mom.

Caroline Shannon-Karasik is the upcoming author of a gluten-free healthy lifestyle book, set to be released in January 2014. She is the author of the popular gluten-free blog, and is currently training to become a certified health coach. Her writing and recipe development has been featured in several publications, including, VegNews, Kiwi and REDBOOK magazines. Caroline lives with her husband Dan and four adopted cats in Pittsburgh, PA. Caroline can be reached at

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