Copy and Paste for Fitness & Health

Sticking to a health, fitness and nutrition program is challenging, but it may be easier than you think. Researchers Katy Milkman and Angela Duckworth, authors of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, found through a recent study that copying healthy habits from people you’re closest to works better than researching random advice and trying to motivate yourself to stay on track. They refer to it as the “Copy & Paste Technique.”

We are all naturally influenced by the people we spend the most amount of time with and they can either be a positive or negative influence. Adopting healthy behaviors learned from those who are already successful seems to be the way to go based on the findings from these researchers.

In one study, the researchers examined 1,000 volunteers that were assigned to one of three groups.

  • One group was instructed to make a plan to get more exercise.
  • Another group was told to find out what their friends and family were doing to stay fit and model their approach.
  • Finally, the third group was provided a suggestion for adopting an exercise plan that was sourced from other people.

The researchers found that copying a behavior was better than just making a plan yourself, but interestingly, the best results came from strategies that they could copy and paste from people they knew. 

Bottom line. If you want to be healthy and fit, surround yourself with healthy and fit people. 

You are who you hang with – it’s called contagism – it rubs off! In contrast, if all your friends drink, eat pizza and chicken wings and sit around watching TV all day, that’s probably what you will do as well.  

Everybody needs people in their life who inspire them, challenge them, build them up, empower them, support them, and encourage them to reach for their potential, their personal best, their dreams. 

The opposite happens if you surround yourself with those who are unhealthy, lazy, negative, critical, and who steal your joy and tear you down.

Some people will pull you up and others will pull you down – it’s your decision who you will give your time to.

It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to disown your current group of friends, but here’s some ideas to add more health, fitness and activity into your social sphere.

Do you have friends who are doing things that you want to do and living life the way you want to live? Start hanging out with them more!

Find people and/or companies who are participating in active adventures that are interesting to you? Get involved!  Sign up!

Can you be the one to initiate more active events with your current group of friends? Look for a local event that you could all do together. Maybe suggest an adventure race, a short-distance Triathlon, a Golf Tournament, a 5K or Half Marathon, a Bike Ride etc. Forward all your buddies the info and registration links to make it easy for them to get excited about it.  Be the cheerleader for your group.

When getting together with your friends, suggest a healthy restaurant option, a healthy potluck theme or at the very least bring healthy items to the get-together so you’ve got some choices.

If you have kids, be that positive influence and initiator of fun activities for them.

Hire a Personal Trainer or Lifestyle coach. It’s their job to inspire, challenge, support and guide you to your Personal Best. It may be the easy way to get what you need if your current group isn’t the positive influence you need.

If you have a friend or current group of friends who tend to be a negative influence and detour you from your goals, and no matter what you do to try to instill a more positive, healthy, active, energy it doesn’t seem to work, you may want to spend a little less time with these friends.

Remember you become who you hang with so make your choices wisely!

Your in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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