By: Neghar On: December 31, 2012 In: Be Happy, Eat, Featured Posts, Fitness, Lifestyle, Mindset Comments: 45

I like wine.

And by like, I mean I have an affinity for it so strong that I almost don’t want to admit it.

I’m not a lush by any means, as I will always stop drinking once I can no longer appreciate the depth and the breadth of it (usually it’s a 4 glass max). But more than imbibing the wine itself, I enjoy the process of sharing wine with friends. It is, in fact, one of my favorite past times.

On any given night, I prefer to stay in drinking wine with my girls, as opposed to go out and partake in shenanigans. The taste, the company, the way it pairs so nicely with chocolate…what’s not to love?

In the past, I’ve found myself avoiding social interaction when I was trying to stay especially lean-for example when I was prepping for a photo or video shoot. Did you catch that?

I would actively AVOID spending time with my friends because I didn’t want to eff up my nutrition.

Sounds absolutely wild, doesn’t it? But what’s even wilder is how many clients I’ve worked with who have struggled with the same issue. So many of us battle with the connection between social interaction and consumption–we are not alone.

At some point, I’d had enough. I’d gotten so tired of not cultivating relationships because of food; I felt as though I was missing out on my life due to my own lack of self-control. There had to be away to maintain my nutritional commitments and nurture my closest relationships.

So I got to thinking-how much of our social interaction, as a culture, revolves around consumption? And if consumption has become synonymous with interaction, couldn’t we bump up against that and create a new paradigm?

A shift.

The kind in which the fear of food and drink would no longer bludgeon us into hermitage. The kind in which hanging out with friends didn’t also have to mean hanging out with 57 tacos and 13 bottles of wine. (I mean, sometimes, yes).

Rather than go to parties and be restricted to celery and seltzer, I decided to make a concerted effort to engage in more Active Interaction; social interaction based on expenditure as opposed to consumption. Instead of meeting for a glass of wine, I’d meet up with a friend for a yoga class. I’d opt for long walks at the park to catch up on the latest gossip, and invite friends for training sessions rather than dinners out.

The crazy thing? It actually worked.

Now let’s be real–it’s not wine. Or chocolate. But it’s wholly satisfying in a very different way.

Being active with others is truly an unrivaled bonding experience. While we can bond over wine and food, there is a special kind of magic that occurs when these bonds are created with physical exertion. Activity stimulates hormones, encourages self-improvement and ultimately, helps create a better version of you.

Sometimes, my active interaction sessions are verbal therapy; we talk about the current muddy waters we might be navigating, flesh out ideas for new projects or help each other through rough patches. Other times, they are therapeutic without words, such as yoga sessions where we release toxic energy and seek balance, all the while knowing a friend is on the mat next to us, quietly supporting us.

Movement is a cogent form of self-improvement. It’s an act of physical intention, a quest for a stronger body, a healthy heart, a vibrant spirit-a better you. Bettering yourself while spending time with the people you care about creates a sense of community and positive productivity.

Furthermore, while in the throes of physical activity, I don’t think about food. I wasn’t cognizant of this fact until I started to spend more time working out with friends, but training is the only time my mind isn’t on food. This was a pertinent realization in terms of healing my food relationship; the correlation is too significant to ignore.

There are few things I enjoy more than my weekly yoga date with Alli, my enlightening walks around the lake or evening hill sprints with Josh, and my serious training sessions with Jamie. They have further cemented our relationships and filled my life with exuberance.

As the year comes to a close, and you seek to find ways to create deeper happiness in 2013, I propose this:

Replace one social event each week with an active interaction.

If you do this, by the end of 2013 you will have accumulated 52 active interactions. That means that you will spend 52 days engaged in physical activity with friends. I know it seems like a lot, and who really has time for that? Well, you do.

You have time to make your life better and to share that enriched state of living with the people you most care about. That doesn’t mean that you won’t ever share a glass (read: bottle) of wine with the girls or commune with loved ones over a full table; it simply encourages balance in the way we consort, creating habits that will enhance and harmonize our perspective on consumption.

Here’s to a happier and healthier year ahead-make it the most active one yet!

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