Anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you. - Misty Copeland
A health or weight loss journey can feel like a lonely one. Despite the fact that others may be aware of our goals, we are the ones getting up early to move, making the best choices four ourselves on the menu, and taking steps each day towards our desired reality. No one can do it for us. For some of us, the people closest to us may not appreciate what we are doing or why we are doing it. Sometimes supportive family and friends don’t support in a way that is helpful, despite their best intentions. As a result, some choose to keep this journey quiet, especially in the beginning, not sharing it with those close, however we know that having the support of others can make changes more lasting and motivation soar.
This Journey doesn’t need to be taken alone. There are a number of ways to get the support of a community, helping you stay the course and continue making steps towards your healthiest life. Since we are still amidst restrictions due to the pandemic, many of us only have access to online support. The great news is, restrictions or not, it's one of my favourite ways to seek and give support.
Here are a few of my favourite ways to seek support and cultivate community online:
There are a number of pages out there that support healthy living. These can be a great resource for informational support - recipes, articles, and resources. By following these public pages, though little interaction between members due to their large size, we can learn a lot from other members. In addition to that, we have the comfort of knowing we aren’t alone in our experiences or feelings. The downside to these is that some of these pages highlight comments or information that is not helpful to us. We each need to decide in these cases if what we get out of these groups outweighs the less helpful parts.
You can find groups for almost anything on Facebook! Want to learn how to weave textiles, make a jacket for your iguana, or ballroom dance? There is a Facebook group for that. When it comes to health changes and weight management there are a few different types of groups out there - outcome based groups (weigh in each week and post it), process based groups (focus on tasks and habits, like the ones we have at Journey Health Studio), group based on values and beliefs (body positive groups, intuitive eating groups, yogic living groups, train hard or go home groups…), and lifestyle/interest groups (plant based eating, daily yoga practice, runners, grow your own food, or osteoarthritis support groups…). These groups may be private groups or public groups and may be large or more intimate. These types of groups often offer both emotional and informational support. Some people find that by belonging to different types of groups can be helpful - learning from some, supporting in others, and being supported and inspired in yet another. Research has shown that participation in such groups can have either a positive or negative effect on members, so check in and make sure that the groups you belong to are enriching your efforts, not hampering them.
In our groups here (Marching into Spring, for example), we are a process focused group. We set goals and hold each other accountable. I aim to create a fun, supportive, inspiring, space where we encourage and celebrate each others efforts and problem solve challenges and obstacles. This is an active style of group where members engage regularly in the tasks and in communicating with the group. Other groups are more passive, where we participate by reading and observing. You need to find a style of group that works best for you.
App Based Communities
There are many food tracking apps out there, but one thing I like about My Fitness Pal is the community component. Not everyone uses the forum feature in My Fitness Pal, but it was a great source of inspiration and support for me in the beginning, especially. Under the more section of the app, if you scroll down you will see Community. When you click on it, you will be brought into the online world of My Fitness Pal users. You can connect with others getting started, with the goal of maintaining weight, folks with 20, 40 , or 100 pounds to lose, chat with others about food and nutrition, connect with 40 somethings, activity, or read success stories. You can visit as an observer or get right in there, commenting and posting thread topics. Be as involved as you like.
Fitbit is also well known for their community component, a highlight among their features, for sure. Connect with friends and strangers on FitBit and run virtual marathons together over a number of days, do a Workweek Hustle Challenge to see who can get the most steps in five days, or get a group of people together to do a Fitbit Adventure Race. It is all meant to be fun - so try not to take it too seriously. As you go through these challenges, chat with your competition and cheer each other on. It will motivate you to get more steps and fuel any competitive spits out there!
A health journey is easier when we surround ourself with others on a similar path. For many of us, connecting with others virtually can be a major win - we find likeminded people we can encourage and who can cheer us on in return.
Have you connected with others online? What have you found to be the most significant form of online support?