Having the support and accountability of others can be a critical factor in the success of reaching certain goals, such as weight loss. When you rely on the support of others, you have someone other than yourself holding you accountable to what you said you were going to do. No more relying on your own excuses, now you have others to answer to. Being an “upholder,” someone who is motivated by obligations made to others, a group dynamic does wonders for me. My expectations have been set, I show up when I’m supposed to, all my homework done.
However some of us may lack the support of the people close to us that we count on most: our family or friends. They may even be the opposite of supportive, feeling threatened or confused when you begin to focus more on yourself and your health. Or sometimes bad behavior (eating the extra cookie, skipping your workout) is even more supported than your health goals. If this is the case, remind them of why you are doing what you are doing, that it does not change your feelings towards them, and what they can do to continue to support you. This is also where other social support from group programs, coaches, or accountability partners becomes really crucial.
With group support you can look forward to feeding off the energy of those around you. You will celebrate not only your own victories, but those of others. Their wins will feel like yours, too. And together you will lift each other up and go farther than you could have gone on your own. You also have the added bonus of not just learning on your own, or from the education provided by the coach, but from the collective wisdom of the group. Their insights highlight something you haven't thought of before. Your experience shared with them provides lessons they wouldn't have had on their own. You learn together, and grow together.
There are various types of support you can rely on: emotional support when you are feeling discouraged, practical support when learning and adopting a new skill, and inspirational support when you need a little extra oomph to get off the couch. So what is the best way to ensure you get the support you need? You have to seek it out and you have to ask for it! Find like-minded individuals through programs in your community, your gym, or your wellness center. And remember that your supporters won’t know what it is you need or how much their support means to you until you ask (and tell) them.
So when you are ready to start working on making the lifestyle changes you have been thinking about, make sure to consider the support group you currently have in place, and what other support you may need, in order to set yourself up for success.
Social support: A necessity for weight loss. http://diet.mayoclinic.org/diet/motivate/social-support-for-weight-loss?xid=nl_MayoClinicDiet_20151021
Forrest, S. (2014). Social support critical to women's weight-loss efforts, study finds.
Social Support for Healthy Behaviors: Scale Psychometrics and Prediction of Weight Loss Among Women in a Behavioral Program. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2011.293/full