For many of us the weight loss journey is a hard and lonely one.
While some of us can achieve successful weight loss alone, many more need a support network to help us lose weight and keep it off.
This article describes what a weight loss support network is, how it can help, which people make valuable members of one and how to develop one of our own to help us stay motivated and achieve a healthier body weight.
What is a weight loss support network?
Basically, a weight loss support network is a group of people we can share our weight loss goals, challenges, triumphs, thoughts, feelings and journey with, and who will provide support to us when we need it and help us in some way to achieve our goal.
Support networks can be formal, informal, expert, non-expert, online, offline, large or small, or any mix of these depending upon our individual circumstances and needs.
Online networks can be a great help to those of us with weight loss or fitness goals because for many of us losing weight is a daily battle and online support networks are available to us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The most effective weight loss support systems combine formal and informal elements, expert and non-expert members, are both online and offline, and provide support across as many areas as needed from the largest number of sources available.
How does a weight loss support network help people lose weight?
Weight loss support groups can help those of us with weight loss goals in many ways including:
Providing motivation Providing encouragement Helping us to stay accountable and on course Providing us with guidance, advice and information Listening to us when we're feeling down and doubtful Providing friendship when we most need it Helping us feel that we are part of a team and that we are not alone Helping us to overcome our fears Sharing and enjoying our experiences and successes
Which people should we have in our weight loss network?
Generally speaking, when we are putting together our own weight loss support network, we should be looking to recruit the help of people who:
Are trustworthy Are reliable and dependable Have expertise gained from experience Are non-judgmental Are, or have been, in a similar situation to us Are positive, fun and enjoyable to be around Don't give up easily Will be honest with us Will get tough with us if we need it Will forgive our failures and encourage us to stick to it despite them We feel comfortable sharing our feelings and thoughts with We are confident can help us Are as committed to a healthy lifestyle as we are Genuinely care about our health and happiness and are happy to help
How to develop a weight loss network of our own
If we think we need or would like a network larger than just a few people, it may be a good idea to sit down and make a list of the areas in which we would like support. Then we can simply list under each area who we would like to recruit to our support team.
The areas of help we might consider listing may include things like:
Diet Exercise Motivation Goal Setting Progress Tracking Cooking Weight loss information Healthy Recipes Role Models Emotional Support Sharing the journey
Under each of the headings chosen, we can then list people who can help us including both professionals and non-professionals.
Among the professional help available to us are doctors, dietitians, personal trainers, life coaches, weight loss specialists, gym instructors, psychologists, etc, and gaining help from these professionals is as simple as calling their office and making an appointment to see them.
Non-professional help can come from friends, family, neighbours, colleagues and acquaintances, internet support groups and forums (such as the weightloss forum on weightloss.com.au), etc, and help can be gained from them usually just by talking to them about your goal, gauging their reaction (whether they seem supportive or not) and if necessary asking them if they would like to help or get involved in some way on our journey.
Generally, the most useful non-professional network members will be other people who share our weight loss or fitness related goals or have already successfully achieved similar goals.
It is these people who are more likely to form walking or exercise groups with us, share recipe ideas and cooking tips with us and listen to and encourage us when we are finding the going a little tough. They are also the most likely people to really enjoy sharing our experiences and successes.