There were some pants I didn’t even bother taking off the hanger because I knew they would squeeze into my hips and make me suck-in hard just to get them to clasp shut. What was the point?
When I decided to try and lose weight in the past, I would put it off and put it off until one day I realized I couldn’t wear any of my favorite pants any more.
That thought really depressed me and made getting ready in the morning so much more stressful! I literally wasted half an hour or more changing outfits. Just trying to find something that didn’t make me look frumpy, but didn’t squeeze into me.
So then I would decide, “Okay, I’m going to lose weight!”
And that motivation would last…maybe two full weeks. If I was really determined. But it wasn’t too long before I started to feel bored with the diet foods I was force feeding myself, or I would start to justify eating a bagel here and a piece of cake there.
I would tell myself, “I’ve been really good. I deserve this!” a little too often.
Or I would eat for comfort or stress relief, not even realizing it and before I knew it, the pound or two I might have lost from being strict came back and my motivation was shattered.
Part of the problem was that I was on my own.
Not having anyone else to confide in, vent to, ask questions, or confess to wore me down since I had to carry the burden all alone.
How a community can help you lose weight
There’s a lot of research that talks about the added benefits of losing weight with other people.
Keep reading because I’ll recommend the easiest and fastest way for you to get a community – even if you have no time to go to physically meet people and don’t know where you should find them.
Here are 5 reasons sharing the burden of trying to lose weight can help you see past your downfalls, feel encouraged and push past old roadblocks to reach your goals.
1. Community makes it fun!
Never underestimate how important fun is!
A friend of mine told me about how she kept trying and failing to lose 15 pounds.
“It was the usual. I would do really well, get too cocky and then gain it right back. But that was starting to get really old!”
One day, a co-worker saw she was frustrated and asked her if everything was okay.
Rather than give the usual, “Oh yeah I’m great!” She decided to be honest and confided this frustration to her co-worker, who happened to be dealing with the same frustration herself.
The two decided to team up and become accountability partners. After a little while, others in the office noticed their shrinking waistlines and overheard them swapping exercise tips and recipes in the kitchen.
Soon, a whole group of women were part of the community, and as a group they each lost and kept off more weight than any of them had on their own before!
When you can bounce ideas off of someone, get encouragement when you’re feeling low and get pats on the back when you’re doing well, it’s way more fun losing weight because you get to interact with people and work toward something together.
2. Community shares the burden, which relieves stress
I remember the first time I admitted to a friend of mine that I was having trouble losing the last few extra rolls on my tummy after having my kids.
I felt like I had crunched myself silly, burned hours on the treadmill and still made no impact on my tummy chub.
What was wrong with me?!
Just having her nod in understanding and say,
“I totally know what you’re talking about.” made me feel so much better!
Have you ever felt that moment when you share something that has really been bothering you? I mean not just bugging you a little, but really weighing on you. You know how good it feels when the person you shared with totally gets it?
A weight lifts off of you when you realize you’re not crazy, you’re not a failure, you’re not broken. You’re just struggling with something like a normal person! It’s so encouraging, isn’t it?
That feeling is powerful. That feeling can change things. It can change your perspective and even how you physically deal with the stress of agonizing over something in your own mind alone.
Remember middle school? You shifted uncomfortably in your metal desk as the last few minutes of an hour-long final exam closed in on the giant wall clock at the front of the room.
But you were still stuck on a problem. Okay, a couple problems. The big ones that you knew were going to cost you big time. You also happened to be sitting next to the smartest kid in school and the temptation to just peek over and see what they put down was overwhelming.
But then your mom’s voice boomed in your head, “You’ll only be cheating yourself.”
You didn’t know what that meant at the time, but now you do.
And even when that conscience was too weak to keep you from lifting your eyes over the shoulder of the straight-A-student’s paper, the idea of having to look your teacher in the eyes if she caught you, did.
Not that people in a weight-loss community shame or embarrass each other, but just the idea of having to answer to someone other than yourself is very powerful.
It takes the problem outside of your own head and makes it stare back at you.
4. Weight-loss is contagious
A client of mine actually told me she had to spend less time with a couple of her friends who ate really unhealthy.
“It wasn’t that I was looking down on them.” She said, “It was just that they were kind of dragging me down. I would do really well and start to make progress and then I would hang out with them and all they wanted to do was go get pizza or ice cream and they would just tease me when I said I was trying to lose weight.”
She didn’t end her friendships with them, she just cut back on the amount of time they spent together and only agreed to hang out if they did something that didn’t involve food like going to a movie or a walk in the park.
After a while they all got used to it and after they saw how much better she looked they were inspired to lose weight themselves!
We affect each other a lot more than we realize. We influence each other every day.
From fashion, when we see someone with a scarf or new kind of top we like, to when someone either smiles or scowls at us on our morning commute and it affects our mood, we’re very dependent on and reactive to each other.
This is where the old saying, “Be careful who you surround yourself with” comes into play. If we spend time with lazy people, we tend to get lazy, if we spend time with go-getters, we tend to feel more motivation to achieve our own aspirations.
The same thing applies to losing weight.
There are a lot of reasons that teaming up helps you lose weight, but one of them is that either by competition or encouragement, people in communities lose weight better than those going it alone.
This study talk about how contagious weight-loss can be in a community
5. Sharing with other people makes you more aware of your habits
Another client of mine recalled a time in her life when she was under a lot of pressure at work with end-of-quarter finances closing in on her already over-worked desk.
She confessed to me that she ate a half a tube of cookie dough one night, and I asked her how she was feeling when she did that.
“I was definitely stressed. I was thinking about everything I still had to do and that it was Thursday already. I just stood there and ate spoonful after spoonful.”
She also realized that she had been mentally scanning the fridge, on the way home.
She was thinking of what she could enjoy until she remembered there was a tube of ready-bake chocolate chip cookie dough in the drawer that she had been saving for her daughter’s bake sale.
“I decided I’d just buy another tube because I felt like I needed that cookie dough.”
She hadn’t even known how much she was clinging onto sweets for comfort until she started talking to me about it.
“I didn’t realize I did that. Once it came to my attention, I started noticing I actually do that pre-planning and scanning for treats a lot when I’m stressed.”
Being able to recognize this habit has helped her get a handle on controlling that impulse.
That’s the beauty of airing things out in community.
Why online support groups are excellent communities for busy people
Because busy people don’t have time to attend more meetings!
Of course the standard programs for losing weight can help. Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig are so successful because in some ways they have helped people lose weight.
The problem is that for one thing, you have to dedicate time to driving to a physical meeting and weigh in. Also, you may be looking for a community that is more aligned with your background, education and drive.
Between commuting to and from work, and potentially also taxi-ing kids to soccer practice, ballet, piano lessons and running errands like grocery shopping you don’t have the time or energy for one more trip most of the time.
It’s just not practical for a busy business woman and/or moms!
Crossfit has an incredible community, and it helps keep their members motivated. The only challenge is that you have to physically be there also, which can be tough in our lives – especially consistently.
Even if you don’t have kids, your time is precious and driving across town to get on a scale in front of a bunch of other people isn’t exactly elbowing its way to the top of your priorities list.
There are other programs like Whole 30 that can help sometimes, too, but these tend to be the kind of programs where you lose the weight, everyone says how great you look, and then you put it slowly back on.
They’re too much of a fad. They come and go and then old habits creep back in and we’re right back where we started.
This study talks about how being active in online weight-loss communities really does help people lose more weight and keep it off.
By joining a long-term online community, you’ll find the best support network that you can access whenever, wherever you need it and make it through those rough patches with the support of like-minded women.
As busy women, we have unique challenges and being able to hash out our feelings and stay accountable to people who KNOW the kind of crazy schedules we’re up against really makes such a difference!
For an inspiring and free community that keeps you accountable, sign up for my free Facebook group – Busy Women Get Fit – the group for busy women to feel normal and motivated to get fit, led by me and including many smart, driven women.
Check it out and say hello to me!