Be Your Own Cheerleader12 Ways to Build a Support System--and Be Your Own!
-- By Erin Whitehead, Health and Fitness Writer
It can be tough to stay motivated when it comes to weight-loss and fitness goals. Why else do so many people make the same New Year's resolutions year after year? If motivation flits in and out of your life, don't worry—there are ways to make it a constant companion rather than a fickle friend.
One of those ways is to have a solid network of friends and family that knows about your goals and supports you in all that you want to accomplish. But what if your network is in another state, on another coast, or even in another country? Or what if your loved ones just aren't supportive as you'd like them to be? The good news is that with a little know-how, you can put together a support system that will work for you—or become your own cheerleader!
1. Give yourself a pep talk. Remember Jessica, the self-affirming Internet sensation? Sure, her self-pep talk is silly and cute, but she's wise beyond her years and that positivity is infectious. Channel your inner Jessica and set aside a minute every day to let the positivity flow; write down (or say aloud) everything that you like about yourself and your life, and use that minute to reaffirm why you want to meet your goals. You may feel silly at first, but it's harder to feel unmotivated when you're literally cheering yourself on!
2. Find some virtual buddies. Technology makes it easier than ever to connect with like-minded people—and it doesn't matter where they live! Online communities (like SparkPeople) can be great resources for support and tips. Chat on message boards about topics from diet and nutrition to exercise and fitness. There's even a SparkPeople message board purely for discussing motivation. SparkTeams narrow down the focus even more, so click around and to find a good fit for you and your goals.
3. Surround yourself with success. It may be said that misery loves company, but it should be that success loves company. Why are weight-loss reality shows so popular? Because viewers can see that other people have overcome obstacles on the way to achieving their goals. Success stories can be great for lifting you up and revving up that motivation when it's lacking, and reading that someone else had the same problem and pushed through can help you push through the hard times, too. SparkPeople's own success gallery can provide a quick motivational pick-me-up and remind you of the reasons you're taking control of your health and fitness.
4. Pat yourself on the back. Even if no one else knows about your accomplishments, they shouldn't go unnoticed. Commemorate finishing a marathon by framing your bib or medal, or engrave the date of a huge accomplishment on a piece of jewelry. Not only does it feel good to celebrate the achievement, but it also serves as a visual reminder of your progress, which can help keep you pumped up on those less-than-motivated days.
5. Challenge yourself. A little competition can be good for you! Join a SparkChallenge for that extra push you need to meet your goals, as well as the support from others who are going after the same goal.
6. Commit to weekly check-ins. Just because you live alone or with people who don't support your goals, that doesn't mean you're doomed to fail! Unlimited cell phone minutes, email, and web chats can make checking in with a supportive friend or family member a breeze. Set a weekly date with your mom, sister or an uncle with similar goals to help you stay on track.
7. Get involved. If you're new to an area, it can be hard to make friends and find that support system that makes you feel at home. Join a gym, take healthy cooking classes, or join a local meetup to find like-minded people who share similar goals. You may not click with everyone you meet, but in no time you'll have found a key person or two who can be the foundation for your new support system and will help keep your goals a priority.
8. Use your pet as a workout partner. Dogs rarely turn down the opportunity to exercise. If you have a dog but have relied on the backyard for potty breaks, start taking a trip around the block with your new workout buddy! Or get out in the backyard with your pooch to play fetch or chase. You'll often find that once you're outside and moving, doing an extra block or two sounds better than another episode of reality TV anyway.
9. Call on your co-workers. They may not be part of your "inner circle", but if you see them every day, your co-workers can be great motivational support. Make weekly lunch dates (or better yet, walk during your lunch breaks) to check in with co-workers who may be trying to eat better and get or stay fit. You can also give co-workers permission to take away your quarters when they see you heading to the vending machine!
10. Journal. Writing down your goals, struggles, setbacks and successes can be a great way to support yourself even when no one else will. You can go the pen-and-paper route or take it online in a blog format, or even do a video blog. Sometimes just writing about your struggles and reminding yourself why you're working toward your goals is all you need to get going again.
11. Pay yourself.Don't do all of that hard work for free! Set up a reward system that works for you. Throw a dollar in a jar each time you work out or meet a healthy eating goal and watch both your health benefits and your money grow! Use that money for a healthy treat after a few months—a massage, a new workout outfit or a gym membership are all awesome splurges.
12. Reward yourself for meeting weekly goals. If you don't have spare dollars to throw into your workout stash as mentioned above, reward yourself in other ways for meeting weekly goals. If you meet your goal of losing a pound or working out five times, pamper yourself. Whether it's a long bath or a day off from exercise with no guilt, have a reward in mind for meeting your weekly goal and stick with it.