Helen Keller said it best: "Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light." The road to a healthy lifestyle is filled with ups and downs, but having the support of friends to celebrate your victories and lean on when times are tough makes the journey much easier to navigate.
The SparkPeople Community is full of members who have formed special bonds as they work toward their goals together. Whether they meet for coffee once a week, go on group vacations or just check in on the site regularly, these relationships help define their success. Why go it alone, especially when you don't have to?
Bonds forged through message boards, SparkTeams and our Community Feed happen every day, and, for many, those supportive networks are the glue that holds their ultimate dreams together. Through thick and thin, good days and bad, scale victories and weight-loss plateaus, these six stories from the SparkPeople Community will inspire you to believe in the power of friendship. After all, there's a reason people say this community is unlike any other.
Supporting Each Other Through the Ups and Downs
Trish (RACING4ME) joined SparkPeople in 2006 and soon after started the Rookie Running SparkTeam. The founding members of her team are still her friends today. The original group eventually progressed into distance running and have been meeting to run races together all over the country and even Canada. In addition to the support she's received along her healthy lifestyle journey, Trish also has constant support from her SparkFriends in her personal life. "My husband was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma in June 2011. He had a very large tumor in his chest that was pressing on his lungs. I told my close SparkFriends about what was going on and got so much support from them," she recalls. "They even sent a card from place to place, getting all our friends to sign it. It meant the world to me to have so many friends that are so close to me, yet live so far away."
The group decided to do the Flying Pig Marathon in May 2013, and because her husband was better, Trish initially planned to join them for the race. When his cancer returned in late 2012, she says her SparkFriends were there for her again. "They reached out through text, email, Facebook, SparkMail—pretty much any way they could. They let me cry, laugh, gave me other things to think about." When his health began declining, Trish had to cancel her trip. "The morning before the Flying Pig, Don passed away. My friends that were at the race had a moment of silence for him before it started, and again, were there for me and my family."
The year after her husband's death, Trish's SparkFriends ran a race in his honor.
RV Buddies Become Lasting Friends
About four years ago, the RV Enthusiasts
SparkTeam started planning a get-together. Eileen (JAMER123
) is part of the group that chose Custer, South Dakota as their meeting spot. Seven members of the team were able to attend that inaugural meetup, which is now an annual event. "When we pulled into the campground, we didn't get into our camper for over an hour," Eileen explains. "There were hugs all around and we started chatting like old friends, even though it was the first time we'd met in person." This year the group is planning a trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado. "We try to pick locations throughout the United States so that we can add more people to the group and so some don't have too far to travel," Eileen says. "I know the support I have has helped me lose over 100 pounds, and I know it's helped others in the group as well."
Front row: PJSTIME
, BOOBERRY RUTHANN05
(who wasn't able to attend this trip) made the potholders and PJSTIME made the visor.
An Annual Tradition
) has met a number of other SparkPeople members over the years. "My husband and I travel and if we're going to be in an area where a SparkFriend lives, I reach out to see if they want to meet," she says. Diane met Merle (SHEENADEE
) and Cathy (COMPUCATHY
) on different fitness challenge SparkTeams and for the past six years, they have met up annually. "We were teamed together in some of the challenges and worked hard to complete the required workouts to move to the next step in the challenge," Merle explains. "It really pushed me to do more fitness than I would have otherwise because I didn't want to let my teammates down. Those challenges have been great motivation."
Merle shares that the group often does something active when they meet. "That may be walking around a fun town in the area or walking a path at a local park. Last year we went out on a lake in pedal boats. I never would have gotten my husband out on a pedal boat if it had not been for my visit with SparkFriends," she says.
Diane explains how their friendship has helped her progress along her healthy living journey. "Both ladies have done well on SparkPeople and that has been motivational to me. Cathy writes great blogs, some about pushing through the tough times, and I found her to be inspirational," she explains.
Sharing Chocolate and Friendship
) has met a number of SparkFriends in her 10 years on SparkPeople. In one memorable meeting, her friend Lindie (LINDIEMAE
) came all the way from Canada to stay with her for three weeks. "We went to Lancaster [Pennsylvania] and met up with two other SparkFriends for three days of togetherness. We toured Lancaster, Hershey's Chocolate World
and Gettysburg," Cathy explains, taking care to note that while in Washington, D.C. the group also walked more than 20,000 steps. "It was an enjoyable and fun time together. Even though none of us had met in person before this, it seemed like we had known each other forever because of our connection on SparkPeople", she says. "And because we had all been walking and doing what we could to get in shape, we were able to enjoy activities that might have been a challenge just a few years before."
Being friends with these ladies has kept Cathy motivated to keep moving and not to give up on her personal goals. "We have supported each other through several downfalls in our lives, as well as shared in the joy of successes. Without my SparkFriends, I would not be as active as I am now. I don't want to give up and they won't let me."
Florida Friends Share Love of Tai Chi
Sandi (GOOZLEBEAR) and TALLYFL met on the Team Tallahassee SparkTeam after TALLYFL invited her to a tai chi open house. Now, they see each other in class multiple times a week. Sandi says that TALLYFL has been a source of encouragement on her journey to lose 65 pounds over the past year. "TALLYFL invited me to join I Matter, a SparkTeam she leads, which has also been a source of support along my journey," Sandi adds.
An 80th Birthday to Remember
Gloria (GLORYB83) and Mary (RAINBOWMF) have been friends on SparkPeople for years. "Though we live just two hours from each other, we'd never met," Gloria explains. Two years ago, though, Mary planned a big surprise for Gloria's 80th birthday. "My daughter knew about our friendship and invited her to my birthday party," Gloria recalls. "Mary kept it a secret and surprised me to no end when she walked into my birthday bash! We hugged as though we'd known each other in person for years. Mary brought her sister and daughter who are also SparkFriends of mine. What a delight it was to meet them all!"
Gloria says that Mary's no-nonsense approach and encouraging words have helped along her healthy lifestyle journey. She also credits other SparkPeople friends for keeping her on track. "Thanks to this wonderful site, I've been getting in better shape, lost some of the excess weight and have made many, many friends. I appreciate and love each of them."
Have you made lasting friendships in the SparkPeople Community? Share your story in the comments below!