Get the support you need to be successful

"It takes a village."

In most cases, the age-old proverb calls to mind people in a community coming together to care for one another's children. But beyond carpooling and babysitting, this concept can also be applied to weight loss and healthy living.

When you're embarking on a weight-loss journey, many emotions are swirling—hope, fear, excitement, nervousness—but perhaps the most prevalent is loneliness. It's easy to feel like you're the only one in your world struggling to escape the shackles of obesity, or even just an extra 10 pounds. It might seem like everyone around you is effortlessly fit, able to eat whatever they want without gaining an ounce. But even if you're the only one in your household or inner circle of friends who is on this particular path, it's important to remember that you're certainly not traveling it alone.

You just haven't found your village yet.

Why is Social Support Important?

Experts agree that people who are part of a like-minded group are much more likely to reach their weight-loss goals and to maintain their new weight long-term. Social support provides these three not-so-secret weapons for success:

  • Accountability: Sure, personal accountability is important, but when you share your goals with others, it greatly increases your chances of knocking them out of the park. Knowing there are real people on the same journey, monitoring your progress and cheering you on, you'll be less likely to slack off or give up altogether. Whether it's checking in with a virtual group or meeting a few friends for a weekly walk or run, knowing people are counting on you is a huge motivator.
  • Support: The path to weight loss is not always a smooth one. When you hit the inevitable bumps (or giant potholes), support from others is key. A social support group will be there to lift you up on the bleak days, remind you that setbacks are temporary and provide tips for getting back on track.
  • Motivation: Even when you're making progress, there are days when it will feel difficult or impossible to get out of bed, much less to prep a healthy meal, hit the gym or pass on the extra slice of cake. Social support is an endless wellspring of motivation that can take many forms, from inspiring memes and quotes to personal stories of recovery and success. It's all about drawing inspiration and energy from others.

Another amazing thing about social support is that it's not one-sided. As part of a group, you can (and should) share your own experiences and ideas to help keep others on track. Every time you get a "shot" of support from someone else, pay it forward by putting your own good energy into the universe. You'll discover that lifting others up actually provides an extra shot of motivation for you, too.

How to Get Social Support

If you have friends, family, neighbors or co-workers to lean on, you’ve got a head start! There are countless ways to draw on that source of support. It might take the form of a morning walking group, a weekly recipe swap or something as simple as a group text thread where everyone posts updates and motivational pick-me-ups.

But if local support is not an option, there are plenty of online resources to provide the support, accountability and motivation you need to succeed. In the age of the internet, it's easier than ever to form or join a supportive group.

Here at SparkPeople, the entire site is designed for social support. You'll find it in these key areas:

  • Community Feed: For many SparkPeople members, the Community Feed has essentially replaced Facebook and other social media. It's a place for members to post whatever they're thinking, feeling or doing at that moment along their weight-loss and wellness journey. On any given day, the Feed is filled with motivating quotes, before-and-after photos, workout tips, meal planning ideas and just fun (or funny) observations. You can share your own status, comment on other members' posts or just browse at your leisure.
  • Member Blogs: We encourage our members (including our own SparkGuy) to share their stories, from their moments of shining triumph to their most challenging setbacks. Every day, you'll find dozens of new entries to motivate, educate and inspire. After reading some posts, consider adding your own to introduce yourself to the community and share your goals, which can be a huge accountability boost.
  • SparkTeams: Every weight-loss journey is different, which is why SparkTeams are so valuable. These virtual, specialized teams are a great way to find other members with common goals and interests. Our diverse and eclectic teams include people from all over the world. Tap into the powerful support and camaraderie of a group from the comfort of home.
  • Message Boards: Whether you have a specific question, have completed an exciting accomplishment, are struggling to bounce back from a setback or want to share a recipe, workout or anecdote, the message boards are a safe and supportive space where you can connect with other members. With more than 20 active boards moderated by our SparkCoaches, you're sure to get motivating and helpful feedback.

How Social Support is Helping Our Members

"I found the power of accountability—the more people who know I am working toward a goal, the more people I have supporting me and pushing me to crush my goals. I have gained so much motivation and inspiration from others on a similar journey, and hopefully I can pay it forward by supplying some encouragement and support for others who are lost, stuck or don't know how to begin." WINDMILLS18

"I've gotten so much support from the people on SparkPeople. Without them, I fear I would fail, yet again. I want to share back with people now. I want people to see that it can be done, no matter what shape you're in, no matter your ability level, no matter your age—you can do something." INDYGIRL

"Blogging is a great tool to journal your thoughts and progress through the journey, and [it] helps you see how far you have come when you might be feeling discouraged. The most successful tools for greater health are accountability and community support. You don't have to do this alone—SparkPeople can help you get there!" BEFITSPIRITED

"Social media and SparkPeople have been beneficial for me. I learn a lot from others and it is a great way to inspire and be inspired. Finding support of any kind is essential for this journey. Sometimes our families don't understand, so it's nice to have a group of people who do." KATBRUNNER

"It was the encouragement of all my SparkPeople friends that has kept me going during my down times. Support is so important when you are traveling down this road [toward] weight loss. Even if it is a small gesture of saying 'keep pushing' or 'way to go,' it still makes you smile and know that others are watching and are happy for your little victories." DEBRAJ61