"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:
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:
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