Whether you’re trying to lose weight or recovering from an accident or injury, a support system can be essential to your success no matter what your goals are. Support from others is not only motivating, but it helps make the journey a little easier. It might even push you to go further than you thought you could go!
Consider a marathon runner. She/he may run the race by herself, but without the support of her coach, family members, friends, and other runners in the pack, it would be that much harder to reach or exceed their goal.
There has been a lot of research on the impact of Social Support, particularly with weight loss programs, and what’s clear is that individuals without some sort of support system are less likely to lose weight and keep it off. In fact, the most successful weight loss or lifestyle change programs are those that offer support (whether from peers or professionals), like Fruit Street (1).
Unfortunately, getting help isn’t always as easy as we would hope. We like to think that anyone would be happy to lend support, yet some people can be resistant to your new lifestyle, even family members. Here are a few important steps to follow to encourage support from those around you throughout your journey:
- Be open and explain your situation. Tell this person why you are making changes, and why it is important to you.
- Focus on specific ways this person can be supportive. Will this person no longer bring soda into the house? Will he or she no longer comment on your weight.
- Explain how supporting you in this way may be beneficial to this person. Sometimes asking for support can mean asking someone to change their lifestyle too.
- Invite others to join you in your healthy plans and activities, such as going on a walk or cooking together.
There are many possible reasons as to why someone may not want to lend support. A family member could be concerned about your new eating habits, a friend may have insecurities of her own, or some may just not understand the reasons or science behind these changes. At the end of the day, you don’t need to justify yourself to anyone. Instead, seek out those who are willing to give you the encouragement you need, including professionals. And who knows, maybe your family or friends will want to join you!
References: 1. Lemstra et al, 2016. Weight loss intervention adherence and factors promoting adherence https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4990387/