Getting healthy should not be a secret mission.
Changing your mindset from “I have to do this by myself” to “Let’s do this together” can go a long way to moving you in the right direction toward weight loss and improved health.
Losing weight and getting healthier take commitment and motivation – 2 things that can wax and wane as time goes by.
One way to keep your motivation strong and moving in the right direction is not to go it alone.
Every day when counseling patients, I ask them about their support system that includes family members, friends, neighbors and work or school colleagues.
But this can also extend to people you share common goals with in other areas of life like your place of worship, volunteer organizations, workout facility, any hobby or class you take, or any social media group you’re involved in.
Finding people in these groups who share some of your same values and healthy lifestyle goals can be incredibly helpful.
Here are some examples that have helped my patients and can help you too:
1 – Rally a ‘team’ to support your healthy eating goals
Take time to verbalize your goals to family members that you’re trying to eat healthier and would like their support.
This may involve keeping less healthful snack foods like chips and cookies out of the home or off the counters and out of sight, and replacing them with healthier snack foods like single serve nut packs, popcorn or frozen fruit bars. All family members need to be on the same page for this to work.
Other examples are cooking healthier family meals or sharing entrées when dining out together.
Maybe your workplace can develop new policies to make your workplace eating environment healthier?
2 – Identify ‘move more’ buddies
For many people, becoming more active is easier when you have a buddy.
Is there a work colleague who can join you for an after lunch walk?
Do you have a neighbor or friend to walk with in the neighborhood or at an indoor community walking track?
Do you have a family member looking to de-stress at the end of a hectic day?
Is your dog looking for more leash time?
3 – Find the fun by pursuing a hobby or taking a class with like-minded people
Group activities can be a great motivator because if you don’t show up, you will be missed.
My wife (and co-author) enjoy dancing with a group multiple times per week.
Joining this dance community has really been life-changing because we now have a community of people we look forward to seeing and who share common interests.
I encourage you to challenge yourself and try a new group activity, such as ballroom or tap dancing, tennis, pickleball, biking or a spin class.
4 – Join an online community that shares your values
Are you a member of any Facebook or social media group that promotes living a healthy lifestyle? If not, take the time to find one.
Find a healthy cooking newsletter that can deliver healthy recipe ideas to your inbox regularly to keep you inspired.
If you’re someone who has been struggling with weight bias and are looking for a community who understands and can help, join the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) at https://www.obesityaction.org/, an advocacy group dedicated to fighting weight bias.
As a past member of OAC’s advisory board and a Co-chair of their yearly program committee (for 8 years), I applaud the work they do.
5 – Go with a pro
Though primary care providers may be supportive of your efforts to lose weight and get healthier, they often have limited time and tools.
If you’re struggling with healthy meal planning, consider making an appointment with a registered dietitian nutritionist. Even just 1 or 2 visits can set you on the right path.
Ask your primary care provider for a referral or visit https://www.eatright.org/find-an-expert to find a registered dietitian nutritionist expert in your area.
If you’re still struggling losing weight, you can find an obesity medicine physician specialist in your area by visiting https://abom.learningbuilder.com/public/membersearch.
If exercise is a struggle, you can partner with a personal fitness trainer or even a physical therapist in your area to develop a safe exercise program.
The bottom line is you don’t have to go it alone! Give your motivation a big boost by reaching out to others.
Enjoy your health!
Robert Kushner, MD