Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS
Trying to lose weight and get healthy can often seem very isolating. After all, our friends and family can’t lose the weight for us. Creating and maintaining a healthy support system of family and friends can often make or break your fitness commitments. Using a support group will not only help you stay motivated, but will impact your relationships in a healthy way. Your support system can involve exercising with a partner, hiring a personal trainer, or taking group exercise classes. Another great way to build your support system is to find a local group that shares similar fitness interests. Great examples include joining a yoga studio, taking salsa lessons, or joining a rec league. Make sure whatever activities you do are enjoyable and build variety into your workout routines. Being open to new forms of activity will keep your workouts exciting, help you meet new people and can be done with the whole family.
When exercising with a partner or trainer, I suggest you fully divulge your goals and fitness aspirations. Your partner will be able to ask you about your progress and hold you accountable for your goals. Schedule exercise sessions with your workout partners, and make sure you have a reminder system in place. Most people are less likely to blow off their workouts if someone is waiting for them and will be disappointed if they don’t show up. Guilt can be a powerful workout motivator! Your workout partner will also be your alert system for when you are slipping on your goals. Often times we have a hard time looking at our actions in a truthful light. Tough love might be needed whether you realize it or not, and both of you will be there for each other when there are setbacks. Also when working out with a partner or group, determine what motivates you to keep going. Some people love competition and need it to reach their goals. Others find competing with the group demoralizing and detrimental for their progress. Try to only compare yourself to your own standards since everyone’s bodies and fitness levels are so different.
Getting your family involved with your healthy lifestyle is one of the most rewarding ways to create your support system. Children are like sponges, modeling the behaviors they watch their parents doing. Modeling healthy behaviors will not only improve your children’s current lives but will serve them for many years to come. A great way to include your family is to have each member suggest a healthy meal or activity each week. We all had a sticker charts as kids, and we would get a sticker for every good behavior (brush your teeth, make your bed, or do your homework). Why not make a healthy chart to get the kids involved! Every time you do a specific activity such as take a 20 minute walk, try a new vegetable, or eat a healthy snack check it off the list. Once you complete the list, do something rewarding with the family. Make your reward a healthy activity so your progress isn’t hindered. Good examples are taking a family cooking class, playing baseball in the park, or trying a new sport such as paddle boarding.
Family can be extremely supportive when trying to get healthy, but I hear all too often family members unintentionally sabotage good intentions. As you progress along your journey do not be afraid to make sacrifices and just say “NO!” to temptations. Your friends and family might find it strange at first, but do what you have to do to stay on track. If you are giving up an unhealthy habit, odds are your entire family should be giving it up too. If Fridays are always your takeout pizza night, switch it to homemade fajita night with everyone helping cook. If you have a weekly movie night with hours siting on the couch then switch it to game night and get the family moving. Whatever happened to soccer in the backyard or kickball in the cul-de-sac? Now it seems every activity is done seated using your two thumbs. GET MOVING! GET OFF THAT COUCH! GET YOUR SUPPORT GROUP INVOLVED! Everyone will be healthier and happier in the end.