HOW IMPORTANT IS A SOCIAL SUPPORT SYSTEM?

A few posts back, I quoted another blogger who stated that two of the key components to weight loss success were food journaling and a good social support system.  I found that these two things were and are very important to me.  I thought I’d write today about the different places I found a social support system.

First, there was the friend who originally asked me to go to Weight Watchers with her.  We attended the meetings together, tried out new recipes on each other, shared new snack finds.  Of course, then there was the support of the meeting itself.  My leader is not dynamic, but she is very good at directing the conversation, encouraging everyone, and keeping us on track.  And there were the ‘heroes,’ women whom I watched lose tremendous amounts of weight, slowly and steadily.  It was really encouraging and motivating to me.  There were the stellar cooks who brought in great new ideas, and encouraged me to try new foods and new food combos (this was the reason I first agreed to go to w.w.–I knew I needed some food ideas.)

At work, support came from an unexpected source–the thin girl!  I don’t know how it came up.  I probably overheard her talking to someone else, but she became a real source of information for me.  Turns out, even though she was thin, she was also trying to change her diet a bit, to get her cholesterol lower, and just to eat ‘heart healthier.’  The thin girl turned me on to a really great little magazine ‘Nutrition Action Healthletter.’  I learned so much from this newsletter–the truth about foods and what they do to your body.  Very sobering information.  But it makes it a little easier, sometimes, to turn down a burger and fries when you read about the affect it has on your arteries!  And the thin girl was a very quiet cheerleader for me.  She insisted that I didn’t need to ‘diet,’ just learn how to eat better and different.  Her opinion really mattered to me.

I didn’t even tell my best friend for a couple of months that I was going to w.w. and losing weight.  I think I thought I was going to fail, and that would be too embarrassing.  I’m not really sure why I didn’t tell her.  And here’s the funny thing.  I never thought my BF had any food issues or a weight problem.  But after I told her I was doing w.w., she ended up joining w.w. in her town (we live in different states.)  And now we had this in common too, and could discuss all our food issues, share tips and recipes, and encourage each other when the going got tough.

About the time my original w.w. friend took a break from w.w., help came from another unexpected source.  Another ‘thin’ friend wanted to lose the weight she kept gaining and losing. She had seen my success at w.w., so she joined too.  Even though there was a world of difference in the amount of weight we each needed to lose, we still had more in common–we both LOVED good food.  We enjoy fixing ‘diet’ lunches for each other, trying new recipes and snack foods.

People at work were really very encouraging to me.  They started referring to me as an ‘inspiration,’ which was nice, but added a little pressure and the ‘a’ word–accountability.  I started sharing some of my recipes in the breakroom, and now I have a group of ‘recipe girls’ that I send recipes to via email.  If any of my co-workers want it, I am always more than willing to talk about the whole thing–whatever it is–journey, diet, lifestyle change…its just my life now, I guess.

In between, whenever I thought everyone was sick to death of talking food, and exercise and discouragement and encouragement and celebration and despair, I read a LOT.  I’ve mentioned some of my favorite books, and I would buy special magazines like Prevention, and the People Magazine ‘Half Their Size’ (I’m a magazine junkie.)  And that’s how I found out about the whole blog world!  Lynn Haraldson-Bering was featured in the magazine, and in one of those little sidebar boxes it mentioned her blog, and I checked it out!  So, of course, as you all know, this blogging community has been a tremendous source of encouragement.  Lynn is a great writer, and she is also a part of the excellent website ‘Refuse to Regain.’  Then there was Pastaqueen, and I think from her website I linked to clever bloggers like Tigerlily, Jill, Laura, Vickie…too many to name now.  Tigerlily offered the walking challenge, and I walked 300 miles (I think) in 12 weeks earlier this year.  Roni has the best recipes, and is encouraging and enthusiastic, AND she has videos that are fun to watch.  Mizfit is one of the most encouraging, kind, and active bloggers around, and has lots of practical advice and good exercise videos too!

I guess I want to end by saying that even though I feel closer to some of you bloggers, like I know you better, and have more in common with, than most of my w.w. meeting cohorts, I think there is something very important about a ‘social support system’ that you can physically see and interact with.  We humans were made to interact with one another.  The computer is a source of great good ( I used to think it was evil,)  but it also can have a tendency to isolate us from ‘real’ people.

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “HOW IMPORTANT IS A SOCIAL SUPPORT SYSTEM?

  1. Oh my gosh, I know exactly what you mean about the work people! There I was, quietly changing my habits and dropping the weight equivalent of a small child, and then BAM! Everyone started noticing at work! I don’t know why I didn’t think it would happen, but I felt a little odd about it at first. And I’m feeling the same pressure, because people are saying how “inspiring” I am and you’re right, it’s accountability in a whole new way. Previously, it was only my family, my diabetes health care team, and a handful of bloggers who knew. But I guess, the more accountability the better, eh?

  2. Hey, Debby! I remember when people were afraid that the Internet would cause us to abandon relationships and become loners staring at a computer screen all day. Not so. I believe our lives are more enriched by the widening community of bloggers, particularly in specific subject areas like weight loss. We might not all meet in “real life,” but our computer time is just as real as meeting someone over coffee. Great blog and insight, as always, Debby.

  3. Hi Debby,

    I have just discovered the whole world of fellow “life changers” here on the web. I had no idea that you were all out here! I am just beginning my journey and am feeling–frankly–scared. Thank you for reminding me that I need to share what I am doing with the people who have supported me the most over the years.

    I am looking forward to the many stories of encouragement that are out here on the web, too.

    Thank you for sharing your life with the world…

    Heather

  4. it so depends FOR ME on what it’s for.
    my writing? doesnt matter if I ever meet you in person.

    other goals Im working on? youd best be able to drive to meet me in thirty minutes or less!!

  5. Social support is HUGE.

    If fact, you are part of MY support network. Your most recent info about how you lost 100 pounds using all your flex points really helped me feel better about how I am dealing with learning to do WW. It’s HARD.

    The hardest part is my own pressure NOT to fail. I want to do well – super well, “results not typical” well. That’s dumb, I know.

    I need my network to help me thru it.

    Thanks.

  6. I agree both are needed but for those who aren’t/can’t get the support in person nothing beats online interaction. I swear, after I had the baby, with no close family around the internet and online helpful souls were a godsent!

    Thanks for the kinds words! :~)

  7. Awesome post Debby! I’ve written several times about how I wouldn’t be where I am today (30 pounds lighter) without you and all the rest of my blogging buddies. I have come to think of you all as real friends, just like the friends I see face to face (when we have time to get together – which isn’t often!).

  8. What a super network of people you have around you. The real life people are so important, and I of course agree that our blogging friends are just as important. For me, even more so. Seriously, no one in my “real life” wants to hear about the minutia of my diet/running life. But I can spew it on my blog and people with the same goals as me actually want to hear it! Gotta love having this stuff in common.

    Hope you enjoy your week!

  9. You are so correct! Social support is vitally important. I think moreso the further you go along, because there are less people at goal (or close to goal) than there are just starting or getting back on the wagon.

    And just for fun – you’ve been tagged! Something fun in the blog world!

    You need to make a post with 6 interesting or random facts about yourself, then tag 3 other people!

  10. Just dropping by to check out your blog! I haven’t got far yet, but had to comment here since I agree with how important a support system is. Looks like you have a great one!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s