Whether you have supportive people in your life or you feel all alone, you can build a strong support system for your weight loss journey. Here’s how!
One of the most heartbreaking emails I get from women is them reaching out to me for support in their weight loss journey because they don’t have anybody else to talk to about it.
I always love hearing from you but it breaks my heart that you feel like you have to do this big, life-changing thing by yourself.
Weight loss can feel very shameful, like you’re hiding some big secret, and it’s isolating enough as it is.
It can feel so lonely trying to make these huge life changes alone.
I can tell you, without a doubt, that I would not have been able to lose 100 pounds without my support system.
Some of you have wonderful people in your life who just don’t know how to support you.
Perhaps you aren’t close with your family and don’t have many friends so you don’t feel like there is anyone in your life you can reach out to for support.
That is part of the passion behind the safe, supportive community we’ve created in our Faithful Finish Lines 2.0 Christian Weight Loss Program (registration will open again in January 2020!).
I have suggestions for both situations below, so keep reading.
Building A Support System When You Already Have People In Your Life
This is for those of you who have good relationships with your spouse, family, friends, kids, or coworkers.
When you have good people and deep relationships in your life, the most common reason they aren’t supporting your weight loss journey is that they just don’t know how.
Here’s how to get started.
#1 – Be Open With Them About Your Weight Loss
You don’t have to share this with anybody and everybody in your life, but the people closest to you should know this is on your heart.
It’s scary and vulnerable to talk about something you’re so self-conscious about (I know I sure was). You might be afraid to even mention it to them out of fear that you will let them down if you can’t lose the weight.
Remember, fear is a liar.
Talk to them. These people love you, but they can only love you to the extent that you let them in.
#2 – Ask For Help
Asking for help is really tough, especially if you don’t even know what kind of help you need! Look through the ideas at the bottom of this post and see if any of those ideas might fit your situation.
Asking for help is also about setting healthy boundaries that will protect both you and the other person involved.
The more specific you can be in your requests, the better.
For example, don’t ask something general like, “Can you help me make better decisions with food?”
Instead, try, “When you are dishing out ice cream at night, can you use a small bowl for mine, please?”
I do NOT appreciate it when my husband turns into the food police and says things like, “Haven’t you had enough chips?” But I really do appreciate him following through on my specific requests.
I’m sure the people in your life are doing the best they can in the ways they know how to support you, but it’s your job to show them what’s helpful and not.
There will probably be some trial and error as you figure out what your boundaries are, but don’t give up!
You’ll get there and it’s a win-win. They get to be a part of you reaching your goal (which feels really good) and you get to your goal faster!
#3 – No, But Seriously, Just ASK
Okay, I know this was number two, but I need to emphasize this again. Your support system can be in unlikely places. You never know what’s on peoples’ hearts.
It never hurts to just ask.
Bring up the topic and see where it goes.
When I moved back to Colorado, I just assumed I would need to go running by myself because I didn’t have any friends in the area who were really into running.
Guess who turned out to be my running buddy?
My 65-year-old mother.
I never would have guessed she would have even been interested and she was hesitant to ask because she was afraid she would slow me down.
For two years, we ran 3 miles on 3 mornings a week (we worked up to that distance) and I was so thankful for her company!
Don’t let assumptions hold you back. Look in unlikely places.
Building A Support System Without People In Your Life
This one can be tougher and it involves you stepping out of your comfort zone even more.
What I want to encourage you with most is that people are out there.
I fell into the trap of believing my job was to wait. My support system would just happen. People would find me and reach out.
That kept me stuck and lonely for a long time.
Sometimes it works that way, but more often than not, it is your job to build your own support system.
It requires you to make the first move, which can feel so vulnerable and awkward and uncomfortable (I’ve been there!).
Sometimes, it won’t turn into anything. Other times, you will find a lifelong friend.
But you have to get yourself to take the first step.
#1 – Start Online
Let me be clear that having an online community is NOT a substitute for having an in-person community.
With that being said, it’s a fantastic place to start! It can be much easier to write a Facebook comment than approach a stranger at church.
Years ago, I joined a group of food bloggers who were doing a couch to 5k and I ran my very first 5k. It was so scary to join, not knowing anyone in the group or if I even could run a 5k!
But I signed up and I’m so grateful that I did! I didn’t get close to everybody in the group, but I really got along well with one girl who also ran with her dog and we became friends and even went to a blogging conference together.
There are opportunities everywhere, but you have to keep your eyes open and, most importantly, you have to respond to them!
If you’re not sure where to start, I highly recommend joining our free Facebook group, Christian Weight Loss for Women. This is a safe, encouraging, wonderful community to be a part of.
#2 – Keep An Eye Out In Unexpected Places
As I mentioned, there are people everywhere that you may never have considered making a part of your support system.
I worked as a sign language interpreter for a school district for 8 years. I was always friendly with the teachers I worked with, but it usually ended there.
One particular teacher brought a green smoothie into work every day. At the time, I’d never tried putting vegetables into a smoothie, so I asked her for her recipe.
That one question turned into her bringing me a green smoothie the next day and that began a friendship. She gave me workout ideas (she was a physical trainer) and she was the reason I eventually pursued my own personal trainer certification.
People have a lot of unseen parts of their lives. Ask questions. Talk about things you’re working on. You never know where you’ll find that overlap of interests!
Talk to people – at work, at church, at the grocery store, at the gym, at coffee shops (the only reason I connected with my amazing small group is that I talked to an older gentleman at a coffee shop one morning!).
#3 – Have Confidence
As I said, it can be really nerve-wracking to start a conversation with people. I get it!
I’m an introvert. I’m not good at small talk and talking to strangers is scary. I worry about saying the right thing and I hate not knowing how the other person will respond.
You are not alone in your fears, but don’t let your insecurities call the shots!
If I can do it, so can you.
Ask questions and try to find something you have in common. Maybe you’re both dog lovers, you have kids the same age, you go to the same church, or you like the same sports team. Start there and build on it.
A support system is never a one-way street, either. You have valuable things you can add to their life. Maybe it’s a listening ear, words of encouragement, a new recipe, business advice, or so many other things.
You have strengths and skills that nobody else has.
Share them! You could change somebody’s life.
#4 – Try Using The Ideas Below
Once you’ve started connecting with people and developing those friendships, you can add weight loss-specific activities to your relationship.
Go back up to the section on building support with people you already have in your life and try suggesting some of the activities below.
Things You Can Do With Your Support System To Help Your Weight Loss Journey
Don’t wait for someone else in your life to suggest doing these activities. Sometimes they will, but you can be the initiator here!
Ask if they’d be interested in one of these activities or just make the suggestion. You don’t have to be pushy. Just throw the idea out there and see how they respond!
Go On Walks Together
This is a great alternative to meeting up with friends for coffee dates! I used to be so afraid of imposing on them, but you can at least ask and give your friend the choice.
The time and distance goes by so much more quickly when you’re talking to a friend.
This is my favorite way to meet with women from my small group. We have a local park with a lake and a trail that goes around it that is about a mile long.
I took my niece and nephew to the park recently and met two friends there who meet and walk/run together on the path that goes around the equipment while their kids play.
Make it work for you!
Have Walking Phone Dates
Unfortunately, my closest friends don’t live nearby, so to keep in touch, we have phone dates.
Right now, I have one friend in Arizona that I talk with on the phone for about an hour each morning while we get our 5,000 steps in as we walk through our neighborhoods.
My best friend lives in Washington, so we talk on Monday afternoons as we each walk our dogs.
My dog, Boots, gets excited every time the phone rings now because he thinks it means we’re about to go out walking (and usually, it does!).
Train For A 5k
This is one of my favorite activities to suggest because it gives you such a fun goal to work toward together! And, even if you have no interest in running, you can still train to walk it together.
First, find a fun race nearby. Try to pick a date that will give you enough time to train (the average couch to 5k plan takes about 9 weeks).
The race options these days are endless – superhero costumed runs, donut races, mac & cheese 5ks, hot chocolate runs, races for charity, runs to celebrate holidays, girls-only races, color runs, races around vineyards and through pecan groves, and so much more!
Then, sit down with your running buddy and make your training schedule. Make it a priority, write it on your calendar, and pick a location where you will meet to walk/run.
Go To Exercise Classes Together
When I was overweight, exercise classes were incredibly intimidating to me. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up or do all the moves and I was just sure that I was going to draw negative attention to myself.
Going with a friend makes it so much easier! It takes away some of the fear.
I wasn’t very good at stepping out of my comfort zone back then, so it was only thanks to friends inviting me that I first tried water aerobics, Zumba, cardio kickboxing, Les Mills classes, Tae Kwon Do, and so many other things!
Do Workouts Together At Home
At-home workouts don’t require much space at all.
Ask a friend over and workout in your living room.
You can pick online streaming workouts like Faithful Fitness (try the free 5-day Faith + Fitness Jumpstart Challenge!) or you can do workout videos like The 30-Day Shred (I can’t even count how many times I’ve done that video!).
Workout Together Over Skype or FaceTime
Even if you don’t live near your friends, they can still be your workout buddy.
Pick a workout you’d both like to do.
Maybe it’s an exercise video you both start a the same time or maybe you pick a workout plan with bodyweight or dumbbell exercises you can each do in whatever space you have available.
Then pick a time that you will “meet” online to workout together.
Have A Freezer Cooking Day
This was one of the things that got me started on healthy cooking. A coworker of mine just mentioned that she was going to be spending her Saturday prepping some food to keep in her freezer and she asked me to join.
I had no idea what to make or bring, so I just asked her what she was making and followed her lead.
That day, in our freezer cooking session, we:
- made a ton of breakfast burritos
- shredded bags of carrots & zucchini
- browned lots of ground turkey & onion
- grilled a bunch of chicken & chopped it up
- made a big batch of healthy “refried beans” that we split between the two of us
Meal Prep Together
This is the same idea as the freezer cooking, but you can get together with someone to cook a few full meals for your week.
- make all of your food for the week
- make breakfast for the week
- make a couple of different dinners
- make a lunch recipe for the week
- prep a bunch of veggies
- assemble a casserole to bake later
Meal prepping with a friend could save you money if you buy food in bulk and split the cost. You can also make different meals and split them with each other to add more variety.
Connect With An Accountability Partner
This is something we include in our Faithful Finish Lines 2.0 Christian Weight Loss Membership (coming September 15th!) that women love.
It’s one thing to have a friend who loves and supports you.
It’s another thing to have a person who you share your specific goals with who cheers you on and follows up with you (and you do the same for them!).
Start An Accountability Group
Years ago, a friend of mine started an accountability group for a small group of women at our church.
One Sunday a month, 8-10 of us would gather at one of our houses for lunch and we would go around the room, talking about our goals and how we could support one another.
We shared specific goals like:
- hitting 10,000 steps 5 days a week
- eating a serving of vegetables at every meal
- following a couch to 5k training plan
- drinking 8 glasses of water a day
- exercising 3 times a week
Try A New Healthy Food Together
I had never heard of quinoa before a friend bought me a bag at Sprouts to try and it immediately became my new favorite food!
There are all kinds of healthy foods out there that sounded so weird to me before I actually tried them and it’s way more fun to try things with a friend!
Pick a healthy recipe, a healthy food, or a new type of produce you find at a farmer’s market and try it together.
Here are some ideas for healthy foods & recipes to try:
- nutritional yeast
- cauliflower rice
- flax seed
- chia seeds
- steel-cut oats
- cauliflower pizza crust
- avocado toast
- sweet potato toast
- golden milk