Finding your people: Social support for the rest of us

A few weeks ago, my Facebook friend Kelly (who blogs over at The Take Action WAHM!) left a comment on my yoga blog post saying that she’d been thinking about trying yoga for a while – and really wanted her sister to do it with her, but was pretty disappointed that her sister wasn’t interested. Kelly didn’t say so, but I got the impression that she felt like starting yoga would be much easier if her sister was there to give it a go too. And Kelly’s totally right – things are so much easier when we’ve got a buddy along for the ride. The social support it gives us can be so important to our health journey.

Finding your people: Social support for the rest of us

Looking back on my first ever post to this blog, I detailed the five areas I felt health flowed from, and one of those areas is our social lives, which is something I haven’t explored much yet. But, Kelly’s comment left me thinking.

We all want a buddy, a support network. What if, like Kelly, you don’t have one?

Going it alone is hard. It’s hard anyway, but doing it alone is even tougher. Your fears get bigger, your self-doubts take on a life of their own, and it’s all too easy to pack it in because you’ve convinced yourself you can’t do it, it’ll never work, and no one knew about your goal anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

Well, I’m here to tell you, it does matter.

You and all your goals matter. Each and every one of us has the opportunity every day to improve our lives – and by doing so, make the world a better place. So, let’s find you some workout buddies/healthy eating friends/change the world comrades/good old-fashioned (kinda) social support!

Ok, so I know I just said ‘old-fashioned’ social support. I don’t mean we need a pen-pal.

Though that might be awesome! When was the last time you got a letter? ‘Live the Whole Pen Pal Support Group’?? Anyone?

But anyway, I mean we want to get involved with a group or community that supports us in our goals. In this case, specifically, your health goals.

Some of you are lucky enough to have friends and/or family who happen to be on the same page as you and not only support you, but join you on your journey. Others, maybe you feel alone. Others, maybe your existing social network is actually a bit hostile towards your changes or goals. This can be super tough. But, I am here to tell you that no matter who you are, where you are, or how you want to get healthy, there are others out there like you who need you just as much as you need them.

First, let’s take a look at why social support is so important to our health journey. Then I’ll show you some places where you can find your peeps.

Why get social support for your health goals?

It’s well documented that for many heath behaviors, social support is a great advantage:

Weight loss efforts are vastly improved by having friends and family involved

Self-care activities are increased with more social support

Healthy lifestyles are supported by having others involved

Exercise motivation is increased, even when the social support comes from a support group and not from friends and family.

Healthy eating is also improved with increased social support

So, no matter what your goal, it can really help you to plan, be motivated, and then actually achieve your dreams in the company of other supportive people.

Where to get social support

Right, so there’s the ‘why’. Now, how are you going to find these people to support you if they’re not in your intimidate circle?

Health Coach – If you’re looking for some one-on-one detailed support and knowledge, you might be interested in working with a health coach, personal trainer, or a specific support person. This is exactly the kind of support I offer through my Eating Psychology coach services – a friend, confidant, strategist, and knowledge base to help you get to your goals in a totally supported way. This is social support tailored to your needs.

Nerd Fitness – This is my favorite online wellness community! No matter where you’re at or what you’re into, you can find awesome people on the forums here to connect with, group up with, and support. They have a buddy-group section, as well as specific boards for all things health and fitness related. You find a lot of people here, from many walks of life, who are looking for some social support, either as an extra help, or because they just can’t find what they need offline. I can’t tell you how important this community has been to me and my journey over the past 4 years. Other awesome places for digital support are Facebook groups, the comment communities of websites related to what you want to do, and even twitter.

Meetup – I’ve spoken before about meetup. Here you can find groups of like-minded people meeting in real life to support each other and do things they love. Hiking, yoga, running, arts, writing, meditation – whatever wellness related activity you’re looking to get into or be supported in, check meetup to see if there’s a group in your area. If there’s not, you could try starting one. I’m planning a Live the Whole meetup group for Seoul in the later part of this year!

Take a local class – This can seem a bit old-school compared to all the digital options available to us these days, but finding your social support through community classes or local events is awesome. I know it’s hard to show up as the new person, all alone, but after a time or two you’ll be a part of things. Most people know what it’s like to show up alone – it takes guts! – and will make an extra effort to include you. In fact, I’ve found it’s often easier to make new friends in a group if I show up alone. So, get out into your community and find some social support that way.

Tell me in the comments: where do you get your support?

About Samantha

Hello! I'm Sam and I'm an Eating Psychology Coach. I work with women who struggle with emotional eating and weight loss to develop new strategies and lifestyles so they can stop using food to cope, lose weight, and eat happy.

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14 thoughts on “Finding your people: Social support for the rest of us

  • Kelly

    These are some really great ideas for finding support – I know when I was losing weight before, it really helped me to be in the Spark community and have people to talk to. I’m sure I’ll find someone that will go to yoga with me!

  • Tha-res-ah

    I am an introvert and I’m somewhat hesitant about opening myself up to people in real life, by real life I mean in the actual flesh. It’s one thing to leave your words out in public and have them judged, it hurts regardless but in the flesh wow, it’s big for me. I am working on that though, letting people in and truly connecting outside of the virtual world.

    • Samantha Post author

      Thank you for the comment, Theresa. Opening up can definitely be scary. I’m not that good at it either – but slow and steady I think. No need to let any old person in, and no need to take anyone just because they offer support. Feel them out, take your time to build trust, and then you’ll have a much better chance of getting something good going 🙂

  • Dawn Boyer

    There is something about community that makes you feel like you have the freedom to fall and not hit bottom. Blogging can be a lonely place without the connecting that keeps you afloat. I am finding that the support of encouragement with friends who are seeking to get healthy together is also a huge benefit. Your words reminded me of that tonight!

  • Caitlin

    Inspiring post. I need a bit of a push to get motivated to lose some extra kilos at the moment. I think I need to get a support system around to inspire me. I just realised the other day that I only have a bit over three months to meet my goal of having a hot body at my 40th birthday. I need to get to it but have been lacking motivation. Thanks!

  • Keelie Reason

    I completely agree. When I was loosing weight two years ago, I had a few people working in that same direction with me. It was when they all fell away that the struggle became much harder for me. I didn’t have anyone going through it with me. Definitely need people to do life with you.