Making changes to your lifestyle can take a lot of effort and energy. You can do all these on your own, in theory, but your chances of success rise dramatically with support. Here is why the Lark check-in mentioned the importance of a support network, and how you can start to build one.
Your own actions may have the biggest potential for meeting your health goals, but having support can increase the effects of those actions. A support network increases your accountability, so you can be more likely to make good decisions.
Supporters can also offer ideas and education. People may know resources or strategies that you had not thought of. In addition, they may be able to point you to professionals, such as personal trainers or nutritionists, who are experts.
A support network can keep you motivated by cheering when things go right, and boosting you up when things go awry. It can also provide logistical support, such as a neighbor who might trade meals with you so you only need to cook half the time, or a parent of your child’s friend who stays at soccer practice with the kids so you can feel comfortable going to the gym during that time.
Likely Members of a Support Network
Support can come from anyone in your life. Different people can play varying roles depending on their interests and abilities. These are some possible members of a support network.
Adult household members. A spouse or parent can help by shopping for or cooking healthy foods, or by eating the same healthy foods that you do. They can be aware of your goals for healthy eating and increasing physical activity, and check in with you as often as you choose. They could work out with you or support your workouts by taking care of the children or doing the laundry or cooking for you while you go to the gym.
Children in the household. They may not know the details of your health goals, but they can help by showing you their own favorite activities and letting you join in. They may also be willing to help you prepare healthy snacks.
Coworkers: Need a healthy lunch buddy or a walking buddy at break time? What about a sympathetic ear? If you are spending 40 hours a week working with someone, you may as well ask them to help support you.
Friends: They can listen, give advice, and make you feel valued even if you feel down. Friends can be on the other end of the phone and take your side while providing suggestions that make sense for you, since they know you so well.
Online communities. A community has people who know exactly what you are going through and who have the same goals as you. Hanging out with them can let you move forward.
Lark. Who has your back every moment of every day with suggestions, feedback, and encouragement? Lark can be a major part of your support system as a trusted friend who knows your goals and tracks your progress without judgement.
Not everyone qualifies to be in a solid support network. People who do not believe in you or who belittle your accomplishments can drag you down. They may sabotage your efforts, for example, by bringing over junk food whenever they visit. Or, they could make comments such as, “You’re no fun anymore because now you only think about your health,” or, “Why are you trying so hard when you haven’t even lost much weight?” There is no need to keep such people in the loop about your intentions, setbacks, or achievements.
How to Build A Solid Support System
Being aware of what you need and finding people who can fulfill those needs can allow you to create a strong support network. These strategies can help you recruit help.
Talk a lot. “I want to lose 10 lb. within 3 months.” “I want to eat vegetables at least 2 times a day.” “I will bring oatmeal on Fridays instead of having doughnuts at the company meeting.” Saying it out loud so other people can hear can not only increase your commitment to your intentions and your goals, but also can let people know exactly what you are trying to do so they can keep you on track.
Ask for help. Many people who want to help do not know what to do or say, or may be afraid of offending you if they mention your healthy lifestyle changes. Identifying what specific people can do to help, and asking them to do so, can address this common problem: A spouse might be able to help by not bringing potato chips into the house and by packing the children’s lunches and making them breakfast the kids during your morning walk; a friend could help by texting you a few times a day to ask if you are still on track; a coworker could help by eating a salad at lunch when you do.
Keep your eyes open. Help can come from unexpected people, such as gym members willing to work out with you, someone who takes the same bus as you every day who loves sharing healthy recipes, or a neighbor whom you notice walks in the evenings and may let you walk with her. Any extra boost can help!
Be a good buddy. A support system may be helping you achieve the most important thing in life: health. Shouldn’t you offer something in return? You may be able to support the other members of your network in their own goals, whether or not the same as your own or health-related. Plus, doing that can increase your own sense of self-worth and confidence.
A support system can be the difference in your quest to improve your health. The right people can help.