How many times have you lost weight?
How many times have you been able to keep it off?
If you’ve lost weight multiple times, but just can’t seem to keep it off, you may have been missing a vital link to the puzzle — a support network.
What is a support network?
A support network is a group of people that you can always rely on to help you achieve your weight loss and lifestyle goals, by empowering you to confront your fears so you can achieve your goals, instead of telling you what they think you want to hear.
These should be people who encourage you, support you, inspire you and even motivate you. When you have the right type of people around you, your weight loss journey won’t be as lonely, or as difficult.
But how do you know if they’re the right people? Here’s a handy checklist:
- Do they empower you or enable you?
- Do you have shallow or deep conversations with them?
- Do you gossip and complain or speak truth and talk about things that matter?
- Do your values align?
- Do you have any common interests?
- Are you on a similar journey?
- Are you working on similar habits?
- Are they there for you in the good times and the bad?
- Do they celebrate your success?
- Can I go to them for honest feedback and advice?
- Do I trust them to have my back?
- Are they takers or do they give back?
- Do I feel positive and empowered after being with them?
- Are they positive or negative people?
- Are they walking the talk or just talking?
If you want to succeed in your weight loss journey, your support network should be there for accountability, not just entertainment.
A support network increases your chances of success
Research shows that when it comes to weight loss, having the right support around you can make a huge difference. One study showed that people who enrolled in a weight loss program with friends were more successful in losing weight and keeping it off, than people who tried to do it by themselves. Another study into online support and weight loss showed that those who networked more lost more weight.
However, before you go and grab a group of friends and embark on a diet together, there are a few other things you need to know about working with the right support network.
Your weight loss support network must be about:
Accountability is the glue that holds your body transformation and weight loss journey together! Without it, you won’t take the actions you need to, in order to reach your goals. Accountability means taking responsibility for your actions and any consequences of those actions. In order to reach your weight loss goals, your support network must include accountability and you must be willing to be held accountable. The person holding you accountable should be a coach who knows what you need to do, to succeed in your weight loss journey.
While we’re on the subject of accountability, it’s important to surround yourself with people who are willing to give you ‘tough love’. This means someone who is willing to have uncomfortable conversations with you, if it means it’s in your best interests. Tough love can be hard to take at times, but it’s important that you embrace this part of the weight loss journey. Often, we need someone who is removed from our situation to point out things that we’re unaware of, that may be impeding our journey.
For example, your coach may notice that when you have a stressful day, you turn to alcohol to ease your stress. Because this is a habit of yours that you’ve been engaging in for years, you may not be aware of it, and therefore not aware of how much it’s impacting the rest of your life, including your training, your body shape and your relationships. Having someone point out your habits that are sabotaging your success may be confronting. However, unless someone does, you’ll continue doing the same things, wondering why you’re not getting the results you crave.
The other element that goes hand-in-hand with accountability is structure. Structure is the plan that will help you lose weight with the least amount of stress. At Imani Tribe we personalise the plans for every one of our members because we know that the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. We teach our clients how to structure their weeks so they have plenty of time for their workouts, time to prepare healthy meals, time for rest and recovery, time to spend with their families, while still excelling in their job or their business. All of this means that our clients don’t have to overthink, get overwhelmed or guess what they need to do. The steps are all laid out for them — they just have to follow them and the results will come.
Your weight loss support network needs to empower you. One of the secrets to successful weight loss is to follow in the steps of someone else who has already done what you want to do, because success leaves clues. This means that someone who is further down the weight loss track than you are, will leave clues as to how they got there. When you pay attention to those who are succeeding in their weight loss journeys (instead of having pity-parties and complaining about how hard it is, with others in the same boat as you), you’ll be able to see the path they have taken and follow it yourself. This leaves you feeling empowered instead of lost, angry and overwhelmed.
Confidentiality and trust
Changing your habits to change your weight isn’t easy. Sometimes our habits are born out of traumatic or stressful experiences. However, the thing with changing habits is that you have to understand why you continue to engage in these behaviours, in order for you to change them. This may mean delving into areas of your life that are sensitive or difficult. For this reason, your support network must uphold confidentiality and trust. It must be a safe place where you feel you can discuss any issues that are affecting your weight loss journey, with the knowledge that what you discuss in your support network stays within that group.
Your support network must be a positive influence on you. When you spend time with them, they should fill you up. If they take more than they give, they will only leave you feeling drained and depleted, which will not help you lose weight. They should also be a positive influence on you. If they use gossip or negative conversations as a bonding tool, then they are actually sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
An important part of losing weight is learning to celebrate your success, whether it’s big or small. Celebrating your success will keep you motivated to continue working towards your goal, and will make the process much more enjoyable. However, it’s also important to celebrate other people’s success. Feeling envious of other people when they succeed is a natural human emotion. However, feeling resentful or jealous will only slow down your results. It will lower your energy levels, lead you to start comparing yourself with other people, impact your relationships, and increase your stress levels. Learning to celebrate other people’s success will help prepare you for your own success, and increase the likelihood that your success will be celebrated too.
On the flip side is having people in your network who support you and cheer for you. If there are people who don’t clap for you when you achieve something, then perhaps they shouldn’t be in your support network at all.
Your weight loss support network shouldn’t be about…
Enabling sabotaging behaviour
Many people confuse being supportive with being nice. In our quest to be liked by everyone, it’s common to end up being a people-pleaser. However, telling people what they want to hear, instead of what they need to hear doesn’t help them. For example, if a member of your weight loss support network admits that they had a binge over the weekend, what would you say? Most people would try to make them feel better by telling them that it’s okay because it happens to everyone. However, the best option is to ask them why they had a binge — was it because they were stressed, tired, or failed to do their meal prep? Then you should encourage them to speak to their coach about what happened, so they can work out a way to avoid it happening again in the future? Of course, no one is perfect, and everyone will make mistakes. However, people in a good weight loss support network will call out behaviours and habits that only sabotage weight loss efforts, instead of enabling them.
Make excuses for sabotaging behaviour
Similarly, a good support network will not make excuses for self-sabotaging behaviours. For example, imagine someone in your network who has had a past history of heavy drinking. You go out for dinner and they end up having 10 alcoholic drinks in the one night. Do you excuse this behaviour because ‘they were just having a good time, and 10 is much less than they used to drink’? Or do you remind them that consuming that much alcohol isn’t going to help them reach their goals? Once again, being ‘nice’ doesn’t empower others to make changes. Being honest does.
Judge your journey
Your support network shouldn’t judge you in any way. Losing weight and keeping it off is a different journey for everyone. What one person goes through, and how they tackle it, will be completely different to someone else. There is no right or wrong way, except for honestly dealing with the habits that are holding you back, and fully committing to the work that needs to be done. The type of work, and the way you’ll do it will differ from everyone else. Similarly, any results that anyone gets shouldn’t be judged as a result of luck (e.g. ‘They’re lucky because they’re young…haven’t had kids…work from home, etc.). Permanent weight loss takes work, no matter who you are. Your support network should acknowledge this, and respect you for the work you’re putting in, even if they don’t fully understand it.
Repercussions of choosing the wrong support
Many people don’t understand the power of having the right people behind them. Therefore, they don’t understand the damage that can arise from having the wrong people in their support network.
The wrong people will enable your self-sabotaging behaviours, and will never make you accountable for them. In fact, they will make you feel good about the habits that are preventing you from losing weight, so that you’re lulled into a false sense of security, believing you don’t have to change anything. However, the longer it takes for you to confront your fears and deal with your habits, the more painful your life will become. It will take longer for you to achieve your weight loss goals, and will also increase the likelihood of you giving up on them altogether. In short, the wrong support network spells disaster.
Want to be part of the best weight loss support network?
At Imani Tribe, we empower people to change their habits so they can lose weight and keep it off for good. Our support network includes like-minded people who are working towards their goals while continuing to empower and inspire one another. If you’d like to be part of our community and have the right support behind you, please contact us.