Community

Finding your own community as you make a healthy lifestyle change will help give you stability.  You may search for an online community or seek out a club or like-minded people to meet up with.  Building a community might be two new people who joined a running club at the same time you did and you all just happen to get along, motivate each other, and confide in each other.  It could also be the people you regularly see at the gym.  It might be a friend or family member who is also making a healthy lifestyle change.

 

When you search for some type of community, you want to look for these key things:

  • Similar goals

  • Positive and helpful people

  • People you can share recipes, exercises, stretches, or issues with

  • Find a group with people at various levels

  • Avoid people who seem to push you to “splurge just a little”

  • Avoid people with bad dietary habits


 

Types of Communities

Online communities via social media can be a great way to connect with others and to remain motivated.  The great thing about online communities is that you can share, comment, and ask questions so frequently.  Often you get a quick response as well.  The downside of social media online communities is the ongoing negative influence that you may run into.  Most people are pretty aware that there are some nasty people on social media who have an opinion on everything, regardless of facts.

Online communities via private forums are another way to connect with people.  Forums used to be widely popular before the eruption of social media, but they never quite disappeared.  Private forums (aka “message boards” or “bulletin board system” or “bbs”) are typically focused on a particular general topic with a variety of subtopics available to post under.  Private forums can give you better peace of mind because everyone is there for the same reasons.  Also, private forums are generally NOT connected to social media directly.

In-person communities are great if you can find some locals in your area.  This can be through a fitness club (running club, skiing club, etc), people who you regularly see at the gym, or perhaps through YOU forming a local healthy lifestyle club.  These communities, these people, should be looking to connect and help each other out with fitness and/or a healthy lifestyle.  I’m not a fan of Weight Watchers, but they do have a strong sense of community.  They have weekly meetings for their members to attend.  This is also why Alcoholics Anonymous is so effective; they have a strong community for support.

Very small in-person groups are also quite effective.  This could be a friend or two that join you at the gym, a few gym regulars, or even a few strangers who meet up to form a local weekly club.  Small talk, bouncing ideas off of each other, asking questions, sharing recipes, or just being friendly can help keep yourself and the others on track.


 

The Individual

The individual person (you) has to figure out how much community they need and where to find it.  This can be tricky to do if you live in a small community or if you’re new to your community.  It can also be tricky if you’re the only friend in your circle who is pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

 

Here are some things you can do to find “community” that suits your needs:

  • Have a friend join you

  • Make some gym friends

  • Form or join a local healthy lifestyle support group and meet for coffee or tea

  • Join a local fitness club (e.g. running club, walking club, nordic ski club)

  • Try a virtual race

  • Find literature about healthy lifestyles because knowledge is power

  • Find a supportive social media group

  • Create a pinterest board for healthy lifestyle inspiration

  • Blog or vlog about what you’re doing

  • Take a cooking class that fits your healthy diet

  • Subscribe to a healthy lifestyle magazine

 

I always suggest being positive about your journey and inviting.  I always invite people to hit the gym with me.  It doesn’t mean they will, but the offer is always there.  We all have our bad days, but try to remain positive in regards to a healthy lifestyle.  It might encourage someone to step out of their comfort zone and join you.

The individual can have a difficult time by themselves, despite this ultimately being very individualistic in nature.  This is you taking care of you.  This is why we seek other individuals for community.


 

Training Partners

Having a training partner, and thus becoming a training partner, is a great way to start growing your own sense of community.  Training partners keep each other in check with food, exercise, staying focused, and being encouraging.  You might find a few different training partners or you might just have one.  Arnold Schwarzenegger famously had multiple training partners.

A great training partner and being a great training partner means that you can easily work with each other.  The last person you want to train with is someone who really doesn’t want to be at the gym and/or who doesn’t want to eat healthy.  You and your training partner need to encourage each other, workout together, check in with each other, share recipes, challenge each other, and hold each other accountable.  If you’re “just not feeling it”, your training partner should be able to still get you to the gym and maybe suggest trying something new, just to switch things up.  Sometimes you just need to physically be at the gym, then you’ll end up working out and you can further develop good gym habits.

If you start working with heavier weights, training partners should be there to help spot you.  To properly spot someone can take a little learning and checking youtube for help.  The goal is to help safely maneuver the weights into proper starting position, be in a ready spotting position to assist if needed, and finally to help rack or set down the weights.  If you need to learn to spot because you and/or your training partner are going to lift something heavy, ask someone who can show you what to do.  That’s the best way to learn.


 

Your Surroundings

Part of your “community” is your environment.  This can be where you live, who you have around you, what you listen to, what you watch, and general attitude.  It absolutely helps to turn your usual places that you frequent into clean spaces (i.g. Home, school, work, etc).  Clutter can lead to anxiety, so clean spaces can ease that.  Pay attention to who is around you.  If you are constantly surrounded by negative people, you’re going to have a hard time making a positive change.  You may have to make a hard cut.  What do you listen to and what do you watch?  Try switching up your music or podcasts or news and see how it affects you.  Same thing with what you watch or frequently see (social media, tv, video games, etc).  These are all environmental things that you can change rather quickly.

Something perhaps harder to assess and change is general attitude.  This is your attitude, family and friends’ attitudes, attitudes of co-workers and people in your neighborhood, and attitudes that you frequently encounter on a daily basis (even online).  If you suddenly realize one day that one of your friends is constantly being negative even in positive situations, you might not want to be around that person.

Tailoring your surroundings to help yourself on your journey to a healthier lifestyle can be ongoing.  For some people it means taking down that post-modern ironic de-motivational poster of a pizza that reads “I’m into fitness...fitness pizza in my mouth” and putting up a motivational poster.  For other people it’s creating a clean, relaxing environment.  For others, it’s a real chore of literal cleaning, making some hard cuts, and not living like a slob.

Some people will argue that a person’s surroundings don’t really matter that much.  Maybe you fit into that slim percentage of people who aren’t affected by your environment.  


 

Finding Extra Help

If you are in need of extra help and you aren’t sure where to start looking or who to ask, don’t worry.  What sort of help are you looking for?
 

Fitness Help:

  • Personal Trainer - Personal trainers are the go-to people to help you train, learn proper movements and form, provide feedback, and to help you with your workouts.  Some gyms have personal trainers available for their members (as a perk).  You can also seek out personal trainers for a session or two, just to get feedback on form and movement.  Communicate with them.  Tell them your goals and what your plans are.

  • Physical Therapists - Physical therapists tend to be focused more on rehabilitation, helping those with limited mobility, helping people with injuries, and helping people with chronic issues become more physically active.  If you have mobility issues, you may need to visit a physical therapist.  You should be able to walk for 30 minutes and perform basic movements without your joints being an issue.  If you cannot do these things, seek out a physical therapist for assessments and therapy.

  • Gym Buddy/Training Partner - If you need to workout with someone, find a friend.  Have them be your regular gym buddy.  Maybe you just need that other person to be your cheerleader or to motivate you to get to the gym or just for socialization sake.  Gym buddies can help check your form, encourage you, and help you stay on track.  Bonus, you’re also doing this for them.  A training partner is pretty much a gym buddy, but also helps you stay on track with a healthy diet.

  • Gym Regular - Gym regulars are people who you always see at the gym.  Always keep in mind that they are there to workout.  They are not there to help other people out.  If you become friendly with a gym regular and they happen to be between sets or exercises, you might ask for their quick assistance with checking form or spotting you with a heavy weight.  Just be aware that this is not their job and they are more than likely focused on their own workout.  If a regular is chatty, try asking them what they like to do for a certain muscle group.  You can pick up a lot of interesting tips from regulars.

  • Fitness Club - If you have no idea where to start with working out and feel like motivation is an issue, try a local fitness club.  Most communities have a walking club, running club, or some other fitness club.  If you need a social aspect, this might be the thing for you.

  • Online Groups - Search through social media for potential Health Goth communities.  If you choose to participate and engage with others, you might find the support you need.

 

Nutrition Help:

  • Nutritionist - Nutritionists are professionals who can assist you with forming a healthy diet.  If you “just don’t know” or feel like you need the extra help, seek out a nutritionist.  Communicate with them.  Share your health data with them.  Tell them about your goals.

  • Meal Delivery Plans - Instead of making everything yourself, you can seek out various companies that do meal delivery plans.  Usually there are various types of diet plans available - especially if you have any food allergies.  Online companies that you can check out are Trifecta Nutrition, Nutrisystem, Bistro MD, Hello Fresh, Freshly, Thistle, and so many other options.  These can be a little pricey, but you never have to worry about grocery shopping this way.  Your food is just ready to go.

  • Bookstore - Hit up your local bookstore for books covering nutrition and cookbooks focused on your method of healthy eating.  There is so much variety out there, so many options.  Cookbooks with pictures of the food is always recommended.

  • Cooking Class - You might find a local cooking class that specializes in food you want to be making.  If you are new to cooking, a basic cooking class can really help you get started in the kitchen.

  • Weekly Cooking Club - Grab some friends and cook a healthy meal together.  You can gossip, play a game with your meal, or just chit-chat about your week.  Don’t be afraid to try new recipes or new foods.  This can really help your week be awesome!

 

Medical Help:

  • Doctor - If you get your health data back and have questions about anything, go see a doctor.  Make sure you bring your health data with you.  Ask questions.  You may prefer a natural medicine doctor (ND/NMD) to a standard general practitioner (MD), it’s all up to you.

  • Physical Therapists - Physical therapists tend to be focused more on rehabilitation, helping those with limited mobility, helping people with injuries, and helping people with chronic issues become more physically active.  If you have mobility issues, you may need to visit a physical therapist.  You should be able to walk for 30 minutes and perform basic movements without your joints being an issue.  If you cannot do these things, seek out a physical therapist for assessments and therapy.

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