Nuts and Bolts – Building a Health Community

I am always grateful for my health community and the support it has provided me along my way.  It is many-faceted and that is one of the most important parts of how it functions in my life.  Building a community to support a life change is not as straight forward as picking a program to structure the change.  We all build our communities differently because we need them for different forms of support. This is what mine looks like:

My Partner:
Mike and I feel extremely blessed to have each other as weight loss partners.  We have helped each other stay motivated and frequently remind each other why the end result will be much better than giving in to a moment of weakness.  I often hear his voice in the back of my mind when I am considering making a choice that I probably wouldn’t if we were together.

Coffee Shop Employee: “And would you like a pastry with your latte?”
Our Lady of Second Helpings, Internal Dialogue: Hmm… those Rice Crispy Bars are the lowest PointTM treat in the case.  Oh wait I forgot that the new mini treats are under 300 calories.  I wonder how many PointsTM they are? I could look it up…  I did take a walk earlier… I could play some Wii Fit when I get home…  Mike’s Voice: “Why don’t you get a banana?  The latte will be sweet and if you are still hungry a banana is filling.”
Our Lady of Second Helpings: (with a small sigh of renewed resolve) “No thanks just the latte.” – I don’t really like bananas. If I’m not hungry enough to eat a banana I’m certainly not hungry enough for a pastry.

I haven’t asked Mike if his brain works this way. I would guess not.  Men seem to have far less chaos in their brains, luckies. (Mike’s editorial note: We do actually have this level of chaos in common.)

Within our household community I feel a great responsibility to feed my family the healthiest way possible.  Even on days that I am worn out and would love to just serve ice cream for dinner, I want to respect Mike’s desire to put healthy food in his body.  It is not fair to make a meal that does not honor our goal of proper nutrition.

My Support Group:
My health community is much wider than our family unit.  Our Weight Watcher’s meeting provides us with a fantastic community as long as we keep showing up.  We don’t always see the same people and in the three and a half years we have been members our Monday night has seen many faces come, go, and come back again.  I enjoy the bonds we are able to build with the other regulars and I also enjoy meeting new people.  We all have stories and ideas to share.  The meeting room is a safe place to get feedback when things haven’t gone well or we are stuck in a rut.  The meeting room is also a great place to remember that food issues affect anyone and our common desire to heal can transcend age, income, relationship status, and all the other things that keep us from sharing our stories in the “real world.”  Our weekly meeting community has been the source of many great food tips, words of inspiration, and pats on the back for all the small successes we have had along the way.

In the past year we have had a few fun outings and activities with our Weight Watchers meeting friends.  I posted previously about our recipe exchange and how fun it was to trade cooking ideas.  We have also had a few walking events.  Most recently we joined some friends for a New Years Day stroll.    It was a relaxing and energizing way to start the year off on the right foot!

Media:
In a broader sense I tend to consider any person or resource that provides me with positive inspirations and tips a part of my health community.  On-line I look for articles by other people who are striving for the same goals I am.  There are many health and wellness magazines on newsstands that I thumb through from time to time.  In my down time I enjoy television shows like NBC’s Biggest Loser or cooking shows that teach healthy recipes.  Not all of the things I read or watch relate directly to my own life but I have found them to be great motivational and inspirational resources.

Extended Social Network:
My friends and family play a role in my health community but in a more nuanced way.  I want everyone to feel as good in their skin as I do but I have had to learn that people need to find their own way, like I did.  Not all of the people in my life are part of my health community just like not all of them were school mates or members of my faith community.  We all love each other where we are at in the moment.

I have found it very important to have a broad community.  Not everyone can be supportive all the time, people and resources come and go.  With so many sources to go to for motivation I always have somewhere to turn when I need a boost or an idea.

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