Five months ago, my husband and I made a decision to lose 20 pounds in 20 weeks. For both of us, having a child had taken its toll. We were beyond pretending that the dryer was shrinking all of our clothes... beyond kidding ourselves that the camera was being enormously ungracious. We were pudging up, and for me, any doubt about the need for a drastic change disappeared when I picked up my 25-pound 18-month-old one day and realized that I was carrying almost as much extra weight on my body as I was holding in my arms!
We're now a week away from the finish line, and not only have we been dropping the pounds, we've been having a blast. We've got a great group on Facebook along for the ride, and the camaraderie and encouragement have been so helpful. In every sense of the word, I feel lighter.
Many people have asked what's made the group so effective. Were we all following a specific diet? Did we have daily phone calls, participate in weekly video chats, or keep food journals?
None of the above. We're a hodge-podge of about 20 friends, each of us doing things our own way. Some people aren't even weighing themselves, but are taking measurements instead. And there are about 20 different food and exercise plans, many of which seem to change weekly.
What we do have in common is that we're a chocolate and wine loving, chops-busting, laugh-out- loud kind of crew.
And that, I'm convinced, has been our secret to success.
In my work, much of what I do is solitary. I mainly see clients one-on-one and spend a good deal of time writing. I'm often in my head, and my accountability is largely to myself. I've always loved working this way, but after having this experience, I now see how enriching, empowering, and fun working with a group can be... in this and every area of life.
For those of you interested in losing weight, I don't have any revolutionary tips. I ate a little less and moved a lot more. I had nutrient-dense smoothies and fruit in the mornings and ate veggies and protein in the afternoons and evenings. Shifting between the two did seem to help keep my body in a weight loss "mode."
That said, no plan works unless you stick to it, and in that sense, our group was absolutely the key to my success. Making a game of dropping 20 pounds with friends not only made what could have been an arduous process enjoyable, it meant that it wasn't only about me. When I longed for a cheeseburger (and I'll admit, I enjoyed a few!) I knew that I'd be letting down more than myself if I decided to totally go off the rails. When I checked in and saw how everyone else was doing, it spurned me on to keep up the good work, for myself and to encourage others.
Most importantly, sharing our struggles and victories kept all of us from getting stuck in our heads and forgetting why we started the journey in the first place: to be healthy, to be happy, and to accomplish something we set out minds to.
Whatever your goals, whatever you want to achieve in life- whether it be losing weight, building or growing a company, or pursuing a new hobby or a long-held passion -- find a community of people to join you. For accountability, for increased learning, for feedback, perspective, grounding, and fun. It will make all the difference.