Community: The One Thing Experts Agree You Need to Successfully Make a Healthy Lifestyle Change
Many of us have struggle in making a healthy lifestyle change that lasts. Whether it’s quitting smoking, losing weight, or becoming vegan, for example, experts agree – a supportive community is key to making changes stick.
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, “The power of community to create health is far greater than any physician, clinic or hospital.” Researchers have found that social support clearly helps you lose weight, that weight gain in women with young children can be prevented using a combination of self-management techniques in a community setting, and participants who enrolled in a weight-loss program with friends did a better job of keeping their weight off.
The two big reasons why community is so vital is the accountability and guidance that come along when you do something new with others.
According to one expert, being accountable to others helps improve focus and motivation. When it comes to healthy living, the science is clear – those making lifestyle changes as part of a larger community do better than those who try to do it solo. In one study, those in a weight loss group still did better two years later than those who did it on their own.
Moreover, being part of a supportive group means that on the days you struggle, you have others who are still rooting for you – which is sometimes just enough of a push to keep you going and maintain your motivation to lead a healthier life.
Lastly, studies show us that willpower is finite resource. This means if you’re using a lot of willpower throughout the day, by evening, your willpower has been depleted and you’re more likely to make less than healthy choices. However, by surrounding yourself with others who share the same goals, you’ll get a boost of motivation and inspiration when you need it the most.
The second reason why community is important for healthy lifestyle change is the wealth of knowledge that is inherent within a group setting. Having someone in your corner when you’re at struggling can be infinitely useful – empathy is one of the single most precious things you’ll find in a community. In studies on quality healthcare, empathetic doctors had patients who had better recovery rates.
Furthermore, members who have had similar experiences can relate to your situation, and are likely to be able to provide valuable insight on how to overcome whatever obstacle is currently in your way.
Finally, never underestimate the power of a group to come up with new or novel solutions to obstacles you might run into. What is so powerful about community, is the wellspring of life experiences combined from each group members. This shared wisdom provides for unique ideas and innovative approaches to each problem. This is especially true for groups with multigenerational and racially diverse members, such as the Smart Pressed Juice Facebook community.