Peer Power

This post submitted by Carrie, a contributor to dustinmaherfitness.com

The last time in my life I was fit and felt good about my appearance was my senior year of college. At that time I was working out 3-4 days a week at the campus fitness center with a very good friend of mine. We kept each other going regularly even though neither of us were excited to roll out at 6:00 am each day. Once I graduated and wasn’t able to continue working out with my friend, it wasn’t long before my workouts stopped.

Since college I’ve tried numerous times to get back in shape and lose weight. I managed some amount of success on my own, but after about 3 months or so I would quit my endeavors for any number of reasons. However, after 6 months bootcamp is still working for me. Hmmmm…. I have finally figured out that one of my keys to success is having peers to depend on.

So how can a group of peers help you with your weight loss and fitness success:

1. Carpooling

A friend and I take turns driving each week to bootcamp. I don’t want to oversleep and keep her waiting or bail at the last minute. I know she feels the same. The only time we miss bootcamp is because of illness. Neither of us misses just because we “don’t feel like working out.” Who wants to tell your carpooling partner that’s why you aren’t going today? Not us!

2. Accountability

When I can’t be at bootcamp as planned, I know I’ll get messages from my friends wondering where I was. And I always hear about how good the workout was when I did have to miss. That makes you really want to get back for the next one.

3. Motivation

Working out with others of all fitness levels gives you something to strive for. I find myself checking my progress against the really fit women at bootcamp. Can I keep up with them on sprints? Can I hold a plank like they can? Can I use as heavy of weights as they can? Now I’m not advocating comparing, but rather STRIVING to achieve what others who are very fit can do. When you admire someone else’s fitness level and you begin to be able to keep up with them, that is a powerful motivator!!

4. Help to achieve common goals

A small group of us who have 20-30 pounds to lose are working together to help each other. We try to meet every two weeks to keep one another movitivated. We are sharing recipes, snack ideas, books, and a ton of other tidbits that have brought each of us success. When we need help, we call an one another and support each other through those days when the cravings start to get the best of us.

5. Fun

Exercising by myself gets very boring. There isn’t anyone else to chat or joke with to distract you from any momentary discomfort (my daughter watching me and telling me I’m not doing it right doesn’t count!). Burpees are one of my least favorite exercises. But hearing others moan and groan and grumble about them makes them seem not quite so awful. To me, doing burpees by myself for any length of time would be downright unpleasant. ;-)

No matter where you are on your journey, peers can help you. Trying to get started? Start asking friends/family/co-workers if they want to get started with you. You may be surprised who responds. Chances are there is someone you know just waiting to get started, too! Have you hit a plateau or do you feel like your motivation is slipping? Start talking with people, listen to what others are saying about their own endeavors. My small group came about because of a discussion at the end of bootcamp where each of us expressed a desire to lose that next 20-30 pounds. Until that day I had no idea these two other women had that goal on their radar, too. And, thank goodness one of them spoke up and suggested we all work together.

And you know what the best part of peer support is? My peers have turned into friends!! Friends that understand wanting to make healthy choices. Friends that want you to succeed at your fitness goals and will help you get there. Now what could be cooler than that?

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