Every time I start a new challenge, I am so motivated. I tell myself how amazing this challenge is going to be. I'm going to count and stick to my calories every day. When I eat out, I will not be tempted by fries and soda. Every exercise session will be intense and I will finish only when I'm covered in sweat and so exhausted I can barely walk. I'm going to drink a gallon of water every day, and I'm going to do every single Tie-Breaker bonus just for the "fun" of it and to push myself a little further...THIS NEVER HAPPENS!!! I inevitably stop counting my calories at about day 2 (it's just so tedious - and depressing). I'm up late at night working and know the only thing that will keep me from passing out on my keyboard is that cold Diet Coke in my fridge. I get lazy in my workouts and justify it by saying, "my body needs a break!" And I have yet to drink a gallon of water in one day. Things happen. Life is busy and hectic and demanding, and it's so easy to give up on myself. BUT - the reason I ALWAYS pick myself up and continue to push myself after a particularly hard day, is - I can't let down my team. I'm not sure why I have no problem letting myself down...but when it comes to teammates depending on me to earn my points and motivate them...I try really hard to do my best.
This is why team work and support is so important. None of us really wants to do this alone. And the farther you are from your goal, the more you will need people who encourage you, support you, help you, sympathize with you, push you, motivate you, remind you of your goals and inspire you! This is why you are on a team - accountability and support! (For those of you who are not on a team, we still strongly encourage you to have some kind of support system in place). It's so much easier to eat right if you know someone will be asking to see your food journal. It's easier to drag yourself out of your nice warm sheets at the crack of dawn if you know a friend is depending on you to take them to the gym with you. It's easier to say NO to the french fries when the person you are eating with orders steamed veggies with their meal as well. And it's comforting to know that someone else is there to listen and "talk you down" when you just want to EAT A COOKIE (or 10 cookies)!!!
USE YOUR TEAMMATES! Contact them when you're really struggling and wanting to "fall off the wagon." Let them know when you rocked a workout so they can tell you how amazing you are!! Scream it from the rooftops (or on FaceBook) when you walk away from the box of donuts in the breakroom at work so they can give you the kudos you deserve! And don't forget to BE a good teammate! If you haven't heard from someone in a day or two, they probably need help. Contact them. Ask them how they're doing. Make an effort to lift them back up or to inspire them to recommit to their health. Give them the encouragement and/or congratulations that you would want if you were slipping back into unhealthy habits.
A study published in the research journal, Obesity, followed 3300 overweight or obese participants who were grouped into teams and competed against other teams in three areas: weight loss, physical activity and the number of steps they took each day. They found that weight-loss outcomes were consistent among teams. Those who lost at least 5% of their body weight, tended to be on the same teams. And, those who reported higher levels of teammate social influence increased their odds of achieving significant weight loss by 20%.
You can not do this on your own. Even if you work better alone (which I know some of you do), you still need someone...a spouse, a friend, a sister/brother. Ask that person to check up on you and help you stay accountable.
I am blessed with a fantastic support system...my husband is A.MAZ.ING! He is so encouraging and accommodating and patient with my training schedules. He handles kids so I can go on early morning runs, freezing open water swims or insanely long bike rides. He really never tells me NO. I also have the BEST inlaws (for real)! They are always willing to help with kids. My father in law will come over before the sun comes up and get my kids off to school so I can do an early morning swim/run at the pool. He tolerates endless episodes of Dora, Strawberry Shortcake or Power Rangers while I'm off working out, and my kids adore him. He also willingly allows Dianne's kids to hang out with him if her hubby is at work or unavailable. He really is great! And then there is Dianne...we have walked (and ran and swam and biked) this road together for the past 4 years. We've set goals and helped each other stay focused. We work out together and take turns planning the activity...We've done things I wouldn't have attempted on my own...half marathons (which I continually swear I will NOT do again, and somehow I always end up doing them...), open water swims (we live in Idaho - the water here is VERY cold), relay races and she's somehow convinced me that I can do a triathlon!! I so appreciate ALL of my friends, family members and former teammates who have helped me along the way. I definitely haven't reached my end goal, but because of the people around me who encourage and support me on a daily basis, I can see the finish line, and I have no doubt that I WILL cross it...someday!