By Jonell Steckman, Certified Health Coach

With nearly half of Americans looking into ways to lose weight each year, an often under-utilized, yet very effective tool in the weight-loss journey is all around us: Community.

Losing weight is challenging because it requires changing both your habits and mindset. Often, when we make the decision to lose weight, we decide to do it alone. We are reluctant to share our decision with others or have others be a part of our weight loss journey. Maybe we are worried about being judged, maybe this isn’t our first try at weight loss and we don’t want others to know we are losing weight “again,” or maybe it just feels taboo to talk about weight loss with our friends and family.

Whatever the reason is, attempting to lose weight quietly and on your own may not be the best approach. Study after study shows that your weight loss journey will be most successful and long term if you have support from other people. What does that mean, and what should that support look like? Here are three ways community support can help you along your weight loss journey:

Find A Mentor

Finding a mentor can be the easiest and best first step you can take. Why reinvent the wheel for your weight loss journey? Your mentor should be someone you look up to for their own commitment to being healthy. A good mentor can coach and guide you as well as help surround you with like-minded people who are on the same journey you are.

Find A Group

A good mentor and coach can also help you find the tools to support your success. Examples of support might be an online group (such as a Facebook Group or a Meetup Group) or group meeting. These groups are a great support system, full of people who share their weight loss successes, questions, recipes and more with each other, as well as provide support for any setbacks along the way.

A community that gives support and guidance will increase your chance for success in achieving your weight loss goals. It can help keep you accountable and celebrate with you as you strive to reach your optimal weight and, sometimes even more importantly, stay at that optimal weight long term. Community is an important asset to weight loss success.

Find an Accountability Partner

Being accountable to someone can be very powerful in creating new habits and achieving goals. Your accountability partner can be a mentor, coach, friend or colleague who is also on their own weight-loss journey. Accountability partners share goals, deadlines, weight loss wins and losses. They will also hold you responsible to your commitment to your health as you make the changes necessary to overcome the obstacles and push past the challenges that make weight loss difficult.

While making the decision to get healthy is easy, putting the decision into daily practice is not so simple. Afterall, if getting healthy were as easy as a choice, most people would be healthy all of the time. It’s the daily struggle, challenges and obstacles that can stand in our way of achieving good health. Having the accountability of your peers is an excellent tool in achieving your weight loss goals.

Choose your health. Then let your community help.