Wellness Wednesday: The Importance of Finding Your Tribe

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Who remembers The Wonder Years theme song?  Between the years I spent watching Kevin Arnold come of age and my father’s natural love for Joe Cocker as a recording artist, I heard the line “I get by with a little help from my friends” so many times that it faded into the background.  However, as an adult, I learned to appreciate that phrase as something more than just a theme song from a cheesy sitcom. It was truth.

 

As someone who repeatedly moved thousands of miles away from her family (first for school and then for work), I quickly learned how vital it was for my mental wellbeing and my level of success to know that I could rely on “a little help from my friends”.  Nowhere has this been truer than in my life as a dietitian and fitness enthusiast.  It was within this community that I finally felt as if I had found “my tribe” of people. I was suddenly blessed with an amazing crew of people that were just as excited about fitness and nutrition as I was, and didn’t think I was weird or a drag if I announced that I wasn’t going to have a drink on Friday night or if I wanted to cook a low carb dish at a dinner party, because we had the same health goals... and they understood.

 

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It turns out that my experience is far from an isolated one. Studies on goal achievement have found that associating yourself with a group of people with similar goals increases the chances of reaching those goals for the entire group. Similarly, perception of desirability of a shared goal has been thought to greatly influence motivation and positively impact perceived difficulty (Read: peer support makes difficult things feel easier).

 

You may be wondering how these things are related to nutrition. In a nutshell, the science behind peer support and achievement doesn’t just apply to one area of life, but to all of them- including nutrition. By finding a community that shares your nutrition goals, and by showing up often to that community, you increase the likelihood that you will continue to practice the healthy nutrition behaviors that will drive you towards that shared goal. Thus, you increase the potential for success. The only thing that remains, for you-as the goal seeker, is to seek out that tribe. If you’re stumped on this part, drop me a line. I happen to know a pretty awesome one that’s always willing to welcome people with open arms.