You Are Not Alone: How Having a Support System Helps Me Succeed

support-system-585I strongly believe that we should surround ourselves with people who make us better and stronger individuals. People who challenge us, make us think and can keep us laughing. A support system was key in my weight-loss success, and as I’ve gotten married and had a child of my own, my support system has evolved and grown with me.

When I initially started my weight-loss journey, I was invited to my first Weight Watchers meeting by my aunt. Having 40 pounds to lose, I was overwhelmed and confused by so much information on how to do it, so having someone by my side every step of the way was comforting. Along the way, we picked up my mom and cousin. I’ve gone through numerous weigh-ins, watched the scale go up and down, and tried many new crazy fads with these ladies. We laugh together, cry together and air our frustrations to each other. My aunt and I became leaders with Weight Watchers, supporting one another the entire way. We try crazy foods together and swap tips. We have a four-way iMessage going at all times, in which we discuss our struggles and milestones. No matter where in this crazy world we may be, we support one another every step of our journeys. I am a lucky girl to have these beautiful women in my life. They are my best friends and have loved me at every size.

In October of 2009, I left my sweet home in Chicago and followed my then-fiancé, Jake, to his hometown in Kansas City. I was in the middle of my weight-loss journey and scared of not having my support with me in the meeting room. This transition helped me appreciate technology so much more, and I learned to expand my support system in my new city. Jake came to every meeting and weigh-in with me. He supported me on and off the scale, in the meeting room, and in our new environment. I talked to him about my struggles, coping with being away from my family and establishing a new foundation. He provided me with support beyond measure that has helped us build a beautiful, happy and healthy home for our son. (And don’t forget: Our husbands/partners are just as deserving of that support as we are!)

Our support system can come from anywhere, and once we allow ourselves to be more open and less guarded, they will fall into the place we need them most in life. Even if we didn’t know that place existed, our friends can make us better people than we were before. My support system became more important to me than ever when I became a mom. My husband grew up in a beautiful community with some extraordinary friends. Along the way, throughout my growing years in Kansas, these friends have become our family. Not everyone in our group of friends is a parent, but everyone loves and supports my life decisions. Just like my support in Chicago, they too have laughed and cried with me. I never feel alone, and I never feel like I’m missing anything without my family here like I feared. These ladies and I all have the same concerns, fears, hopes and dreams. We talk about weight-loss, food, fashion and ABC’s Scandal. We run together and relax together. We can share our deepest secrets just as easily as we can a bottle of wine. They held me when I miscarried and celebrated our son’s bris with us. Support systems are key to success in all avenues of life; my husband and I are lucky to have one of the biggest fan clubs in south Kansas.

As moms, support is extremely important. Being able to talk to others — whether it’s kid-related or just needing a girls’ night out — is always wonderful. Being someone else’s supporter is just as empowering. You never know how much you can help someone in a time of need until you get a sweet message of gratitude.

So how do you find that support system? We can pick up friends who have the same goals as us in the gym. After a few workouts you create a community of support and a deep bond. There are also mommy groups or even through other friends. Turn to your play groups, your synagogue or church, or your favorite store. Support can come online, too, like this very site!

Support systems can be overlooked and under appreciated. Sometimes we pass on a relationship too quickly before seeing just how fortunate we could be to have it. To all those who support me, thank you. You make life a more beautiful exciting place!

Can’t see the video? Click here for a feel-good version of the Friends theme song you haven’t heard.

How did you establish a support system for yourself? —Jennifer

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