By Irazema Garcia, First Mile Care Coach

Ever tried doing something new by yourself only to give up a few weeks later? Was it overwhelming? Not as fun as you hoped? Confusing? It can be tough to make changes.

Often, years or even decades worth of habits have to be examined and faced to make a lifestyle change or acquire a new skillset. New routines have to be tested. The inability to self-gauge progress — to know what needs to happen, or when — can prove to be frustrating and disappointing. It’s daunting to go it alone without feedback or support.

Addressing this challenge is one of the central tenets of the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), where lifestyle change is accessibly applied and reinforced with personalized coaching and neighborhood-based cohorts that foster a sense of community.

Joining a group or class to enter a new phase clears a lot of obstacles — and has other benefits. Not only do you meet interesting new people with similar goals, but the group environment also serves as a base of support when the going gets tough. Here are five reasons to make lifestyle changes with the support of others:

  • Social Support: Having support can prove to be beneficial. Studies have shown that having social support leads to better adherence of diet and exercise routines. Social support also improves self-perception (when it comes to adhering to diet and fitness routines). Finding a group that understands and supports you through the challenges that come with changing an ingrained routine can prove to be helpful. Knowing there is someone to talk to or go for a walk with who is going through the same challenges can help you (and them) stay on track. Having someone there pushing you to take more steps in a day or remind you how much you have accomplished can be the key to staying on track. And providing that same support to others can further strengthen your own resolve.

  • Accountability: The group environment can also help with accountability — especially with weight loss. First Mile Care participants have noted that they find themselves sticking to their new lifestyle choices when they have a coach and a group who will want to know what they ate or how much they moved. Having a group who is waiting to celebrate accomplishments makes people want to stay the course and hit their goals.

  • Shared Ideas: Group classes promote sharing concepts and ideas. They serve as a wellspring for life-enhancing inspiration. Groups of individuals travelling on a parallel journey develop a joint understanding of what it takes to achieve goals, and sharing that understanding can help solidify needed changes in routine.

  • Resources: Just like learning about the area’s best dry cleaner from a neighbor, gathering relevant local information is easily accomplished when you are part of a group. — interesting new recipes, details on fun fitness classes, insights on the best farmer’s markets, the list goes on and on. The most reliable resources abound because you’re all locals and understand your neighborhoods.

  • Motivation: Seeing others hit their goals can serve to reignite your own motivation. Even when you are struggling or feel overwhelmed by everything life has thrown at you lately, sharing in someone else’s success fuels your own journey. You see others make it through the week (and live to tell about it!), so why can’t you? Hitting rough patches oftentimes derails people pursuing goals. But if you’re in a group with someone who has crossed that bridge (proverbial or not), it can keep you on track. You inner need to succeed can fuel you to try new things and push yourself to accomplish what you set out to accomplish.

Visit First Mile Care for more information on DPP, lifestyle change, and chronic disease prevention.