The Secret Link Between Health & Community

By Nicole Martin

July 14, 2016

I recently ran across a series of articles profiling former contestants on the CBS weight-loss “reality” show The Biggest Loser. If you’re not familiar with the show, here’s the skinny (see what I did there?): Obese contestants, with the help of celebrity fitness trainers and what basically amounts to starvation diets, attempt to lose more weight then their competitors. The winner is (presumably) the person who’s able to make it to the end with far less of themselves than they started with while simultaneously not going bat-poo crazy.

So, a lot of people have a lost a lot of weight on the show. That’s a fact. What’s not talked about as much is how many contestants, after going back home, back to their real lives, gain most—if not all— of the weight back.

It got me wondering: Why is this?

The answer is that health doesn’t happen in isolation. Health happens in community. Also, weight loss does not equal health.

Without the support of the other contestants (and the trainers alternating between yelling at and loving on them), it’s ridiculously hard to maintain that level of focus and discipline. They lost their “why.”

Health should never be measured on an individual level. Instead, health is a communal process.

I work with people every day whose main problem with getting healthy—and staying that way—is their friends and family. After all, misery loves company. And that’s why many people struggle with getting the sort of support they need when they’re working on swapping their bad habits for good ones.

That’s one of the reasons that we here at the Wellness Training Institute put such a high level of focus on community. It’s super hard to get healthy in a vacuum. We’re social animals by nature and it’s so, so, so vital to surround yourself with others going through the same things that you are when taking those baby steps toward health.

Humans don’t like being alone.

It’s a fact that people in a good marriage live longer than single people or those whose marriages aren’t so good.

It’s also a fact that when sociologists have looked at the reasons that people live past one hundred, two of the top five reasons are one, a good diet, and two, community.

And it makes sense.

With community, when you stumble, others are there to pick you up. When you get a big victory, others are there to celebrate with you. You are held accountable. There’s no pressure quite like social pressure, which can certainly be a negative in certain situations, but can also be one of the most powerful driving forces in going from disease and dysfunction to a life you couldn’t have even dreamed of before you made the choice to begin building healthy habits.

I see miracles every day. And every last one of them happens within a group of people spurring each other on toward a life worth living.

If you are struggling to change your life for the better—losing belly fat, trying to reverse an autoimmune disease, working to stave off heart disease, or if you just want to feel better—I encourage you to come eat dinner with us. We’ll share with you the latest science behind healthy living, as well as give you some simple, practical tools to implement right away! And, most importantly, you’ll be with a large group of people that are experiencing the same things that you are. A free dinner is always a good thing. A free dinner together is even better!

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