Finding A Fitness Tribe: The Secret To Summer Slim-Down Success

By Elle Penner McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

Most of us eat meals with others, work with others, and live with others. So trying to tackle our summer health goals in isolation doesn't make much sense.

That's where fitness tribes come in; a fitness tribe is simply two or more people who team up in any way, shape or form to engage in healthy behavior, build healthy habits, or achieve a healthy goal together.

When you harness the power of those around you who are motivated to make healthy choices – friends, family, coworkers, etc. – you're more likely to make smart food and exercise choices, too.

The data bears this out: MyFitnessPal users who have 10 or more friends on the app lose an average of four times as much weight compared to those who haven't connected with friends.

The most successful fitness tribes have 4 key ingredients:

-Shared goals: You can find or form a fitness tribe around a specific goal, like running five miles a week or prepping meals for the week every Sunday night. Some people belong to multiple fitness tribes to cover several different health goals, while others focus on one goal and one tribe at a time. Big or small, having a common goal is a success factor. Take Oklahoma City, for example. The whole town rallied around a single goal to lose 1 million pounds, and they nailed it!

-Shared values and tactics: It's human nature to bond with people who share your priorities and beliefs about how this health thing should happen, and that's especially true when it comes to food philosophies. Vegetarians and Psaleo eaters might get along just fine in the gym, but the dining table could be another story. If you are just starting to make healthier food choices, finding another beginner who will share your experience is a great idea – you'll be able to help each other get past that first pizza sighting without succumbing to a slice.

-Shared behavior: Whether everyone in your fitness tribe is attending a workout class together, taking group bike rides or tracking their food as a group, consistent, common behaviors are a big part of what makes a fitness tribe a fitness tribe. Make sure to clearly set out what that behavior is and hold each other accountable.

-Shared support: Members of a well-oiled fitness tribe give each other kudos when they're on a roll _ and they pick each other up when things get rough. Bonding over the wins and occasional woes will make your tribe stronger, and make attaining the ultimate goal more likely for everyone in the group.

MyFitnessPal's user data and survey uncovered that people prefer to share their healthy food, fitness activities, and accomplishments with friends, online and off, because it's more fun, more do-able, and more sustainable over time to be healthy social vs. solo.

A fitness tribe is what you make of it. It can be infinitely flexible or it can be a bit more formal, with scheduled workouts, eating plans, and a tribe name (let's go, Cardio Queens!). Fitness tribes come in many shapes and sizes. It's not the number in your tribe that leads to more success; it's the power of the support you get from them that counts.

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