Say what you will about Facebook, but I've seen its good side in the last few weeks.
Facebook offers users the option of creating groups around a common cause or shared interest. I joined a group a couple of months ago called Sisters Getting Healthy. It was started by three friends, two of them sisters, who decided they wanted to get serious about their health. Eating better, getting exercise. They created the Facebook group thinking there might be others who would like to join them. Anyone who joined the group became a "sister" to the rest.
I work with one of those sisters, and I'm friends with both of them on Facebook so I was invited to join the group. And I did.
For the first month or so I just watched. I read about their successes and failures. Read the articles the group posted about juicing or the benefits of exercise. Chuckled at their humor, like the photo of one sister on her mini-trampoline with cleaning supplies in hand--she was exercising between chores.
I noticed they started adding weekly challenges--things like "exercise 20 minutes a day for four days this week." One of the requirements of each challenge was to post something on the group's page on the days you met the challenge.
Then the sisters started offering sweet handmade charms as little rewards for those who completed a challenge. They also gave charms for each five pounds of weight lost. But still I just watched, fully aware that I needed to do what they were doing.
Then, a couple weeks ago, my co-worker-sister-friend, sent me a sweet message encouraging me to get more involved with the group. I promised I would at least write an "atta girl" now and then to encourage the group. But then, I took on a challenge. And everything changed.
I took on the challenge to "make one small change." I chose to eat more fruit, something that is easy for most people but requires a conscious effort for me. I also took on the bonus challenge to "do something active for 20 minutes a day for four days."
The first day I realized it was bedtime and I had yet to do something active. "I can't go to bed without exercising; I want to tell the sisters I did it." So I did some aerobics in front of the TV.
It's been the same every day since. I confessed to the cookies and candy I consumed, too, but the sisters' loving acceptance of my successes and failures has made a huge difference.
Without meaning to over-analyze things, let me share the genius of Sisters Getting Healthy:
1) Love is a powerful motivator. This is a positive "you-can-do-it" group of women. Like the proverbial fly, I'm much more drawn to "honey" than "vinegar." I don't know a lot of women in the group, but I'll take a "way to go" from a friend of a friend any day of the week!
2) Failure is okay. Very few people make changes in their lives without a few missteps. I feel free to admit my own slip ups, and I encourage others not to let their bad days overwhelm them.
3) Success is motivating. Reading that others have met their daily challenge encourages me to stick to mine. And when I can write that I ate my fruit and exercised for 20 minutes, it makes it even easier to do the next day.
4) Personal invitation is hard to resist. When my sister-friend sent me a personal note encouraging me to get more involved, it was the little boost I needed to get going.
5) Specific goals help most people get things done. I'm surprised how much it helps to have someone say, "Do this with me for a week."
5) Little incentives go a long way. I want the charms! It's a little thing, but it's one more motivation.
6) It's better together. That's the big idea, of course. Successes, failures, laughter, education--they're all better shared.
I hope I haven't written this post prematurely. I often start healthy endeavors like this only to lose steam after a few weeks. But I have a feeling this time is different. This time I've got the sisters.