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The secret to summer slim-down success: Find a fitness tribe.

By Elle Penner
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
BIZ WRK-WELLNESS 3 BZ
Kim Hairston - MCT
Shared behaviors – like working out together at the gym – are a big part of what makes a fitness tribe. These men are passing a medicine ball while doing sit-ups.

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, co-workers, etc. – you’re more likely to make smart food and exercise choices, too. The data bears this out: Users of MyFitnessPal (available as a smartphone app or online) who have 10 or more friends using the program lose an average of four times as much weight compared with those who haven’t connected with friends.

The most successful fitness tribes have four key ingredients:

•  Shared goals: You can find or form a fitness tribe around a specific goal, like running 5 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.

•  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. If you are just starting to make healthier food choices, finding another beginner who will share your experience is a great idea – you can help each other get past that first pizza sighting without succumbing to a slice.

•  Shared behavior: Whether everyone in your fitness tribe attends a workout class together, takes group bike rides or tracks their food as a group, consistent, common behaviors are a big part of what makes 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.

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