If you were going to climb to the top of Mount Everest, you wouldn’t train for it alone, would you? At the very least you’d want the advice of veterans who had done it before, as well as the support of other people who were considering this mind-boggling challenge for the first time.
For many, significant weight loss is a challenge on par with a trip to the top of the tallest mountain in the world. But for some reason, every year millions of people begin a weight loss plan without a support structure in place to help them along. Perhaps part of the problem is the difficulty in even finding such a community. After all, just as most of us don’t live next door to a team of people getting ready summit Mt. Everest, we also aren’t surrounded by people in the middle of weight loss journey that’s anything like our own.
So, what to do? For Lynn Haraldson-Bering, the answer was in radically expanding her world by searching for her community online. Lynn created a website ( here ) at Freewebs.com (A free service that provides tools for non-techies to create professional looking websites) and filled it with pictures of herself that tracked her weight loss and a candid blog detailing her ups and downs.
“I chose Freewebs initially because everyone I knew on Weight Watchers online who had a site used Freewebs. What I love is that it’s so easy to use. Freewebs is always updating and making it even easier to maintain my site. And the premium subscription doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, either.”
At first the site was just for her, a way to “de-mystify” her weight loss goals by putting them out in the open and to share her progress with friends and family, but then something happened that Lynn hadn’t anticipated. A flood of visitors came to her site to comment on her blog postings and sign her online guestbook, congratulating her on her progress, offering encouragement and advice, and even sharing their own stories.
“Friends and family,” Lynn says, “while supportive, couldn’t understand my weight loss issues the way the online community could. These people understood what an accomplishment it was to fit in a size 16 or 14 for the first time in years, to go sleeveless, to exercise….I found several stories similar to mine, which was comforting to know I wasn’t alone and that others had been successful before me… I was able to reflect on my own uncertainty with more courage because someone had been in the same place as me and worked through it.”
And the result of all this encouragement and support? Lynn kept on her weight loss program and lost a staggering 167 pounds in 3 years-more than half her body weight! Since losing the weight, Lynn’s accomplishment has led to appearances on CNN, The Today Show, and Oprah where she’s shared her inspiring story with a whole new audience.
Now that Lynn has lost the weight, she says she plans on maintaining her Freewebs site to find the online support she needs for weight maintenance as well as to be there for a whole new group of people embarking on the same journey she started three years ago.
“Losing weight,” Lynn says on her site. “While a solitary physical act, does not have to take place in a vacuum. We all have questions, we all have doubts, we all have victories, both on and off the scale, that we want to celebrate with other people who ‘get it.’ I’ve said all along that if my weight-loss story can inspire just one person to take control of their weight and fitness, then telling it in any way I can is worth it.”
One look at the comments on Lynn’s website and it’s clear that she is just such an inspiration. She made it to the top of the mountain with the help and support of her online community and now she remains to help others make the same climb.