I attended the group meeting yesterday down at RunTex. It appears they’ve combined the two groups (ATX100 and ATX50) for the Saturday meeting. This is fine by me, because the fitness levels seems to make more sense. Considering I’m new and not conditioned at all, I imagine another newbie who had less to lose would feel fine tracking along with me at the beginner level.
Where it does make a difference, however, is in the group dynamic. There’s an active Facebook group page where many of the members who’ve bonded over the past few months get a lot of support from each other. Some in the group feel the 100 pounds+ group has unique issues they’d like to share only with their peers. This makes sense to me, as I’ve spent the last few years running a peer-only community.
The surprising perk I realized yesterday, however, is that I too now have a peer group with whom I can discuss my issues. On our two-mile walk yesterday, I spent the entire time talking to a another peer and felt so comfortable about talking openly about many issues surrounding obesity that we all share. Austin ranks in the top 10 cities in the country for fitness, so there is much peer pressure here to eat right (Whole Foods was founded here) and be active. After I get to know more people, I may suggest we create a Ning network where there can be more robust online sharing in a private community.
In my industry, there is a popular study that always makes me cringe when I hear it during industry conferences.* The study asserts that social networks influence obesity. I often joke that one of my colleagues (who uses this study in his presentations) won’t connect socially to me because he’s afraid he’ll become obese. The truth is, this study does not apply to me at all. I don’t have any friends who need to lose 100 pounds. Some of my female friends are in varying stages of “I’m overweight!,” but I know very few females who are not on that spectrum somewhere.
Yet, the converse of that study, that people who opt-in to a network of peers (in this case, obesity) can influence each other very positively. I’m going to put it to the test and see if it makes the difference when I eventually get to that plateau that has me start listening to that inner mocking voice that says, “Why are you doing this? This is pointless and futile.”
To that end, I sighed up for Runkeeper. I also heard from Zach Lynch, founder of HealthRally. He said they have an alpha I could sign up for, but he said it would be better if I could wait for the beta that will be released in a few weeks. I decided to wait, but have good feelings about it. It seems HealthRally might be a way to involve my larger social graph in my journey.