I bet we could all agree we would love to drop a few pounds. Or maybe come up with a fitness plan we could actually stick with when swimsuit season is suddenly bearing down upon us. Embracing a healthy lifestyle sounds so simple. Eat less. Move More. Easier said than done, indeed.
Americans spend billions of dollars each year on diet and exercise plans that may prove to be more costly than beneficial. Bottom line — the most effective way of losing weight is to restrict caloric intake, and the most effective way to maintain the loss is through regular exercise, which takes equal parts dedication and determination. And a bit of motivation can go a long way.
So with lots of love and plenty of laughs, members of one Elfster community are inspiring others to join them on their fitness journey that began with a diet plan and lifestyle change.
“It all started on a Trim Healthy Mama (THM) Facebook page,” explains Elfster community manager Melissa Cox. “THM is a ‘diet plan’ that is based around eating no sugars, low carbs, and high proteins. I originally joined the page and made some funny comments about my husband and I starting the plan and people just ‘ate it up.’ They were constantly looking for my posts, and asking about us.”
According to the THM website, “authors Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett provide a comprehensive, Biblically-sound, effective and delicious way to eat for health and weight loss.
Written with humor and thorough research, these books will entertain, enlighten and encourage women (and men!) to feed their bodies and souls the way God created us to thrive.”
“The page I was a part of is geared towards knowledge of THM and how THM works and it’s not really for people connecting with others,” she adds. “They want you talking about the ‘plan’ on that page, and nothing more. People were begging me to start my own page so that we could have ‘free range’ of conversation, so that’s what I did.”
For this group, “Nothing is off limits, so we [discuss] love, sex, diet, fitness, books, religion, parenting, home décor, our jobs, children, pregnancy, etc.” Melissa explains. ”It’s turned into a HUGE blessing for so many people. I get emails and cards daily with people expressing their gratitude for my page, and how it has helped them.”
Melissa (better known as Mama C. to her followers) and Michael (aka Macho Nacho), her beloved husband and fitness partner, started a co-ed Facebook page — Mama C. & Macho Nacho’s Fitness Journey Unofficial THM — that is based upon the THM lifestyle, but gets more personal. Not only do they encourage and support their online community seeking advice, but stress the importance of taking this fitness journey as a couple. Within days of its creation, the group had 1,500 followers. It now boasts 1,750 members, but has been closed to the public in order to keep the group more intimate compared to many online communities.
“We primarily have women on the page, but are open to both men and women,” says Melissa. “A lot of women have added their husbands or significant others so that they can share in their journeys with them. Most men are ‘lurkers’ and don’t actively participate [in group discussions].”
Melissa describes her page as a positive place only. “This is a co-ed site, built on respect, empathy and empowerment for those around us. All posts featuring shaming, hate speech, or are construed as negative and do nothing to continue the forward positive dialogue of this group may be deleted without notice.”
As a means to build relationships and encourage personal connections within this community, Melissa has created an Elfster group of almost 400 that hosts monthly gift exchanges on the site, as well as an ongoing pen pal exchange, in which participants “must commit to at least 2 letters/cards or small gifts a month to brighten your Pen Pal’s day.” The group also uses Elfster to assign “accountability partners” to be each other’s cheerleader and support system.
“We usually have around 200 that participate in each exchange,” she says. “I have set up a monthly exchange for people to get to know one another. I mean, who doesn’t like to get gifts and personal mail in the mail. Some can’t afford to do it monthly, which with postage is understandable. So it seems each month we get different people involved. This month we are doing a t-shirt exchange, April was a goodie bag exchange, and March was a mug exchange. I also have a couple other exchanges going on basically because Elfster pairs for me, and I love that. We are doing a 4 month Pen Pal Exchange, where you can be paired with a pen pal for 4 months, and an accountability partner exchange — someone to help you keep on track with eating and exercise.”
“I will continue to do the monthly exchanges [since] the people are loving them!!” she adds. “It helps keep the morale up. And when 200 people get their gift and post pictures of what they got, it’s so exciting!”
The elves at Elfster applaud Melissa’s commitment to her community and her inspirational attitude. Her encouraging words are easily found in her personal message posted to her group: “Y’all are awesome… keep up the love, support, encouragement with one another!”
So what is Melissa’s favorite piece of advice for couples getting in shape together? “Always work together, support and encourage one another. Macho and I wake up at 4:30 every morning and hit the pavement together. We do a minimum of 2 miles. This allows us to start our day together with conversation and prayer. It’s a great start to our day, not only physically, but intimately. And come on, there’s nothing sexier than a supportive spouse who is your biggest cheerleader!”
What are you doing to stay motivated to reach your own goals? Find some inspiration in Elfster’s Wellness Guide. Want to connect with the elves at Elfster? You can reach us via Facebook here, Tweet us @elfster or catch us on Instagram @elfster.
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