They say, 50 is the new 30, and I’d really love to believe it. But let’s face it, age happens. When we become those “women of a certain age,” we may not always recognize the person gazing back at us in the mirror, either physically or mentally.
Growing older with grace takes dedication to our own well-being, determination to face the challenges life sends our way, and lots of hard work. No one has all the answers (and I’m not sure I’d believe them if they said they did!), but as we age, we have to make the tough decision to put ourselves first for a change—at least part of the time.
Women in their 50s face different obstacles than their 30-something selves, especially when it comes to maintaining a healthy body at a healthy weight. The stress of balancing a career, raising a family, and caring for aging parents may take its toll, but there is always a way to get back on track. Life is, after all, a marathon, not a sprint.
As we age, physical pitfalls—like a slower metabolism, hormonal imbalances, and plain old tired joints and muscles—are unavoidable. But when it comes to being our “best self,” being comfortable in our own skin goes a long way, and maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise is a great place to start combatting the host of health issues we may face later in life.
It’s not always easy. Everyone’s pathway to good health has its own unique twists and turns, but isn’t every journey better when you do it together? Although it’s important to understand that we are accountable for our own actions, having a friend to keep us on track certainly helps!
I recently came across an online community of Weight Watcher users who are all over the age of 50. Their members are facing their weight loss challenges together and using the Elfster website to connect on a more personal level. With their “Accountability Buddy” exchange, they don’t exchange physical gifts, but rather gift each other with an ear that’s listening, a shoulder to lean on, and a friend with a like-minded heart. After all, a non-judgmental buddy can be the best weight loss encouragement gift to help you feel supported in your unique journey.
The WWOver 50 Group
The most important guideline for membership in the growing Facebook group, called WWOver 50, is simple: THIS GROUP IS GEARED TOWARDS PEOPLE AGE 50 AND UP. They don’t check IDs at the door, but the conversations focus on issues experienced by people in this age group in regards to weight loss.
According to Ellen Neuville, who has taken on the task of organizing several Elfster exchanges for the group:
We are a Facebook support group for people following the Weight Watchers program, but we’re not officially affiliated with Weight Watchers and we don’t require our members to be current Weight Watchers members. Our group started February 1, 2017 when our administrator, Pam Reeves, was looking for support and had trouble adapting to the official Weight Watchers support app called Connect. There are other Facebook groups out there, but she wanted something that would focus on the issues specific to those of us over 50 years of age. I am a moderator for the group, one of 18. It truly takes a village to moderate our group as we are approaching 70k members now.
It’s a particularly special time for WWOver 50 as the group marks its one year anniversary, which has now grown to include 70,551 people as of this moment. Happy Anniversary to this supportive community!
Providing Weight Loss Support Through Accountability Buddies
In some cases, members of the group offer one another a better understanding of how to face daily challenges, perhaps even more than “real life” friends and family, who may not have experienced similar situations. When the going gets tough, Accountability Buddies can commiserate together and remind each other that they are tougher!
Not only does the group serve as a sounding board for questions—like “what’s a great snack idea for those chocolate cravings?” or “what’s the best fitness tracker out there?”—but it is also a place to celebrate victories, small or large.
Once a week, admin Pam Reeves posts a weekly “Meet Me At The Table” video that offers insight into how to succeed in getting healthy. Her posts offer tips for eating, exercising, and tracking responsibly, as well as instilling the notion that “You Are Worth It!” Pam recently issued a 45-day challenge to the group along with some encouragement. Here’s her post:
DAY 30 – 45 day challenge! 30 days! We have just over two weeks left! If you’re doing the 5 lb push with me, I’ll confess to you that my body really likes where I am and is fighting hard to go any lower. I’m digging deep but it’s going to be a slow process! The good news is I know it will happen eventually and I’m okay with that. How are doing with yours today?
This sort of friendly encouragement can be just what the doctor ordered in terms of staying motivated to keep positive and keep going.
New Year, New You With Weight Loss Encouragement Gifts
Although the Facebook group is certainly an important part of the equation, Elfster became a key platform for organizing their Accountability Buddy exchange. “Around the first of the year we noticed people were posting in our group, asking for a buddy to partner with to hold them accountable,” Ellen explains.
I thought that Elfster would be a great way for us to match people up with someone who was looking for the same type of support, so the Accountability Buddy exchange was born. We explained that each person would get two buddies—one whose name they were given and who they would be responsible for driving interactions with, and a second buddy who was given their name and who would be contacting them. Once the initial pairings were made it was up to them to decide how they wanted to contact each other (Elfster messages, Facebook PMs, eMail, text, etc) and how often. We decided to shorten the sign-up period so that people wouldn’t have time to forget they signed up or lose interest, so we ended up doing two rounds to allow more people to participate.
The convenient, online nature of Elfster is what makes it so helpful for a group like this. As Ellen put it:
We tried a couple of gift exchanges last year with a manual process and it was a bit of a nightmare. People signed up and forgot, or gave us an incorrect email, or just didn’t check their email, or lost interest in the group. Some received gifts but never sent anything. A few of us moderators spent hours trying to track people down and get them to fulfill their obligations. We had requests for additional exchanges, but we wanted to find a better way, so I researched gift exchange programs and found Elfster. We decided to try it out with a recipe exchange first, to see how it worked. We asked participants to send a card with a favorite holiday recipe, so that way if people failed to live up to their obligation it wouldn’t be such an unfair expenditure. We also used Elfster for a gift exchange among the moderators for the group, and that worked out much better. The wishlist was a great tool for that exchange.
We are thrilled to see that some of the recent enhancements made to the Elfster site made sense for this worldwide community and came in handy for Ellen in planning the exchange. “We loved that Elfster had the options for international pairings as we are spread out across the world and it was nice to know that people could be paired with folks in their own country, or with others if they were willing to ship internationally,” she explains. “Using Elfster definitely made it easier on our moderators, especially the ability to send messages to all participants at once through the tool. With a Facebook group our size and as active as we are, it is difficult to ensure that everyone sees what we post, so we need other ways to contact them.”
And it’s not all “work” for the moderators of this mighty community. They recently held a gift exchange of their own to celebrate their accomplishments of the past year. According to Ellen, one of the of popular gifts exchanged during the exchange included “motivational bracelets—we’ve learned to wear them on the arm we eat with so we can see them when we reach for food and remember why we are doing this.” And while nothing beats having a friend who is there for you, such weight loss encouragement gifts are a fun way to remind yourself of your goals.
If you’re over 50 and looking for a little motivation to reach your weight loss goals for 2018, then check out the WWOver 50 on Facebook to find the support and encouragement you are looking for! It’s just one of the many ways online communities and gift exchanges can make life a little happier.
Are you part of a community that uses gift exchanges? Tell us about it on our Facebook page, on Twitter @Elfster, or on Instagram @Elfstergram. And, for inspired gifting ideas, browse our gift guides.