Community is such an important thing. You don’t notice how much you need it until you realize you don’t have one.

Growing up in a big Catholic family there was that built-in community at church but at a young age I realized I didn’t believe and felt like I was always standing just outside of that. I didn’t belong at church or the youth group. I was still the outsider. I floated in and out of other communities, religious and philosophical.

I know it’s probably normal to look back on the “old days” or historical time periods and think “things were better back then” but sometimes I really do believe it was. Before the day of the internet and easy access to everything, people were more in touch. Towns were smaller, everyone knew each other and (hopefully) helped each other. Growing up in a bigger city (Seattle) I never really felt like there was a close-knit community.

When I started running I found a community that I FINALLY belonged in. I was so happy! I was never into sports as a kid and discovering fitness later in life, I finally saw the benefits of activities like that. There really isn’t anything quite like being part of a team. Running is a pretty solo activity but you better believe you’re still part of a team if you’re a runner. You have other runner friends. You guys talk and rehash race weekends; you share in the anticipation and the woes of training; you have a common bond that brings you close to sometimes perfect strangers–the #runchat Twitter chat is a perfect example! This can lead to big and awesome things.

So when that community is gone, what happens? With various running injuries over the years, I’ve taken numerous breaks from running. I always had cycling to fall back on. Even if I wasn’t part of the running community, I still was part of some kind of cycling community. I could discuss centuries with other riders, what their favorite bike was, what GUs they preferred…the list is endless.

Then that was gone, too. Gone were the summers where I was super focused on getting my mileage up so that I would be able to participate in an epic ride.

I wanted this post to be an open dialogue about community; how to find your community, how having a community changes us, how to cope when you don’t have one…so what say all of you?

Dear Diary

I haven’t had a chance to make it to the Twitter #fitblog chat in ages. I used to be there every week on Tuesdays and I loved having the opportunity to make connections with like-minded people. Twitter may be a clique and often a time-suck, but I’ve met so many great people on there that I’d consider friends. I enjoy talking to them, I get advice from them and learn new things. Then it was no more. šŸ™ Goodbye Fitblog…

The last few months I’ve been so busy in the gym on Tuesdays lifting weights that I’ve missed the chats. In the past I was usually on the elliptical Tuesday nights so I could easily participate in the chat. It’s impossible now that I’m focusing on strength training. Ā There was a recent chat that I was sorry I missed. It sounded right up my alley. So why don’t we discuss it here?


How has self-journaling helped you achieve your health and fitness goals?Ā 
I didn’t keep a journal of my weight loss journey and I REALLY wish I had. I would have liked to look back at what my specific struggles were, how I felt when I hit landmarks and goals, and what my thoughts were. The things I kept track of were my calories and my weight.

I tracked my weigh-ins on an Excel spreadsheet (which you can see the numbers here) and I wrote down all of my calories each day in a little notebook. This was obviously long before I got an iPhone and used an app to track my calories! It worked well and I did it diligently for two years.

Now, I track my calories on my iPhone in either MyFitnessPal or Cronometer. I track my biking and running mileage on DailyMileĀ and that’s about it!

What is the most difficult part of tracking your fitness journey?
I’m not sure that I have a difficult part of tracking. I’d say the most difficult part of the journey in general is dealing with injury. Me + injury does not = good mental health. Exercise is definitely my source of dealing with stress and anxiety. Exercise has alleviated a lot of the seasonal depression I deal with each winter. When I can’t exercise? I find myself slipping back into the old habits–the stress eating, getting sucked into that “black hole” mentality where I can’t see the silver lining on anything. It’s really hard.

Injuries that sideline me from doing things I love (run, bike, etc) make me feelĀ despondentĀ and stressed out. It also makes me start to over-analyze my food intake. I try REALLY hard not to let myself get super restrictive with my calories when I’m injured. Not only do I need calories to heal my body, but lack of exercise should NOT equal severe food restriction! Ever! I just have to be more mindful. Maybe I don’t eat dessert every night. Or I skip the beer with dinner. Little things like that save the calories and aren’t over-restrictive.

Do you think social media can help motivate people to create better habits?Ā 
I think it does both, or rather it has the potential for both positive and negative things. Sometimes it’s easy to get sucked into disordered thinking when you’re surrounded by people who are also struggling. While support is great, if someone’s disordered eating or overexercising is starting to rub off on you–social media is NOT a healthy resource.

There have been several times over the years where I found myself getting a little disordered. It’s happened with running — where I compared myself to more experienced and conditioned runners — and pushed myself too far. I’ve definitely compared myself to other bloggers — why are they so popular when all they do is post photos of oatmeal every day? What helps me is to step away and remind myself that I am NOT them. My journey is different, my body is different, my story is different. Maybe my body type isn’t meant to run marathons or do crossfit every single day. I need my rest days! I also remind myself to celebrate the non-scale victories.


How do you build an online community around your health goals?Ā 

In terms of community, this happened naturally for me. When I decided it was time to lose 100 pounds most of my friends and family were super supportive. In my trek to finding a healthy lifestyle I started meeting new people who were interested in exercise and healthy living like I was.

As for the online community, that came later, after I lost the weight. I really wish I had known there was such a vast resource for weight loss online. The chat groups, twitter, Facebook groups, SparkPeople…the list goes on and on! So while I’m not trying to lose weight, I do use my online community for support and common interests.


I love Twitter for this. The majority of people I follow are into healthy living. When I was running a lot, I participated in the #runchat running chat and I met so many cool runners. It’s a great place to get advice or learn new things about running. When I wanted to get serious about strength training I turned to my friend Suzanne.

Twitter is what you make it. Fill it will people who will inspire and support you!

Okay, your turn to weigh in!