Let’s Do This!!! That is the name of my workout WhatsApp chat. I created this chat on July 5, 2015, more than 3 months ago. I wish I could take full credit for the invention of this chat, but truth is that I borrowed the idea from my cousin. A couple of months prior, my cousin was telling me that she had been working out more than ever. She seemed motivated and excited. My cousin explained that her girlfriends and she had begun a text group challenge in which they had to exercise a certain amount of times during the week, otherwise they would have to pay the other girls in the group $1. I thought this was clever so I inquired further. She told me they would post healthy meals as well as confessions of slip ups – it was almost like a support group. I was fond of the idea and my cousin was sweet enough to invite me to participate, but I kindly declined. I was busy at the time with my father’s illness and knew it was impossible to keep up with the challenge. After my father’s passing, I knew I needed exercise desperately, not only for my body, but also as a healing mechanism. I was running about 3 times a week by myself. I had a good routine, not too hard, not too easy. I was consistent. But I kept thinking about my cousin’s group and how fun it seemed. I thought an exercise group might be a really cool thing to do with my own group of friends. As with any group of girlfriends, most of us could stand to lose some weight and talked about it often. I wondered what would happen if I invited these girls that I love on an exercise journey with me. So I sent a group text to a few girls that I thought might want to participate. I explained this was a challenge. There would be a minimum of 4 workouts per week allowed. After each workout, the women would have to take a selfie or related picture as proof that they completed the exercise. Any woman who missed one or more of the workouts had to pay the other women $1 for each offense. I also mentioned that we could offer each other healthy eating tips, and encouraged all the women to openly admit if they “cheated” on their “diet.” All of the women wanted to participate. They said things like “Oh, this is coming at a perfect time because I was planning on working out but I needed a little motivation” or “This is just what I need” or “Why not, let’s give it a try and see how it goes.” One of my girlfriends suggested we use WhatsAPP as the medium because we could turn off the notifications and not be disturbed constantly.
And thus on July 5, 2015 the “Let’s Do This” chat group began. We started with 7 girls. Each one of us had a different journey, different needs and different goals. Some of us had some weight to lose; some of us were in great shape but wanted to tone up; one of us had a perfect body and was serving as the carrot stick for the rest of us! (yes, we even got a body builder in our group!) some of us didn’t care about the physique as much as just getting healthy; some of us were simply lonely and tired of exercising alone. The beauty of this chat was that location did not matter. These girls were not all in the same city or state. All we needed was a smart phone with a camera. Easy enough.
The selfies began. Every day beginning as early as 4am, not so energetic faces with their fingers reflecting the number of the week they were on 1, 2, 3, 4 would appear on my screen. After all, this was a sacrifice. But after every pic, there was another girl who would put a thumbs up or a word of encouragement.
There was also the occasional smoothie pic or salad pic and, of course, there was the woman who confessed about the brownie she just ate at work. As the picture of the deviant brownie was uploaded to the chat, there were 6 other women that were there to offer support. “No worries, love, tomorrow will be better.” or when necessary, an angry emoji would appear and a woman would command “put the brownie down now!”
Little by little, the chat evolved. The faces were more animated, sometimes. There were even smiles on there. The energy started shifting. You see, all of a sudden these women were motivated. The chat became a safe place where you could post your results and be celebrated or you could post your failures and be supported. A few weeks into it, our annual family vacation arrived and some of us were reunited in our vacation spot. The chat, of course, traveled with us. We took advantage of the trip and exercised together in the mornings. It made the vacation all the more special and meaningful. Selfies became group pics and wellness became a common thread that was tying us all together. At the end of the vacation, we all went to our regular homes…distant again, but closer than ever.
Other friends began noticing there was something different going on. We looked happier and healthier. We invited two more friends on the chat. And then we were 9. One of the girls resisted for a while. We would invite her but she wasn’t ready to commit. And then one day, she finally agreed. As the contagious energy spread to her, she started making changes that were critical in her life….like quitting smoking. At one point, she called me and thanked me for insisting on her being added to the chat. She said “Besides my health, this chat is the biggest source of motivation for me.”
The chat is still going on and we are all still on our journeys. Our goals change every once in a while and are totally subjective. Some of us try new routines or new meal plans. Others stick to the same ole, same ole. But the key is the support system, the special relationships.
We have a place where we are accountable yet we are safe. We answer to each other, but really we are just answering to ourselves. We know the things we have to work on. We admit our faults and our weaknesses and our vulnerabilities.We each have our strengths, and we offer those strengths to the others. Each of us are each other’s super woman.
You see, when your alarm clock sounds at 4am or 5am, and you are totally exhausted, every fiber in your being wants to shut that thing off and forget your commitment. That may be easy to do when no one is watching. Or when you have finished a long day at work, and the last thing in the world you want to do is go to the gym, it is easy to miss the exit and just go home. But when you know that there are 8 other women who feel exactly the same way you do, and may be even more tired than you are, and they have already posted their pic on that chat, all of a sudden that commitment is greater than you are. That energy stops you from hitting the snooze button or passing the exit on the highway. That energy gives you a higher purpose and a sense of community. We all need a community.
We girls find ourselves reiterating how lucky we are to have this chat, and to have each other. The chat has taken a life of its own. Each one of us is reaching goals bigger than what we started with. And we are just scratching the surface. There is so much more for us to do, and we’re doing it one step at a time.
My hope for you is that you find a community of your own. And if you don’t have one, create one. Find people that will propel you forward. People that will hold you accountable and that are willing to give as much as they receive. This group is only one of my communities. I also have a running group and a mastermind group. I believe in having special relationships in all areas of my life. Remember the saying “United we stand, Divided we fall.” There is incredible truth to that statement and it can apply to all areas of our lives. Create a community that you want to stand with and that will give you the energy you need to reach the top of your mountain.
Special relationships have changed my life, and I know they can change yours.