Steve Theunissen is a freelance writer living in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is a former gym owner and personal trainer and is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness and fat loss. Steve also writes history books with a focus on the history of warfare. He is married and has two daughters.

How to Have a Successful Support System to Make Sustainable Progress

Reaching our health and fitness goals is never easy. Even if you're supremely dedicated, you are going to encounter challenges and stumbling blocks that threaten to derail your efforts. That’s why we all need a support structure.

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In this article, I’ll present 6 keys to developing a support system that will allow you to make sustainable progress toward your fitness goals.

Share Your Goal

Once you have developed a specific, measurable, realistic fitness goal, share it with the people you surround your life with. When you do that, you suddenly make yourself accountable. While that may sound scary, it will act as a powerful guard rail to keep you on track.

Let’s say that your goal is to lose 5 kg over the next 10 weeks. Tell your partner, your kids, and your workmates about it. You can bet that they will do a great job of keeping you on track. Some of them will do it directly while others will be a little more subtle.

Maybe, you’re in the work cafeteria and you're eyeing up a muffin. Just as you’re about to succumb, your colleague asks how your weight loss goal is coming along. That innocent question should be enough to keep your mind off that muffin - and save your body from 500 useless calories.

Ask for Support

In addition to sharing your fitness goals with the people who share your life, you should actively ask for their support. That is especially important with the people who share your home.

Explain to your partner and kids that a big part of your success will come down to what you do and do not eat. Explain the benefits and invite them to come along on the healthy eating journey with you. If they aren’t interested, don’t get upset. Just ask them to respect what you are doing and help you to stay on track.

Associate with Healthy People

Bad association spoils useful habits. Conversely, good association reinforces them. So, as far as it depends on you, surround yourself with people who are in the habit of eating well, working, and caring for their bodies.

You can promote good associations online by joining fitness communities on social media. There you will receive positive reinforcement and can share your experiences with people who are going through a similar journey to yourself.

Take full advantage of the discussion board and expert question and answer sections on message boards to get your questions answered and get inspired.

Leading on from my first tip, you should vocalize your fitness goal with the new friends you make on social media. Even if none of them give you any reinforcement (which is highly unlikely), the very fact that you have put your goal out there to the world is a powerful motivator to carry through on it. You will want to make the goal a reality just in case someone calls you out on it.

Get a Training Partner

When you find a buddy to train alongside, you are instantly strengthening your support structure by 100 percent. A partner will be there to motivate you, push you and challenge you. Competition is probably the greatest human motivator that exists. Even if we try not to, most of us can’t help getting at least a little competitive with our training partner.

Research shows that when you train with a buddy you will be more likely to sustain your workout program. The very fact that there is another person waiting to sweat alongside you is a very powerful motivator. You don’t want to let them down. The guilt associated with that emotion can be just what you need on a cold, wet morning when it would be so much easier to stay in bed!

Find Professionals Who Can Help You Reach Your Goal

In order to develop a strong fitness support system, you need to have professionals that you can use as needed. This may include a personal trainer. You don’t have to work with a trainer every day, or even every week. But I strongly recommend having a session once every 4-6 weeks. This allows you to get training corrections where the P.T. can point out any form problems and suggest better ways of doing things. The trainer can also provide you with a fresh program to prevent boredom and reinvigorate your training.

Other professionals that you might have access to include a masseur and a nutritionist.

A workout program you should try:

Environmental Support

Your support system isn't only about people. You can also help yourself by creating an environment that makes it easier for you to find success, especially when things aren’t going to plan.

If you are going to be exercising first thing in the morning, set out everything you need the evening before. Pack your gym bag, mix up your pre-workout, and have your workout clothes laid out.

Plan ahead for times that you aren’t able to get in your normal workout. Have a Plan B in place so that you don’t miss out entirely. This could involve a 10-15 mini workout that you can do at home. You might have to invest in a set of resistance bands and a mini rebounder to make this happen.

Another thing you can do to set up your environment for success is to get into the habit of meal prepping. This is when you take an hour or so out of your weekend to prepare your dinner meals for the coming week. You then pack them into the freezer in meal-sized portions. Then when you get home after a busy day, you simply have to pull it out and heat it up.


By building a support system, you will be greatly increasing your likelihood of achieving your health and fitness goals. Put in place each of the six pillars outlined above and you’ll have a strong foundation of support to propel you to success.

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