Do you know what my biggest gripe about being a blogger in the WLS and Weight Loss community is? I’m a tell-it-like-it-is sort of girl, so I’m not afraid to come out and say this… I dislike the lack of support.
I’m not the only one; I talk to fellow bloggers often who say the same things. Who are disappointed by the responses that they get from within this community. I won’t call attention to people who don’t want to be named, but just as an example, last August at the OAC Convention one of my fellow bloggers received a large amount of products from one of the vendors to host a fan appreciation give away. I warned her not to be disappointed if she ran a contest and didn’t get very many entries for it. You know why? Because it had happened to me too many times. Sure enough it happened to her as well and she found it disheartening.
This is exactly why you don’t see me host fan appreciation giveaways. I hold contests to give away Half Marathon experiences because quite honestly, I don’t care if only one person enters, if that person has the desire to do something amazing in their post weight loss journey and I can help facilitate it, I won the contest myself; that’s just who I am and what I am about.
But let’s talk about a few things from a blogger perspective. As someone who strives to put information out there that helps motivate and inspire others in their weight loss journey, I have a few concepts to share with you.
“Sharing is Caring,” I’ve said this a lot. Just in case you don’t understand what I mean by that, that is my way of telling you that when your favorite bloggers, nonprofit organizations and companies post things on their blog or in social media venues like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and what not, what they are HOPING for is that you interact with them. Not only are they hoping that you will like or favorite what they do; they are hoping you will hit the share button, hit the retweet button, pass the message along and hoping you will comment. Do you know why? Because their success in these venues is dependent on how well they engage their audience. How well you respond to a post decides how much attention the social media platforms give it.
Focus on the Positive and Avoid the Drama. Have you ever noticed how if there is something people don’t like or disagree with, or someone else is kvetching about something they are upset about, it tends to get more likes and more comments than your average run of the mill status update? I see more shares of snarky eCard messages within the weight loss and WLS community than I do shares of things that we claim we care about. People are more inclined to share an eCard that says “I don’t care what you say,” than they are to share a message that says “Look at this amazing recipe for Mahogany Chicken Wings from Kosher Bariatric” – Why not keep it positive and share the stuff that people are putting out there to try to help the community rather get into a 60 comment long debate about someone else’s eating habits or exercise routine?
Return the Favor – Ok so let’s be straight up here, the bloggers aren’t all innocent in this either. There are certain bloggers you will see me promote on a semi regular basis. People like Nikki over at Bariatric Foodie, Shelly from The World According To Eggface, Joy from Kosher Bariatric, Kesha from Waning Woman — and there are other bloggers that you won’t see me promote at all. You know why? Because sharing is caring, and if I share for you and you don’t share for me, then I don’t have the desire to share for you constantly and feel like the affection is unreciprocated. This is just the truth. I got an email not too long ago from someone asking me to support and share the information for a fitness oriented event they were doing. I did so because that is the sort of thing I can get behind and support. But when I’m doing something and I ask for it to be shared they seem to miss it. That only happens once or twice before I notice and next time you ask me to promote something for you, I nod my head, roll my eyes and end up busy with other things. Sorry, true story folks. Nobody like being asked to do a favor by somebody that never does a favor back. I abandoned supporting organizations with causes that I actually believe in and feel passionate about for the same reason, just as I have stopped social media interactions with people for the same reason. Nobody likes to feel taken for granted or like a relationship they have built only goes one way; so return the favor and keep your friends and supporters just that; friends and supporters.
Practice Empathy rather than Apathy. The ability to mutually experience the thoughts, emotions and experiences of others goes far in this community. Just because we might not agree with what someone says, or even feel that way ourselves doesn’t mean we can’t understand it. It also doesn’t mean that our social network won’t benefit from it. Just as an example, as a weight loss coach I believe that professionals need to have a starting point to discuss weight issues with you. While I believe that BMI is a grossly negative standard when it comes to setting the bar, I believe it one of the only realistic measurement points available right now for professionals to start with. I believe you need to look at that number alongside many others like body fat percentage, lean muscle mass calculations, bone density calculations… and often you need to look up at the person you are talking to and judge for yourself whether the numbers are an accurate assessment of their physical fitness. I also understand all sides of the equation. I empathize with the folks that hate BMI calculations and think they are a false representation when used as a standalone measure or who have come so far in their journey that they are angered by a number on a chart that says “You are still overweight.” – Trust me, I struggle with this myself. I empathize with the professionals that say it’s one of the most accurate measurement tools we have without more financially feasible technology at our disposal. Guess what? You will see me share information on both sides of the debate. Why? Because both sides of the debate offer relevant information to my social network.
On the same note you might see me share information on an article about body image issues. Not because I have had the same experience (mine might have been vastly different) but because someone else might benefit from reading the information. And if someone else could benefit from it, I’ll share it.
So next time a blogger you follow holds a contest to give away a product that you use, enter the contest. Next time a blogger you read posts an article that has information pertinent to your social network or a nonprofit organization you support posts a link, share it. The next time someone posts something that you agree with or appreciate, leave a comment. Take the time to show you care and appreciate what they do. Take the time to be positive and proactive. Take the time to reciprocate the friendships you’ve built with the people who you’ve met in this community so that you stay friends. I encourage you to remember that when you take the time to do these things for others, they will take the time to do them for you, and in the end, we’ll have a much stronger, friendlier and more positive community.