Help Others, Help Yourself

Why volunteering can have big benefits for weight loss

Ask your weight loss surgeon in Naples or Ft. Myers if you're ready to handle volunteering

Whether you live in Naples, Ft. Myers or elsewhere on the Gulf Coast, wouldn’t you like to make your home a better place to live? Now that you’ve sought the care of a weight loss surgeon and are beginning to make your lifestyle healthier, it’s time to extend your good intentions, to think about all the great things you have in life and share them with others who may not be as fortunate.

Volunteering can make a huge impact on those you help, but it doesn’t have to be completely selfless. Though we often tell ourselves that it’s better to give than to receive, we do get something in exchange for the time we donate: happiness, satisfaction and even a few burned calories.

The Symbiotic Benefits of Volunteering

That feeling of helping others has been shown to boost your self-esteem. Volunteers consistently report better health and higher levels of personal empowerment. Volunteering can help people overcome depression, and some even say that they experience a “volunteer’s high,” a similar experience to the “runner’s high” that can come from endorphins released during exercise.

By helping others, you can take your mind off your own problems and put everything in perspective. When you see how much of an impact you can make in someone else’s life, the problems you face seem smaller and more manageable, the path to resolving them a bit clearer.

Here are just a few of the ways that volunteering can enrich your life:

  • You’ll learn something new. By volunteering, you place yourself in challenging situations you wouldn’t normally find yourself in. Donating your time can pay off in the form of knowledge, expertise and new skills that you may even be able to add to your resume.
  • You’ll meet new people. Boredom and isolation can kill your self-esteem and motivation, but volunteering can help you fill empty hours and make new social connections.
  • You’ll feel needed. A bad day at work or home can leave us feeling unappreciated, but volunteering shows you just how important your influence can be. As you see the thankful faces of those you help, you’ll realize how much they need people like you—this can be a strong motivator to continue.
  • You’ll burn calories. Volunteering will inevitably get you on your feet. Working at a soup kitchen, food bank or Goodwill may not seem like a great cardio workout, but you’ll be surprised by how hard you work. Those looking to burn even more calories can pursue opportunities like community gardening or Habitat for Humanity.

Help the Whole World

Ready to start making the world a better place for you and everyone in it? Here are some places to get started.

  • Harry Chapin Food Bank. Named for the famous folk singer, this Ft. Myers food bank annually provides 13.7 million pounds of food to those in need. Volunteers are more than welcome and typically needed for morning shifts (8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.) and afternoon shifts (12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.)
  • Habitat for Humanity of Collier County. This organization builds houses for the homeless and impoverished all across America. This branch is headquartered in Naples, and they invite any interested person to contribute. Volunteers can do anything from hammering nails and painting to data entry and folding newsletters.
  • The Salvation Army of Lee and Hendry Counties. For decades, the Salvation Army has been dedicated to providing hungry, homeless Gulf Coast residents with the services they need. You can get started and explore many different opportunities by enrolling in a volunteer orientation class.

Volunteering isn’t just about helping others—it’s about helping yourself, too. If you need that little extra kick to stay motivated and keep everything in perspective, try donating your time to one of these charitable organizations. The world around you will be better off for it, and so will your body and mind.

Have you volunteered during your weight loss program? Share your experiences, tips and questions with us in the comments below.