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Strength in Numbers: 6 Reasons to Consider Losing Weight Together

Feb. 28, 2020

Maybe it feels like you've tried everything to lose weight. But have you unleashed the power of your family and social network?

Research suggests that couples have a higher likelihood of losing weight when they team up to adopt healthy behaviors. More research is needed to understand the power of community and its effects on weight loss, but it's clear that friends and family have a strong influence in this area.

"When people decide to make a committed step to change their lives, it definitely has ripple effects on their relationships," says Dr. Todd Worley, bariatric surgeon at Houston Methodist.

Whether you're planning to lose weight, considering weight loss surgery or needing a new outlook on weight loss, partnering can improve your odds of reaching your goals. Weight loss with a partner provides motivation, support and even a little healthy competition.

Here are six reasons to try losing weight with a partner.

1. Extra motivation

Whatever your motivation to lose weight, you can put more power behind it when your loved ones know what you're fighting for.

"Motivation is often tied to experiences with our loved ones," says Dr. Worley. "We want to be there for the big moments in life, and we want to go places and enjoy time together."

For instance, a busy mom wants to lose weight so she can set a healthier example for her kids. The changes she makes with nutrition and exercise impact her whole family. As motivation, she can try to keep a visual reminder, such as a family photo or a vacation destination on a map, in a special place to help remind her, and her family, what she's working towards.

2. A support system

The journey to lose weight and keep it off is a lifelong commitment, and it can affect everyone in your family. If you have a support system, letting those in it help you can be a great way to stay committed to your journey.

"When you embark on this journey together with family members, you have a built-in support system," Dr. Worley says.

For instance, a husband struggling to lose weight on his own decides to explore weight loss surgery. He signs up for an information session. A family member can provide mental and emotional support by attending the information session, going to appointments and committing to a mutually changed lifestyle after surgery.

3. Eat better together

Changing the way you eat starts with meal planning, grocery shopping and a commitment to cooking meals at home.

"Food is central to our day-to-day life and family interactions, so it's vital to involve others in your life when making significant dietary changes," says Dr. Worley.

For instance, a mother and daughter both decide to lose weight. Planning meals and cooking together can help them adjust to their new diet plan. They can also try things like attending a healthy cooking class with friends or family members.

4. Team up for exercise

Being active together and exercising regularly is key to success with weight loss.

"Having someone else to hold you accountable might be exactly what you need to show up and challenge yourself more than you would when working out alone," Dr. Worley adds.

For instance, two friends who played football in high school gained a lot of weight in their 20s and 30s. After one friend started a new exercise program, the other friend joined, too. By transforming couch time into something more active, like meeting at the gym or throwing a football around before watching the game on TV, these two friends can rely on each other to get more exercise.

5. Track your progress

Keeping track of total pounds and inches lost as a group can be highly motivating.

"Losing weight is great, but our main priority is improving your health numbers. That includes lowering high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar," explains Dr. Worley. "It's really about achieving a better quality of life and a better state of health."

For instance, coworkers start a weight loss challenge to lose 500 pounds total among the group. This friendly competition among friends might be just the encouragement you need to talk to your doctor about your target numbers and to attend support groups, nutrition or fitness classes.

6. Maintain a healthy lifestyle

"Losing weight and keeping it off requires working through a different relationship with food," Dr. Worley says. "Having someone on your side can help you get back on track after slip-ups or setbacks."

For instance, three sisters join forces to plan healthy food alternatives for a family gathering. By keeping the lines of communication open with family and friends, they understand what each is doing to change old habits — and why it matters to you.

 

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