When it comes to friends and weight loss, let’s just say it’s complicated. Social support is a key element in a successful weight loss journey. Friends both old and new make terrific workout buddies and can play a key role in keeping you accountable. However, even the most well-intentioned friends and family members can undermine your efforts with unsolicited diet advice and probing questions about your progress.
A little help from your friends
Here are some ways in which your friend network can help you reach your weight loss goals.
• Form a mini weight loss club. Reach out to trusted friends or coworkers who have expressed interest in similar fitness goals. Have informal group get togethers to discuss challenges, share health tips, and swap recipes. Build in supportive, non-judgmental strategies to help each other stay on track.
• Get an exercise partner. One of the best ways to stick with your fitness regimen is to find workout buddy. You’re much less like to blow off your planned workout if you know someone is waiting for you at the gym. Having a partner can also inject some friendly competition into your program, such as challenging each another to do an extra set of pushups.
• Suggest healthy ways to socialize. When you’re trying to lose weight, it can be awkward when your pals want to try the latest diet-busting restaurant, or go out for Friday night cocktails. You don’t have to settle for staying at home and sulking, or joining in but suffering from inevitable next-day regrets. Instead, take the lead with suggestions for meetups that don’t revolve around food, such as getting tickets for a Daybreaker morning dance party, a walking and shopping trip to a new neighborhood, or catching the latest action movie (sans popcorn).
Helping your friends help you
When one person in a social circle embarks on a lifestyle change, it can cause a ripple effect within the group. Other individuals may feel threatened by the changes you’re making and unwittingly undermine your progress, or even sabotage your efforts. Here are some tips to help you navigate the interpersonal challenges that can come with weight loss.
• Talk to people ahead of time about your weight loss journey and why it is important to you.
• Let people you are close to know that their support means a lot to you.
• Reassure friends and colleagues that you don’t expect them to adopt the same habits.
• When eating out, say things such as “I’m getting a salad, but go ahead and get a burger or whatever you want.” Make sure to communicate that you aren’t judging their choices.
• Eat like the rest of your social group on your pre-determined cheat days. If a social gathering falls on a non-cheat day, take only a small portion of the less healthier options.
• When you don’t want to appear rude by turning down a certain food , such as a slice of birthday cake at a work party, say you will take “for later” then quietly get rid of it.
• Learn to say “thank you, but….” when a loved one cooks a special food treat. Reiterate that you know they worked hard and you appreciate the effort, but you’re going to pass for now.
So let’s recap
Friends can be one of your most valuable resources when you trying to adopt healthy behaviors. Sharing activities such as workouts and healthy meal prepping can help keep you motivated. To get the most out of your support network, tell your family and friends about your wellness goals before you start and explain why it’s important to you. Be prepared to get unsolicited advice and awkward questions along the way, and practice ways to handle these situations gracefully.