Why you weren’t meant to lose weight on your own: Finding the right weight loss buddy
It is often said that “it takes a village”—to raise a family, to accomplish goals, to overcome challenges. Then why is it that when it comes to losing weight, we make it a private matter, a journey to be weathered on our own?
If the other challenges we face in life are made much more bearable, the goals much more achievable with the help of a support system, wouldn’t it stand to reason that weight loss could be the same way?
Having a weight loss buddy to encourage you and hold you accountable along the way could be the very thing you need to finally reach your target weight. If we’re being honest with ourselves, weight loss is no easy feat. It can be grueling and discouraging. At times, it can even feel impossible. Here’s the good news, though: you’re not alone.
Psychologists agree that social support has a positive effect on dieting and weight loss. In research published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 2005, doctors at Brown Medical School and Dartmouth University found that people who had an exercise buddy who successfully lost weight were more successful at losing, too.
When going through the process of identifying the perfect diet plan, exercise program or weight loss program, consider spending some time finding the right person for that journey, setting up a support system to help you achieve your goals. Finding a person who shares your weight loss or workout goals—and we promise, there is someone out there who does—often makes the difference between success and failure.
The question remains, though: how do you identify the right person for this critical role? Here are some tips we’ve found to help identify a good buddy.
Finding the right buddy
The best weight loss buddy may not necessarily be an obvious choice. Identifying the right person to hold you accountable is very different than choosing a partner or a best friend.
Experts say that sometimes qualities you would never tolerate in a partner — like holding you accountable for every bite you take — could be the very qualities you need in a weight loss buddy.
However, what’s needed in a buddy varies from person to person. Some need tough love while others need encouragement and gentle support. Some people prefer electronic communication while others respond better to face-to-face accountability.
It’s important to be honest with yourself about what you need to achieve your goals and then identify someone who shares those goals.
Remember, too, that your buddy doesn’t have to be your best friend.
“Diet buddies are just two people who share a common goal and know they can count on each other to help them achieve that goal in whatever way it takes to do that,” says Adam Shafran, DC, an exercise physiologist and chiropractor who is the author of You Can’t Lose Weight Alone: The Partner Power Weight Loss Program.
Another important consideration is how much time you’re expecting to give and receive within your partnership. It’s important for that expected time commitment to match. Finally, make sure that your preferred communication method is compatible with that of your weight loss buddy.
“For some people, the anonymity of having an Internet buddy is the best solution. For others, it has to be someone who they can get together with for a Wednesday night weigh-in,” says Shafran. “It doesn’t matter, as long as both buddies want the same thing.”
Consider mapping out achievable goals for each week, such as how often you want to exercise and how often the two of you plan to go together, as well as bigger goals, such as the amount of weight you hope to lose by the end of your journey.
“The goals should be firm, but the ways to accomplish them should be flexible, to accommodate what you learn about yourselves and each other along the way,” says Shafran.
If your buddy is needing more than you are able to give, or if you are not getting the kind of support that you need, have an honest conversation and address it! You never know—you might end up finding the kind of mutual support that you need to finally achieve your goals, and you might even find a life-long friend.
If you’ve found your weight loss buddy OR know somebody who might be a good fit, there’s no better time to start! We’re currently running a Buy One Program Get The Second 50% Off Special on our Become Yourself Healthy Weight Plan. Our plan uses the Medifast program, a simple, science-backed program that 80% of people say fits their lifestyle! Learn more about the program and our special offer here.