Building your weight-loss support network

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Building your weight-loss support network

Weight-loss support — When losing weight, it helps to build a strong support system.

Think back to important life changes that you've made. Perhaps you've gotten married, changed jobs, moved to a new town, had a baby or lost a loved one. In each of these situations, you've probably accepted the support of other people, which likely was of significant help as you adjusted to your new situation.

Launching a healthy-weight program is just another time of great change in your life. Getting support for your efforts — whether through a friend, a trained professional or a group of fellow travelers on the path to a healthy weight — can ultimately mean the difference between your success and failure.

Support can be emotional — a shoulder to lean on when you're discouraged. And it can be practical — someone to watch the kids while you exercise. It can provide the encouragement you need to get out and exercise on days when your favorite TV show seems like a better option.

In fact, one study found that people who had the support of friends were less likely to drop out of a weight-control program and more likely to maintain their weight loss over a six-month period than were people without such support.

Some people fare better with professional support, such as from a dietitian or personal trainer. Others prefer personal support from friends and family members. Some combine professional and personal support.

For some, a professionally led group proves helpful. If you do join a group, keep in mind that what you'll get out of it will be in proportion to what you put into it. If you participate rather than just listen, you're more likely to reap the rewards of the group's encouragement and empathy.

If you're someone who prefers to work alone and not ask for help, that's OK. Do whatever works, but keep in mind that different approaches fit different needs.

The best motivation for weight loss comes from inside. It certainly helps, however, to have someone in your corner. For many, the more the merrier. Here are some suggestions to build and maintain your weight-loss support network:

  • Stay in touch. Answer phone calls and letters.
  • Just say yes. Accept invitations to events, even if it feels awkward and difficult at first.
  • Be a supportive friend. Explain to your friends and family how important their support is to you. Remind them that you'll gladly support them in decisions that they feel strongly about.
  • Learn to say no. Saying no to people or social commitments that you don't enjoy will free up your time for friends and activities that you do enjoy.
  • Take the lead. Don't wait to be invited somewhere. Take the initiative and call someone.
  • Practice forgiveness. Set aside past differences and approach relationships with a clean slate.
  • Join in. Take part in community organizations, neighborhood events, local exercise classes or family get-togethers.
  • Start talking. Strike up a conversation with the person next to you at a local gathering. You could be introducing yourself to a new friend.
  • Be considerate. Talk about things that other people are interested in and be an alert listener.
  • Keep trying. Don't give up on existing relationships.
  • Be a recruiter. Explain the benefits of losing weight to others. Encourage your family members to join you in your efforts to eat healthier and exercise regularly.

Last Updated: 08/15/2006
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