Fight flab with friends

Amanda O'Brien
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Two heads are better than one. That’s certainly true when it comes to brainstorming and solving problems, including the dilemma of trying to drop a few pounds.

Having support for weight loss seems to aid in self-control, self-esteem and provide motivation to keep going strong. All of which can be especially important when New Year’s weight loss resolutions start to lose their lustre.

Last month, a U.K. survey found that 40 per cent of female dieters gave up after seven days when they tried to lose weight on their own. Compared to dieting alone, 71 per cent of the women were more likely to lose weight and stick to a healthy eating program longer when participating with friends. With pals, women also were able to lose more weight than on their own.

It shouldn’t be shocking, as this isn’t new information. The University of Pennsylvania last year found that people who recruited three friends or family members in their weight loss journey had better results losing and keeping weight off than those who had no buddy system. In addition, after 10 months, 66 per cent of the buddy system dieters had maintained their weight loss, in comparison to only 24 per cent of who did it solo.

There’s strength in numbers, especially when it comes to weight loss.

Another advantage to a buddy system is that lost weight might be contagious. Last year, researchers from The Miriam Hospital's Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center and Brown University found team members not only accomplished similar weight loss outcomes, but participants who noted teammates playing a larger role in their weight loss ended up losing the largest amount of weight.

Before you do any buddy searching, take some time to think about what works for you, and what happened in failed past weight loss attempts. With the consideration of these two things, you should be able to determine what you'll need from a buddy to truly succeed.

How to select a buddy? A buddy could be someone close to you, such as a a best friend or spouse, but experts often suggest the qualities you wouldn’t tolerate in a partner may be the best ones for a successful weight loss companion. Ask yourself if a good friend or partner is going to be able to hold you accountable for each and every bite you take? Chances are, some may feel uncomfortable telling you this information.

Unlike a friend or spouse, you probably don't need to have a lot in common with a diet buddy, either. Rather, the ability to support one another and share a common goal, might be all you'll require. A good buddy should also be someone that has a winning attitude. Consider a neighbour, coworker, person from a group exercise class, or even an anonymous person on an online support group as buddy options.

One of the biggest challenges to both a New Year’s resolution and losing weight is sticking with it. It is often easier to stick to a weight loss program when you have support. Not only does a buddy bring support, but you are also able to learn from one another.

A buddy can also make weight loss seem like less of a chore, and help healthy eating or workout efforts seem a little easier or faster. Having a buddy does double duty for accountability, as you'll need to stay on track to keep your companion motivated and they'll have to do the same.

Buddies have benefits.

Amanda O’Brien is a registered dietitian in St. John’s. Contact her through the website

Organizations: The University of Pennsylvania, The Miriam Hospital, Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center Brown University

Geographic location: U.K.

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