They say there is strength in numbers, and having a partner by your side while you are trying to lose weight or stick to a health-related New Year’s resolution is no exception. Research shows that couples, friends and families tend to gain weight together. On the flip side, one person’s weight loss may influence weight loss among those close to them. A small 2011 study found that spouses and relatives of patients who lost a significant amount of weight lost an average of 10 pounds themselves, exercised more and watched less television. Other studies have shown that people tend to lose more weight and keep it off when they diet with a partner or join a weight loss group. Additionally, several studies have suggested that family based approaches were more effective in helping overweight children lose weight and adopt healthful behavior changes. Whatever the relationship, social support is a strong motivator for changing behavior and a predictor for continued success in maintaining good habits.
Here are ways you can support each other’s health goals:
- Find a regular activity you can participate in together. Whether it is going for a daily walk together or trying a new class at the gym, exercising with a partner can help you both stick to a routine. Plus, it is a fun and productive way for couples and friends to spend time together.
- Cook together. Cooking at home gives you more control over what goes into your food and cooking as a team gives you an extra set of helping hands.
- Eat together. Having a dinner companion can help you eat more mindfully and make healthy choices together. Engaging in conversation helps you eat more slowly, making it less likely that you will overeat.
- Share healthy habits when you dine out. Choosing healthy menu items together eliminates the temptation to nibble on someone else’s fries or dessert. And since restaurant portions can be quite large, why not share?
- Do not get competitive. If you are both trying to lose weight or improve your habits, remember that you are a team, not competitors trying to outdo one another. Avoid negative or discouraging comments.
- Be each other’s source of encouragement and emotional support. Losing weight, changing your diet or starting a new fitness routine is not easy. Having support from a partner, friend or family member can help you stay on track and feel good about your progress.
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