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Friday
Feb112011

Weight Loss Support = Weight Loss Success

Have you ever wondered why so many of us lose weight and then regain it, along with a few extra pounds? Weight cycling is a common outcome for many who diet and riding that rollercoaster can take a big psychological toll — especially if you’re going it alone. Would things be different if you had a support group?

Recent research suggests that group dieting can prove an effective strategy in losing weight and keeping it off.  The results of a randomized trial published in JAMA®  revealed a structured commercial weight loss program provided more weight loss than self help over a two-year period.[i]  Those who achieve success with such programs often attribute their success to being around other like-minded and motivated people.

The benefits of group support include:

A safe support system

Weight loss support groups offer a nonjudgmental forum where members can openly relate to each other’s experiences and struggles, provide encouragement and constructive feedback.

Consistency

There’s nothing wrong with trying to lose weight on your own. However, unless you’re pretty highly regimented, you may not stick to your own rules. Meeting regularly with a support group can help you stick to good eating habits, stay on your exercise schedule and keep doing what works.

Personalized plans

Weight loss support groups may help you create better nutrition and exercise plans because they get to know your unique needs and challenges. Peers and expert group leaders can help you create a personalized plan and target the specific changes to lifestyle you need to make for lasting change.

Accountability

It can be very easy to slip on good behaviors when nobody holds you to them. Being part of a team where each member is expected to be honest with themselves and others can greatly increase your motivation to stay on track.

Stress relief

In a U.S.D.A. study, it was found that dieters who attended weekly support group sessions did not have a significant increase in cortisol (a stress-associated hormone that contributes to weight gain) while unaided dieters did.[ii]  Stress can make it more difficult to maintain weight loss efforts. Talking to others who experience the same anxieties may help you hone your coping strategies—and you can blow off some steam in the process.

Joining a support group can help provide you with the extra influence and guidance you need to make changes and stick to them.  At Life Time Fitness, we offer a program called E.A.T., which stands for Education – Accountability – Teamwork and features weekly meetings to give you all the benefits mentioned. If going this road alone hasn’t worked in the past, surrounding yourself with support may just what you need to stop the yo-yo effect and achieve lasting weight loss.

Written by Melanie Reyes, MS, RD, LD, CPT – South Austin Life Time Fitness

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.


 

[i] JAMA. Weight Loss With Self-help Compared With a Structured Commercial Program. Available at http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/289/14/1792.abstract?sid=e660b276-ebae-4260-a584-787d1038171a. Accessed on February 3, 2011.

[ii] USDA. Dieting Study Highlights Benefits of Group Support. Available at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2006/060125.htm?pf=1. Accessed on February 3, 2011.

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