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Weight loss and the social support system

Having support from both your friends and family can have a big impact on the success of your weight loss. If you don’t have anyone to support you with your weight loss, these tips can be used to build a support team.

Steph Gregory
Steph Gregory
Health coach
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Weight loss and the social support system

Having support from both your friends and family can have a big impact on the success of your weight loss.

A necessity for lasting weight loss; with and without medication

Having support from both your friends and family can have a big impact on the success of your weight loss.

If you don’t have anyone to support you with your weight loss, these tips can be used to build a support team. If you have someone to support you, reach out to them and have a conversation about how much their support means to you and your weight loss journey. It is an essential component, to have a support system, and set a structure around you and your goals, so that you can safely undertake your journey. It is actually scientifically proven that support from friends and family with healthy eating habits and exercise goals increases the success of long-term weight loss.

Examples of support can be;
  • Emotional support - a shoulder to lean on, on the days you feel down
  • Practical support - someone who can help out ie. look after the children whilst you train
  • Inspiring and motivating - a training partner or a team that can motivate you to get out and move your body on the days when energy levels are low.

Tell your friends and family that you really appreciate their support and talk with them about how they can best support you, so that your steps towards a healthier lifestyle will be easier.

For example, you could reach out to a close friend and ask if they would like to go for a walk with you. This could be something you could add in weekly and commit to, these kinds of arrangements can have a great effect when we want to change our habits.

Unfortunately, you can also be met with resistance from your close relationships, who might not understand your motivations for your weight loss journey or why you feel the need to get healthier. You may also have times where someone may make comments about you not wanting to eat dessert, or that your friends pressure you to eat a burger and chips. It can be hard to retain your perseverance and remind your loved ones that your lifestyle changes don’t have any effect on your feelings for them or you wanting to spend any less time with them. Being open and honest with them can help to build that understanding, and in some cases you might have your partner or good friends join the journey as they also have similar goals to build healthy habits in their lives!

Consider your options to become part of a healthy lifestyle group or other community in your local area or digitally, so you can have another form of support with other people working toward similar goals (for example, your local area may have a hiking group you could join!)

Social support is a big part of changing habits and can especially be a big support on the days when motivation is hard to maintain. The groups can be friends and family members, but can also be with the help of a health professional. The advantage of a health professional is that you can get input at the same time, and in a way that continuously supports you with the right tools to keep your motivation going.

Checklist for building and maintaining you support system:
  • Be open about your desire for a healthier lifestyle and be open when your circle of friends ask about your journey. The more they know, the more support they can send in your direction. This can be a helpful support network, on both good and bad days.
  • Recognise how important the support it and be open to give support back the other way as well.
  • Find out who is best at what. Some people are good to train with, whilst others are good to talk to when things are feeling a little difficult. Use the 3 examples of support to help find your best support network: emotional, practical and inspiring.
  • Find a partner ‘in crime’ or a several of them. It could be a colleague who wants to go for a walk after lunch, or a friend who is good at planning and cooking healthy food.
  • Changing your lifestyle can be challenging , so find a supportive team that can cheer you on!
References
  • Karfopoulou, Eleni et al. “The Role of Social Support in Weight Loss Maintenance: Results from the MedWeight Study.” Journal of behavioral medicine 39.3 (2016): 511–518.
  • Wang, Monica L, Lori Pbert, and Stephenie C Lemon. “Influence of Family, Friend and Coworker Social Support and Social Undermining on Weight Gain Prevention Among Adults.” Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.) 22.9 (2014): 1973–1980.
  • Sundhedsstyrelsen. Livsstilsintervention ved svær overvægt. Web 2021.

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Steph Gregory
Steph Gregory
Health coach
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