Having social support is critical for your weight loss success. Research has long supported this fact.
With the emergence of social networks, this is even more true. You have more options available and that enables you to seek help for your particular weight gain situation.
In a ScienceDaily.com article, “Weight Loss Can Be Contagious, Study Suggests” it states:
“Is weight loss contagious?’ According to a new study published online in the journal Obesity, teammates in a team-based weight loss competition significantly influenced each other’s weight loss, suggesting that shedding pounds can have a ripple effect.”
Researchers from The Miriam Hospital’s Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University found that team members not only achieved similar weight loss outcomes, but participants who said their teammates played a large role in their weight loss actually lost the most weight.
“We know that obesity can be socially contagious, but now we know that social networks play a significant role in weight loss as well, particularly team-based weight loss competitions,” said lead author Tricia Leahey, Ph.D., of The Miriam Hospital and Alpert Medical School. “In our study, weight loss clearly clustered within teams, which suggests that teammates influenced each other, perhaps by providing accountability, setting expectations of weight loss, and providing encouragement and support.”
Bingo! There are the 3 reasons social weight loss competitions succeed:
1. Accountability – A little healthy weight loss competition never hurts a cause. Don’t forget, you must have significant fat loss for weight loss to be healthy and lasting. This requires you to lose weight the right way—no fad dieting or quick weight loss gimmicks!
Its important to keep in mind that you are trying to change your lifestyle to one of health and fitness. The weight loss competition is just one tool to help you get it done. You have to be committed for a lifetime—through the ups, downs, successes and failures.
Other good accountability partners include spouses, friends, workout buddies and co-workers.
2. Expectations – All other things being equal, people will generally live up or down to expectations. Just make sure the expectations are realistic or you will be set up to fail.
For instance, if you need to lose 100 pounds, how will you get that accomplished? Some things you may need to consider:
–Have you really ever exercised for an extended period of time? If you have no experience to draw from, you will need to take baby steps, like starting with walking.
–How long have you been inactive? If its been awhile since you exercised, you won’t be able to do an intense circuit training workout right away.
–How quickly do you want to lose 100 pounds? Although you may lose pounds quickly at the beginning of your exercise program (like 10 pounds the first week), it will be tougher to burn fat and lose weight in the weeks and months ahead. For example, losing 2 pounds and burning .5% body fat will be good progress during many weeks. So, it may take a year or longer to lose 100 pounds the right way.
–You may have health problems that slow your progress. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, you will need your doctor’s clearance before beginning an exercise program. You will have to start out slower than someone who is more healthy. The good news is that these two conditions can be reversed with exercise and healthy, managed nutrition.
3. Support – Its a long, never-ending road to burning fat, losing weight, changing your body and maintaining weight. Support from someone going through the same thing is very important.
The success of bootcamps, group exercise classes and marathon training groups are more evidence of the roles that accountability, expectations and support play in people reaching goals.
Also, inform family members and friends early on what your body-changing intentions are….the more support, the better. On the opposite end, avoid people who will have a negative attitude about your weight loss intentions. There are many would-be haters out there to help you fail.
This study is the first to examine the effects of teammates and social influence on individual weight loss during one of these weight loss competitions. Participants joined with a team and could compete against other teams in three divisions: weight loss, physical activity and pedometer steps.
Individuals who reported higher levels of teammate social influence increased their odds of achieving a clinically significant weight loss by 20 percent. This effect was stronger than any other team characteristic, Leahey said.
“This is the first study to show that in these team-based campaigns, who’s on your team really matters,” she added. “Being surrounded by others with similar health goals all working to achieve the same thing may have really helped people with their weight loss efforts.”
“We’re all influenced by the people around us, so if we can harness this positive peer pressure and these positive social influences, we can create a social environment to help encourage additional weight loss,” she said.
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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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