Gaining weight is often a group adventure: From dining out to holiday celebrations, food and drink are the centerpiece of many social gatherings. Overindulging when you’re with a group is one of the most common causes of excess weight gain. The good news: Research shows that weight loss goals are also best achieved in groups.
A study published in 2001 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that healthy peer pressure helps encourage weight loss and a commitment to fitness. The findings suggest that people lose more weight as a part of a group effort than by themselves. Even if participants preferred to go at it solo, they still had better results when they joined forces with other dieters, increasing their weight loss by 3 percent.
Why? It’s likely that even if you want to hold yourself accountable for your goals, a friend is more reliable. If you go in with a buddy, they’re likely to push you more when you’re in a slump than you would push yourself. And you play the same role for them for when they’re experiencing moments of weakness!
Your family and friends won’t tempt you if they’re trying to reach and maintain a healthy weight themselves.
So how can you use this kind of peer pressure to help you reach your weight loss goals?
1) Encourage those close to you to be healthier as well. Your family and friends won’t tempt you with ice cream or sugary cocktails if they’re trying to reach and maintain a healthy weight themselves. When your social group is losing weight with you, it is easier to celebrate and hang out with them without feeling the pressure to “cheat.”
2) Make one person your accountability buddy. Admit to this person when you’re reaching for the chocolate chips at midnight, knowing they’ll encourage you to step away.
3) Exercise together. Whether it’s a walking group, friends at the gym, or the people in your Zumba class, make exercising a social habit. Friends will notice when you’re not there, and drag you out when you’re feeling unmotivated.
4) Splurge together. Research (and common sense!) tells us that highly restrictive diets can lead to weight loss in the short term, but cause weight gain in the long run. That’s because attempting to perpetually “suffer” through birthdays, holidays, and cravings without indulging often leads people to binging on convenience store donuts and ice cream in the back seat of the car after a blood sugar crash. As long as you’re not making indulgences a daily habit, cutting loose and digging in every once in a while will help you stay focused in the long run. And what better way to eat a chocolate sundae than splitting it with a friend?
Do you have tips and tricks you use to help you stick to your healthy living goals? Share them in Comments so we can all learn from each other.