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Lose Weight Permanently With A Little Help From Your Friends

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One thing we can all use when trying to lose weight is a support group: someone, or better yet a group of someone's, who can feel our pain when we step onto those scales and see that not only have we not lost weight, but, oh my gosh!, we've actually gained another pound! Now, it's great to have a supportive spouse.
But in many cases, that isn't enough.
What you need is a group of people all striving for the same goal, and helping each other along the way.
I took part in just such a local group earlier this year.
The whole idea is simple: lose 10 pounds, in 10 weeks, with the help of 10 friends.
That's how you set up your group.
Find 10 of your friends who would like to lose 10 pounds.
You don't have 10 friends in that boat? Make it six friends, or eight, or whatever.
The number 10 works well because it's a small enough group that everyone can get some individual attention and support, and it's large enough so there will always be at least a couple of people showing up for the weekly meetings.
What? Weekly meetings? Yup.
In order for this to work you need to get the group together once each week, for at least 45 minutes or an hour.
Someone's living room will work fine, or ask about a church basement, or a room at the local college or elementary school for an after-school event.
Here's the buy-in: each person in your group agrees to try to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks.
Those of you who are good at math will realize that this is a pound a week, which many medical professionals consider to be a safe amount of weight to lose without putting a lot of stress on other parts of your system.
A lot of the fad diets (lose 10 pounds in three days!!) trumpet outlandish claims in their ads.
Go for a reasonable, attainable goal of ten pounds in ten weeks.
Once you're successful--and you have every right to expect that you will be successful with the "ten-friends" approach--then go for another 10 pounds.
For now, concentrate on that first 10 pounds.
So what do you do at these meetings? Well, the first thing is that everyone weighs in on a set of bathroom scales.
One by one, with no one else peeking.
Your weight that week is your own business.
If you want to reveal it, fine.
But you don't have to.
Each person records that week's weight on a 3x5 index card that is stored in a group card box.
Record and date your weight on one line each week.
This is all on the honor system.
And be sure the cards and the same set of scales are available at each weekly meeting.
You don't want to be zooming all over the place on your recorded weights just because you're using a different set of scales each week.
Once everyone has had a chance to weigh in, it's time for some support chat.
Go around the group and talk about new recipes you've found, or a great place to take a walk, or a favorite exercise you learned from a DVD your spouse got you for Christmas.
If you want to bring up the bad with the good, admit how you gave into some temptation during the past week; maybe you got a maple bar just because the bakery smelled so good when you were walking by, or you stuffed yourself with junk food one night because friends were in town and you didn't want to mention that you were on a diet.
Actually, you're not on a diet.
You're learning to eat healthy and stay active, and you're getting group support to do just that.
You're improving your diet, not going on one.
The very act of meeting each week, having a goal, weighting in with others, and discussing in a supportive atmosphere how to balance food intake with exercise, will help put you in the mindset to lose those 10 pounds.
Here's another idea: the second time I did a 10 pounds/10 friends group, we had a nutritionist from the county extension office attend a couple of meetings.
She brought some good handouts about nutrition and types of food that would help us lose weight the fastest.
She also gave us some good meal tips, like simply making the plates we used for serving dinner smaller, so it looks like your plate is full, even with less food on it.
That was my favorite hint! My husband and I cut back on portion sizes, which really helped with the weight loss.
(Shhhh..
don't tell him, he's started losing some pounds himself.
) Want to make your Ten Pounds/Ten Weeks/Ten Friends group "a little more interesting?" Add another "Ten" to the mix in the form of $10.
Everyone who joins the program throws $10 into the kitty and records their starting weight on their index card.
At the end of 10 weeks, the final weigh-in is "public.
" If you lost your 10 pounds, you get your 10 bucks back.
If you didn't, you forfeit your sawbuck, and those who did lose 10 pounds get to split what's left.
Just a little extra incentive to get serious and lose that weight.
Instead of just cursing your bathroom scales or feeling guilty, enlist the help of your friends and form a Ten Pounds/Ten Weeks/Ten Friends group.
You'll be helping each other to a healthier lifestyle.
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