Social Support Can Help You Lose Weight
Could you benefit from working with a weight-loss buddy? Lots of people do. But how do you find the right partner?
Be social. Live longer!
Your social contacts can be a powerful influence in your life. Scientific research has shown that people will live longer if they can count on friends and family in 2 important areas: for emotional support (love, caring, concern) and for tangible support (like babysitting or help with a household move). Another benefit of social support is that it can make a person feel healthier and happier.
What kind of a changer are you?
There are many types of people. Some like to make changes on their own and don’t want to involve other people. We call them solo changers. Others like to have the help and support of family and friends. We call the other group social changers.
Solo changers like to travel the path alone. They might not tell their friends when they start a program. Most solo changers don’t like others asking questions about their weight or what they eat. Solo changers can become upset when people try to help, even when the help is offered for the right reasons.
Social-type changers like company. They talk about what they do to lose weight and they’re pleased when others notice their progress. They may join a program with a friend or ask a family member to take walks with them. If you are a social changer, decide when and how you would like others to help. Support can help you only if you and your healthcare provider find it helpful.
Other resources are out there to help you. For example, you can join a group to share healthy recipes that meet your prescribed diet plan, either in person or through an online networking site. Meetup.org is a Web site where you can find local groups who may share your interests like walking. Some community centers, workplaces, and places of worship may also have weight-loss support groups.
Whether you prefer to make your changes alone or with the help of friends, it’s best to structure your weight-loss program based on your own personal style and needs.
Support may help in many ways. For some, just to feel that someone cares may be inspiring. It might motivate you to lead a healthier lifestyle and do things that make you feel happier. It may even boost your immune system. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that quality social support can be helpful.
But how can you get the support that will help you? Let’s see how you can make this work for you.
Is a weight-loss partner right for you?
Partnerships can be powerful. Think about your style and decide if having a partner would help. Sort through your friendships and come up with a pool of possible partners.
Your partner might also be taking Qsymia® and using Q and Me, but he or she doesn't have to be. A partnership can work even if your partner isn’t trying to lose weight. So, how can you know if a partnership is for you?
First of all, there are different types of partners. The most obvious partner is a spouse. A husband or wife can be a real help, but not in all cases. Many people form good partnerships with friends, relatives, or neighbors.
Here are some examples of how a partner can help or hurt:
- Marjorie asked her husband to help her with her program. To show his support and concern, he walked with her and avoided eating treats when she was around. His encouragement helped Marjorie stay focused
- Sharon’s husband was angry about her weight problem and made fun of her. He ate treats in front of her and often made rude comments about her weight. It would be hard and not very helpful for Sharon to have her husband as a partner
Only you know if having a partner will work for you. Remember, your partner doesn’t have to be overweight. It’s important that you feel comfortable with this person and that this partner can encourage and motivate you to adhere to the program that you’ve developed with your healthcare provider.
Choosing a good support person
Having a partner who is also trying to lose weight is just one of many ways to get support. But other people can give you support that might be just as important. These people can be a spouse, a friend, a coworker, or anyone who encourages you. They might ask you about your goals and achievements every day. Or they may just be there when you ask for help. Who you choose and what you ask them to do is up to you.
One reason social support can be so helpful is that it comes in many forms. Emotional support is one of them. It comes through the display of caring, acceptance, kindness, and understanding. This kind of support feels good to give and receive, and can be very effective.
Other forms of support can be helpful, too. Practical support means getting help with life’s duties. It can be a ride when you need it, money if your finances are in a crunch, or help with watching the children. Support may also come in the form of information, feedback, and guidance.
The way you interact with family and friends may be different from the way you interact with a partner who can play an active role in your weight-loss program. Different people respond to different types of support. Give careful thought to how others might help you and what you can do for them. Let’s look at how to decide if a person would be a good partner.
Choosing a partner
Who would be a good partner for you? Your partner could go through your program with you. A friend who supports your efforts may be a partner even if they are not trying to lose weight. Make sure your partner is someone who understands what you are struggling with and wants to help. Choose someone you know will be there when you need a friend. Make sure that your partner is someone who has these qualities:
- Is easy to talk to about your weight, even if things are going poorly
- Understands your weight problem
- Doesn’t criticize your weight
- Doesn’t offer you food or push you to eat when you’re trying to cut back
- Is always there when you need a friend
- Genuinely wants you to do well
Once again, you don’t always need to have a partner. If you’re a solo changer, you can move ahead with your weight-loss program on your own.
Communicating with your partner
We offer some specific ideas you can use in starting a weight-loss partnership. The first step is communication. You and your partner need to sit down and have a friendly talk. You could discuss the topics below in an open and honest way.
- Are you both ready for a partnership? Is your partner ready to listen to your requests and make the effort you need? Is he or she ready to help you during both good times and difficult situations? Are you ready to help your partner in return? Both of you need to make a commitment
- Tell your partner how to help. No one can read your mind, so don’t leave this to chance. Tell your partner clearly what he or she can do to help you follow the plan you’ve developed with your healthcare provider
- Make specific requests. The more specific your requests, the easier it will be for your partner to know what you want. Instead of saying “Exercise with me,” try saying “Please take a half-hour walk with me each morning.” Instead of saying “Don’t eat in front of me,” say, “It helps me when you eat your ice cream in another room.”
- Make your requests in a positive way. It’s better to ask for something you want than to criticize something you don’t want. A clever change of words can help. If your partner nags you, a good response would be to say, “It really helps me when you say nice things.” If your partner offers you food, you can say, “I appreciate it when you don’t offer me food. That helps me control my eating.” People respond well when they have the chance to do something positive
- Reward your partner. For your partner to help you, it’s important for you to help your partner. One-way relationships don’t last long. If you are trying to lose weight together, try to find ways of helping each other follow your individual plans. If your partner is not trying to lose weight, ask if there is something you can do for them