According to an independent study conducted in Great Britain, Australia and Germany, overweight people who were referred to Weight Watchers by their doctors lost twice as much fat as those who received standard dieting and exercise advice from their physicians.
Researchers, enthusiastic about the study's results and the potential for replicating the methods used, deduced that an important factor was the support and influence of a group as opposed to “trying to go it alone.”
If you're trying to lose weight, tapping into the power of peer group support may bring you the best results.
Putting Peer Group Support to Work For You
1. Feel validated. For many people, the most important component of a peer support program is joining up with others who share their experiences and goals. It's easier to empathize when you really know what someone is going through because you've lived through similar events.
2. Develop a sense of community. Your weight loss buddies can become like a second family. You share each other's struggles and victories.
3. Address emotional issues. Being overweight can be more than a physical health issue. You may need support to overcome emotional eating habits or deal with social stigmas.
4. Get practical assistance. People who have reached their own weight loss goals are in an ideal position to advise you about what really works. Focus on improving your daily routine and locating helpful resources in your community.
5. Change your behavior. Losing significant weight and keeping it off involves choosing the right foods and much more. You'll learn a broad range of behaviors for eating better, exercising and managing stress.
6. Take a long term perspective. Maintaining a steady weight is more important than losing a couple of dress sizes for your wedding day. Learn skills that will keep you fit for life.
7. Remain flexible. Your body and living conditions will change at different times in your life. Be prepared to adapt your diet and workouts to your current needs.
8. Stick to your budget. While some expensive diet products have little research to back up their claims, peer group support is effective and affordable. Many services are reasonably priced or even free. Insurance plans or government programs may even help cover the costs of such programs.
9. Discover the power of reciprocity. One of the most amazing benefits of peer support programs is the phenomena by which people help themselves by helping others. You become empowered and make more progress while you reach out to others.
Understanding the Limits of Peer Group Support
1. Eat less and exercise more. Of course, diet and exercise are essential along with group support if you want to take off some pounds. Eat a balanced diet and try to get at least a half hour of exercise at least three days a week.
2. Talk with your doctor. Peer support programs complement medical care rather than replace it. It's especially important to follow your doctor's recommendations if you have conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.
3. Adapt successful techniques to your own needs. Health experts acknowledge that Weight Watchers members are currently mostly white women. Men seem to find these programs less appealing, so you may need to consider how to modify these techniques for your own situation.
4. Consider online options. If there is no established program in your immediate area, you can still find support. Weight Watchers and other organizations offer online programs or telephone support. You may even be able to start your own group through a community organization.
Losing weight the healthy way is a gradual process that needs to be sustained for life. Increase your chances of success by putting peer group support to work for you along with a sensible diet and regular exercise