Weight loss: why a support network is vital

Losing weight can be difficult, but if you surround yourself with the right people, and recruit a few key players as part of your support group, you may find the task easier, and more successful.

Support networks and weight loss

Research suggests that when it comes to shedding weight, enlisting the support of others may help you reach your goals. One study showed that those who enrolled in a weight loss program with friends were more successful in losing weight and keeping it off than those who went on their own.
 
In another study, researchers examined the link between online support and weight loss and found the most significant factor linked to weight lost was a person’s level of social networking — the more they networked, the more weight they lost.

The importance of a network

Bupa Dietitian Rosalyn D’Angelo says that having people around you to support you can make a big difference in achieving your goals.
 
“Achieving your health goals can be easier if the people around you are supportive and encouraging. Having people aware of your goals can also make you accountable to someone,” she says.
 
“On the other hand, if the people around you do not want you to succeed — whether it’s subconsciously or consciously — this can make trying to achieve your goals just that much harder."

Take ownership of your health

D’Angelo believes that while a support network can be helpful in providing support and encouragement, long-term success comes down to taking ownership of your own health and behaviours.
 
“Relying on someone to cook healthy meals and make you go for a walk is all well and good, but when that disappears, your new healthy habits won’t necessarily stick. At the end of the day, you control what you do, so you need to take ownership of your own behaviours.”

people running up stairs together

Choosing your support network

Who you choose to be in your support network is something only you can decide. You may choose the help of the people you live with, or work with, or perhaps a select group of friends. Some key questions to ask yourself to pinpoint the right people might include:
 
  • Who do you share your happy news with?
  • Who can you confide in?
  • Which people don’t make you feel judged?
  • Who makes you feel good about yourself?
  • Who do you turn to in a crisis?
You might also reach out to others who have expressed a similar desire to lose weight, so you can support and learn from each other. D’Angelo also recommends seeking the support of a health professional.
 
“Depending on your goals, that could be anyone from a psychologist to a doctor. Having unbiased professional input is important to make sure you’re working towards your goals in a healthy and safe way,” she says.
 

Focus on being healthy

While seeking out the support of your family can be very powerful, D’Angelo warns against talking to children about weight loss, as it can draw their attention to their own appearance and weight.
 
“Instead, focus on healthy behaviours such as making an effort to go for more family walks and including more colourful veggies with dinner, rather than just focusing on scales and weight.”

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