Research: Why You Need A Weight-Loss Buddy

You’ve likely tried to lose some weight at some point in your life, and you’re not alone. This year more than 60% of Canadians will actively try to lose at least 5lbs…but the vast majority won’t succeed. In fact, research done by Heart and Stroke Foundation shows that 70% of people who try to lose weight this year will actually put it all back on and even gain a little bit more!

That is a pretty de-motivating statistic – Is it time to just give up altogether?

How BIG Is Our Obesity Problem?

Dr. Marco Di Buono, Director of Research at the Heart and Stroke Foundation sums up our obesity problem quite well:

Obesity and overweight have become one of the leading public health concerns in Canada. We know that within the past 30 years, the prevalence of obesity doubled among those ages 40 to 69 and tripled among those 20 to 39.

It’s definitely not just a problem for older adults. The Heart and Stroke Foundation Report on Canadians’ Health has called young adults (ages 20-39) the new “at-risk” group after their research revealed that 3 million Canadians within this group are inactive, 2.5 million are overweight or obese, 2 million smoke, 164,000 have high blood pressure and 66,000 have diabetes.

How big is the obesity problem? It’s big and it’s getting worse.

What’s Working, What’s Not?

There are a lot of different ways people approach weight loss. Dieting and exercise are two staples, along with taking weight-loss supplements, and even surgery. One recently proposed approach takes a page out of anti-smoking campaigns that have become commonplace over the past few decades. Take a look:

This is all great – Any step that moves us closer to curing the obesity epidemic is fantastic, but are these steps actually helping?

Not really.

As we’ve discussed before, losing weight is hard and it doesn’t happen overnight. This doesn’t mesh well with the concept of a diet, which most people consider to be a short-term action that will somehow produce long-term results. The same goes for exercise – Most people want to see stunning results after a few trips to the gym. It just doesn’t work this way, and the vast majority of exercisers become disenchanted with slow-and-steady progress and give up before developing a true exercise habit.

Again, as discussed in previous posts, many of these attempts are heavily predicated on the user having extraordinary willpower. Willpower may do the trick for a short period of time but its ability to keep us away from long-established habits (habits that work directly against weight-loss) diminishes quickly over time. We simply can’t will our way to weight-loss.

So What DOES Work?

There is one weight-loss technique that does seem to work. Not only does it produce results for the short-term but research has also shown that people who use this tactic tend to keep the weight off. What is it? What is it?

Work with a coach or a weight-loss buddy.

A very specific study was completed by the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center in Rhode Island that examined the importance of working with a coach while attempting to lose weight. Here are the findings:

1. Accountability Works

Working with a coach produces great results. Participants lost an average of 9% of their body weight in 24 weeks. This might not sound like a lot at first, but this is substantially more promising from other attempts that produce no weight-loss or even small weight gains after a similar time period.

2. Almost Any “Coach” Can Help

The coach doesn’t have to be anyone special – Working with a friend or family member can do the trick. The important part is the planning process. Be sure both you and your coach know what your goals are, how you plan to achieve them, and what kind of accountability/encouragement you will need along the way.

3. Regular Check-Ins Make a Difference

Checking in with the coach at least once a week seemed to be an important element of the program. Accountability that is consistent appears to be key.

Who Is Your “Coach” Going To Be?

Losing weight is big business. Forty percent of Canadians spend more than $500 when trying to lose weight. Just know that money doesn’t have to be a restriction on your results. There might be someone in your life, a friend, family member, co-worker, gym buddy, or someone else who would be a perfect “coach” for you. Just be sure that you take time to lay out your goals, the parameters of your program, and what accountability your coach is going to provide. This can be an effective and free way to see some success!