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Individual Weight Loss is a Team Effort.  If you or a friend are trying to lose weight, then this article contains important information for long term success.

Many of us don’t realize how hard it can be to lose weight, learn a language, stop smoking or break ingrained habits and patterns.  Until we actually try to do one of those things.

sometimes its all you can do to hang on.

I originally chose this picture to illustrate how weight loss can sometimes just be a matter of 'hanging on', but the more I looked at it, the more I wondered if the photographer actually had time to take the picture AND save the guy before he slipped to a nasty end.

Even when we begin to make progress towards our self-improvement goal, this new fragile world can be (and often is) broken down by a friend with a well-intentioned gift of forbidden fruit du jour.  Many a weight loss attempt has been foiled by an errantly purchased box of chocolates/treats.

Why do most people fail at their weight loss attempts?  The truth is that even when we have lost the weight, our friends can still put us right back where we began.

don't be that guy.. more importantly, don't be that friend

don't be that guy.. more importantly, don't be that friend

Many of the biggest loser competitors return home only to regain the weight many seasons later.  Why?  If you look at recent research, absence of support from their friends and family is a significant factor.

Speaking of Biggest Loser, check out this footage of Jillian from The Biggest Loser gently encouraging her people along.  Ever seen someone beat a dead horse?  You’re about to…   (turn up your volume for this video)


If you have a friend who has embarked upon a weight loss/optimal health journey, then you must read this article and know it inside and out to give your friend the best chance of success.

If you are about to start on a weight loss journey, this is the article you want to print off and mail to the top 5 people who could make or break you when times get tough.

(and if you can get them on board as soon as possible you can give yourself the best chance of things never getting tough)

Here are a few ways you can support your friend in his or her weight loss efforts, along with a series of suggestions about what actions you’d be wise to avoid.

DO help your friend eat healthier

Removing temptations (for example, when meeting, avoiding eating chips, pretzels, and cookies and stocking up on apples, celery, carrots, and other healthy munchies at home if they visit on a regular basis) is one step in creating a more encouraging environment for your friend. In an article on the Hitched magazine website, nutrition adviser Rovenia Brock also advises supportive spouses to find healthier versions of favorite recipes and to eat out less – two actions that emphasize eating enjoyable meals while exercising greater control over ingredients and portion size.

DON’T be a food cop


As Alvin and Donna Pratt discovered, even well-intentioned friends and spouses can undermine a healthy eating plan by offering excessive “advice.” Health and nutrition expert Cynthia Sass addresses this issue in her book Your Diet Is Driving Me Crazy: When Food Conflicts Get in the Way of Your Love Life.

“No one likes being policed, and yet we often do it to people we love in the name of ‘their best interests,'”

“In the quest to help a partner stay healthy, a food cop can become obsessive, overbearing, and in short, a tyrant. And as anyone who’s ever been policed by a friend will tell you, it almost never works!”  The same is 100% true from our friends.  Being a friend can sometimes mean giving to your friend straight, but more often it means being there to support and encourage, but not to lecture.

DO acknowledge the challenge your friend is facing

Several weight loss experts have noted that fear can dampen an overweight person’s effort to shed unwanted pounds.  Admitting to yourself and your closest allies that you need to make changes in your life can be an intimidating experience – and not having your hopes and plans taken seriously by those you trust can be overwhelming.

Writing on the Mental Health World website about his struggles with depression, Lee Smith could easily have been expressing the emotions of overweight individuals around the world when he observed that “the pain of rejection from our friends at the time we need their support and compassion the most can be devastating.” Simply acknowledging to your friend that you understand the challenges she is facing – and affirming that you are willing to face those challenges together – can give your friend the strength necessary to put his or her weight-loss plan into action.  Acknowledging it is tough will help your friend be even tougher.


Weight loss can be tough. Help your friend be tougher.

DON’T dwell on the hardships –

Losing a significant amount of weight isn’t simply a matter of eating a bit less and exercising a bit more. Depending upon the individual, the process can involve breaking decades-old habits or modifying thought processes that date to childhood. In other words, it can literally be a life-changing event. Telling your friend “This is going to be a lot harder than you realize” or asking “What makes you think this time will be different than all the other times you tried (and failed)?” sows seeds of doubt and demonstrates your lack of faith in your friend.  Recognize your friends past if they bring it up to you, but remind them that today is a new day with new opportunities.

teamwork (1)

DO make it a team effort

Ultimately, the amount of weight your friend loses is dependent solely upon genetics and the diet, exercise and lifestyle plan he or she follows. But this doesn’t mean that your efforts have no influence on the outcome. Let your friend know that this is a team effort, and then be sure your actions back up your words. Taking walks together, discussing goals, and eating healthier foods yourself are three great ways to show your support – and may have the added benefit of improving your health and strengthening your relationship.

Part 2 of this article coming soon!  Subscribe to make sure you get it hot off the presses!

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  • Maggie Sep 22, 2009 Reply

    I love it Jamie. You should talk up the suggestion you made that gave birth to our idea…The New Deal: We each risked $250 of our own money in order to “up the ante”. It really worked! 45 days of no processed sugar, white rice, wheat, potatoes, or corn for someone who is normally totally into carbs and SUGAR! Now I’m on day 50 and feeling really good about it. I spent the $250, because as part of the deal, if we each made our 45 day goal we each had $250 to shop with! Now I have a new suit, new pair of work slacks, new sweater (okay, I went slightly over my mark) and I’m liking the way I feel and look in my new digs!


    • jamieatlas Sep 22, 2009 Reply

      Great tip Maggie! Even if it isn’t money, doing some kind of reward for each other is great for keeping each other on track. For victory celebrations, you might also think of babysitting, cleaning service, couples massage, movie tickets or just a special something to commemorate your willpower victory.

    • jamieatlas Sep 22, 2009 Reply

      If anyone else has any ideas/experiences on how they worked with friends to achieve success please share! The more tools people have the more chances they have to find what works for them, so please share if you have something of use 🙂

  • Amanda Oct 1, 2009 Reply

    great article…as a Personal Trainer…I am a great believer that you have to “influence the circle of influence”…

    • jamieatlas Oct 1, 2009 Reply

      Great words of wisdom Amanda – influencing the influence. Nice 🙂

  • MrsWoland Oct 5, 2009 Reply

    Awesome. Thanks for all the tips!

  • YouAreNotAFitPerson Oct 25, 2009 Reply

    Great article. I found that by bringing my friends along and showing them how I got fit had unexpected benefits. It was great to be able to run and swim with friends, which I expected, but it was a surprise to me when I fell off of my exercise and my friends were there to keep me going. It was a great surprise and an unbelievable help to staying fit!

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