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Strength in numbers: Losing weight together

December 16, 2018 GMT

Maybe it feels like you’ve tried everything to lose weight. But have you unleashed the power of your family and social network? Research suggests that people have a higher likelihood of losing weight when they team up with a friend or family member to adopt healthy behaviors. More research is needed to understand the power of community and its effects on weight loss, but it’s clear that friends and family have a strong influence in this area.

“When people decide to make a committed step to change their lives, it definitely has ripple effects on their relationships,” said Nabil Tariq, M.D., board-certified bariatric surgeon at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. If you’re planning to lose weight and considering weight-loss surgery or needing a new outlook on weight loss, partnering can improve your odds of reaching your goals. Weight loss with a partner provides motivation, support and even a little healthy competition.



“Motivation is often tied to experiences with our loved ones,” said Tariq. “We want to be there for the big moments in life, and we want to go places and enjoy time together. Whatever your motivation to lose weight, you can put more power behind it when your loved ones know what you’re fighting for.”

Picture this: A busy mom wants to lose weight so she can set a healthier example for her kids. The changes she makes with nutrition and exercise have an impact on her whole family. Try it: Keep a visual reminder, such as a family photo, vacation destination, etc. in a special place so you can stay motivated when you need it.

A Strong Support System

“When you embark on this journey together with family members or friends, you have a built-in support system,” Tariq said. “For anyone considering weight-loss surgery, it’s a big decision and a lifelong commitment that affects everyone you are close with. Having a great support system can amplify the benefits of surgical weight loss.”

Picture this: A husband struggling to lose weight on his own decides to explore weight-loss surgery. He signs up for an informational session. Try it: A spouse can provide mental and emotional support by attending the orientation session, going to appointments and committing to a mutually changed lifestyle after surgery.

Eat Better Together

Changing the way you eat starts with meal planning, grocery shopping and a commitment to cooking meals at home. “Food is central to our day-to-day life and family interactions, so it’s vital to involve others in your life when making significant dietary changes,” Tariq said.


Picture this: A mother and daughter both had weight-loss surgery about six months apart. Planning meals and cooking together helped them adjust to their new diet plan. Try it: Attend a healthy cooking class or nutrition class with friends or family members.

Team Up For Exercise

Being active together and exercising regularly is the key to success with weight loss. “Having someone else to hold you accountable might be exactly what you need to show up and challenge yourself more than you would when working out alone,” Tariq added.

Picture this: Two friends who played football in high school gained a lot of weight in their 20s and 30s. After one friend started a new exercise program, the other friend joined, too and they both lost weight. Try it: Transform couch time into something more active. Meet at the gym to watch your favorite TV shows while walking on a treadmill, or throw a football around before watching the game on TV.

Track Your Progress

Keeping track of total pounds and inches lost as a group can be highly motivating. “Also seeing health numbers improve and high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar go down is our top priority,” Tariq said. “It’s really about achieving a better quality of life and a better state of health.”

Picture this: Co-workers start a weight-loss challenge to lose 500 pounds total among the group. Try it: Talk to your doctor about your target numbers and attend support groups, nutrition or fitness classes, or start a friendly competition among friends.

Weight Loss Seminar

Join Nabil Tariq, M.D. on Thursday Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. for a weight-loss seminar to learn about the different programs offered at the Houston Methodist Weight Management Center, get tips on grocery shopping and meal planning, and speak with a dietitian, exercise specialist and bariatric surgeon. Registration is required. Visit events.houstonmethodist.org/weightloss-sl or call 281-274-7500 for more information or to register.