When it comes to working out and losing weight, the whole process is hands-down easier when you have your friends and family standing behind you. Don’t just listen to us, either, science agrees. In a university study cited in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, those who recruited three friends or family members to assist them in their quest to lose weight had better weight loss results than those who had no buddy system to fall back on.
We get it, though. There’s not always someone just waiting around to be your support system when it comes to the long journey that is weight loss. While getting your friends to join you in your weight-slashing aspirations may seem daunting at first, it’s important. The good news? Harvard researchers Dr. Walter Willett and Dr. Malissa Wood have the suggestions you need to make losing weight with friends and family efficient (and even fun!). Check out their 3 suggestions for losing weight with friends, adapted from their book Thinfluence:
1. Make it cheap: If you want to get a group of friends together to exercise regularly, it’s super important to be mindful of the costs. Generally speaking, the less expensive you make it, the more people can join you and the more likely it is that people will stick with the group. Doing things like walking around your neighborhood or a local school’s track is obviously free, save for the cost of a pair of walking shoes. Not to mention, there are loads of other budget-minded activities you could do together, too.
Like what? Well we’re glad you asked. Start a strength-training group where members could meet at each other’s homes twice a week. You can all work out to an exercise video or do a workout you found in a book or magazine. Many strength-training routines rely on just your body weight—think squats, lunges, pushups, and crunches. But for a minor investment ($9 to $12), you each could purchase an exercise band. These multipurpose rubber bands offer all of the workout possibilities of a set of dumbbells.
And what if you want to apply the same sort of economic reasoning to healthy eating habits? You could replace a regular outing to a calorie-heavy dinner on the town with an evening in with your friends, preparing your own food. Not only does this satisfy the penny-pincher in all of us, but it also gives us far more control over what we are eating.
2. Make it easy (and convenient): In a world where tiredness wasn’t a thing, friends could agree to get out of bed at 5:00 a.m. to go on a casual five-mile run four days a week. Let’s be real: That ain’t happenin’. Same goes for unrealistic and overly restrictive expectations for food choices. It’s better to start with an activity or a healthy eating option that involves a convenient time and location and does not seem like a task. Make it easy for your friends to join you, and chances are your new routine will stick.
3. Make it fun: The most important part! You might even want to take advantage of preexisting routines. For example, if you have a weekly Bachelorette watching session with your gal pals, make it an opportunity to serve healthy snacks instead of unhealthy ones. Or add a reward to your regular potluck: The healthiest and tastiest dish wins a prize (manicure, pedicure—anyone?). Nothing like some healthy competition!
How do you get fit with your friends? Share your ideas in the comments!