Why Good Friends are Key to Long-Term Weight Loss

What's better for your weight loss: going to a party with friends, or staying home alone with your salad? The answer might surprise you.

While everyone has a different definition for who constitutes a “friend,” we can all agree that strong friendships make your life a better, more full experience. Yet when you’re attempting to lose weight or make other healthy habit changes, it can be tempting to wall yourself off from friends and family to focus on your goals. The irony is that this is exactly when you need your close friends the most.

This January, when I was doing Whole30, I dreaded social events like dinners with friends or birthday parties because celebration food rarely included things that I could eat. When it was possible to decline invitations, my husband and I did. And while this was okay for one month (especially the coldest month of the year), avoiding the people who care about you most is no way to live year-round.

So rather than seeing your friends as offering temptations to live less healthily, use them as resources to support you on your journey! Maybe their goals aren’t the same as yours, but that doesn’t mean you can’t share what you want to accomplish and establish friend routines that allow you to achieve your goals.

When a real friend knows you are working on your health, they might be more apt to suggest going for a walk, trying out a new exercise class, dining at the restaurant with the most healthy options, or providing moral support and fun distractions when you’re struggling. By giving you encouragement and providing space to socialize without temptation, friends are one of the best ways to make the hard task of weight loss easier, and sustainable over the long-term.

Maintaining friendships when life gets busy can be hard, but it’s well worth the effort. Whether it’s a childhood friend who lives across the country or a newer acquaintance just across the street, your friends can provide invaluable accountability and support – as long as you put in a bit of work on your end. Here are 3 simple steps to establishing friendships that help you reach your health goals:

1. Reach Out 

Whether you use a social media platform, the phone, or even a postcard, find a way that works for getting in touch with your friend. Asynchronous means, like sending texts or letters, can be especially good for friends with children, crazy schedules, or odd working/sleeping hours, because they can respond when they are ready. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box: one of my friends keeps in touch with her college friends by playing online word games with them and sending messages using the comment feature in the game! Just make sure it’s a platform that both you and your friend like so that you’ll be inclined to use it regularly.

2. Share Your Goals

It can be hard to find things to talk about, when you are living in different places and surrounded by different people. Goals are a great way to connect. For instance, when I started talking to my college friend about training for a half marathon, she was instantly interested and more willing to discuss her past experiences of running, herown fitness goals, and her excitement for coming warm weather.

3. Check In Periodically

It can be hard to keep track of all the elements of someone else’s life, but goals are a particularly good place to pay extra attention. It’s so valuable to have someone follow up with you! When I told my friend about DietBet for the first time, I thought she would think I was silly, but instead she joined and then asked me how mine went the next month! Keeping in touch over goals became something to bond about, plus it gave both of us an extra layer of accountability.

Make it WayBetter

Is there someone you have lost touch with but who used to be a really close friend? What would be a good way to rekindle the friendship, even if it can’t be a frequent communication? These friendships keep us optimistic and encouraged, so they are worth the effort!