Identify Your Weight Loss Support Team

February 5, 2011

supportDo you have a weight loss support team? A person, or ideally a group of people, you can rely on to support your goal of losing weight and living a healthier life?

I believe such a network is critical to your success. Of course, a weight loss support team can???t lose the weight for you, but they can be there for you along the way. Here are some tips on finding and forming your team.

Consider Your Options: Think about who you know that you can rely on to be a cheerleader on your journey. Perhaps a spouse, close friend, family member, neighbor, co-worker, counselor, or medical professional. Make a list. The more people you can align to help you, the better.

Spread the Word: Talk to those you want on your team and explain to them simply but clearly your plan, what you need to do, and how they can help. Try to do this early in your weight loss journey so everyone will know in advance what to expect.

Be Specific: The more concrete you can be about how people can help you, the better. For example, if going out to eat is too difficult for you, ask the people on your support team to avoid planning get-togethers centered on dining out for a while.

Fine Tune the Message: As you move along your weight loss journey, new challenges are bound to pop up. Be sure to communicate these new developments to others. For example: Realized you really can???t stay out of cookies (or whatever may be a problem food) in the cupboard like you thought you could? Ask your spouse to not buy them or bring them into the home.

Give Examples: It can be difficult for people who don???t struggle with their weight to understand the challenges involved. Try giving examples to help illustrate. For example, you could say, ???If someone was an alcoholic, a friend wouldn???t suggest they meet in a bar to watch the game. It can feel like that to me to meet at a restaurant.??? Explaining eating issues this way may help someone understand them better.

Know Who Can???t Give Support: Equally as important as knowing who is on your team is recognizing who can???t be, for whatever reason. One common cause might be that a person has similar food or weight issues he or she is avoiding themselves. It isn???t personal. You can???t change them. You???ll simply need to go ahead and do it without them. Recognizing this may help you prepare yourself for the reality that that particular person may not be able to be part of your support team, and to focus on reaching out to others who can instead.

Don???t Expect Perfection: There are bound to be slip-ups along your weight loss journey, both by you and your weight loss support team. Be kind to yourself and to them when this happens and focus on what you can learn, not what went wrong.

Show Your Appreciation: Be sure to let your team members know how and when they have helped. Such feedback will encourage them to stay the course with you. Thank-you cards, a quick voicemail, a heartfelt gesture, or sincere thanks are just a few ways to show how much their support means to you.

Dr. Michael Kaplan

Founder and Chief Medical Officer

The Center for Medical Weight Loss

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