How 3 Friends Started Their Own Weight Loss Program and Lost 60 Pounds

By Breana Lai, M.P.H., R.D., Associate Food Editor, EatingWell Magazine

Research shows that, when you’re trying to lose weight, social support can be very helpful in shedding pounds and keeping them off. That social support-via a diet club, in this case-is what helped three women featured in EatingWell Magazine each lose 20 pounds and keep it off. (Read their story here.) The three women-Judy Lester, Nancy Roscigno and Julie Slocum- all mothers-of-two who live in a wooded neighborhood in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, started cooking for each other in 2010 as part of their self-designed “diet dinner club,” an alternative to meal delivery services and formal weight loss programs. Together, over six months, they exchanged weekly meals and exercised together and met their weight-loss goals. They each lost 20 pounds and have continued working together to keep the weight off.

So instead of trying to lose weight all on your own, consider starting your own diet club! You’ll connect with like-minded friends and weight-loss partners, cook healthy meals for each other, exercise-and lose weight together. Here are a few tips from the women on how they started their own weight loss club, and how you can to!

Tip 1: Start Your Own Weight Loss Club!
Build Your Team: Ask like-minded people who have a similar goal and will commit to cooking and exercising at least 3 times per week. Find potential people by hanging a sign at your gym or church, asking friends and/or family or even posting a request on Facebook.

Play Up Strengths: Identify what everyone likes to do and share the responsibilities accordingly. If one person likes to organize, have her or him be the secretary who emails the calendar created during the meetings. If someone enjoys hunting for new recipes, let that person bring extra recipe ideas to the planning meeting.

Tip 2: Define Your Weight-Loss Goals
Set Goals & Timeline: Outline your goals from the outset to help keep everyone on track and motivated. Your goals should be measurable and reasonable, such as losing 1 pound a week for 2 months.

Do the Math: To lose 1 pound a week, use this equation:

[Your weight x 12] – 500 = Your daily calorie goal

To lose up to 2 pounds a week, subtract 1,000 instead of 500. Don’t go below 1,200 calories. 

Tip 3: Create a Meal Plan
Choose a Planning Day: Find about an hour, every other week, that works well for everyone to meet. Virtual meetings, via Skype or Google+ Hangouts, work too.

Design Your Menu: Everyone should bring about 10 recipes they want to make to the meeting. Keep food allergies and food preferences in mind. At the meeting, pair entrees with sides to round out each meal and record your menu choices in a biweekly calendar.

Organize Drop-Offs: Designate when, where and how food will be delivered and where food can be left if no one is home. 

Tip 4: Make Time for Exercise
Schedule Exercise: Choose times, locations and types of exercise, taking into consideration different abilities and fitness levels. Vary what you do to keep things interesting. Have a Plan B for inclement weather.

Tip 5: Stay In Touch
Check In: Are you making progress with your goals? Plan to check in at regular intervals and help each other stay committed to exercise and healthy eating.

Evaluate & Adjust: Is everyone content with the schedule? Are there changes that need to be made? Be sure to communicate with each other at least once a week to keep it fun and inspiring for all.

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P.S.  One of the best ways to stay motivated and realize your exercise goals is to get a couple workout partners. It has helped me to lose and maintain my weight over many years.

P.P.S. Visit exercises for diabetics today to find out how to go about locating good workout partners.

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