The Hard Facts: Losing Together

It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.

“The average female will shed more than 10 pounds when she has girlfriends who are willing to eat healthily and train with her. But a fifth of those who choose to go it alone don’t drop a single pound. The study of 3,000 women also revealed 61 percent find it almost impossible to summon up the energy to exercise alone. However the same proportion enjoy going for a jog or taking a swim with a friend – and admit they push themselves harder if they have company.” (“Women Who Work Out Together Are Far More Likely To Lose Weight,” The Daily Mail 6/10/2010)

A few months ago I admitted that I’d put on some weight since starting my BFF search. When you’re eating out a lot, it’s hard to cut back calories—and eating with other people has been scientifically proven to make a person eat more.

But good news! While friends giveth pounds, friends can taketh away.

Since I wrote about the wine and sushi (and cupcakes and fries) taking over my midsection, I have shed some of the weight. Not all. But, you know, some.

And that some can be directly linked to both new friends and general friend-making efforts.

First, my co-worker encouraged me to run a 15K with her. I’d been slacking on my treadmill dates, so this was a perfect incentive to get back on the wagon.

Coincidentally, my cleanse started on the day of the race. I went straight from one get-fit project to another. The reason I signed up for the cleanse was that it was based on a support system. (Also because it wasn’t a wacky only-drink-your-own-urine type of weirdo diet. This was just about eating clean – fruits, veggies, oats, nuts.) We met every Wednesday to learn about what we were doing to our bodies, and every Sunday for yoga. There was even a movie night.

Now that both my projects are over and it’s back to motivating myself with the sheer desire to be healthy, I’m already having a hard time. Not so much with the nutritious food aspect (the cleanse really helped in that regard. I’m much more interested in eating real food now. And, if you can believe it, I’m still off caffeine! Success) but in the drag-your-butt-out-of-bed-and-to-the-gym aspect. Except on Saturdays, when I meet two new friends for dance class. ‘Cause that’s just fun, and brings the promise of a girls brunch afterwards.

See what I mean? Those researchers know what they’re talking about.

Do you have more success with weight loss or get-fit efforts when you’re with friends? Or are you of the “diet is personal and the gym is my me time” mindset? (I used to love going to the gym alone in the mornings, it was my moment of Zen. Not sure what happened to that…)

13 Comments

Filed under The Hard Facts

13 responses to “The Hard Facts: Losing Together

  1. This is SO true! I lose weight alot better with motivation!! Congrats!

  2. I lost about 35 pounds 2 years ago and I did it with a friend at work. It really helped to have someone else that was working on it so we could support/encourage each other!

  3. Suzannah

    Rachel…..you just amaze me!!!!….how you find new topics that are fresh, interesting, and relavent….love to see what you come up with everyday.
    this post just adds credibility to the fact …time flies when you are having fun, and adding in friends can make almost anything fun!…..even EXERCISE!

  4. I agree with the research. I am training for a half-marathon and it has been motivating to train with my friend, who also happens to be a neighbor. We wake up early to run and the run becomes easier because you have someone doing it with you.

  5. Lorrie Paige

    I think that’s the only thing I really like to do on my own all the time.

    To stay in shape, I jog 2-3 times a week and I love jogging alone in the park; it’s also kind of a meditative thing for me, so I need to be alone.

  6. Rachel –
    I have found that I am a group exercise kind of girl. I started playing tennis about 6 years ago and it has led to some of my best friends and smallest dress sizes. Since I started back to work full time this fall as a high school teacher, I’ve slid off of the tennis court and into a huge pile of teenage junk food. Both my friendships and my belts are strained.
    Thanks to your blog, I’ve decided to find something new that does fit my schedule – a zumba class. Nothing like looking completely stupid in spandex to meet a new BFF, right?

  7. TJ

    Wow, I can’t believe I’d never thought of it this way before. It’s so true. When I was in college, working out with my girlfriends was fun. Working out on my own now…um, is not happening. 🙂 Now I know why! Just need to find some friends to inspire me!

  8. I guess I’m the oddball here – my gym time is totally me time! When I was 22, I lost 60 pounds all by myself, just by doing Weight Watchers online. I moved to Chicago not long after reaching my goal weight, and put some of the weight back on with my roommate – eating out together, cooking for each other and splitting bottles of wine every night together. Now I go to the gym 3-4 times a week by myself, and I really enjoy it. One of my girlfriends is a member at my gym, and we’ve tried going together or taking classes together, and it just doesn’t work for us.

    I can definitely see how it would be helpful for some to exercise with a friend though. My friends and I talk with each other about our workouts a lot, so even that much keeps us more motivated.

    • Anne – I used to be the exact same way. I used to be incredibly disciplined about going to the gym every mornign before work. And it was my only time of day for just me, the treadmill and The Today Show. It was rare that someone would talk to me at the gym (I’ve never quite figured out how to make “gym friends”) but when they did I often felt like it disturbed my peace and quiet. After I got married and started this blog and for various reasons wasn’t as good about getting up in the morning, I sorta fell off the wagon. And now I love having a friend because I need the motivation. But back when I was a better self-motivator? The gym was totally my time for myself…

  9. erica

    I’m also a solo exerciser… in general when I’m working out I want to focus on what I’m doing and not have to match anyone else’s pace. I enjoy some exercise classes, but generally the more inwardly-focused ones like yoga and spin. And I’ve made friends at the gym, but we don’t work out together – we just talk before or after workouts. On occasion I will go running or something with a friend – but for me that’s more about catching up (and, bonus, I’m not spending money or consuming empty calories) than getting a serious workout.

  10. Pingback: friends: gain together, lose together « Change Is Possible

  11. I’ve never liked the gym, but having a gym buddy that I can natter with makes the gym time just melt away. We keep each other accountable and we catch up on our lives. It also means that we don’t go out for food and drinks as our socialising time. Two birds with one stone and all that. I sometimes like to go and have a solitary swim, but I really treasure my time at the gym with my friends.

    I also think that going to the gym with someone can really cement a friendship. I’m a firm believer that you have to be spending time with someone at least once a week to really form a bond, and the gym is a really great way for me to do that.

  12. Pingback: The Hard Facts: Friends Are the Ultimate Anti-Aging Secret | MWF Seeking BFF

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