Want to Lose Weight? A Coach or a Buddy Can Help

A weight-control coach — even it's only a peer, not a professional — can help you stick to your plan and shed those pounds, a new study suggests

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Perhaps the biggest barrier to weight loss — whether you join a commercial plan or forge your own path — is simply sticking with it. Fortunately, there is a trick that may help, a new study finds: Enlist a coach. And it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune either. Even a friend will do, even if it’s someone who also struggles with weight.

That’s the finding of a new pilot project from the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center at the Miriam Hospital in Rhode Island. The pilot was small, with just 44 study participants. But it found that when assigned to a health coach — whether a behavior specialist or merely a peer (another study participant) — the would-be weight-losers shed 9% of their body weight on average over 24 weeks, an unusually big success for a weight-loss program.

The study did not have a true control group, and the study authors say their results should be considered only preliminary. Still those researchers are optimistic.

“Our study suggests health coaches may not only yield impressive weight loss outcomes, but that lay — or peer — health coaching may be particularly promising as a cost-effective obesity treatment strategy,” Tricia Leahey, the lead study author, told reporters. Her findings are published in the journal Obesity.

It’s not hard to understand why coaching would work. Anyone can eat well for a couple days and do a brief exercise routine. But maintaining that schedule day in, day out, keeping up with regular exercise and watching what you eat not just for a few meals, but for a lifetime, can be hard work. Even in clinical weight-loss studies it’s not unusual for half of all participants to give up. When you’re short of cash, short of time or short of energy, it’s easy to let your healthy lifestyle slip.

When you fail, you may think you just lack willpower. But a good weight-management coach — like any kind of coach — can help you break down performance and pinpoint specific areas for improvement. Maybe you’re having trouble with portion control while your growing teens are coming back to the dinner table for seconds, and then thirds. A coach could help you figure out strategies to deal with that, perhaps. Are you overly hungry? If so, maybe you could eat a healthy snack some time in the mid-afternoon. Or do just you feel awkward sitting around with an empty plate for 20 minutes while others chow down? In that case, you could try consciously to eat your meal more slowly.

For the new study from Rhode Island, participants met with their coaches weekly at the beginning of the program, and then less frequently as the months went by. In the weeks that they didn’t meet with coaches, they would send a weekly progress report by email, updating the coach on their weight and giving calorie count and physical activity information. The coach would then provide feedback on that email report.

Surprised that peers perform as well as pros when it comes to weight-control coaching? Don’t be. For one thing, even people who struggle with weight usually know what kind of diet and activity changes should be made to slim down. In fact, they may be better than the habitually lean at understanding the major obstacles that overweight people face. And in the end, as anyone who’s ever played on a sports team knows, there’s more to having a coach than getting good advice. Coaches can motivate simply by watching over you. With them on the sidelines, you know someone will notice if you skip that workout, or if you don’t give it a good effort. In short, coaches hold you accountable — and that’s why they may be good for much more than just sports.

8 comments
Giga Lobjanidze
Giga Lobjanidze

I was always trying to lose weight,weight loss

pills,supplements etc… I gotta say all that is bull**it,the only way to lose

weight is to exercise,but I recognize I am to lazy for that.i was sick of my

life,I bought many programs etc… all they were bullsh*t! my mom gave me the

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Lockpicking
Lockpicking

I also suggest for a health coach for weight loss program. More often it seems a difficult task and that time we need someone's help. A coach and someone else can help to get the weight loss goal. http://weightcaps.com/

sandip2365
sandip2365

The study did not have a true control group, and the study authors say

their results should be considered only preliminary. Still those

researchers are optimistic.

 

Durged
Durged

 

This is essentially the most powerful diet program I've ever

tried in terms of actual weight loss. Tried countless other diets with no luck

but now I am on day 4 of my new diet and already lost eight pounds! Initial

couple of days are a little bit challenging to stick to but by day four you

will feel astounding, and by day 11 you are going to be 15 pounds lighter. -

www.reviewsalert.com/truth-abo...

Durged
Durged

This is essentially the most powerful diet program I've ever

tried in terms of actual weight loss. Tried countless other diets with no luck

but now I am on day 4 of my new diet and already lost eight pounds! Initial

couple of days are a little bit challenging to stick to but by day four you

will feel astounding, and by day 11 you are going to be 15 pounds lighter. -

www.reviewsalert.com/truth-abo...

 

Durged
Durged

This is essentially the most powerful diet program I've ever

tried in terms of actual weight loss. Tried countless other diets with no luck

but now I am on day 4 of my new diet and already lost eight pounds! Initial

couple of days are a little bit challenging to stick to but by day four you

will feel astounding, and by day 11 you are going to be 15 pounds lighter. -

www.reviewsalert.com/truth-abo...

 

Durged
Durged

This is essentially the most powerful diet program I've ever

tried in terms of actual weight loss. Tried countless other diets with no luck

but now I am on day 4 of my new diet and already lost eight pounds! Initial

couple of days are a little bit challenging to stick to but by day four you

will feel astounding, and by day 11 you are going to be 15 pounds lighter. -

www.reviewsalert.com/truth-abo...

 

John La Puma MD
John La Puma MD

Health coaches for obesity are a good idea, because obesity is primarily a problem of planning. 

My own patients (whom I coach personally), often do better when they have someone to hold them accountable for what they say they are going to do. Accountability is responsibility with teeth...so a spouse, partner, significant other is not usually the best coach, as that relations is already pretty complicated, and weight is a touchy subject.  Teeth just means truthfulness here: if you plan to do something, and didn't, why not? Your coach should know, because you had to tell (her). So you can plan to do it next time.