Many people are under the misconception that effective weight loss is a solo affair. In reality, having a partner helps you lose more weight and keep it off longer. By teaming up with a buddy, you’ll beat the odds together by losing twice the weight in record time.
Research shows that in order to make a healthy behavioral change, it makes a huge difference if you work with someone who’s in the same boat as you. A buddy can model good behavior as well as offer empathy and encouragement. It’s often best to team up with a total stranger rather than a family member or friend, since it’s harder for someone who knows you well to remain neutral about your endeavor.
Before you start, go over the following with your buddy:
1. How much weight do you want to lose?
This question helps you set a goal so you know what you’re working toward.
2. What’s the main reason you gained all your weight?
This question allows you to get a historical perspective of one another and helps you come to grips with how you may have tripped up in the past.
3. What’s your biggest vice?
This question allows you both to help each other avoid landmines that may be present that day, such as an office party.
Once you and your buddy have some background on each other, you can get started on the next steps – reviewing the five agreements you’ll be making with your partner:
Agreement #1: Call every night with my high and low.
It’s important to share with your buddy one thing that went really well that day, such as passing up a tempting donut. If you hit a low point, you need to share that as well – perhaps you broke down and ate a handful of candy. It’s important to talk about your high point with your partner, so you can recognize your strengths and be validated. By mentioning your low, you’ll be filling your buddy in on what you need to watch out for.
Note: Based on your own individual schedules, you and your buddy will figure out how to best stay in contact: via phone, email or texting.
Agreement #2: Exchange my daily meal plan the night before and stick with it.
Knowing in advance what you’re going to eat will eliminate guesswork throughout the day and keep you from making poor choices. This is also a great way to keep each other in check and know you’re staying in control. Plus you’ll help each other create a whole library of meals to choose from.
Agreement #3: Text or email my hunger score before I eat anything.
A hunger score based on a scale of 1-10 helps you assess how hungry you really are before you actually eat something. One means you’re not really that hungry and 10 means you’re ravenous. You’ll learn to distinguish the difference between actual physiological hunger, which causes you to become weak, tired or shaky, as opposed to appetite, which is driven by external cues such as, “It’s noon, time for lunch! You’ll begin to see your hunger patterns and learn how you can better control them.
Agreement #4: Email two photos of my future plans.
This is a way of establishing long and short-term goals. The first photo should reflect a short-term goal, something you want to accomplish in a couple weeks, such as wearing a dress that’s one size smaller. The other picture should capture where you see yourself down the road – maybe a photo of the dress you’re going to wear when you hit your desired weight.
Agreement #5: As I lose weight, I will get rid of clothes that no longer fit.
By throwing your old clothes away, you’re forging a new identity for yourself and making the statement: “I’m never going to be there again.” Donate your clothes to a charity organization or someone you know who needs them.
The Buddy Plan’s “Subtract 1” Meal Plan
Now that you’ve covered the five agreements, you’re ready to review the “Subtract 1” meal Plan. You’ll start each day with a complete breakfast and then subtract 1 item from your lunch and dinner that follows.
Evidence suggests that people who eat breakfast tend to weigh less than people who skip it. What’s more, the 2010 guidelines found that eating a nutrient-rich breakfast is a key behavior linked with weight loss and improved weight maintenance.
Breakfast should always be your biggest meal. You need to eat a breakfast rich in calcium, carbs, protein and a fruit or vegetable. This will give you a solid base of energy to get your day started and also prevent you from overeating later in the day.
The Complete Breakfast
Calcium: 6 ounces of Greek yogurt
Carb: 1 whole wheat slice of toast
Protein and Vegetable: Omelet made with 1 egg, 2 egg whites and vegetables
Fruit: Mixed Fruit
Lunch: “Subtract 1” and Lose the Calcium
Lose the calcium and focus on eating lean protein, vegetables and a complex carb for a solid lunch that will keep you full.
Carb: 1 cup brown rice
Protein: 4 ounces of lean chicken
Vegetable: Assorted vegetables
Alternative Lunch: Turkey Sandwich
Carb: 2 slices of whole-wheat bread
Protein: 3 ounces of turkey
Fruit: An apple
Dinner: “Subtract 1” and Lose the Carbs
Since you are entering the most restful part of the day, you now want to focus on having the lowest number of calories.
Protein: 6-ounce steak or other protein
Fruit or Vegetable: A good-sized portion of broccoli
The best weight-loss plan always includes exercise. Start with at least a 15-minute walk after dinner. If you’re in the same time zone as your buddy, you can even call one another to walk and talk together.