The other day, I was meeting with a client who definitely got the gold star for the day. He managed to lose 16 pounds and reduce his cholesterol and triglycerides in about 3 months by eating lots of vegetables, and exercising more. I wasn’t surprised that eating a healthier diet and exercising more worked so well, but I was surprised at how enthusiastic and motivated he was to keep up his good habits.The reason, he told me was “a little healthy competition – literally” between him and a few co-workers. He recruited four friends from work, shared what he learned from a Registered Dietitian, and together, they worked on healthier diets and increased their physical activity by walking at lunchtime. They’ve all had such great results with weight loss, and improvements in their health that they’ve vowed to keep it up, and make it a permanent lifestyle change.
According to a recent research study, from the Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System and the University of Michigan Health System, his results and more importantly, enthusiasm, aren’t that unusual. A number of companies today offer financial incentives for individuals to lose weight, quit smoking, or improve their health in some way. However, this particular study showed that group-based financial incentives led to nearly three times more weight loss than cash awards based on an individual’s weight loss success alone.
It seems like this is one instance where peer pressure may be good for us. By working as a group toward a common goal, members tend to focus more on the upside of their efforts (what they gain in terms of health benefits vs. focusing on habits that are hard to give up), and they also provide encouragement to keep each other focused and moving forward.
If you’re finding it hard to get yourself motivated, consider starting a group weight loss contest – men vs women, department vs department, block vs block. Chances are, friends, neighbors, and co-workers are in the same boat, and spring is a great time to get moving and start eating healthier. Maybe they ‘re just waiting for you to give them a challenge! Check out this article from Livestrong.com for tips on how to get started.
Good luck, and keep me posted on how your group does!