Losing weight takes commitment and discipline, money, knowledge, and, of course, no shortage of resolve to alter your habits for the better. Given how difficult it can be, you’d be wise to tip the odds of success in your favor along the way by adopting any of these expert-backed tips, tricks, and tactics. But according to new research recently presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2020, there’s at least one more thing you should consider doing to increase your chances of shedding a few pounds and keeping it off: Asking your partner (or a friend) to join you.
“Our study shows that when spouses join the effort to change habits, patients have a better chance of becoming healthier—particularly when it comes to losing weight,” writes Lotte Verweij, a registered nurse and Ph.D. student at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. “Patients with partners who joined the weight loss program lost more weight compared to patients with a partner who did not join the program.” (Related: 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.)
Though the study focused on those who are recovering from a heart attack, specifically, the principle no doubt applies to anyone who wishes to lose weight. To arrive at their findings, the researchers followed 411 study subjects who adopted healthy lifestyle changes compared to 413 subjects who didn’t. The changes were focused on three main areas: “weight reduction, physical activity, and smoking cessation, depending on their needs and preferences.”
The weight-loss group held weekly group sessions with a coach from Weight Watchers for a full year. The physical activity group wore a Philips Direct Life accelerometer for the same period, and the group focused on kicking their smoking habit received “motivational interviewing by telephone” from professionals at Luchtsignaal, and were given cessation aids and varenicline therapy. At the end of their journey, the patients “with a participating partner” were “more than twice as likely (odds ratio 2.45) to improve in at least one of the three areas within a year.”
“Couples often have comparable lifestyles and changing habits is difficult when only one person is making the effort,” said Verweij. “Practical issues come into play, such as grocery shopping, but also psychological challenges, where a supportive partner may help maintain motivation.”
The new findings bolster existing research that makes a connection between your spouse and your weight. Past studies have shown that when one-half of a married couple becomes obese, there’s a 37 percent chance the other half will, too. The new study shows that the reverse could be true if you and your spouse try to do something about it—together.
That being said, if you’re looking to lose weight as a male/female couple, it’s important to remember that you can’t be following the exact same plans. “Men can eat more than women without gaining, and lose weight by cutting back less,” Cynthia Sass, MPH, MA, RD, told WebMD.
Experts agree that men and women should adopt different weight-loss models if they’re trying to lose weight. For instance, female bodies may respond differently to exercise. “When men increase exercise, they lose weight because their bodies do not encourage them to eat more,” Nancy Clark, MS, RD, also told WebMD. However, the same is typically not true for most women.
So remember that dropping pounds is not one-size-fits-all, and the most important thing is that you have someone you care about there reciprocating your moral support. For more help to guide you on your weight-loss journey, don’t miss these 200 Best Ever Weight Loss Tips!