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  • Writer's pictureJackie

10 Things the Best Weight Loss Groups DO NOT Do

What To Look for When You Seek Support

When it comes to weight loss, having support is a huge predictor of success, so no wonder groups are a popular way to find it. Whether online or in person, a gathering of people who share your goal can be really powerful. Before you jump into just any group, though—even an informal one with friends or coworkers—you may want to exercise your right to be downright picky.

Here’s why. The wrong kind of “support” can actually undermine you. Years ago, before I became a health coach/trainer, I joined an 8-week weight loss competition (warning sign right there) at a gym. I “won” by losing the most pounds, and believe it or not, ended up feeling WORSE about myself! Some of the points below explain this reaction, which may seem surprising but is actually more common during weight loss than you might think. More important than my past experience, though, is YOUR future experience, so...

Should you choose to lean on a group to become a bit leaner, pay attention to these 10 things that great groups do NOT do. They could be warning signs that a particular group is not your ideal choice.


1. DO NOT TURN WEIGHT LOSS INTO A COMPETITION. Unless it’s a team effort with everyone cheering everyone else on and no one being called out for losing too little, competitions inherently pit people against one another. Thus, no genuine support.

2. DO NOT LEAVE YOU FEELING DEFEATED. Even if the group is not engaging in outright competition, we ALL pick up on vibes. Tune into underlying judgements and assumptions and move on if you sense a lack of empathy & camaraderie.

3. DO NOT WEIGH YOU PUBLICLY. Your health numbers are YOUR health numbers, not some “Scarlet Letter” to wear on days when the scale rises. If you choose to share them with a supportive buddy, partner, or trainer, that can serve you well, but it shouldn’t be required by a weight loss group. Oh, obligatory weigh-ins can also keep you from attending on the days you feel your weight crept up. Not good.

4. DO NOT SKIP THE EDUCATION. Sharing obstacles and victories with others is invaluable, but good groups also incorporate sound, research-based info on safe weight loss, preferably presented by a qualified pro.

5. DO NOT PROMOTE FAD DIETING. Despite continued popularity, fad diets have been definitively proven NOT to work. Join a group that promotes slow, steady weight loss plus physical activity, and your chance of keeping it off will be better.

6. DO NOT DOWNPLAY EXERCISE. Exercise bumps up the “calories-out” side of the weight loss equation but also crucially helps protect health and maintain muscle & bone as you lose.

7. DO NOT ALLOW ONE VOICE TO DOMINATE THE GROUP. Everyone should feel heard and recognized. If the moderator is allowing one person to suck up most of the group’s time, you might tactfully & privately bring this up with them. If it continues, consider moving on.

8. DO NOT SKIMP ON GOAL SETTING. Groups should discuss each individual’s reasons for wanting to lose weight. This keeps meetings from becoming complete whine-a-thons (though there’s a time for those, too) and allows people to see they’re all in this effort together.

9. DO NOT FOCUS SOLELY ON APPEARANCE. People who focus on extrinsic (or outward) motivation tend to have less success than intrinsically driven folks. In some groups, as you lose weight, you can end up feeling more celebrated for how you look rather than WHO you are, especially if the whole group is thus motivated—which is the kind of conditional approval that left me feeling perceived as suddenly more "worthy" because I was smaller. Ick! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to look good, but a group that’s grounded in health, overall wellness, and quality of life will probably serve you better over the long haul.

10. DO NOT FORGET ABOUT SPIRITUAL HEALTH. Prayers and doctrine need not be followed at weight loss meetings (though of course, church-based ones will and could be a great option). But acknowledging the spirit can lead to authentic revelations about why, deep down, we’re really trying to lose weight. Also, prayer and meditation are linked with many mental and physical health benefits.

So, PLEASE seek support! Other people are priceless in the journey. Just permit yourself to be super discerning. You’re worth it.


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