Are Weight Loss Support Groups Any Help?

friendship-1057660_1280A dieter has many tools in her arsenal. Food charts show her the caloric and nutritional content of each food she buys and meals she eats. An exercise chart guides her through the best moves for muscle building and DVDs encourage her with fun, fat-burning exercises. Supplements or meal replacements offer easy meal options when she doesn’t want to cook or prepare a low-calorie meal. She can also turn to her fellow dieters. Are weight loss support groups any help? Should she join one?

Weight Loss Support Group in a Nutshell

There are two kinds of weight loss support groups: organized and informal. The latter society is generally formed out of like-minded women who discover each other at their children’s schools or at work or they find each other on Facebook. The first category has joined a group like TOPS (Take off Pounds Sensibly) or an online paid diet program with its own online network. One should find consolation and encouragement among the people who belong to these support systems. Members have all been through the same problems: falling off the wagon and overloading on cookies (been there, done that!), reaching frustrating plateaus, feeling tired and hungry, and wanting to give up. Members also share success stories about amazing weight loss and rejuvenated lives.

The Pros of a Support Group

People of a healthy weight do not understand an overweight individual’s struggles; the pressure she is under internally and externally. Strangers and family alike judge her, assuming her entire problem is one of “self-control.” They fail to acknowledge the deeper issues behind her eating problem. Members of the weight loss support group understand, even women who are thin now. When members “talk” to each other (in person or virtually), struggles come out in the open and are addressed fully. People are not uncomfortable with tough dieting issues.

Weight loss coaches are often part of this community. Personal trainers, counselors, and dietitians answer professional questions and offer advice about how to overcome certain challenges. Sometimes members are willing to be there for each other 24/7 either because relationships are that close or because participants pay a fee and sign up for that kind of service.

The Cons of a Support Group

A team of individuals is made up of diverse personalities, including self-pitying people who make everything negative and depressing. Add one to any in-person group and no dieter wants to come anymore, or participants start listening to the negativity and feel like giving up. On the other hand, a cheerful person sometimes gives up because she is lax, not sad, and her plan is to persuade everyone to join her pastry party. Either member is capable of sabotage while a discouraged, unhappy woman is vulnerable to their influences.

Support groups women join as part of a weight loss program are not free. When professionals communicate, one might experience an inkling of suspicion: are these people genuine? Could their opinions be biased because they are paid to promote a product? Some weight loss programs focus on branded weight loss aids, but the ones which promote a healthy lifelong attitude to eating are more trustworthy.