Research shows that, when you’re trying to lose weight, social support can be very helpful in shedding pounds and keeping them off. That social support—via a diet club, in this case—is what helped three women featured in EatingWell Magazine each lose 20 pounds and keep it off. (Read their story here.) So instead of trying to lose weight all on your own, consider starting your own diet club! You’ll connect with like-minded friends and weight-loss partners, cook healthy meals for each other, exercise—and lose weight together. Here are a few tips for how to start your own diet club.
—Breana Lai, M.P.H., R.D.
Build Your Team: Ask like-minded people who have a similar goal and will commit to cooking and exercising at least 3 times per week. Find potential people by hanging a sign at your gym or church, asking friends and/or family or even posting a request on Facebook.
Play Up Strengths: Identify what everyone likes to do and share the responsibilities accordingly. If one person likes to organize, have her or him be the secretary who emails the calendar created during the meetings. If someone enjoys hunting for new recipes, let that person bring extra recipe ideas to the planning meeting.
Set Goals & Timeline: Outline your goals from the outset to help keep everyone on track and motivated. Your goals should be measurable and reasonable, such as losing 1 pound a week for 2 months.
Do the Math: To lose 1 pound a week, use this equation:
[Your weight x 12] - 500 = Your daily calorie goal
To lose up to 2 pounds a week, subtract 1,000 instead of 500. Don’t go below 1,200 calories.
Choose a Planning Day: Find about an hour, every other week, that works well for everyone to meet. Virtual meetings, via Skype or Google+ Hangouts, work too.
Design Your Menu: Everyone should bring about 10 recipes they want to make to the meeting. Keep food allergies and food preferences in mind. At the meeting, pair entrees with sides to round out each meal and record your menu choices in a biweekly calendar.
Organize Drop-Offs: Designate when, where and how food will be delivered and where food can be left if no one is home.
Schedule Exercise: Choose times, locations and types of exercise, taking into consideration different abilities and fitness levels. Vary what you do to keep things interesting. Have a Plan B for inclement weather.
Check In: Are you making progress with your goals? Plan to check in at regular intervals and help each other stay committed to exercise and healthy eating.
Evaluate & Adjust: Is everyone content with the schedule? Are there changes that need to be made? Be sure to communicate with each other at least once a week to keep it fun and inspiring for all.
Related: Celebrate Your Weight-Loss Success
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