Buddy Up

What would you call people who can: help keep your weight off; boost your confidence; finally make fitness fun? You might call them “miracle workers.” We call them Goal Buddies.

Most people make the mistake of doing it alone. Sometimes, it’s just too tough to stay consistent by yourself. But a goal buddy won’t let you quit. Goal buddies are two or more people who commit to helping each other reach consistent goals with friendly encouragement and regular contact. A good goal buddy relationship gets results for three reasons: accountability, motivation and consistency. By mixing these three ingredients, you can create a rewarding, effective relationship that’s lively and a little lighter.

A study of young mothers suggests that support can make a huge difference in exercise consistency. Of women who were part of a weekly discussion group, 60% reached their workout target of 2.5 hours per week for 8 weeks – long enough to make exercise a habit. Or another statistic for you, married couples are seven times more likely to stick with an exercise program if they do it together instead of alone.

With that being said, here are some ideas for how you and a goal buddy can coach each other through those hazardous temptations.

Finding a diet goal buddy is not hard; finding the right one may be a little tougher. Knowing what kind of diet partner is a good fit for you will prevent you from falling off the wagon before you even start.

Partner with someone who has diet goals similar to yours. Just because you get along well with a woman in your book club doesn't mean she'll help you stay away from the dessert table.

It helps if his/her schedule already works with yours, so you don't start off with a built-in excuse to break your consistency.

Make sure the person you're considering is just as committed and eager as you are. A twisted arm is not going to stick around long.

Look for someone who will be upbeat - even if you get discouraged - and can hold you accountable without passing judgment. You want a stress reliever, not a stress producer. Nothing kills consistency like negative energy.

Community centers and gyms are gold mines for dieting, hiking, biking, running, walking and sports clubs. Sporting goods stores often host programs as well. Check the calendar and announcements section of the local paper. Online, look for community forums.

Most of all, just ask around. Your buddy could be hiding in a most unexpected place. It could be your dentist, your cousin, your mechanic's hairdresser. Who knows? Think of it as fitness networking and don't be afraid to ask someone to “buddy up.”

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