If you’re trying to lose weight, chances are you’ve heard about the power of accountability. Whether you’re showing up for your partner, friends or a personal trainer, it helps to have someone to report to (especially if you’re low on motivation). However, new research shows who you choose to share your goals with matters.
According to a recent study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, the key to reaching your weight-loss goals might be confiding in someone you admire. Sharing your goals keeps you accountable for attaining them, but only if you value your audience’s opinion of you, explains Howard J. Klein, PhD, lead author of the study. “Anyone who is seen as having more prestige, experience, expertise or success could fit the bill. The key is that you care about their evaluation of you,” he says.
Having a dedicated mentor or guide gives you more of an incentive to rise to the occasion, push yourself harder and stay committed. Even more, support and advice from a person who’s been there before can help you tackle difficult challenges and setbacks that are sure to come with your weight-loss journey, adds Katrina Pilkington, a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) certified personal trainer and certified nutrition coach.
One caveat: In the best-case scenario, anxiety over impressing this person or not letting them down drives you forward, says Klein. But if you’re feeling so stressed that you’re overeating or avoiding your workouts altogether, it’s a sign you should find someone else to share your aspirations with.
To recharge your weight-loss motivation and take advantage of this research-backed tool, try employing these smart strategies:
EAT IN HEALTHY COMPANY
To support your weight loss, tell your health-conscious friends about your goals and take a cue from their healthy habits, says Rebekah Miller, certified personal trainer. For example, next time you go out to eat, invite them along and ask what they’re ordering. One University of Illinois study finds we tend to order similarly to those around us, and we feel better about healthier choices when they’re shared with others (even if you’re opting for a side salad instead of your go-to fries).
SEEK EXPERT ADVICE
An option for those surrounded by not-so-healthy friends is to consider asking for guidance from a certified nutrition coach or registered dietitian. “Regular check-ins with health pros can help keep you on track,” says Pilkington.
WORKOUT WITH A FRIEND
“A workout partner can help block out negative self-talk and give you the support you need to persevere through a difficult sweat session,” says Miller. Pro tip: Bring someone who’s a bit more in-shape than you are, as you’re more likely to push harder thanks to a boost in motivation, finds a study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
TRY GROUP FITNESS CLASSES
If personal training is not in your budget, try signing up for a group fitness class. This way, “you’ll reap the benefits of camaraderie and coaching alike with a quality workout automatically built into your day,” says Miller.
TRACK YOUR PROGRESS WITH AN APP
“Use an app like MyFitnessPal to log your nutrition and exercise and set reminders for check-ins with your coach or workout buddies,” says Pilkington. Push each other to level up your step count and shed pounds with in-app challenges, guided workouts and coaching plans.