8 Tips for Choosing a Fitness Buddy

A partner can boost your weight-loss success
8 Tips for Choosing a Fitness Buddy

You know the old saying, "Two heads are better than one?" Well, that holds true for weight loss, too. Working with a partner to eat right, exercise and solve problems can boost your chances of weight-loss success.

"Having a partner can be incredibly beneficial," says psychologist Joshua Klapow, PhD, associate professor of psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

In order to benefit from having a weight-loss buddy, however, you need to pick the right person. Partnerships work best, Klapow says, when the following hold true:

You have similar behaviour goals
Your buddy system will work best if your goal — to exercise four times a week and eat on plan, for example — matches your potential partner's goals.

You have a similar commitment to eating right and exercising
If you are very serious about losing weight and your partner is wishy-washy, the partnership won't work.

Your schedules mesh
You can't jog together easily if your partner works days and you work nights.

You agree to reinforce positive behaviour and offer each other lots of praise.
"If a new behaviour is not reinforced, it won't stick," Klapow says.

Jealousy won't be an issue
Good buddies are supportive even during weeks when one loses weight and the other gains.

You exercise at similar intensities
An effective partner not only shares your activity, but also does it at the same intensity as you. If you walk fast and your buddy dawdles, someone will have to change speeds.

You see each other in person
Pairing up with a buddy online or over the phone can be helpful, but Klapow says that face-to-face partnerships are more successful.

You do more than just form a buddy system
Losing weight with a friend is just one of the strategies that leads to weight-loss success. You'll multiply your chance of succeeding by following other proven strategies as well, such as writing down what you eat and charting your physical activity.

If you can't find the perfect buddy in your circle of friends and acquaintances, look in your community. Post a buddy-wanted note at work, church, social organizations or the local parks and recreations department. Or consider approaching someone you see at Weight Watchers meetings or someone you know from the Message Boards who lives in your area (be sure to take safety precautions when meeting a stranger). "You'd be surprised at how many people who are doing this alone would be happier doing it with a partner," Klapow says. "Someone has to take the initiative."

You'll both be on the road to weight loss in no time.