Friday, January 30, 2015

Get a Valentine to Make You More Successful with Your New Years’ Resolution!

I am always thrilled when I have clients that encourage their spouse to see me too. The reason is because I know that they have a stronger likelihood of being successful with their goals by changing their food and exercise habits. I see it time and time again; the couples that I work with tend to reach their goals much easier than those that are going in alone without their partner. Typically, it is easier for them because they are on the same page as far as what they have learned is healthy. For example, if the husband is doing Paleo, the wife will have trouble abiding by my recommendations and making a meal with farro, vegetables, beans, and fish because her husband’s diet forbids grains and beans. Similarly, if your spouse wants meat and potatoes for dinner every night, that will make it more of a challenge to stick to my recommendations and make a more well-balanced meal. On the other hand, if you both are on the same page with their diet, then you can make and enjoy meals together. Furthermore, you keep each other in-check with regards to portion size, food choices, and meal balance. 

Additionally, becoming more physically active becomes easier when both parts of the couple are meeting with me and on the same page. I have had many couples take up an after-dinner walk to help reduce blood sugar after the meal per my recommendations. Many couples also start taking long bike rides together (when it’s nice out), which is a great way to spend time together while exercising. However, I do have some other clients that report their significant other just wants to lay on the couch and cuddle after dinner, so that makes it harder for my client to have the motivation to go out and exercise at that time.

In an ongoing cohort study in the UK, a study analyzing more than 3,000 married couples (most ages 50+) found results that support my experience with clients. In this study, published in the January 19th online issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, the researchers found that men and women who were looking to adopt new healthy habits had much higher rates of success if their partner also enlisted in those changes. With regards to weight loss, men and women who had a healthy weight partner were not more likely to shed pounds, but those who had a spouse that was also trying to lose were much more successful. In fact, about 25% of men and about 33% of women lost weight when their spouse was losing weight too, compared to 10% and 15% respectively for men and women whose spouses did not lose weight. With regards to physical activity, 67% of men and 66% of women became more physically active when their spouses became active too compared to 26% and 24% respectively when the spouse did not.

The main message of the study mentioned and my experience with my clients is that most people are more likely to be successful if they have a partner to make goals and changes with. If you aren’t married and don’t have a significant other, don’t fret! You too can be successful by finding a friend or even a colleague at work, the gym, or on the internet that can keep you motivated and on track! But since it’s almost Valentine’s Day… might not be a bad idea to head to the gym and try to pick up someone with similar goals as yourself so you can conquer them together. An added bonus is you can then have a Valentine too! ;-)

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