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The Buddy System – 5 Ground Rules

H3 Treading Buddies

 We all know that the toughest part of exercise is actually showing up.  The accountability and support that an exercise buddy is able to provide almost ensures success.  Even the world’s most elite athletes have a buddy, or as Lance likes to call them a “training partner.” In fact, “in a recent study of married couples who joined health clubs together, Jack Raglin, an associate professor of kinesiology at Indiana University, found that couples who worked out separately had a 50 percent dropout rate after a year; whereas couples who went to the gym together, regardless of whether they focused on the same type of exercise, had only a 10 percent dropout rate.”  In a separate study of partner co-operativeness researchers found that partners who attended obesity treatment meetings together lost 30 more pounds over an eight month period than partners that did not attend together.

So, you and your buddy will probably want to help each other in any way you can.  This is natural.  What you may not realize is that your best intentions to be supportive may actually be harmful. 

Try not to be a “friendly enemy” by adhering to the following Ground Rules (feel free to share with your buddy):

 1.     Don’t Advise or Lecture

Lectures, advice and even constructive criticism, although well-meaning, can be damaging.  Avoid comments such as, “You should be exercising more.” You both likely know what you have to do.  If you are concerned about the other person’s eating or exercise plan, just ask, but don’t debate or advise.

2.     Don’t Be a Dietary Supervisor

The worst thing you can do is to help too much.  Dietary supervisors or food police get into the habit of reminding, advising and oversimplifying the problem.  They say, “Don’t forget your exercise today.” Or “Don’t eat anything you’re not supposed to today.”  These remarks only want to make the other person want to exercise less and eat more.  You may not completely understand this reaction, but it does occur and it can be a major obstacle.

3.     Don’t Provide Excuses

Just as you should avoid controlling your partners actions, neither should you make unhealthy choices easier.  Never provide excuses such as, “You’re under a lot of stress today.  Maybe you should forget your diet.” Or “You look tired.  Why don’t you skip your exercise today?”

4.     Don’t Be Negative

You must keep a positive and encouraging attitude.  Forget about past failures.  Even if you have doubts about the other person’s resolve or motivation, keep them to yourself.

5.     Don’t Ask About Weight Loss

The rate of weight loss per week varies greatly from person to person.  In the beginning of a diet, weight loss may actually be more related to metabolism, water retention or loss, and eating patterns just prior to the diet rather than effort.  Even over the long-run weight loss is never steady and consistent.  Plateaus are part of every weight loss effort.  Please don’t ask, “How many pounds have you lost this week?”  The focus of attention must be on habits and attitudes.  Weight loss is a by-product of changes in these factors.

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