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Published on May 02, 2016

Your friends are the real key to losing weight, studies show

Recent research has shown that one of the most important factors in any successful lifestyle behavior change, including weight loss, is social support.

Recent research has shown that one of the most important factors in any successful lifestyle behavior change, including weight loss, is social support.

Aynsley Anderson Sosinski, MA, RN, Community Ed

Aynsley Anderson Sosinski 

MA, RN, Wellness Coach

Being overweight or obese affects more than two-thirds of the American population. With those numbers growing, it is more important than ever to think seriously about working to get and keep your weight within a healthy range.

Being overweight or obese increases the risk for many chronic diseases including cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, joint disorders, sleep apnea and even several cancers. Studies show that losing even just 5 percent to 10 percent of one’s weight can result in positive changes to health including lowered blood pressure, improved cholesterol profile, decreased blood sugar and less joint pain.

For many, losing weight is an overwhelming process that they have tried many times over. The traditional weight loss approach of being lectured about all the reasons to lose weight and then possibly being admonished regularly to just eat less and exercise more usually does not result in significant or long lasting change. Crash diets, restricted or limited food choices, dietary supplements and group weigh-ins are other weight loss strategies that generally do not result in long-term weight loss for most people and may even cause harm.

Recent research has shown that one of the most important factors in any successful lifestyle behavior change, including weight loss, is social support. A study in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that small groups of people engaged in a similar goal — in the case of the study, weight loss — were much more effective at achieving it than those in larger groups or individuals trying on their own. This is thought to be due to the cohesiveness and collaboration that can result from the acceptance and support of a small group.

Studies also show that individuals who are active participants in their weight-loss programs and are invested in developing their own goals and action plans are more likely to follow through and achieve the results they desire. Coaching rather than counseling or lecturing helps individuals find their own motivation and strength to achieve their goals.

For this approach to work, individuals must already have self-knowledge of what needs to change for them. The issue of weight loss is ideal because almost everyone already knows that high-calorie foods and sedentary habits need to be altered in order to lose weight. Coaching can help guide and support the individual as he or she works toward identifying the goals to promote weight loss that are achievable for them.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital is launching a small group weight management program to be called “Why Weight? Weight Management Small Group Instruction and Coaching.” The program will be held for six weeks at the LMH Performance and Wellness Center at Sports Pavilion Lawrence on Mondays, May 9 through June 20, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. There will be no meeting on Memorial Day. There is a fee for this program, and registration can be achieved at or by calling LMH Connect Care at 505-5800.

The group will be facilitated by Registered Nurse and Certified Wellness Coach Aynsley Anderson Sosinski, MA, RN, and Registered and Licensed Dietitian Patty Metzler, MPH, of Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Plans are to have a short instructional component to each session such as how to determine one’s daily calorie needs or the latest brain research on willpower. The majority of each session will be spent on personal goal exploration and action plan development in a positive and supportive group atmosphere. Weekly weigh-ins will be optional.

If a group atmosphere is not your choice, the nurse-wellness coach also sees clients who self-refer for one-on-one weight management consultation as well as other wellness issues. The LMH registered dietitians, too, will see clients for nutrition consultation including weight management. A physician referral is required for a registered dietitian consultation.

If you are just interested in learning some weight management tips and strategies, plan to drop into the LMH Performance and Wellness Center on Friday, May 14, at 9:30 a.m. for the monthly Wellness Friday discussion. No advance registration is needed for this one-time free session.

— Aynsley Anderson Sosinski, MA, RN, is Community Education Coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, a major sponsor of WellCommons. She is a Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach. She can be reached at

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