Exercising alone can be difficult when you don’t feel like you have the energy, time or motivation to get to the gym. You’re either too tired to get up in the morning or too exhausted at night to do anything other than moving from the kitchen table to the living room couch. Plus, it’s easy to talk yourself out of a gym sesh or kickboxing class when no one is holding you accountable. That’s where a friend comes to the rescue.
Research shows that friends or couples who work out together have a lower rate of dropping out of an exercise program, make each other work harder in class and hold each other accountable to keep going for their goal weeks later. These four couples proved just that by making a change in their own exercise and diet routines. While they were only hoping to lose weight, they discovered working toward the same goal together also brought them closer as a couple. Cue the “awws!”
‘We now know how to prepare and track healthy meals’
My husband and I gained a lot of weight after getting married 13 years ago. When we saw pictures of ourselves from New Year’s Eve 2015, we knew it was time to make a change to our diet and fitness levels, so we gave Lose It! a shot in January 2016. Before we used to eat the majority of our meals at restaurants or picked up fast food. I didn’t really know how to cook much of anything, so this new routine encouraged me to learn how to prepare easy meals from recipes I found online. We log all of our meals now and share recipes, which helps with meal planning.
We like to start the day with a waffle topped with honey, peanut butter, sliced banana and strawberry, which is only 300 calories. Since we work at the same office and don’t have a lot time for lunch, we eat low-calorie frozen meals and have pretzels, yogurt or fruit for snacks. Dinner is generally home-cooked chicken or pork with veggies.
James started cycling again in March, and now generally rides 20-40 miles three times a week. He used to have back pain and acid reflux before we started, but now those issues are gone. We both joined a gym, and I try to get there three to five days a week. I put in a lot of time on the elliptical, and we both enjoy yoga classes, which has helped improve our flexibility and stress relief.
Buying new clothes in smaller sizes has been a huge non-scale victory for both of us, and seeing the shocked reactions of people we haven’t seen in a while is motivating. We have to remember that losing weight is a marathon, not a sprint. It will take time, so be patient. In the past year, I’ve lost 66 pounds, and James has lost 40 pounds. I still have 50 pounds to go, but I know I’ll make it. Sometimes it seems like the scale is not moving, but keep it up and it will!
– Cynthia and James S., Dallas, Texas
‘Working out has given us more time together’
We decided to start our fitness journey because we wanted to make sure we would be around for our children. As a couple, it feels like we get time together while working out. To start, we completely overhauled our diet and made an entire lifestyle change. We now eat low carbohydrates, lots of vegetable and no fried foods or sugar. We also started exercising six days a week at Life Time, including triathlon and strength training. We really fell in love with fitness but had to find something that didn’t feel like just a workout. Running on a treadmill is horrible, but riding a bike for hours is fun!
Besides moral and spiritual support, we used each other for motivation when one of us wasn’t feeling it. Sticking to the same food plan also made it easier because we weren’t both trying to eat different things. This change in diet and exercise made our relationship stronger. We went through a huge transformation and are now doing other activities together. We have increased self-esteem, and because of it get out more by going to football games and other fun events.
– Mike and Jennifer M., Kansas City, Mo.
‘We lost weight while having the time of our lives’
George and I have both always loved dancing, and our love of the art was one of the common interests that helped solidify our relationship. However, we stopped dancing as young adults and didn’t think we could still do it at our ages (George is 55 years old, and I’m 49). But in late spring of 2014, we were both at a crossroads. I was struggling to get my blood sugar under control, and George was stalled in a weight loss program. We needed something to jump start our health goals. My endocrinologist suggested joining a gym, jogging or swimming—all of which I rejected. I’ve had too many gym memberships go unused in my life. Then, he suggested dancing, and a light bulb went off in my head. I love dancing, but I seriously thought I was too old and too out of shape to ever get on the dance floor again. A couple of months later, my partner and I attended a performance at the Ailey Citi Group Theater, where I found an ad for Sunday morning Zumba. A few weeks later, I bravely decided to try it alone. It was my first time back in a dance studio in over 25 years, and I absolutely loved it. George joined me the next week, and we haven’t stopped two-and-a-half years later and even added other classes to our weekly schedule including hip hop, house and danzatone. It’s been great for both our weight loss (160 pounds combined!) and my glucose control.
We’re both working professionals by day, so we had to adjust our meal schedule to accommodate our dancing at night. We go to class three nights a week, plus Saturday and Sunday, so we eat bigger meals early in the day and light meals or snacks after dancing. We also eat more fruits and vegetables than we ever did before and try to limit our fried foods and red meats. I also decided to eliminate fast food from my diet and haven’t had any in over a year.
Since we both loved dancing so much already, it didn’t take much motivation to get us to class. We get so much pleasure from being in the studio, learning from great teachers, dancing to music we love and being with our friends that it doesn’t feel like exercising. I really think that’s the key to sticking with an exercise program—find something you truly love to do. For us, dancing feeds the body, mind and soul. It’s creative and artistic but also provides a thorough workout for the body. Our muscles are stronger and more toned, we have more stamina, and we lost weight all while having the time of our lives. We couldn’t ask for anything more.
Plus, dancing has definitely deepened our bond. We sweat together and get healthier together while engaging in our shared passion for dance. We hope the lasting health benefits will enable us to live longer, healthier lives so that we can share even more years together!
– Joseph L. and George J., New York, N.Y.
‘We made getting healthy into a fun competition’
My girlfriend and I created a system to hold ourselves accountable (and make getting fit fun!). We realized competition was the key, so we created three goals to improve our fitness: drink eight glasses of water daily, go to the gym or exercise 30 minutes every day and lose weight. In order to complete each of these goals, I came up with different competitions. For water, we kept a shared spreadsheet where we marked our H2O intake. If one of us didn’t hit 64 ounces, we had to pay the other a dollar. The same would happen if one of us didn’t go to the gym. We also kept a chart in the bathroom by the scale, and the person who lost the most weight after 30 days got $10 from the loser. This made staying healthy fun and competitive and allowed us to encourage each other without anyone getting insulted. We’ve even had a couple friends who started copying us! We’ve collectively lost over 15 pounds together over the past three months and feel so much better from staying hydrated and active.
– Judah R. and Jenny A., Austin, Texas