Unfair but true: One of the biggest weight-loss saboteurs is your social life. How many times have you been proud of your commitment to your healthy goals but then hung out with friends and housed a pizza or drank a day’s worth of calories? It seems like spending quality time with friends is a way to instantly undo your pound-dropping progress, but that doesn’t have to be true! You can actually use your friends as a source of healthy-living motivation. “Your girlfriends have always been your best support system through work hassles, relationship ups and downs, and family drama,” says Brigitte Zeitlin, M.P.H., R.D., nutritionist at B Nutritious. “Who better to help support and motivate you to your weight-loss goals?” You already know your pals should be your gym buddies, but here are some other, more creative ways you can lose weight together:
1. Girls Studio Night Out
Rather than doing your usual drinks and dinner hangout, make a standing date to try a class at the niche workout studios that are emerging everywhere. “You could try indoor cycling, barre, bootcamps, or rowing, just to name a few,” says Zeitlin. “This will help promote weight loss because you’re switching up a your typical work-out routine, therefore challenging your body and muscles. Additionally, you’re ditching the alcohol for a night and a potentially heavier dinner for a class and leaner dinner.” Choose the same weeknight each week for one month, and commit to a specific studio and class time. Afterward, have a healthy dinner packed with veggies and lean protein. At the end of the month, move onto the next studio. “It’s easier to break out of your workout comfort zone with friends, and knowing you wont be the only newbie in class always helps,” says Zeitlin. Don’t have a lot of fitness studio options in your area? Subscribe to Women’s Health Fit Club, and take turns hosting the workouts in your living rooms.
2. Form a Cooking Club
No more wine-soaked book nights! “Pick a featured ingredient or cuisine, and one night each month host a healthy cooking club,” says Zeitlin. “Everyone makes a healthy dish within the theme you have selected and brings the recipe with them to share afterward.” This has all the bennies of cooking at home: You get to source the healthiest possible ingredients and manage your portion control. “At the same time, you don’t have to miss the social aspect of going out with friends,” says Zeitlin.
3. Take a Healthy Cooking Class
“When trying to lose weight, we often fall into a routine of eating the same things over and over again, which can get boring and discouraging,” says Zeitlin. To nix this issue, find a cooking class that specializes in healthy eating. “It will help mix things up and inspire new healthy dishes to add to your repertoire. Plus, you can bring them to your cooking club,” says Zeitlin. “Whether it’s a vegan class, a paleo class, or a sushi-rolling class, it’s something new to broaden your cooking horizons and help you keep things interesting in your kitchen.” Again, if you don’t have access to local classes, online options are your best friend. Grokker.com, for example, offers lots of healthy how-to’s on video.
4. Escape Together
“Plan a girls’ getaway, but skip the typical beach trip where you’re likely laying down in the sun all day, and go for a fitness-focused getaway,” says Zeitlin. There are so many options, from a bike trip, to a yoga retreat, to a spa with classes and hikes. “Traveling, no matter how far you go, is always exciting, rejuvenating and inspiring,” says Zeitlin. “It’s a great way to get adventurous and active together.”
5. Have a Spa Stay-cation
Can’t get away for a full-blown fitness vacation? Not a problem if you try Zeitlin’s spa stay-cation idea. “Take a yoga class in the morning together, then go for a healthy brunch like eggs, hold the mimosas,” says Zeitlin. “After that, go for a spin or aerobic class and hit the steam room or sauna at the end of the day to rest, recover, and congratulate yourselves for making it through.” This is more budget-friendly than getting out of town, but it still feels luxurious.
6. Join a Cause
“There are a lot of great group-runs that raise money for various foundations and charities, there are always fundraising walk-a-thons throughout the year, and my personal favorite, Cycle for Survival with team Spinning to raise money for cancer research,” says Zeitlin. Grab a team of your buddies, and choose a cause that’s close to all your hearts—then hold each other accountable when it comes to actually participating and training. You’ll lose weight while making the world a better place!