The benefit of a group support meeting is the strength each individual finds by everybody working together to overcome a common problem.
Young, old, black, white, male, female, employed, unemployed, etc., etc., etc. weight struggles aren’t just the problem of some small subset of the population. No matter how different people are in every other aspect of their lives, when it comes to the struggles of managing food and weight, they all become the same.
Ugh! Who wants to join a group?
- Time. “I don’t have time to go to a meeting.”
- People. “I don’t know the people in the meeting. I don’t know if they have anything in common or to offer me.”
- Boring. “I don’t want to hear a bunch of people making excuses because they can’t lose weight.
- Ineffective. “It’s not going to work for me. I don’t need anybody’s help.”
The biggest reason we don’t want to experience the power of a group may be because we don’t like to admit we aren’t capable of finding our own solution.
I understand every one of those objections. I had them all before I joined Weight Watchers meetings.
The idea of a group support meeting with a bunch of people I neither know nor respect sounded like a monumental waste of time. If I was going to look beyond myself for help losing weight, I thought that one-on-one counseling with a certified healthcare professional would be better than any kind of group support meeting.
I was wrong.
Becoming part of the group isn’t easy if you aren’t comfortable about doing those sorts of things. I was not comfortable.
Thank goodness the chairs aren’t in a circle, but rather rows that make it easier to feel unnoticed. I was pleased not to get paraded around and introduced to everybody. I just slipped into a seat in the back. The leader never pointed to me and outed me as a new member, or – yuck – made me stand up to introduce myself to the group.
Don’t make my mistake of sitting in the back. It’s the worst place to hide, especially when the spirit moves you to speak up (and you may surprised that it does.) The leader might throw out a question that really connects with you and next thing you know you have something to say.
If you’re in the back, you have to speak up loudly (embarrassing) and everybody will turn around to look (it feels more like a stare) at you.
If you want to anonymity the best seat in the house for that is right in the front row! Yes, that’s right. Sit in the front row because leaders rarely let their gaze fall on the people in the front row. They focus somewhere in the middle. If you want to get involved in the discussion you can speak in your normal conversational tones the leader. When you’re in the front all the eyes are behind you where you don’t have to see them.
Even if you have no intention of ever participating in the conversation. Maybe you just want to listen, the front is still a good place. You can hear what’s going on better because you’re near the leader. Sometimes there are obnoxious people in the group who are having private, off topic conversations. They sit in the back and annoy everybody who’s sitting nearby.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you are reading this and you’re still not convinced that group support can make the difference for you so that you can get to goal and learn how to stay there. You may still not want to submit yourself to all that’s involved with learning new weight management strategies and reinforcing them in the environment of group support. You may think, “I didn’t need any help gaining this weight and I don’t need any help to lose it.”
The facts are indisputable. A 2003 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found people who regularly attended Weight Watchers meetings lost three times more weight than people who took a self-help approach*.
“A two-year comparative clinical study of dieting methods published in the April 9 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that dieters succeeded in losing more weight and maintained more of their weight loss by following the nation’s largest provider of commercial weight-loss services, Weight Watchers, than those who attempted to lose weight on their own, the approach used by the vast majority of dieters.”
If you are curious to check out a meeting for yourself, for free with absolutely no pressure or obligation to join please accept my invitation to visit the convenient Maine meeting of your choice.
It is possible to by anonymous in a group support meeting, but get all the benefits.
* Self-Help Approach includes online weight loss programs and apps and diet books.