News Center

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Weight loss journey works best with traveling companion: St. Francis counselor

INDIANAPOLIS – When it comes to weight loss, the proverbial Battle of the Bulge is won one decision at a time. And many times, it’s a family member or friend who can help or harm a person’s progress.

“People who have a lot of success in losing weight say they have partners who will make changes with them,” said Melissa Atlas, a counselor who runs an emotional eating support group at the St. Francis Weight Loss Center. “It can make or break motivation.”

Atlas suggests these four ways to support a loved one through his or her weight-loss journey:

Ask questions. Atlas recommends that partners ask what kinds of support the person making changes needs. That support may go beyond the dinner table.

“A big issue is time,” Atlas said. “We need to work on delegating. Older children can be responsible for planning one well-balanced meal a week. When you go to the gym, your spouse or the kids can load the dishwasher.”

Make a food plan. “The primary gatekeeper for food in the home needs to be on board,” Atlas said. “You need to make sure the rest of the family will be adventurous with new foods.”

Make changes that benefit you both. When Linda Witte Henke of Indianapolis started her weight-loss program, she and her husband, Philip, made lifestyle changes as a couple. The television was off during dinner, evening snacks were revamped, trigger foods were avoided, and comfort routines (such as big breakfasts or a lunch out during weekend errands) were cut back.

"The changes were mutually beneficial,” said Witte Henke, who lost a total of 60 pounds. “If you care about an individual, you want to invest in what’s good for them.”

Make fitness a family affair. “What’s really critical is the concept of play,” Atlas said. “Exercise doesn’t have to be 45 minutes in the gym away from the family. Playing tag for half an hour as a family accomplishes the exercise goal and gives quality time as a family. For a lot of families, bicycling or using Wii Fit can be good options too.”

To learn more about the services and programs at the St. Francis Weight Loss Center, go to