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Do Co-Workers Hurt or Help Your Weight Loss?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I’m lucky to work in an office where the environment is generally healthy.  We have a kitchen stocked with healthy foods, and it’s very typical to see people using our gym equipment or a workout video at lunchtime.   Occasionally someone will bring in an extra box of Girl Scout cookies or leftover cupcakes from their kid’s birthday party.  Fortunately that’s the exception and not the norm, because those treats are always tempting when I see them innocently calling my name on the kitchen counter. 
Many (if not most) office environments aren’t quite like mine.  If candy jars and donuts for the morning meeting are common, you might find it more difficult to stick to your healthy eating plan.  It’s even more difficult if you are singled out by co-workers for your newly adopted eating habits.  Some might encourage you to “Take just a handful of M&M’s.  A few aren’t going to hurt you.”  Others might encourage you to skip your lunchtime workout to have lunch out with the group.  A few extra treats or skipped workouts can eventually hinder your progress and get you off track from reaching your goals.  So what do you do?  Do you seem ungrateful for the treat or lunch invitation by declining?  Or do you accept knowing the consequences could be negative? 
According to a survey by Survey Sampling International, “29% of people on diets say colleagues pressure them to eat more, make fun of their diets or order them restaurant food they know isn't on their diets.”  Why do you think co-workers might not be supportive?  There could be a number of reasons.  Perhaps they are slightly jealous because you are making changes to your life that they should be trying to implement themselves.  Maybe they miss the camaraderie of sharing lunch together.   
Although you can’t force people to change their attitudes and be more supportive, perhaps you can make changes in the workplace that encourage healthy behaviors.  Start a walking group at lunchtime, or organize a healthy potluck or friendly weight-loss competition.  A recent study published in the journal Obesity looked at 3,330 participants in a team-based weight-loss competition, including many teams of co-workers.  “Those who reported having positive influence from teammates lost a larger percentage of their body weight than others.”
Looking for more information on this topic?  Check out Advantages of Workplace Wellness Programs to get ideas for how to get your office moving in a healthier direction.
What do you think?  Do your co-workers help or hurt your weight loss efforts?  How so?