The One Secret Trick to Losing Weight You Haven't Tried, Study Says

Shedding pounds has never been easy, but evidence suggests it might work best as a team effort.

On the list of things that are easy to pull off, losing weight might be at the very bottom for most people. While setting up a diet plan and making a commitment to hit the gym always feels good on day one, busy schedules and loss of enthusiasm can take a toll on achieving your goal. But a new study says there's one secret trick to shedding pounds that you probably haven't tried that is proven to show results: losing weight with your spouse.

The proof comes from a study conducted by the European Society of Cardiology, which assessed 411 heart attack survivors attempting to make some lifestyle improvements in areas such as quitting smoking, increasing exercise, and losing weight. The data showed that participants who pledged to make changes with their spouse saw a much greater success rate—they were more than twice as likely to improve in at least one of the areas. But results also showed that of the three categories, being a part of a pair made weight loss much more successful.

"Patients with partners who joined the weight loss program lost more weight compared to patients with a partner who did not join the program," study author Lotte Verweij, a registered nurse and PhD student at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, said in a statement.

couple running in fall

Verweij also pointed out that underlying factors may be the secret to this tactic being so effective. "Couples often have comparable lifestyles and changing habits is difficult when only one person is making the effort," she said. "Practical issues come into play, such as grocery shopping, but also psychological challenges, where a supportive partner may help maintain motivation."

Getting in shape with your spouse tends to work better than going it alone because of increased accountability, immediate support, and shared workloads on things like meal prep. But setting expectations ahead of time can also help avoid any unnecessary stress between the two of you.

"Don't expect the people in your life to be mind readers," Patrick O'Neil, PhD, director of the Medical University of South Carolina Weight Management Center, told My Fitness Pal. "Let [your spouse] know that you wish them to be helpful and how you'd like them to support and help you."

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Still looking for ways to lose weight as a couple? The experts at Shape suggest things like setting up a meal calendar at the beginning of each week, getting outdoors, romantically splitting a single dessert, or taking a dance class together to get started. And for more on how to take care of yourself in the long run, avoid these 45 Unhealthy Weight Loss Tips Experts Say to Avoid at All Costs.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more