Starting a plan to trim off the pounds with a girlfriend can be like doubling your willpower. At least, that's what Nancy Trigg discovered after meeting Sara Malphurs at a local gym in Round Rock, TX. "When I first went in, I was scared to death," says Nancy, 40, a registered surgical trauma and oncology nurse and a mother of two. "To see another woman who looked like me, struggling but not giving up, was so inspiring. There aren't words to express how important the girlfriend factor is."
Over the next four years, the women lost a whopping 392 pounds together.
On their own, Nancy and Sara had previously been unsuccessful dieters. Before she met Nancy, Sara weighed 402 pounds, had heart palpitations, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, and was afraid she'd outgrow her size 5X stretch pants — or worse. "I had a nightmare that my 5-year-old daughter was crying at my funeral," she says. "I had to do something." Nancy's 360 pounds caused her back and knee pain and trouble breathing when she walked. "I was training as a nurse and realized no one would trust me if I couldn't take care of myself," Nancy says. "Things had to change."
Their friendship blossomed as the two women battled their weight together. Nancy ended up getting weight-loss surgery because of health concerns, but she believes she couldn't have stuck to her restrictive new regimen without Sara's support. "We look at each other in the gym — or just get a text-message — and know exactly what the other is feeling," says Sara, 42, a stay-at-home mom.
Today, Sara weighs 190 pounds (she's 5' 10"); Nancy, who's 5' 6", is now 180. They both wear a size 12 to 14. And they've discovered a new love for healthy food and fitness. Nancy runs 5K races, while Sara has gotten serious about weight-lifting and bodybuilding.
Plenty of women can attest to the power of dieting with a girlfriend, and there's hard science to support what they've found. In a notable of 109 overweight people, those who teamed up with a pal or relative who was also a committed dieter dropped twice as much weight as those who went solo or whose buddies didn't lose.
"Weight-loss partners help each other stay on track and celebrate small successes they might otherwise shrug off," notes lead researcher Amy Gorin, Ph.D., now an associate professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut's Center for Health, Intervention, and Prevention. "A partner can help you create a bubble of healthy living in a world full of triggers for overeating and being inactive."
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