Using Friends to Get Fit

Denise Lau
April 02, 2016

Years ago when I joined the Weight Watchers program, I really enjoyed the tips, recipes, and weekly weigh-ins. Over a year I lost 40 pounds through the program. The thing I really hated was that I needed the social support the weekly meetings brought to my life and without that, I don’t think I’d lose as much weight. I’m fiercely independent. I don’t know why, but it bothered me to know that I needed the help of others to lose weight. But, there is truly something powerful about being around others with a similar goal. We’re all in it together! I didn’t know it then, but I had to have “accountabilibuddies,” a phrase coined for friends that keep you active and eating well. They help keep you honest so that you don’t skip workouts, or “salad day” at the office, or whatever else you do that is making you feel better and hopefully live longer. 

On a recent trip to visit HMSA’s customer call center in Keaau, Hawaii, I was able to interview a few co-workers who regularly exercise together during their workday. 


First I met Lynn (pictured on the left), who walks every morning to the Keaau HMSA center from her home. Now that her workplace is much closer, she’s able to take advantage and be more active. It takes her only 10 minutes to get to work. Three to four times a week she’s also able to walk with her co-worker Tina for another 40 minutes in the morning before her shift begins. That way she gets almost an hour of exercise in her daily routine. 

She just started her new workout routine about a month ago and has already lost some weight. She said her motivation is to be a good role model to our members. Also, a recent glucose test showed she was close to the prediabetic range. The test results scared her enough to start working on her health, since her mom has had to deal with complications of diabetes. Her husband is a professional baker so it’s a constant challenge to not indulge in the leftovers he has when catering orders. She’s constantly being asked to try new baked goods so it’s perfect that she’s taking advantage of how close her new workplace is to become more active.  


Janette (pictured on the right) enjoys walking with her co-worker Bre on her lunch break. She quickly gets a full workout in and rushes back to change and get back to taking phone calls after a snack at her desk. She likes walking with a friend and buying cute workout clothes, so that she can have the positive pressure to keep each other honest and keep up their walking routine at lunch. 

She has a one-year-old at home so she appreciates the opportunity to stay active at work as it’s hard to find the time once she’s home at night. She’s remained close to co-workers like Bre since they’ve gone through the customer service training together and they find that walking is a nice way to chat and catch up which makes the time fly while exercising. 

They aim to do four laps or about two miles in the neighborhood and they’ll switch it up and sometimes run instead of walk. They also go to Zumba and are lucky to work with a certified trainer. Since becoming more active, they’re also more adventurous and have tried a new exercise class called “Pound Fitness” which incorporates dance and toning exercises with drumming, something fun that helps to tone your core and legs. Janette feels that she has more energy to do chores and feels less drained while watching her kids. That encourages her to keep it up as she wants to feel better as a busy, working mom. She also likes to use the “Lose it” app on her cellphone in order to calculate the calories she consumes and how much she works out in order to “earn” her way to more treats so she never feels deprived while working on her weight loss. 


Lilia (pictured on the left below with her friend Delilah) has lost a total of 50 pounds! Unfortunately, she said she has gained some of that weight back but has managed to keep most of it off by continuing to exercise with a partner at work. They try to walk or run every day during lunch. She really appreciates the support from her co-workers, making it much easier to be active. Her main goal is to be as healthy as possible now that she has grandbabies and wants to keep active enough to play with them and be a “fun grandma.” She’s only 43 years old and looks forward to seeing her grandkids grow up and to be able to keep up with them and actively play with them for as long as she can. She said regular exercise helps to put her in a better mood while taking customer phone calls. She feels refreshed and the afternoon seems to fly by after her workouts. She also had thyroid surgery back in 1991 and knows that having hypothyroidism can make it easy to gain weight, so she realizes now more than ever that physical activity is important to maintain her weight loss. 

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