It’s great to have a weight-care buddy—someone who’s on the same journey as you, who cheers you on and gets that sometimes you just really want the extra piece of cake or plate of wings. (Heart that support system!) What may not feel great is if your friend keeps making progress when you seem to be stuck—especially if you’re similar in terms of age, weight, gender, and lifestyle habits.
We get it. It’s easy—and totally normal—to compare yourself to others' successes. Try not to get discouraged. There are reasons why your experiences might be different:
If one or both of your parents struggle with weight, there is a likelihood that you could too. Research suggests that genetics account for 40-70% of obesity. In fact, since 2006, more than 50 genes associated with obesity have been identified. One of them—found in 43% of the population—is known as the fat mass and obesity-associated gene, or “FTO.” The FTO gene is associated with higher hunger, consumption of high-fat foods and refined starches, feelings of depression, and even the chance of coping with stress through food. However, lifestyle factors and environment also play a role in overweight and obesity.
You’ve heard it all too often: A slow metabolism burns fewer calories, and a fast one burns more. But there’s more to it than that. The amount of energy someone burns can vary daily. For example, if you're fidgety or have a longer chore list, you’ll use more energy, which affects the number of calories you burn. Your metabolism is also impacted by gender, age, diet, physical activity, and health status.
This brings us to how you use energy. Say you and your weight care buddy planned the same movement routine for each day of the week. Surprisingly, not everyone’s body responds the same way to physical activity. For various reasons, your friend may burn more fat during exercise, while you could burn more carbohydrates. Both are sources of energy but can result in two different outcomes.
You might have a different set point weight than your buddy. Here’s the deal: Some evidence suggests that the body has a favorite weight, and it doesn't like deviating too much from that number. Your set point weight may depend on genetics, age, environmental influences, and hormonal changes over your lifetime. And again, it can look different for everyone.
Good old hunger hormones—namely ghrelin and leptin could come into play here. Leptin is responsible for telling your brain your body’s full. Ghrelin, on the other hand, signals when it’s time to eat. When you lose weight, your fat cells (which produce leptin) shrink, so you won’t feel as satisfied after a meal. At the same time, appetite can surge due to increased ghrelin. This means your hormones can shift or be in a different state of balance (or imbalance) than someone else.
You know how your body creates antibodies to fight off invaders the second time around when you get sick? Observational studies suggest that your body might react similarly to weight loss. (Though the research is still inconclusive.) A strict diet may be seen as starvation—and your body will respond by altering levels of those hunger hormones we just talked about. This gets interesting: Leptin and ghrelin don’t always return to baseline levels, even a year after weight loss. (Get where we’re going?) So a history of dieting can cause your hormones and metabolism to “protect” your body by affecting appetite and satiety.
Body composition means the percentage of your total body weight made up of fat, muscle, and bone. Muscle burns many more calories than fat, so having more muscle could lead to a higher metabolism. (It won’t go from a low flame to a raging fire, but you can spark it a little.) That’s why someone can be the same height and weight as you but have entirely different weight care journey outcomes. And remember, even if you are not seeing progress on the scale, your body composition may be improving (hello, NSVs!).
Raise your hand if you’re under stress. Whether it’s a stressful job, a lack of sleep, or other factors causing increased stress, long-term elevated cortisol levels (the stress hormone) are linked to weight gain. Cortisol leads to fat storage in the belly and increases your appetite for high-fat or high-sugar comfort foods (biology can be a blessing and a curse, are we right?). How you respond to stress matters, too—whether you flee to the pantry or practice some Namaste.
No two paths are the same. Now that you know the science behind why each person’s weight care journey is unique, here’s how you can make the most of having a buddy:
Hold each other accountable for the health goals you have set.
Motivate each other to keep going when it gets tough.
Help each other commit to movement, meal planning, and other healthy habits by scheduling activities together.
Support each other’s successes!
Remember each of us respond to lifestyle changes differently. Lean on the benefits of having support and accountability. Embrace your bio-individuality and let go of comparison.
Found is among the largest medically-supported weight care clinics in the country, serving nearly 200,000 members to date. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.