Weight loss is a journey. It often starts out easy, because early results are encouraging, and a new eating and exercise plan is stimulating and different. But when you have a lot of weight to lose, that journey can turn into an up-and-down ride where the gains – even small ones – seem to overshadow the losses and sabotage your best efforts. And that holds true regardless of whether you’ve had bariatric surgery or are losing weight through diet and exercise.
How to combat the emotional roller coaster? With people who support your efforts. This might mean a personal trainer, a nutritionist, a spouse who embraces your grocery-shopping needs, or a friend who watches your children while you go to the gym. But it can also include people who are on the same journey you are, a support group that not only helps you lose weight, but also to change longtime habits and embrace a life that is healthier.
Finding weight-loss support in the Los Angeles area
Having a support system in place can have a significant impact on your weight-loss efforts. In fact, research has shown that social support is one of the factors that separates those who lose weight and maintain the loss from those who regain it.
Support groups have different missions for their specific member. Some are connected with hospitals or bariatric programs but are open to the public. Others are meet-ups where like-minded people can find one another and share their experiences. We are all different; find a group that fits your personality.
Here’s a list of weight loss support programs in the greater Los Angeles area:
1. Binge-Eating Disorder Program
- When and where it meets:
Binge Eating Disorder Program meets on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 5199 E Pacific Coast Hwy Suite #330n, Long Beach.
- Focus: Dealing with body hatred and yo-yo dieting, and finding other solutions to stress besides food. Moderated by psychologist Corrine J. Zavala.
- Membership/fees: Call to inquire.
- Information: (424) 373-5228
2. Cedars-Sinai Weight Loss Support Groups
- When and where it meets: Cedars-Sinai’s weight loss program has two support groups. Pre-surgery group meets every eight weeks on Thursdays; post-surgery group meets every month on Tuesdays. West Medical Office Tower, 8635 W. Third St., Suite 665W, Los Angeles
- Focus: “Prepping for Change” is for those contemplating surgery. “On the Right Track” is for those who have had surgery.
- Membership/fees: Free
- Information: 310-423-8350
3. Compulsive Eaters Anonymous – H.O.W. Los Angeles
- When and where it meets: Compulsive Eaters Anonymous offers multiple meeting times and places around the Los angeles area. Click here for the list.
- Focus: “H.O.W.” stands for honesty, openness and willingness. CEA is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, where members stay anonymous, attend meetings, share openly and work a 12-step program for recovery from compulsive eating.
- Membership/fees: Free
lahow.org or 323-660-4333.
4. Loma Linda University Bariatric Support Group
- When and where it meets: Loma Linda University Bariatric Support Group meets on the second Monday evening of each month at Loma Linda University East Campus, Tom & Vi Zapara Rehabilitation Pavilion.
- Focus: Learning about bariatric surgery, before and after; members can talk about both medical and emotional issues. Open to Loma Linda patients pre-surgery and ALL patients post-surgery.
- Membership/fees: Free
lluh.org or 909-651-7091
5. Meetups: Weight Loss in Los Angeles
- When and where it meets: Are you familiar with Meetups? They are groups of people who find each other on Meetup.com to seek out others who have the same interests or goals, such as lifestyle, parenting or travel. This link takes you to meetups that are weight-loss oriented in the Los Angeles area.
- Focus: Name it! A few of the current LA-area meetups are yoga enthusiasts, weight-loss support pals, weight loss challenges, wellness groups, walking groups, binge-eating, heart health, emotional eating and Whole30.
- Membership/fees: Generally free
- Information: Go here and click on a meetup that interests you. It will take you to a page for that group that includes the specific focus of that group and when it meets, and has a button if you want to join. If you don’t see a group exactly like you want, back up to the home page and create a narrower search.
6. Men’s Compulsive Eating
- When and where it meets: Men’s Compulsive Eating meets on Thursday evenings at 12011 San Vicente Bl, #305
- Focus: A group for men to deal with the behaviors of compulsive eating. Moderated by psychologist Jack Nelson Soll. Must contact first.
- Membership/fees: $60 per session
- Information: (310) 910-9253
7. Mindful Eating
- When and where it meets: Mindful Eating meets on Tuesday evenings at 2683 State Street, Carlsbad, California.
- Focus: Behavioral strategies that allow you to change your feelings and habits surrounding food. Moderated by psychologist and author Angela Klein.
- Membership/fees: $100 per session
- Information: (573) 202-6601
8. Overeaters Anonymous
- When and where it meets: There are multiple meeting times and places for Overeaters Anonymous. Find a Los Angeles-area meeting here, or put in your location and it will search for you. There also are online meetings.
- Focus: Modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, OA is a group where members attend meetings, tell about their experiences, and work a 12-step program to overcome their compulsive eating habits.
- Membership/fees: Free. No registration required.
9. UCLA Bariatric Surgery Support Group
- When and where it meets: UCLA Bariatric Surgery Support Group meets on Wednesdays and Saturdays at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, 757 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles.
- Focus: Different groups focus on new patients, pre-operative education and post-operative support. They include expert talks, dieticians and open forums.
- Membership/fees: Free. Geared toward potential or current UCLA patients.
- Information: (310) 825-7163
10. USC Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery Support Group
- When and where it meets: Group meets monthly; dates are listed here. Address: 1520 San Pablo St, HC2, Los Angeles.
- Focus: Bariatric patients sharing experiences before and after surgery, moderated by a healthcare professional (psychologist, program coordinator or dietitian).
- Membership/fees: Free
- Information: (323) 442-5987
11. Weight Watchers
- When and where it meets: There are multiple meeting times and places in nearly every city; go here to find one near you.
- Focus: Healthy lifestyle and diet changes that help you lose weight. Members weigh-in (privately) at weekly meetings; the meetings are run by trained leaders and function as both education and support. Members share experiences and offer support and tips to one another. The online app has a section called Connect where members can post, interact and support one another.
- Membership/fees: Starter fee of $20 is often waived with specials. There are various price options: online only (about $13/month), meetings plus online (about $45/month), online plus personal coaching (about $56/month). Lowest prices are for longer-term signups; some prices are different in different locations.
- Information: weightwatchers.com
12. YMCA of Metro Los Angeles Wellness Program
- When and where it meets: There are dozens of YMCA facilities in the Los Angeles area.
- Focus: YMCA wellness programs include Weight Loss Programs – created through a combination of group exercise, personal training, and nutrition advice – and seven area facilities offer these. They are Culver-Palms Family YMCA, Downey Family YMCA, Montebello-Commerce YMCA, Southeast-Rio Vista YMCA, Torrance-South Bay YMCA, Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA and Westchester Family YMCA. When you belong to one YMCA, you have access to nearly every other facility.
- Membership/fees: Depending on the facility and the plan you choose, fees can range from $39-$62 a month or $468-$744 a year. Check by location here.
- Information: (310) 935-4713
Note: Lists like these are moving targets; it’s smart to make contact before you go to make sure nothing’s changed.
Are you thinking about weight loss through bariatric surgery?
In addition to performing all types of bariatric surgery, Soma Weight Loss wants to help their patients adopt a healthy lifestyle and reap longtime benefits. Free weight-loss services to Soma patients include a monthly support group, a patient coordinator, and nutrition and exercise advice. To learn more, call 855-766-2411 (855-SOMA-411) or click here.