By Brittany Gatson
We know, it’s hard, but encouraging an overweight partner or close friend to shed some pounds for their health’s sake is a necessary thing. Yet a recent poll finds that while most people worry that an excessive waistline might be affecting their loved one’s health, a considerable number shy away from raising the matter with them.
Is there a way to help a family member lose weight without being hurtful? Well, good intentions can still hurt if they’re not done in the proper way. So instead of coming off as critical, try a more positive approach. If you decide to tell someone they need to diet; there are tactful ways to take this step. Instead of outwardly saying ‘you need to lose weight,’ you could say ‘I love you just the way you are and I want you around for a long time for me and the kids, so you might want to eat in a healthier way.
If you don’t go about it the right way, it could have severe repercussions. The recipient would be mortified that someone noticed they were overweight and the relationship would never ever be the same. That’s when people go into the closet and become secret eaters. So what do you do?
Here are a few tips to help start the conversation.
1. Focus on your loved one’s health, rather than weight. When talking about weight loss, stay on track and list the reasons you’re worried about their health, such as future heart problems, diabetes and a shortened life span. If you focus on their weight alone, it could make them feel offended and self-conscious. A preoccupation with weight and appearance could potentially lead to an eating disorder.
2. Offer to make this a team effort. Note that you’d also like to lose weight so your loved one doesn’t feel isolated by your words. Instead, a promise to exercise and eat a healthful diet helps your loved one feel supported and less alone in their fight to lose weight. Talk about your own goals, whether they be weight loss, better overall health or other reasons to change your habits.
3. Arrange for daily exercise together. When your loved one knows that she’s held accountable to you, she might be less likely to skip a session at the gym or daily exercise at home. Attend the gym together, arrange for daily walks or borrow fitness DVDs from the library to help your friend or family member stay motivated to exercise at least 30 minutes daily.
4. Remove temptations from your loved one’s life. If eating out is her weakness, offer to stay in and cook a healthful meal together instead. If she tends to graze in the pantry, purchase healthier foods to replace unhealthful snacks. By removing the temptation altogether, you increase your loved one’s resolve and chances for overall success. Ask that your loved one contacts you when her resolve becomes weak to allow you to offer support whenever necessary.
5. Recognize both small and large accomplishments to help your loved one stay motivated. Whether it’s a week of daily exercise or the dropping of a dress size, each weight loss milestone should be celebrated as a way to keep your loved one on track. Just avoid rewarding milestones with food because it confuses food with emotions. Instead, send a congratulatory email, take her out for pedicures or rent a movie.