Monday, November 21, 2011

Is There a Nice Way to Tell Someone They Need to Lose Weight?

Recently, I ran into someone whom I haven’t seen in awhile. I was really surprised at how much weight she’d gained. This was a fairly young person. I really wanted to talk to her about her weight. I wanted to encourage her to lose weight before she wastes much of her adult life being obese.

What I said would have been from the perspective of someone who has been there and done that – the compassionate voice of experience, not the judgmental voice of someone who has never experienced obesity.

I didn’t do it, though. I just wasn’t sure that it would come across in a non-offensive way. I still remember the day that Brian talked to me about my weight from a health standpoint. I think I felt worse about that than if he’d just said that I was unattractive. To be concerned about my health meant, in my mind, that I must be really fat.

Of course, he’d never been in my shoes as an obese person. Would it have felt different if someone who had been obese and regained their health had been the one having the conversation with me?

I don’t know. I do remember talking to a friend who had lost 50 pounds when I was still obese. At the time, I didn’t care. Even though she’d had success, I just wasn’t in that place to care. I wasn’t ready to take the steps to improve my own health and I didn’t get there until nearly a year later.

It’s sometimes hard, being in this place of having come back from such an unhealthy place, to know how much I can or should say. I want to help others see their potential. I want to help other people not waste so many years of their lives like I feel that I did.

Is there a kind way to encourage someone to lose weight? Let’s talk about it.

Do or do not. There is no try.

19 comments:

  1. no it is not different just because you have been there...unless they ask you first!  Just think back to when you were obese.  Would you have been mortified if someone you knew who had successfully lost weight, just started a conversation with you?  Even if they had the best of intentions?  No matter how delicate you try and be, It would still be very hurtful...not helpful.  What you can do is say that you have been on an amazing journey for the past however long it took you.  And talk about yourself, not the other person.  If they want more information they will ask.

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  2. Kim from What's Eating You?November 21, 2011 at 7:29 AM

    I don't know...Jillian Michaels talks about this on her podcast from time to time and has very good points about what to say and when. Personally, I would only ever talk to someone about their weight if they brought it up. :D

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  3. I have no idea. I have never been obese, so I generally feel like I have NO place to tell anyone that they need to lose weight.  Maybe someone who has BTDT could?  I assume that people who are obese know that they need to lose weight, and either dont' have the tools, the support, or the motivation to do so.  Is that not the case? 

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  4. BlakelyForrest, MMFTNovember 21, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    Hey Kris, I love your heart and I know just where you are coming from with this. I'm a counselor and talk with people everyday about the hard stuff. Many times they are just not ready to change their lives and we have to be ok with that. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to get to the bottom of that resisitance and see some movement and sometimes we are just planting a seed and don't ever see the results from that. What I know about you is that you are inspiration! I know that if you talked openly about how you'd like this life change of yours to be a ministry for you to help others, that people would flock to you! Some might come for information because they aren't quite ready, some will be ready and will soak up everything you can give them!! You are a light, and you will be and effective advocate to those who come to you. Trust me when I say, she knows where she is in her battle, and unless she loves you like you love your husband, she may not be motivated , she may be hurt. So Proud of you!

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  5. I don't think there is an easy way.  As someone who knows they  need to lose weight, to have someone tell me that, would add another chink in a battered self-image.  Instead of telling someone they need to lose weight, if it is a good friend, invite them out on a walk (but remember that their pace is much slower then yours) or even share really good, healthy recipes.  It shows you care but yet you still think they are perfect just the way they are.  Overweight or not, we need to love the people in our lives for what they are - as excited as you are about weight lose, others may not even see the need :-) 

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  6. You're all echoing exactly what I thought, which is why I didn't say anything. It's so sad to me, though, to see a young person facing what is likely to end up being years of self-loathing (at least, that's how I felt about it) and obesity. It's hard wanting to say something and knowing that I shouldn't because I *do* remember what it's like -- it would have been mortifying to have someone say something to me about my weight. Of course, I only ever knew one person who had ever "come back" from obesity and she was just another mom on one of my kids' ball teams.

    It's hard to see someone who would benefit so greatly from changing, but who doesn't want to. I wonder how many people felt that way about me.

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  7. This is a tough one and I get it.  I see people all the time that I think- if I could just sit down and talk with them.... the thing is- until a person is ready to admit to themselves that they have a problem and they themselves want to do something about it- nothing I say will really matter.  We don't know what is going on in peoples heads at the time- so we don't know if talking to them is the right thing. 
    When I am around people I know need to make changes- I just continue to be a role model with my actions and hope that speaks louder than any thing I could say.
    Your thoughts about this come from your kindness- and I respect that so much in you!!!

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  8. I agree with everything already said here. You clearly have a big heart and the very best of intentions-- but I think giving unsolicited advice about someone's weight is crossing a line.

    I have never been obese, but I have had to come to my own place in my own time about taking control of my health. I think it is probably that way for most people. If you continue to live as a good example you will inspire more people and touch more lives than you may ever know!

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  9. You're right. Obesity is just like any other addiction -- until someone is ready to admit that they have a problem and is ready to do something about it, nothing anyone else says is going to matter. The role model thing is vital. Here lately, I've been thinking about whether I really like telling people about my transformation. I mean, I admit, I enjoy the shocked looks from those who never knew me as obese. However, there's a part of me that would just kind of like to be "skinny me" (skinny being a very relative term, since I'm still considered overweight for my height and body build) and not have anyone know that I used to be obese.

    The fact is, though, if people don't know, I'm never going to be able to let someone who is in that place know that it is possible to successfully lose weight and get healthy and getting that message out there is more important than any false sense of pride (or whatever it is) that I may feel not having people know "that" me.

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  10. Kris I think a good thing to do is to start a conversation by speaking about how your weight loss has been great for you.If that person starts talking about their weight/weight loss issues/health then you know they are open to a conversation about it.If they say "Oh thats nice for you " and move on then you know they arent looking for any help/advice/etc.

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  11. I don't think there is, even if it is meant as nothing but kindness. Just think of the reaction you had when your husband -- someone you KNOW loves you and has your best interests in mind -- mentioned it. I want to talk to my brother about it so badly, but I can't because he doesn't want to hear it. :( And what makes me feel so awful about THAT is that his health issues are part of what me decide that wishing and wanting wasn't enough.

    Now, at the same time I think it IS possible to encourage it without seeming to, like saying, "Come to the park with me, and we can chat while we walk on the path." In that way it's more about the relationship than the exercise. That is exactly what I'm going to do/say at Thanksgiving, only it will be on the bike trail rather than a park.

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  12. That's a great suggestion. And, honestly, that's not the kind of relationship that I have with this person which is another reason why I couldn't/shouldn't bring it up in any other way than talking about my own experience in a "just sharing about myself" kind of way. I guess, like anything else, no matter how well-intentioned you are, it all comes back to relationships -- the relationship has to come first and even then it's a tricky line to walk.

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  13. It IS a tricky line because sometimes even talking about one's own experience can be taken as "OH LOOK HOW FABU I AM!" even if that isn't the intent. That has been one of the shocking things about my own weight loss. Even when I didn't SAY anything, I've had two friends -- whom I thought would be happy for me! -- take it as if I was lording my success over them. It was hurtful because that was never, ever my intent. And these were two close friends who should have known that.

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  14. True. That is hurtful, too, to have people who you'd think would celebrate your success with you take it that way. It's definitely a fine line to walk.

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  15. Wow, I just found your blog off of your homeschool "list" post elsewhere... What an inspiration you are, I'm in tears.  This may just be the kick in the pants I need.  And yes, I agree that it's best not to say those things to someone...let them bring it up.  Because I live in fear of hearing things like that from others myself....the thing is I KNOW these things...I know just what I SHOULD be doing, COULD be doing, and HOW to do it.  But....it's being ready....it's being in the right frame of mind...whatever it is that finally clicks for that person.  I was in it last Jan. 1 and I do not know why or how I really fell off the wagon sigh....but I did and it's sooooo hard to get back on.  I had(have) a friend from church who is a personal trainer and she was meeting w/ me FOR FREE in various FREE places to workout...boot camp style...I progressed from a scary (to me) huffing and puffing 3 sets of 5 flights of stairs to like 3 sets of 15 flights....and even went on my first "jog" ever...walking 3, jogging 1 or whatever it was... and I lost about 30 to 40 lbs (i need to go back to my journal and check)....I need(ed) to lose about 150 really sigh...seemed like so far to go....anyway a series of things/events/illnesses caught up with me, got me off track and stress and etcexcusesetc....here I am, having gained it all back...sigh....and I was (am) also in SUCH a public eye of accountability w/ SO many WTG's along the way, and now....silence...because I know they know....they see it...they've seen it packing on again...what must they think and say behind my back?  sure they care about my health, I do too and worry.....but....I vainly worry about how I look more :(  I dont' "carry" my weight well IMO so I feel more of a target.....so it's hard to take ANY "concerned" friend or family member for face value and think it's "only" about my "health"....yk?  remember?  your hubby?  my dear hubby struggles with the same issue....I'm sure we enable each other...we have a wonderful marriage, life, love life.....we just know it could be better if we were HEALTHY and not...yk worn out tonight from getting on our knees to do some scrubbing, knowing if we were in shape...we wouldn't feel this way about the little bit of extra work we did :(  hear my whiney voice: it's sooooooooo hardddddd. sigh.  What do we food addicts always say?  "But unlike addiction to alcohol/drugs, you can't just put food down/away for good.......you have to learn to eat it (use) everyday somehow  your powerful "drug" responsibly...."    Anyway...but again, you ARE an inspiration...I've been wanting to do/try the "couch to 5K" type plan....though really that is basically what I was doing...maybe a little more intensely...I don't know....

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  16. You can do it, Amanda. Yes, I do remember. I know how hard it is and what it feels like to be in that place. I didn't even want to start when I started. I just started so that I could prove that I couldn't do it so I could quit feeling guilty for *not* doing it.

    Then, I found out that I can.

    Anytime before that I had tried and failed, I failed because I quit, not because what I was doing wasn't working. It turns out that it was as much about the mental aspect for me as it was about the physical. If you decide to go for it, I'll be waiting to cheer you on.

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  17. I have also lost a significant amount of weight recently.  No one said anything to me before, and it wouldn't have done a thing.  What worked was my sister deciding to start on a weight loss plan, working with a doctor.  I spoke up that I wanted to do it too.  So we did it together, I had to keep going a lot longer, and still want to lose 20 more.  I'm so much happier, I totally get wanting to spread the news.  I just tell people how I did it if they ask.  I eat tons of low carb veggies to keep me full.  Most move on right away, they don't want to do that.  But years ago my MIL lost 50 lbs and she did it like that.  She told me, I didn't want to hear it, but when I was ready, I remembered and did the same. 

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  18. I totally agree that most people who ask how you've lost the weight really don't want to hear the answer. Most people want a quick fix and there's not one. It's really a matter of making a total lifestyle change. Way to go on losing your weight!

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