Wednesday, February 24, 2021

How to help someone lose weight

What can you do to make someone else lose weight? The short answer is nothing. The better answer is...still nothing. But while the answer is simple, the question is complicated and if you're asking it, this begs other questions you need to answer about the person you want to help and yourself, too. If you want to get someone else to change something, you need to start by asking yourself why. Why do you care? What is your motivation? Consider scenarios A and B for weight loss.

A--The person you want to change is clinically obese. He has other related health problems. (If he's 50# or more overweight, he does, count on it. Diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, mobility, for a start). You have care for her, cook for her, clean up after, maybe even wash, dress and help with bathroom needs. She is your child, partner or parent. 

B--He is a little overweight or not at all. You are just bothered by it. He doesn't ask anything of you and is independent. You don't really care or want to help. You just want to fix them or better yet, shame them into "fixing" themselves. According to your standards, naturally. Your role is advisory. You see yourself as the "friend" who is brutally honest. You are yourself a little or a lot overweight. 

If any part of scenario B applies, you need help. You should fix yourself before even thinking of "helping" him. You should learn the definition of help. If you do decide to lose weight yourself, do it for you, not to set an example or "encourage" her to change. Stop kidding yourself--that is just more guilting and manipulation. 

Now, if you relate to scenario A, I still say do nothing. No preaching, nagging, harassing, hiding food, tricking. Shaming is cruel. No one responds well to it. It is counterintuitive. Shame is a root cause for obesity. And as with any other addiction (yes you can be addicted to food), the addict must see the need to quit and do the work herself. 

But also, do nothing to enable.  No buying the junk food, taking him out to eat or cooking up huge portions. No more serving, waiting on or other caregiving. No more falling for the litany of supposed  suffering and disability. A person who is obese may have other health issues not weight related. But 90% of those health issues are directly attributable to obesity. Your loved one may expect or demand assistance. It is up to you to define need verses want. No more pity. 

You may say, "but I have to care for her. She needs me." Does she though? Are you doing things she can and should do for herself? Are you enabling unhealthy behavior? You can't fix someone else's problems, but you can choose not to break them further by over-care. 

The show "My 600-lb Life" is a look at exaggerated obesity. But obesity affects more people than ever. Childhood obesity is affecting kids at younger ages than ever. This is not just pre-puberty weight gain of normal childhood. This is obesity. More people are getting gastric bypass surgery at younger ages. 

There are things we can learn from My 600-lb Life and one big thing is the danger of enabling. Each episode features at least one person who is the "feeder." Someone who prepares the extra large portions of the wrong foods, who does the work so the patient doesn't have to do anything. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for someone who needs to get healthy is nothing. 

I share these thoughts from my own weight loss journey. In my next post, I'll discuss positive things you can do to support someone who is trying to lose weight.

If you're trying to get healthier, rock on! I'm so proud of you! Love, mar 👊👏💓

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