By Joe Humphries
There are a lot of touchy situations in life, but most can’t compare to the difficulty of watching a loved one gain an unhealthy amount of weight.
You know that pointing out the weight gain will be hurtful, but what’s the alternative? You don’t want to sit back and watch your loved one get worse.
The fact is that most people will not make lifestyle changes until they’re ready. That said, it’s a safe bet that your loved one is already aware of the weight problem and isn’t sure how to proceed. If you want to avoid hurt feelings, it’s best to wait until a time when they choose to vent about the problem. You can then proceed with caution when it comes to giving advice.
1. Avoid the Obvious
Everyone with a weight problem already knows that they should eat healthy and exercise, and being given painfully obvious tips like “work out more” or “try cutting back on calories” can be patronizing. Be sure to treat your loved one like an intelligent adult, not a child. Steer clear of advice that’s considered common knowledge and instead focus on listening to your loved one.
2. Be a Cheerleader, Not a Drill Sergeant
Once your loved one admits to you that they’d like to lose weight, it’s easy to get carried away with excitement. This is especially true if you’re a fitness enthusiast yourself. You’ve been biting your tongue on this for a while, and now that they’re open to the idea, it’s time to start pushing them toward success, right?
Please remember that not everyone is as enthusiastic about fitness and health as you are. It’s wonderful that you want to help your loved one, but if you push too hard, they'll likely become frustrated and give up on the entire process. Rather than acting like a drill sergeant, be a cheerleader, celebrating their accomplishments and making them feel better about their setbacks.
3. Show Them That Healthy Food Can Be Good
A lot of people believing that the process of changing one’s diet is all about torturous limitations and feeling hungry all the time, but this isn’t the case at all. If you have experience with eating healthily, help show your loved one how delicious good foods can be. You don’t even have to make it about dieting or weight loss. Simply invite your loved one over for dinner, and as you’re eating, point out some of the nutritional benefits of your chosen foods.
4. Give Them Rewards
You don’t want to breathe down your loved one’s neck regarding their workout schedule, but if you can afford it, rewarding them for the progress you see can be a wonderful thing to do. They might not be aware that anyone is proud of them, so be sure to let them know! Something as simple as a girl’s weekend away or a trip to a day spa might be the motivation your loved one needs to continue working on weight loss.
5. Be a Shining Example
Watching your loved one’s journey toward health might inspire you to take a look at your own fitness habits. Maybe you regularly exercise, but are you kind to yourself? Do you practice body positivity? Being thin and fit doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy and in balance.
Instead of overly focusing on your loved one’s journey with weight loss, use this time to work on your own issues. That way, you can be a shining example of how to live a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
If you’re already in balance and don’t see many areas to improve, the best thing you can do is humble yourself and do your best to not show off too much. You might think that posting those pics of your perfectly toned thighs on social media is inspiring your loved one, but you’re likely just coming off vain, and your efforts might even be discouraging to those needing to lose weight.
6. Start a Healthy Ritual
Healthy rituals become habits. If you want to help your loved one, suggest a healthy ritual, like meeting up for a hike on Saturday mornings or going for a swim a few times a week. However, don’t make these rituals about your loved one or their weight loss.
In fact, don’t even bring that up. Instead, make the time about simple enjoyment of each other’s company. This can help your loved one see that many of the best things in life are both healthy and free of cost.
The easiest way to find out how to help your loved one is to simply ask how you can best provide support.
Everyone is different. Some people need their friends and family members to push them, and they might be open to you acting as their fitness coach. Other people would be completely put off by you being pushy and would instead prefer you to provide a listening ear when they need to vent. By respecting your loved one's wishes, you'll be able to provide the support system they need to succeed.
Joe Humphries is a contributing writer and media specialist for Orangethreory Fitness. He regularly writes for health and fitness blogs with an emphasis on HIIT.
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