How to support a family member in their weight-loss efforts
Weight-loss can be a difficult and lonely journey for some people, but as family members learn the do's and don'ts of supporting their loved-ones in their weight loss efforts, it can be a rewarding experience for everyone.
Because weight has always been one of my greatest struggles in life, six months ago I made a conscious choice to change my life and start living a healthy lifestyle. I downloaded a free calorie counting app, became accountable for what I was putting into my mouth, and started to dance with my kids for exercise. Now, six months later, I have lost 55 pounds and I feel that I can accomplish anything.
My success has not come from my efforts alone, it has come from the love and support I have received from my family. With that being said, here are the do's and don’ts of supporting a family member in their weight-loss program.
When they feel like quitting, be the one to help them keep going. I don’t know how many times I felt like quitting until my husband reminded me how far I have come.
Give them encouragement throughout their weight-loss efforts.
Make sure to notice the weight-loss and give compliments often. When someone recognizes and acknowledges your weight-loss, it is very motivating. It is like a reward for good behavior.
Exercise with them. I will never forget my husband doing Zumba with me in our basement so that I didn’t feel embarrassed doing it by myself.
Set a good example by trying to eat healthy yourself. It is easier to stay on a weight-loss program when you are surrounded by people who are making the same choices as you.
Be aware of the goals they have set and help them keep those goals to the best of your ability. My children knew that exercising every day was a goal I had set for myself. On the days I felt like skipping it, they would ask if they could dance anyway, knowing I would join in. They promised to dance with me every day until I reached my weight-loss goal.
Don’t eat foods you know they like in front of them. This was a hard one for me. It is very hard to have self-control when you feel like you are starving and the person next to you is eating a big juicy hamburger or a large cinnamon roll. Be mindful of your actions and how they might be affecting your loved-one.
Don’t suggest eating out at a restaurant where you know what they want isn’t what they should be eating. Better still, try to eat-in most of the time, especially in the beginning. It is difficult to find things that cater to low-calorie diets at many restaurants and most restaurants serve super-sized portions. After being on my weight-loss path for a few months, and learning self-control, I was able to eat at restaurants and not want to eat the entire meal placed in front of me, but it was much harder in the beginning.
Don’t bring junk food into the house. This is pretty much self-explanatory. Try to make it as easy as possible for them to reach their goal.
Don’t try to motivate them by making them feel guilty. This is probably the worst thing you can do to someone who is trying to lose weight. Success will come through love, support, and encouragement. Making someone feel guilty for a food choice they may have made, does not fall into any of these categories. Tell them it’s OK and help them focus on their successes rather than their failures.
Weight-loss may be difficult, but with family support, it is absolutely possible. When families work together to help a loved-one reach their weight-loss goal, it creates a bonding experience for the whole family.