The SparkPeople Blog

What to Do When a Loved One Struggles with Weight Loss?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
12/4/2009 10:14 AM   :  194 comments   :  19,817 Views

I've blogged in the past about my mom's struggle with weight loss and how she's been on and off diets for most of my life. She never put pressure on me to look a certain way. In fact, she always encouraged me to accept myself for who I was. But I saw her weight fluctuate as she tried one diet or another, only to slide back into her old habits after a while. And now I'm wondering if this yo-yo cycle will ever end.

A few years ago, she lost a significant amount of weight and I really thought she had kicked this struggle once and for all. But eventually I noticed her slipping here and there. For example, one night we went out to dinner and she ordered fish and chips- a standard choice in the old days. I didn't want to seem like the "food police" by quizzing her about why she was eating something that seemed to be a trigger food for her. But soon fish and chips became the norm instead of the exception. Consequently, she gained the weight back.

It's probably been a year or two since I've seen her make an effort to start changing her habits again. When I gently bring up the idea of exercising or trying some healthier recipes, she says "I know. I need to get back on the stick." (Meaning she has to get back on track.) But nothing ever comes of it.

This past weekend, I bluntly asked her what it was going to take to get her to start taking better care of herself. Her response was more of the same: "I know, I know." I told her that I want her to live a long and healthy life to see her grandchildren grow up. And I wasn't sure that was going to happen if she continued down this path. I told her that I don't care what size she wears. As long as she's happy with herself (which I truly believe she is, no matter what her size), that's what matters. But I do care about her overall health. And eating fast food, heavy desserts and exercising sporadically is not going to ensure that she lives to be 100.

I know that you can't change someone- they have to want it for themselves. I just wish I could figure out what that trigger is, what I can say or do to help her think about things differently and want to change. She's got all of the tools at her finger tips. She knows all about a healthy diet and how to start making small changes to develop long term habits. She's got a daughter (me) who's a personal trainer and would gladly lead her through workouts whenever she'd like. But so far, that's not enough.

I don't want her to change out of guilt because of anything I say, because I know that's not a change that's sustainable. I want her to change because she wants a higher quality of life for herself. But how do I get her to want that too?

Do you have anyone close to you who struggles with a healthy lifestyle? How have you handled the situation, and what have you done to support them?


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Comments

  • CLAYLADY001
    194
    I don't and never did have a mother to love and spend a wonderful time with so when I finally got married at nearly 40 I spent a lot ot time encouragaing my husband in his endevours.Now we both are older and need each other for support both physically and mentally.He has severe COPD and I suffer from serious lo back pain due to an early in life accident.We are both overweight but I have a lot more to lose than he does.Change is a good idea but hard ,little steps along the way are the best idea.Lots of supporting love and being a good listener helps.We all need to have someone to talk to so I think it is important to talk about what bothers us the most,unhealthy relatives can be difficult to communicate with so we just have to listen to them more carefully and give them tough love when necessary. - 6/2/2012   11:53:16 AM
  • 193
    The plain truth is that it does not work to nag, coerce, and judge. I'd say get off her back, live your own life. She may be inspired by your example. As all of us who have been overweight know, no amount of input from others made us finally get ourselves in shape. We had to want it for ourselves. What makes a person finally want it that badly is anyone's guess; the reasons are many and varied. You'll only create bad feelings between the two of you if you continue hounding her about her weight. Let it go. - 5/16/2012   9:33:39 AM
  • 192
    My older sister is considerably overweight (she's 5'-2" & close to 400lbs). Her & I have BOTH struggled with our weight our entire lives. But, since the beginning of the year, I've been losing weight with diet & exercise. At first she was extremely supportive but now I think she's starting to resent my achievements. At first, I would share my successes with her to maybe motivate her, but that doesn't seem to work anymore. Also, it seems that I am the only one that can talk to her about her weight problem. She shares her wants & wishes with me so I try to set goals with her & hold her accountable to them. I try to motivate her with different tidbits of interesting knowledge I find. I try to get her to exercise with me whenever we see eachother. But, she's always got excuses & there's still that "thing" missing that's going to make it click in her head to 'do it'. I'm sure its fear that's holding her back. So, how do I help her overcome it? How do I prove to her that she's courageous & able? - 5/16/2012   8:33:57 AM
  • 191
    I have the same concern with my younger sister, she gained more than 30 pounds during the last couple of years and although she said that she's going to a nutritionist to help her loose the weight i didn't notice any change! she loses few pounds and gain them quickly, she buys healthy food just to keep them in the kitchen and go out and have junck food for lunch and dinner!!
    i tried to talk to her several times and she also tells me "i know, i know!" but i don't see her doing anything about it!
    i wish i could find a way to help her... - 12/5/2011   3:22:09 AM
  • 190
    I had some of the same concerns for my husband...Here is what I did. I continued to take care of myself and exercise. I loved him unconditionally and prayed for him and eventually on his own he has made the lifestyle/diet changes and is now 22 pounds lighter. In my personal opinion Nagging NEVER works even if it motivated by concern and love. - 10/12/2011   2:41:31 PM
  • 189
    Well, I've needed some encouragement and motivation myself in the past few months. I've looked around at my friends and family and noticed that I am the motivator. A close friend of mine and I have embarked on this journey together after I told her my goals and she shared her own. Now I find myself calling her and pushing her to go for walks and try new exercises. My mom is similar. I have found, though, that just talking about it won't get it done. I have gotten my mom to work out with me by walking up to her in my workout clothes and telling her, "I'm working out now. Join me." She does. So does my friend when I do the same. If you make exercise an activity when you can bond with your mom, then that may be the motivation she needs. - 4/12/2011   2:49:32 AM
  • 188
    This so closely resembles my own mom's situation too. She lost so much weight, doing so great, eating properly, keeping track of things, then she gave up. Totally gave up, and has been gaining the weight back steadily. I talked to her recently about it, saying I didn't want her to have another heart attack and she didn't say anything back, but a friend and I have been praying, and were thrilled when my mom said she was going to rejoin her old weight loss group. She starts this week. SOOOOO glad. - 2/7/2011   11:58:48 AM
  • 187
    I am like your mom, I seem to go whole heartedly, then give in and give up. I have struggled since kids. My husband is like you, and he doesn't want to tell me what to do. I have learned that I have an addiction to sweets, and I am allergic to wheat. Wheat is what I crave, but when I have it, it gets me soooo tired. My thinking gets cloudy and I drop things. this is steadily getting worse each time I give in and have a bagel for example. Life is hard with food allergies. Maybe your mom has some food allergies that are making her too tired to try much? Just a thought. - 12/2/2010   5:31:07 PM
  • ETHELMERZ
    186
    Yep, it's an addiction and it's high time the so called "researchers and experts" finally come to terms with that fact! It's not that we don't know what we are ordering in restaurants because all the nutritional info isn't on their Menu!!! Who's idea was that to pass an ordinance to change that anyway?? Addiction people!!!! - 4/13/2010   9:51:58 PM
  • 185
    I have a friend that is a couch potato, who just procrastinates to take steps towards a healthy weight.. She has had too many family problems due to that and yet she refuses to be consistent.. I have tried many ways to motivate her, but nothing seems to work.. She with all the enthusiasm says that she will begin tomorrow, but her tomorrow never becomes today and he never gets started.. If she began, she never continued.. I am really concerned for her, but she doesn't seemed to be bothered.. I get frustrated when she doesn't take any steps.. I am giving up now.. - 4/13/2010   4:51:00 AM
  • 184
    I looked around this Easter and even though I'm overweight, I'm the thinnest person in my family. I was really surprised by this, but I guess I shouldn't be, since we all love food so much. My mom especially needs to lose weight -- but my brother and his partner have both put on a lot of weight too. With my mom, I just drop hints every now and then. We went to Weight Watcher's together before, so I know she knows she needs to lose weight, she just isn't ready. I did have a big win when I brought a green salad for the family. I made it amazing and flavorful with fennel, red onion, and oranges, and everyone agreed how wonderful it was. I hope by leading by example and maybe dropping a hint or two here or there, they'll ask me when they're ready. I just wish there was something else I could do. I even offered to organize a family-style Biggest Loser challenge for us this New Year -- they turned me down. :(


    Edited to add that I don't drop very many hints at all as I know perfectly well that's obnoxious -- none at all yesterday! Just an occasional raising of the topic -- and then I let it drop. I agree with everyone who says it's up to the person. - 4/5/2010   2:26:33 PM
  • 183
    Wow, I have the same situation. It took a lot to get me started on the Spark Diet, though I knew I needed to lose weight, but I have a close friend who needs it much more than me. I've tried everything from recommending SparkPeople to asking her to go for a walk with me, and nothing seems to work. Every time I politely refuse her delicious "goodies", she rolls her eyes at me and acts as if I'll get over this latest craze soon. I'm anxious to learn any other tricks to try to get her started. It would be so nice to be in to a new life style with someone else. - 4/5/2010   9:55:05 AM
  • 182
    I, too, am having a rough time with my mom and I would appreciate any advice. She has diabetes and high blood pressure and, even though she is just 60, has already lost an eye to the diabetes. She never did anything in the way of diet and exercise for 55 years except make excuses, justifications and rationalizations. Then she did some crazy diet at 500 calories a day with pregnancy hormone. She gained all the weight back and then some. She is doing it AGAIN and has just now almost got back to her final weight from last time she did the diet. If I understand this correctly she accomplished nothing last time and has currently accomplished less than nothing. I am so sad and worried. I am not a doctor but my gut tells me that a diabetic should not be on an unsustainable crash diet. I can't get her to get a second opinion. And, of course, being mother and daughter we have our own issues. I am at a total loss. - 2/28/2010   2:11:36 PM
  • DEEJGARCIA
    181
    My mother has aways been morbidly obese for as long as I can remember. I have always struggled with my weight, but I'm now at the best weight I have been in over 15 years. My concern isn't about my mother but my own 15 year old daughter. She is 5'6" and weighs 290 lbs. She has tried and is trying to lose the extra weight along with me but she struggles so bad. She beats herself up all the time, is always depressed and many times is ready to just give up. I try not to nag her and am trying to set the good example for her. When she eats more than she should and is beating herself up for it I tell her to just skip her next snack or to just go on to the next meal and forget about it. When she doesn't get her workout in I tell her to just go on to the next day, or to add a few more minutes to her next days workout. It is bad enough that she is going through the hard time of adolescence without having to struggle with her weight as well. I did it throughout my whole adolescence and it was the hardest time for me. I had no one to turn to and my own mother either just didn't care, or was so involved in her own problems that she just didn't see how hard it was for me. I want so bad to help my daughter to get through this with as few scars as possible.
    It is a constant struggle for her and even though I have been having so much success, { I've lost 39 lbs in the last 7 months}, it is really hard for me to truly enjoy that success because of her constant struggle. As I already said I try really hard to not nag her, and only offer her suggestions when she asks. I have told her that as long as she never gives up entirerly she will never fail. I have also let her know that I will always be here for her whenever she needs me, NO MATTER WHAT!
    For those out there who have never struggled with their weight it is not just an issue of "just stop eating". It is so much more than that. If it were that simple there would be no obese people left on the earth. I personally believe that here in the very near future the so called "specialists" are going to determine that this is an actually physical illness. That there are certain places in our brains that just do not work the same as other people, that there are chemicals in our brains that just don't work as they should. If you were to ask any obese or overweight person out there if they could have anything in the world the could ask for I'll guarantee you that at least 90% would choose to be at a normal weight. Not even skinny or a bombshell, just a normal weight. - 12/18/2009   4:58:27 PM
  • 180
    This blog bought a wry smile to my face. My Mother has battled with food all her life and in latter years, alcohol which really added the pounds. She would be classed as morbidly obese now, sadly. I have given her some books and access to Sparkpeople and I have to leave the ball in her court. It is her decision and only she can make herself do something. I know the reaction I would get if I try to force the issue. I have grown children and I always feel somewhat irked when they try to parent me. I remind them gently that I am an adult with my own opinions and choice of behaviour. I need to give this same respect to my own Mother too. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink - 12/9/2009   4:55:02 PM
  • AVHI99
    179
    About 4 years ago my friend and I were both obese. I am now 100 pounds down (and doing pretty well). I am concerned for her health, but in the end I love her no matter how thin or not thin she is...

    Love your mum and cherish her no matter what her weight. Time slips away too quickly.

    On a more practical note, plan together activities that get her moving and don't centre around food. Even if she doesn't change her weight the activity is good for her health.

    Enjoy - 12/9/2009   3:59:52 PM
  • 178
    My mom has battled with diet control and weight loss for many years too. I've watched her work through multiple diets and her weight has gone up and down throughout different points in her life too. She's struggled with different health issues that have had an effect on her weight too. I'm really proud of her for everything that she does to work on her weight control and she's been a member of TOPS for many years. Lately, she's been seeing me getting healthy and losing weight and she's getting motivated again. I think that if you're a positive influence yourself for eating healthy and exercising, etc. -then other people around you will feel that same positive influence to get themselves motivated to eat healthy and exercise. If you're positive about making changes in your own life and it's evident that it's having a good impact on your life, others around you will catch that "spark" hopefully. My mom just joined Sparkpeople because it's been a positive influence in my life and she wants to make the same type of positive changes in her life. - 12/9/2009   2:05:55 PM
  • 177
    My best friend over over 20 years is very obese, and she was doing very well for while trying to take care of herself and cooking healthier meals, then she got married. I love the guy, I really do, but he has a severe weight problem as well and through him I have seen her slide back into old habits. He has terrible habits and I've seen him manipulate her psychologically to eat fast food and sugary desserts. I don't know what to do. She's my best friend and I love her to death, but I don't want to hurt her by saying anything and at the same time I think I should.

    The best I can do so far is to set a good example when I eat together with them by making healthier choices. - 12/9/2009   1:22:11 PM
  • RHONDAWEASLEY
    176
    I feel your pain, my friend is very overweight (obese actually, as I was and still am). It was her idea for us to get started using the gym at college, I started showing up thinking it would be wonderful for us to go on this journey together since we have the same struggle, as a team fighting through it educating ourselves along the way and supporting each other, we could only win.

    Only, despite me saying "call me when you're ready to join me at the gym" she never showed up. She tells me she's sick of dieting only to lose a few pounds and gain it back and when I explain to her (without trying to sound preachy) that it's going to take a permanent life change/commitment for us to change our bodies, I get the "I know, I know". The thing I've learned, about two months into my steps in life change, is that as much as I love my friend I can't make the choice for her. Almost everyone in America who is eating unhealthy KNOWS they're eating unhealthy which is why they resent being told so, but just like smokers, alcoholics, pot heads and other drug atticts. The success of the change has to become more important than the short-term joy of the substance. Losing weight, living a healthy lifestyle forever, committing to that "forever" is hard. You just can't make people do it. You can just hope that by doing it yourself eventually your loved ones will take you as the inspiration and go "how did you do it, can you help me do it" and you help. If they're serious as you are, they'll make it too. If they haven't reached the point of "forever" commitment, sadly you can't make them do it. - 12/9/2009   4:20:26 AM
  • 175
    If someone does figure a way to motivate someone who is in denial and not motivated, I will be really interested to read it when that blog is written. - 12/8/2009   10:36:02 PM
  • ROCKINGRHONDA
    174
    You can't change another person, but you can be their support. My husband is battling the weight issue as I am. During the past year with the help of spark I have learned what to buy in the store. I really really try to stay away from the junk food aisle and try to in my head reason it out that I get better food in the frui and veggie aisle than I do in the junk food aisle and I also save money. I have also learned to look up "spark" recipes and make them and they have all been wonderful. Neither one of us have seen a great loss but I think we are making better choices...at least I know I am and I think he will eventually get on the band wagon. So for right now I just cook really good when I cook. I also try to take care of myself first then him in the food area.
    I know both of us need to exercise more. We do get challenged by swollen knees and arthritic joints and we are middle age (not old) but change of weather can effect both of us.
    I wish sometimes that we had a personnel trainer and food coach and then life would be that much easier :)
    Good Luck and I hop she comes around soon. - 12/8/2009   9:54:09 PM
  • 173
    I think it's wonderful that she will have a knowledgeable and supportive daughter when your mother is ready to take the plunge. As others have said, she has to make that decision and only her. In the meantime, you take care of YOU!! - 12/8/2009   4:31:49 PM
  • 172
    I think this is a commom issue. My American mom is overweight, and I'm a wellness coach. Fortunately I live with her. Very begging of my American mom weight lost program, I cooked and pack her lunch, as well as filled refrigerator with healthy food. Every day I brought up topic about food and asked her what she had all day alone the middle of a normal conversation. While we were talking I gave some nutritional information, and she started to realized her diet was not good. My mom does not like to do exercise, so I started doing exercise daily with her to give her support for 30minutes. Some days I have done 3 times exercise per day. within a week she did lost 5 pounds and reduced her waist size too. Now she love to do exercise and healthy eating because she realized that it is not hard to do. I feel that changing environment is much better than talking with loved one about their health. Most probably they know what is good and what is bad. They just need a support and motivation, especially not to criticize them. I know it is an additional work. But it is just beginning. When they track in to the right path, they do not need our support much. - 12/8/2009   2:02:10 PM
  • JANNALEE1
    171
    Well, it has all be said before...but all you can do is be there for your loved one. Encourage them when they feel inspired and try to keep them inspired. Weight loss is such a battle, your loved one has to REALLY want it. Forcing someone into it will just yield resentment and frustration for everyone concerned! Finally, I will close by saying that there is nothing worse than a once-overweight-now thin-smug family member or friend looking down their nose at you. Everyone's battle is different. Be kind. - 12/8/2009   12:51:17 PM
  • MCJDONOVAN
    170
    Honestly I wish I had someone like you in my life encouraging me to make the right decisions and keeping me on track. I've heard people say that one of the keys to a successful lifestyle change (in terms of diet and exercise) is surrounding yourself with people who are positive influences and don't lull you back into your bad habits. This has been especially true for me. My friends, all of whom are skinny, constantly get on me for being "too picky" now when I eat, or trying to convince me that "one piece of dessert won't ruin [the progress I've made]." Maybe not, but the truth is that their attitudes have had a dramatic effect on my ability to keep my weight the same. They don't want to go running with me and don't share an interest in learning about how to be and stay fit. If I were you I would try to be a more powerful influence on your mother. Get in there, help motivate her, and help her get excited about the joys of a healther, happier life! - 12/8/2009   12:25:21 PM
  • 169
    From personal experience, I can completely understand the frustration of not finding something that truly works, and the feeling of failure that comes with it. Too often, MD's have a "one size fits all" prejudice about those of us who struggle with weight. For me, it took seeing a naturopath who right away tweaked what kinds of food I was eating, then treated me for various food sensitivities. I finally feel like I'm on my way back to good health. Hope your mom can find what will bring her success and good health also.

    Perhaps your mom would benefit similarly. - 12/8/2009   12:22:32 PM
  • 168
    I definately understand where you are coming from. My mom smokes, drinks diet coke like its water, doesn't exercise very much and was diagnosed with adult diabetes. Fortunately, she's got a doctor that is really supportive and has been helping her as much as he can. It really comes down to how much they want to do it. I've found that supporting no matter how many times she's tried to lose weight or quit smoking is all I can really do. My mom actually was the most successful when she had me doing her diet and exercise programs along with her. Now we have a distance barrier, but I still want to figure out how we can work together to get healthy. - 12/8/2009   11:40:38 AM
  • LOSINGLIZZIE
    167
    My mom is the same way, and it's sad but I've given up. I've realized it isn't my job to "fix her". If she really wants to change, she will seek help and change. All I can do is help her if she asks and pray that she will realize that she does need help. For so many people food issues aren't about being hungry or too busy they are about emotional issues. An article about heart disease won't change their habits, they probably already know all the information in the article anyway! My mom is a pharmacist and certified diabetes educator. She knows how everything she eats or doesn't eat effects her, but it doesn't matter. So be patient and loving and supportive when possible, but don't let it become your issue. - 12/8/2009   11:34:32 AM
  • 166
    My relationship with my mother is similar except we are both yo-yo dieters. I am currently doing well [with help from Spark =)] and want the same for her. I encourage her when I can, but don't know if it's helping. Often when others tried to encourage me when I wasn't doing well, it wasn't much help. You need to want it for yourself. I have noticed that my neice has been trying to get me to excercise ("play") with her in a sneaky way to get me to move and it works. I always feel better afterwards although getting through it isn't always easy. I try to do the same with my mom, but we aren't together often enough. - 12/8/2009   11:32:03 AM
  • 165
    It's a lot easier to hear advice from someone else who struggles with food. For example, when someone talks about the weight I've lost, I make very explicit that I have to watch my calories and exercise. I tell them that I started with small changes first then slowly made more changes in my life.
    I tell them that I still have moments where I screw up. But then I tell them I start back up again. - 12/8/2009   11:11:48 AM
  • 164
    I believe that until the loved one has the true desire to change from whatever the circumstances are they wil not change. No amount of knowledg, proding, crying, guilt or even shame will make them change. But we must continue to love them. We do not have to enable them. - 12/8/2009   10:42:06 AM
  • 163
    My experience is similar to: LINDAPNYNY12/8/2009 9:09:04 AM. I know personally that making better health choices and making the effort to get and remain fit is a struggle everyday. Whether it's genetics or enviornment I relate strongly to the struggles my dad goes through with his weight. But diabetes, foot problems, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, knee surgery and lack of mobility add to the problem. I try to help by being motivating by sending diabetes related articles that offer fitness advice, and try not to pressure him into any particular diet or plan. He wants to lose 100 lbs in a year, I say take baby steps do one thing to be healthy a day- drink water, make a 'better' food choice, try to be a little more active, think positively--- smaller things but it's still a struggle. I'm determined not to give up, but whether it's moral support or tough love (getting on my soap box and asking how he's going to improve his quality of life)...I'm going to stick by him and try to help. I know you can't change anyone, but I want him to be around for a long time, and I'm scared that he relies on medicines to maintain his health instead of trying to improve it. - 12/8/2009   10:23:43 AM
  • 162
    The decision to make a lifestyle change is only one she can make for herself and it doesn't matter what you say to her. The only thing I can see is to set a good example yourself by showing her how much joy and how much happier you are by eating healthy and exercising daily. There is power in a positive attitude and when you portray it property it can be quite infectious....she just might want to jump back on that band wagon again. Good luck!
    Ruth - 12/8/2009   10:04:58 AM
  • ITEACHLITTLE1S
    161
    As "the yo-yo-dieter relative" in my family, I can offer some advice about what someone like me wants to hear: We want to know that we are loved no matter what size. We don't want you to make snide comments about what we've chosen to eat - in fact, don't make comments about what we eat or how we eat at all. My grandmother is always asking whether I should eat that (when I eat the "bad" stuff) or why I'm not enjoying myself (when I eat the "good" stuff), or commenting on the speed of my consumption of the meal. We think about food CONSTANTLY as it is - we don't need you making us think about it more. When you do that, we go home and beat ourselves up about what you said, and we probably eat more or tailspin into a self-deprecating cycle including negative self-talk and extreme dieting.
    Have healthy choices available at gatherings you host, or revamp gatherings so they focus on something other than food (a board-game party, instead of a traditional Christmas brunch).
    If we lose weight, don't focus on appearance when you are "noticing it." Say I look healthy and happy, not skinny and wonderful. If you see that I'm falling back into unhealthy habits, try to help me take care of myself. Suggest a spa day, encourage me to take a nature hike with you or mention that you'd like to get back into a regular fitness routine (and would I like to start going on daily walks with you?), or gently mention that I seem like I have less energy than usual, and is there anything you can do to help. You just might hear something between the lines that gives you a clue as to what is going on that triggered the return of my unhealthy habits. - 12/8/2009   9:46:29 AM
  • CHOCOHOLIC29
    160
    I know exactly what you mean. My mom is overweight and has started to develop health problems as a result. She's not obese or anything, but it's to a point where she's now on medication for high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and she's also "pre-diabetic." It really worries me, not because she looks overweight, but because I want her to live as long as possible. Her family history doesn't do her any favors either.

    I don't say anything to her about it, because I know how annoying/hurtful it can be, but lately it just seems like she's really not trying. She always has an excuse for why she's "treating" herself, but what she's really doing is exacerbating her health problems. She's not supposed to have a lot of carbs and sugar to prevent the onset of actualy diabetes, but when I go home to visit, that seems to be all she eats. Or, she'll buy "low-carb" bread and chocolate and eat it several times a day.

    I wish there was a nice way to say, "Mom, please take better care of yourself. I want to spend as many years as I can with you." But even that would hurt her feelings... - 12/8/2009   9:35:44 AM
  • LINDAPNYNY
    159
    I struggle with this same issue with my father. He's morbidly obese, suffers from weight-related edema and sleep apnea (which he leaves untreated), diabetes, back pain...the list goes on. I know from years of spending time in Al-anon rooms (he's also a non-drinking alcoholic) that "I didn't cause it, can't cure it and can't control it," it's very hard to sit silently as someone you love kills himself. And that's what it feels like my father's doing every time he makes another poor food choice. I do as many of you suggest and offer him unwavering love and support and never vocally judge his choices or offer advice (even though I too struggled with weight my whole life and took control of it through diet and exercise). But for those of you who say that this isn't about the woman who started this thread, but about her mother--you're wrong. Her mother's choices affect her also. And I, for one, empathize with her. Could you really sit silently while someone you love commits suicide without wanting to help them? I don't think so. - 12/8/2009   9:09:04 AM
  • 158
    I think it's like getting someone to quit smoking-- they have to be ready to do it, or it just won't work. I had all the information I needed to quit smoking, I liked to exercise, I was in school for public health, and I was surrounded by others who didn't like smoking, and slowly, slowly, slowly, all those factors led me to quit but it didn't happen overnight. In fact, when people complained about my smoking, it just made me do it more out of spite. Now I'm trying to be patient with my DH, who still smokes-- hopefully my good example and support will help him quit one day soon, but I know I can't hurry it. I think that because I've been accepting of his smoking, while at the same time providing a healthy environment, he's made some big changes-- already cut back to half a pack a day, and no more smoking inside or in the car. When he's ready to go to the next step, I'll send him info on a great online quitting site, and lend him my extra Nicorette, and give him some of the literature I collected during my quit.

    I think helping people diet is much the same. Make it okay for them to not be perfect, and accept that they're not ready to change yet-- but give them a good environment with lots of love, and they'll hopefully get there. I think it's scary to change, and adopting a healthy lifestyle is a huge change. Having a really solid support system who already loves you makes it feel safer to change. Also, having people who care about you is great motivation-- my desire to start eating better was because my DH loved me, jelly thighs & love handles and all. Weird how that works out-- you think it would make you complacent, but I think being supported and loved, for many people, makes us strive to be better. - 12/8/2009   8:22:19 AM
  • 157
    I hate the fact that I'm overweight, but want I hate more are the 3 food police I have in my house (my daughters) they are on me all the time. I know their only trying to help BUT it doesn't. I got myself into this mess and I'm working on getting myself out. So beating me up all the time doesn't work, because I then start down the self destructive path of you can't tell me what to do! - 12/8/2009   8:14:19 AM
  • 156
    What are her dreams? Has she ever wanted to compete in a marathon? Climb a mountain? Trek across a foreign land? Ski? Be a singer, motivational speaker, volunteer for Habitat for Humanity (or any other good cause)??? I think every one has hidden desires. Have a conversation about yours to her and see if it will bring out one of hers. Then motivate her to go for it!!! It might be the thing she needs. A desire from deep within to accomplish something that seems so far away. And, I would wager a bet that along the way she'll gain some healthy habits. - 12/8/2009   7:44:00 AM
  • LCOPE2
    155
    My wife is afraid that I might get eyes for another since she gain weight since she gave birth to 2 beautiful children. This been over 20 years ago, and its becoming very depressing to her. She tries hard, but no avail. I still love her no matter how big she get. Am her motivation, and coach but its been hard. I have gain since I retired from the Marine Corp 8 years ago. But I can kick my excess fat no problem. Send some advice my way people. We could suley use it, and we will deeply appreciated. - 12/8/2009   3:36:22 AM
  • 154
    Is she a Spark member?
    I concur with everyone else. There is nothing YOU can do. She has to figure out what her own "trigger" is and do it for herself. - 12/7/2009   11:45:45 PM
  • 153
    I understand wanting to do that for your mom. I offer up support to my mom as well who basically did the same thing, went to the trouble of WLS only to gain 100 back over 10 years. She didn't gain it all back but she's getting to the point where it's really impeding her health and she knows this. She knows it just like we all know it when we're not in the mindset to do something about it. We know what needs to be done and no amount of gentle chiding by our loved ones will get us on track. Matter of fact, it had the opposite effect on me, I would "spite eat" like "screw you, I'll show you! mmmm Twinkie!" All you can do is offer to be there when it clicks for them, which I've done and have done the same for my aunt as well and said I'm willing to do whatever it takes to help them on their journeys but in the end we have to put ourselves first. Their journeys will truly begin when they're ready and not before. - 12/7/2009   9:10:44 PM
  • 152
    i think that the best thing you can do is to keep on loving her, and keep on doing your Spark plan. Your example is the best testimony to a healthy lifestyle. Maybe she will "catch" it. And please be patient. - 12/7/2009   7:32:04 PM
  • 151
    The one thing that will never help is to nag. I was a chubby kid due to a lot of factors but mostly because I was on prednisone and cyclosporine, which caused water retention so I looked, well, fat. But that didn't garner any sympathy from mom and oma, who would simply remind me that I was fat. It made me feel quite upset and defeated rather than inspired.

    Now Mom has her PhD in Physics and gained a lot of weight with it due to the stress it put her through. Now I have a *companion* instead of a burden. Mom and I walk together daily now. We rejoice in each others' victories. We remind each other of our dietary changes. We make healthy eating choices together and when we fall, we encourage each other to get back up. That's what has worked for us. Sometimes even a little friendly competition has helped, making things fun!

    I would never have lost 35 pounds without my mother's support and I daresay she would say the same for me. And our bond has never been closer. :)

    I would also like to remind everyone who reacts critically that this is a very tough problem to face and to please be gentle in your comments. - 12/7/2009   3:17:54 PM
  • 150
    This scenario sounds so familiar between me and my daughter. The difference between you and I, I would not pry or intrude and suggest things about her weight. She is now older, and she is trying ways to lose weight. I am there for her 100%. - 12/7/2009   1:58:31 PM
  • 149
    I gotta tell you... I have a daughter who could have written your blog.
    Here's the thing.... we who "comfort" ourselves with caloric intake could all wear bumper stickers on our butts saying "please don't remind me of my faults I am well aware of them"

    Help from others doesn't help. It makes it worse.

    Just love us. Unreservedly. Make sure we know it. And please... Don't make a big deal out of our weight ... up or down.

    You mean to be encouraging but it's far more complicated than you think.... "No, Rhonda, I can't just stop eating."

    I wish it was easy. I quit smoking by just deciding to. I started wearing my seat belt by voting to make it law.

    But weight loss is a whole nother planet.

    - 12/7/2009   1:42:26 PM
  • 148
    Jen, as Dr. Phil might say, "How's that workin' for ya?" meaning - is what you are doing (talking to your mom about getting healthy) making her change her lifestyle? If what you're doing isn't working (and it sounds like it isn't), then you'll have to change tactics.

    My DH and I are both gastric bypass patients (2 years out). We work as patient ambassadors with people who have recently had the bypass surgery, and we meet a lot of people with a lot of different thoughts about losing weight. From personal experience, I never liked my family commenting on what I "needed" to do to lose weight. In fact, I probably know more than they do about dieting, having done it since I was 14 years old (I'm almost 44 now)! Deciding to lose weight is definitely an emotional, intellectual thought process. Nothing you can say to your mom is going to cause her to "get on the stick," so IMHO, you should hug her often, tell her you love her even more often, and when she comes to you for diet or exercise advice, you can smile and answer her questions. You can invite her to take walks instead of eating out, and if she declines, don't make a fuss. Just say, "Ok, maybe another time!" When eating out with her, don't comment on her food choices or suggest healthier options unless she asks for your opinion. Keep the discussions about anything but dieting unless she brings it up first. Even then, keep the discussion very neutral, with statements such as, "Well, what I do is..." One thing I say to patients when they ask me how I manage my weight is that I tell them to make very small goals for themselves, and try to meet the goal over the period of a week. For example, I gave up drinking soda (JUST soda) for one week. The next week, I gave up drinking soda AND I made sure I ate at least fruit for breakfast each day. The following week, I continued to eat a piece of fruit with breakfast, didn't drink soda, and had fish for at least one meal that week. Not all dieting is about taking things away, but about adding in something healthy. The week after that, I might add a walk to my routine, 10 minutes a day, on 3 days of that week, along with the other three things I'd changed about my diet. In this way, I tell people that dieting doesn't have to hurt...and if you get to the end of a week and you decide you don't want to eat fish once a week, or you don't want to completely cut out soda (allowing yourself one or two cans a week), you could make those changes - it is all under my control, what I put into and get out of my body and how I treat it. Keep the "I" statements when you talk to her, and then ask her what SHE thinks she should do. That might help her feel less judged and more open to discussing her health with you as time goes by. - 12/7/2009   1:34:59 PM
  • 147
    My mom has always struggled with her weight, although sometimes I wondered why because she never seemed siginifcantly overweight to me. I now realize that she would have been had she not put forth the effort. I became signifcantly overweight, and while I'm sure it was painful for my mom to watch me become more unhealthy she never did lecture me or confront me. This may be because she remembers my contrary personality too well and knows any comment would not be helpful but set me in my unhealthy way. I'm so grateful for her knowing me well enough that she gave me the space to get to the decision on my own. Once the decision was made she has been very supportive and I am trying to return the favor by being supportive withhout being intruding. As she and my dad get older I wish I could make the hands of time just stop. But of course that is not the way of life. Eventually I will have to say goodbye, for a time anyway, and my heart will surely break. So it is my highest hope for everyone I love to be as healthy as possible. I guess it's a good thing my mom isn't as contrary as I was! - 12/7/2009   12:30:55 PM
  • 146
    My brother-in-law is extremely unhealthy and my husband and I wish he would loose the weight. He knows he needs to but does not do anything about it. He has already had a scare in the hospital, developed diabetes, and can't apply for the job he really wants - cop - all because of his weight. The past two times my husband saw him at home he was eating McDonalds' hamburger and fries and then fried okra! He lives with my mother-in-law who is also overweight but she has many medical issues that prevent her from exercising. But, she mostly watches what she eats, except when her son brings home McDonalds and such. I wish my brother-in-law would get to the gym and start eating healthy because him and his mother are the only family we have in our city. I want them both to be around to see us have kids and enjoy them. It's sad to see someone slowly kill themself and not be able to do anything about it. - 12/7/2009   11:41:29 AM
  • 145
    I have two people in my life who are not healthy. I have asked them to join me, but they don't wish to do so. In my journey I've had to learn to take full responsibility for my actions (those fudge cookies didn't force themselves into my mouth). Just as I am in control of me, those other people are in control of themselves. They have to make their own choices. I have to be at peace that they have chosen to remain unhealthy. - 12/7/2009   10:59:49 AM

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