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

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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?