Anyone who has been following my blog for some time knows that I am on a weight loss journey that I lovingly call Mission Possible. A weight loss journey is a long trek but it is also a personal one. It takes courage to acknowledge your weight is affecting your health and it also takes courage to take care of the excess weight by jumping out of your comfort zone and changing your whole lifestyle.
But it also takes some courage to share that you’re on this personal journey with others. I really don’t know why people feel a sense of embarrassment when they share they’re on a weight loss journey. I know I felt bashful to admit I was on one as well. But nonetheless, coming out about being on a weight loss journey is a bold act for most.
I share how I’m losing weight but I feel that it’s important to know how to support someone you love on their weight loss journey, even if you’re not on a weight loss journey yourself. Whenever someone takes on a new challenge, yes, it is about digging deep within yourself but it is also helpful and vital to have the support and backing of family and friends. But how do you go about being encouraging to someone who’s striving to live a healthier lifestyle without being underwhelming or overbearing?
1.) Seek To Understand. When someone opens up to you about wanting to lose weight, unless you’re their doctor or physician, that’s not your time to tell them whether you think they should lose weight or not. Meaning when they say, “I think I want to lose some weight” don’t be so quick to say “What are you talking about? You look fine the way you are. You’re not fat.” No, no, no, no. First of all, losing weight is not just about wanting to be physically smaller. It’s about being healthier. It’s about reducing your chances of heart disease, high cholesterol, etc. It’s also about adding on more years to your life time. Losing weight isn’t just about aesthetics. When someone tells you they want to lose weight, there’s nothing wrong with asking them why they want to lose weight. By all means, ask why. Try to see where they’re coming from. If you’re really concerned about them not needing to lose weight, gently suggest that they should speak with their physician first but even still say, “I’ll support you in whatever choices you make.” It’s easy to be on the outside looking in but you don’t have to live inside their body. They do. You don’t go through what they go through in their body. If they are not satisfied with their body then respect that because well… it’s their body and their choice.
2.) Don’t Assume. When someone shares that they’re not happy with their weight, people tend to assume that person thinks little of them self which isn’t always the case. Just because someone wants to lose weight, doesn’t mean they think little of themselves, they have a low self-esteem, or they don’t find themselves attractive. That’s not necessarily true. Just because someone is not satisfied about the physical state their body is in doesn’t mean they’re feeling down on themselves as a person as a whole. What I’m saying is that when someone shares that they want to lose weight, don’t automatically jump to say, “But you’re beautiful! Don’t say that about yourself. You’re fine the way you are.” For example, I love myself. I do but I also realize that because I love myself I know what I’m deserving of and one of those things is a healthier body. I deserve to be able to walk up the stairs and not be out of breath. I deserve to not have to be subjected to terminal diseases. It takes a lot for someone to admit that they want to take charge of their weight once and for all. That means they do esteem them self highly. They know they deserve better. They know they deserve to be healthy.
3.) Don’t be a Tyrant. It’s great that you’re all for your loved one losing weight but don’t be overbearing. If you see them slip up, don’t beat them up over it. Don’t verbally assault them every time you see them eating a cookie: “See you’re never going to lose weight if you keep stuffing your face with Chip Ahoy cookies! Way to go loser!” Relax. It’s not that serious. Slip ups are expected through out a weight loss journey. No one is perfect. It happens. Instead keep encouraging that person. Praise them when you see them making the right choices. Let them know that you’re proud of them when you see them working out. You don’t need to constantly remind that person that they’re trying to lose weight. I promise they’re completely aware of that. Just be there and be encouraging.
4.) Be Respectful. It’s okay to make suggestions (ex: “You should definitely try Pilates on Wednesday.”) but respect that that person’s weight loss journey is their own. If they choose not to go to Pilates then respect that. Don’t force things onto them. A weight loss journey is what they make of it. They’ll reach their weight loss by doing things they find enjoyable. You may like Pilates but maybe they don’t and that’s fine. I’ll also add that if you know your loved one or friend is on a weight loss journey, accommodate them as well. Meaning, if you’re going out to eat, if they’d rather go to a place that has healthier options, respect that. You want to show that you support them right? You want them to reach their goal right? If you’re going to go to your girlfriend’s house and you want to surprise her with ice cream but you know she’s on a weight loss journey, bring her low-fat frozen yogurt instead. Respect what that person is striving for. As long as that person isn’t doing anything harmful or extreme to their body then it’s none of your business. Respect that person’s choices.
5.) Make note of their Progress. When you see that they’re losing the weight, they’re being consistent, or they’re following their goals through, praise them. Let them know. “Wow, great for you for working out every day this past week. Keep it going!” “Your old jeans fit you! I’m so proud of you!” But I will also like to add that even though most people who say this mean well, but try to stray away from saying things like, “You look good” or “You’re looking great.” I personally don’t take offense to this but I’ve heard of other overweight people on a weight loss journey take offense to that which is understandable. When you say that it suggests that they didn’t look good before or that they weren’t attractive before the weight loss. It suggests that if your body is smaller, that deems you as more attractive. Instead say, “You look like you’re losing weight! Great job!”
6.) Encourage, Encourage, Encourage! All in all, the main thing you should take away from this is that when someone you love is on a weight loss journey encourage them and support them. Help them make the right choices and praise them when they do. Be there for them when they slip up and uplift them. Be a positive force in one’s weight loss.
I hope you found this helpful. Good luck to you as a bystander and supporter of one’s weight loss journey! xo