Supporting your loved ones on their weight loss journey isn’t all that different from supporting them during any other life challenge they might experience. Generally speaking, support involves being kind, sympathetic, and present for the person dealing with something.
Based on the personal relationship you have with your loved one, the most important thing to do is to treat them as they would like to be treated, which may be quite different from treating them as you would like to be treated.
The weight loss journey can be exciting but frustrating. When your loved one embarks on this transformation and openly shares it with you and their social circle, it is an act of bravery. After all, weight is, more often than not, tied to personal insecurities.
Before you do anything, ask the person for guidance about how they would like for you to be involved. It’s a sensitive topic, and part of the collaborative process is communication. By including you, directly or indirectly, they’re allowing themselves to be vulnerable. Remember this as you consider the ways you can be helpful.
How to Become an Active Part of Their Program
Do your research. When you find out about your loved one’s weight loss journey, find out what it entails. Your loved one can tell you, or you can research it yourself. By understanding the program, you’ll know about dietary restrictions and workout schedules, making it easier to find ways to show your support. Your loved one will appreciate the effort you’ve made to understand their experience and will be more likely to lean on you for help.
Join the journey. Ask the person if they would like you to join their journey, and if so, how? Sometimes, even if you don’t need to lose weight, you can do things like improving your health with a cleaner diet and more exercise, mirroring what the other person is doing to lose weight. This shouldn’t be invasive. Simply make a few adjustments to your own habits and routine that make their weight loss journey more comfortable.
It is especially helpful if you live with the person in question, eat meals with them, and maybe even work out together. For instance, join them in intermittent fasting or follow a similar meal plan. Be more considerate when shopping and purchase fewer of the items that might tempt them.
Suggest activities you can do together. If you already engage in a healthy activity or have wanted to try one, now is the time to team up! Plan a hiking trip together, attempt paddleboarding, or start a yoga for weight loss class together. You’ll find that these activities are not only encouraging but also bring you and your loved one closer.
Tips to Help Your Loved Ones Develop Healthy Habits
- Make them feel attractive. Remember to offer sincere compliments, focusing on strengths and gifts alongside tangible accomplishments: changing their diets, eating healthier, avoiding fast food, working out, and being persistent, even when it gets hard.
- Show your support in the kitchen. Act as their sous-chef as they learn a new recipe based on their meal plan.
- Set an example, but never judge them if they don’t follow suit. If you tend to wake up early to go for a walk, invite them along. Even if they don’t join you, they might consider joining on another day.
- Establish a system that acknowledges their hard work in achieving specific goals. A tangible reinforcement (or reward) can be a powerful incentive in and of itself, apart from the accomplishment of losing weight. This could include, but not be limited to, rewarding yourself with a massage, buying new sneakers, or taking yourself to see a movie at the theater.
- If they’re open to it, share tips and hacks you know of, like the 5 Second Rule to transform your body.
Show them you care about the person, not the diet.
If you’ve witnessed your loved one struggle with their weight throughout their life, it’s exciting to see them embark on their weight loss journey. You want to do everything you can to help – but this can quickly become invasive and controlling, even if you have the best intentions at heart.
Instead of focusing entirely on their meal plan or workout regimen, remember to focus on their other needs. Be genuinely interested in how they are and how they’re coping at an emotional level. This may be more challenging than it sounds, but it can make a big difference!
Weight and related health issues or eating disorders are often rooted in deeper emotional issues. We all have them; we just express them in different ways. Your loved one’s weight loss journey is an opportunity to approach these difficult topics both for yourself and your loved one.
Ask the person how they would like for you to check-in with them. Getting their permission to discuss their mental and emotional health is the right thing to do. If they tell you it’s okay, ask them how they would like the topic to be broached and if they would like to establish certain boundaries.
Don’t shy away from this opportunity. It may be the most important show of support because you may be uncovering the key to their long-term happiness and health by addressing these difficult topics.
Other Tips to Help Your Loved Ones on their Weight loss Journey
If you want to go the extra mile in understanding what your loved one is experiencing in their weight loss journey, inform yourself about the emotional and psychological issues around weight loss.
Are you familiar with fatphobic language and terms like body dysmorphia? In a conversation with your loved one and their family, are you able to pick up on any potentially triggering language they exchange?
Put your emotional perception skills into action. Recognize the subtle fluctuations of motivation and enthusiasm that take place in your loved one around the issue of weight loss. You’ll find that you can then balance these shifts when they happen, providing emotional support when it is actually needed.
In doing this, you might realize that your loved one may not want the added attention you’re providing. This can be difficult to accept, but if it is the case, the best way to show your support is to back off and give them the space they need.
What Not to Do
Remember that your loved one’s weight loss journey is not your responsibility. Ultimately, the motivation and discipline required to achieve success must come from them. Instead of impeding the process, you can facilitate it and be a voice of encouragement. You shouldn’t, however, create added pressure through unsolicited advice or criticism.
When we care about someone, we often want to solve their problems. It’s a savior complex we’ve all experienced in one relationship or another. Make sure you’re not making them your project. After all, it is their weight loss journey.
Allow them, or directly ask them, to show you the areas where they are ready to receive support. Actively listen to them and act based on this information and not your assumptions. You can take it a step further by asking them how they would like you to be involved.
For instance, do they wish to be held accountable if they slip up on any part of their plan, whether it be the workout, grocery shopping, schedule, or not eating out? For some folks, this level of accountability works; for others, it may be viewed as a criticism of their efforts. That’s why communication is essential for collaboration.