I suspect this post may meet with some controversy due to the subject matter. There are some people (thin people) who believe that losing weight is as simple as eating less and that anyone who is overweight is simply greedy. However, as a former thin person, I can confirm this isn't always the case. I put on weight due to a combination of health issues, some that cause me to hang on to weight, and the worst one, which is a pain illness making most forms of exercise impossible. I never thought I'd say I miss jogging! The point of this post is that a lot of people are unhappy with their weight and it can take many attempts to be successful in losing it, but here's how to help by not making the situation any worse.
If you are reading this, it is probably because someone you care about is unhappy with their weight. So, firstly, well done for being someone who cares. I've explained why it's not always easy to lose weight, and that's just a few of the many reasons, but it's also important to look after your health, which means trying not to put any more weight on and eating as healthily as possible. It's also very important, if you care about someone, not to make them feel any worse, because unhealthy eating is often a vicious cycle of; eating crap, feeling crap, eating crap and this can be easier to break with reassurance and encouragement from others. Here are some ideas I've come up with to support someone who may or may not be actively dieting, but is nevertheless not happy with their weight.
Firstly; don't be a feeder. You may be observing someone who says they are unhappy with their weight eating a bar of chocolate, or a slice of cake, or having a pudding while at a restaurant. However, this may be the first and only bit of chocolate they've had that week, or maybe even that month, and they could only go to restaurants occasionally so want to make the most of it. That doesn't mean it's helpful to buy calorie laden 'treats' for them yourself. I eat very well 99% of the time and am well on my way to losing my second stone, but that doesn't mean once in a blue moon I won't have a small piece of chocolate or something else I probably shouldn't. I'm only human. It doesn't mean I've fallen off the wagon forever, and it doesn't mean I want to eat it every day. Even if the person isn't actively dieting, they would probably still prefer to only eat treats when they want to, rather than because they feel obliged to, as it was a gift.
If you want to buy someone a little treat, chocolate is probably the easiest and least imaginative choice, so be a hero and think outside the chocolate box. You, and the gift, will be far more appreciated and it will go a long way to supporting someone you care about with an issue that matters to them. Here are some suggestions for non-calorie options for small thoughtful gifts that will make them smile. Obviously, they won't all work for everyone and you might be best coming up with your own, but it's somewhere to start.
- Interesting fruit. Since I've been working on my weight loss I have found that I really like red grapes, and they are great for picking at during a film, or when I'm doing something boring. Some exotic fruit, such as Sharon Fruit, or Pomegranate seeds, might make a welcome change from another bar of chocolate and it is great when you discover something low calorie that you really enjoy, so you could end up starting a new tradition.
- Flowers. You can't eat these, they are not going to sabotage any diet, but they will brighten the place up and make someone smile.
- Smoothies, or posh juice. This might not be appropriate, depending on if the person is following a specific diet plan, but there are a lot of nutrients in smoothies and juices and they are very sweet, so it's a better option than sweets or chocolate, although still quite high calorie. They are also very expensive so would still be considered a treat for a lot of people.
- Socks! This might be personal to me, so the real advice here is find out what they like, but for me a pair of socks with a silly animal on or a stupid phrase will always make me happy.
- Stationery. A notebook is sometimes nice, if you're a writer, or a list maker by nature.
- Photos. Have a few photos printed off from a recent day out or event. No one does this enough anymore, and the joy of a physical memory is very much underrated.
- Encourage a hobby. Getting a small gift towards something the person enjoys doing will always be appreciated and hobbies can be helpful in preventing boredom-eating, too.
Being overweight can really affect a person's confidence and it's not always justified. You can still be attractive and beautiful without being thin, but it can be hard to convince someone of that. If you love someone who is unhappy with their weight, tell them how much you appreciate the way they look, or how great they look in a particular outfit. It may seem like it makes no difference and they still seem unhappy, but it might reach them somewhere and give them a little lift, and one day, hopefully, they might believe you, so don't give up. If you mean it, say it , it might just make a difference.
Losing weight can seem like an impossible task and, as such, there may be many times when you see someone 'fall of the wagon' and have a massive blow out. This can make them feel worse about themselves, so be reassuring and kind, not judgemental. If someone is feeling rubbish about themselves (which might have brought on the binge in the first place) drawing attention to what they will undoubtedly see as their failures will definitely not help. Such comments as 'I thought you were supposed to be dieting' or 'that's not going to help with your weight' are not helping anyone, so keep them to yourself and say something positive, or, perhaps nothing at all. Life doesn't have to be all about weightloss, so maybe talk about something else altogether, perhaps think about something that you could do together to cheer them up or take their mind off things.
I firmly believe that there is a weightloss plan out there for everyone, you just have to be in the right place emotionally, or psychologically, to get there. So, it doesn't matter how many times someone attempts to tackle their weight, get right behind them every time. Think of it like trying to pass your driving test, it doesn't matter how many times you've tried before, there is no reason why this time you won't crack it. But it can be hard, really hard, so if they fail, be there to support them, and next time, get right behind them again. One day they will do it, with you by their side, but in the meantime, keep being there for them. Trust me, they will be painfully aware that this is the 16th diet they've tried this year, but they need to believe it will work, because one day it will. All the planets will be in alignment, emotional life will be on an even keel, health will be ok and it will all fall into place. In the meantime, keep reminding them that it doesn't matter, keep finding other things to focus on and listen to them, because they will let you know what you can do to help, and one day you will crack it together. This might not mean losing a lot of weight, it might mean they learn to love themselves as they are, which will be largely down to the support they receive, so always aim to be part of the solution.