|Remember: Build up. Don't tear down.|
OK. Do you have them nearby? Good. Because today's topic deals with the things people who've tried to better themselves -- especially in the area of weight loss -- already know but might not be able to effectively convey to their family members: Appropriate means of support.
Let's get the "DON'T DO THIS BECAUSE IT ISN'T HELPING" out of the way first.
First off, the person who called you in to read this blog already knows she needs to change something in their life. There is no sense telling your loved one that she's fat and could stand to lose a few pounds. She already knows there's an issue and it often contains some very personal, private and emotional elements, so DON'T repeatedly harp on her.
Secondly, DO NOT count her calories. Your loved one is responsible for her own decisions. Let her make mistakes.
Thirdly, DO NOT tsk at her for choosing something you believe shouldn't be on her diet. She knows what's healthy and what isn't. And, to be quite honest, no food is off the table (pardon the pun) as long as it's consumed in moderation.
Fourthly, DO NOT make physical activity a competition with you or anyone else. I know a lot of people who deal with weight and body-image issues whose problems hearken right back to childhood, where they were uncoordinated, picked last for kickball, and ran slower than everyone else. The only person with whom your loved one should be competing is herself. Then she can't lose.
Lastly, DO NOT measure her progress on a scale. The scale is the enemy. For your loved one, nothing is more discouraging, nothing will make her give up faster than a scale that doesn't budge. This new way of life is not a sprint. It's a marathon. Your loved one is in it for the long haul. But discouragement will leave her on the side of the road with blisters on her feet before she gets past the first mile-marker.
So what can you do to keep your lovey on the right track? I'm glad you asked.
A lot of people don't understand the issue with which your loved one is dealing actually has little to do with food. She knows weight loss is a calories-in versus calories-burned battle. She's read the literature about whole grains, good carbs/bad carbs, protein, fruits and vegetables. She knows exercise is good for her body. In fact, the average "loved one" could probably repeat information the most knowledgeable nutritionists and exercise science majors give at workshops and seminars.
Your lovey's spirit is what sits at the heart of the matter.
First off, she feels isolated and alone. THE BEST REMEDY is to join the battle with her. She needs you to become knowledgeable about which foods are better so you can sit down together once a week and come up with a plan of attack. Make a weekly menu together. Shop for groceries together. Make good choices together. You'll eventually discover there are multiple benefits in working together as a team.
Secondly, MAKE SURE SHE HAS TIME TO DE-STRESS (de-stress = go to the gym/go for a walk/work out).This is especially important for the loved ones of the world who are new moms or moms of small children. I'm sure you've heard the phrase: "If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." It's true. Whether we acknowledge it or not, there is an incredible amount of guilt that comes from leaving our children. Especially for something as frivolous as time to take care of ourselves. But guess what? Mom's mental and physical health are paramount to the smooth operation of the family unit.
Thirdly, NOTICE THE PROGRESS. This means all progress, not just a more slender figure. Pay attention to her energy level. Pay attention to her mood. And make sure she realizes her progress by complimenting her in ways like, "I love how you seem so happy after your workout," or "These changes in our meal plan make ME feel good about what's going on." A positive attitude is as contagious as a smile. If something makes her/you feel good, it's a change with which you'll stick.
Lastly, CELEBRATE even the smallest accomplishments. We encounter so many things to discourage us and oftentimes forget to rejoice in the little changes. I moved to a heavier weight bar for the shoulder set and back set in my lifting class. YAY! I left my bad mood at the gym. YAY! I tried flax seed for the first time and liked it. Now I can get my Omega-3s in my diet. YAY!
Proper support is about encouragement. The more positive you are about your loved ones ability to succeed, the more successful they are likely to be.
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