Over the past couple of years, I’ve had numerous family members and friends try to lose weight. I’ve seen great success for some, but for others, not so much. Losing weight can be a difficult step for some people. So why was weight loss successful for some but not for others? One of the most essential factors to long term success is having a support system. Losing weight can become even more difficult when your spouse, children, family, or friends do not show support. What if the person losing weight and the family members could both benefit? One study found that friends and family of obese and overweight individuals who lose weight also lost weight themselves. Family members lost as much as 5 percent of their initial body weight, enough weight loss to bring down the risk of obesity-related heart disease and diabetes. By supporting a family member who is trying to lose weight, you may even begin a better lifestyle for yourself! Here are some tips I have come up with for those trying to lose weight and for those supporting family members who are trying to lose weight.
If you are trying to lose weight:
-Stop and think about what you really want in terms of support and write it down. Instead of writing down, “Support me”, say “Eat dessert in another room away from me so I can avoid the temptation.” By being more specific, your family members will have a better understanding of how to support you.
-Keep unhealthier options out of sight. Ask your family members to keep their snacks and unhealthier foods in a place you do not go all the time (This could be in a cabinet or drawer you don’t use in the kitchen, the garage, or the basement). By keeping these foods hidden, the temptation is not there and you are less likely to want to eat it. Out of sight, out of mind.
-Share your goals with your family. This will hold you more accountable and your family can help you in reaching your goals. If your goal is to stop drinking soda, your family can help you in ensuring you avoid soda, whether in the home or out at dinner.
If you have a family member who is trying to lose weight:
-Do not give food as a gift! You may think that giving candy as a gift is a good idea, but when a person trying to lose weight is given food, the temptation arises, making it more difficult for them to follow a healthy lifestyle.
-Avoid talking about weight and food. Making a lifestyle change is difficult for anyone. If the talk of food and weight does arise, talk positively and encourage your family member! “I’m proud of you for losing two pounds!” “The grilled salmon and steamed vegetables we had tonight was great!”
-Do not be the “food police”. Your family member will have times where they slip up and that is okay. If you discourage them for making a small slip-up, they are more likely to feel like they have failed and will no longer want to continue with a healthy lifestyle. Instead, try to discuss how you can help to avoid the situation next time.
These tips can help create a supportive environment that can lead to long term success. After seeing how being supportive has helped my family members in their weight loss journeys, I would encourage you to do the same in your own homes. We all need support and encouragement to achieve any goals in life. Words can build us up or tear us down. Make sure yours are positive.
By: Alexis Wolfgang
Guest Blogger, Graduate Nutrition Student at Winthrop University and Volunteer at Lifexcel