How to Help Your Obese Loved one Lose Weight Without Hurting Their Feelings

It’s not easy being the overweight one in the family.  This is something I know first-hand due to my own 25 years of experience. When I was growing up in the 1970s, being overweight (also known as “fat”) wasn’t as common as it is today. Basically all my relatives were thin, including both my parents. So when they realized I needed to do something about my excess weight, they really didn’t have any idea of how to actually help me.

Good Intentions can Still Hurt

One of my grandparents assumed that singing, “I don’t want her, you can have her, she’s too fat for me!” was the one way to get me to lose weight successfully. At the age of twelve, I had yet to realize this was a line from a popular Polka song, so I assumed the unkind words to this song were made up just for me.

Did this particular tactic cause me to lose weight?  No, it caused me to dislike myself even more and turn to food for comfort.

Like so many others out there who are struggling with their weight, I continued to listen to the numerous comments and snide remarks from others who I’m sure meant well.

I can’t tell you how many times I heard:  “Jodi, just stop eating so much and it only makes sense that you’ll lose weight.” Okay, easier said than done. If it was that simple, don’t they realize I would have done that already?  These comments didn’t create a solution, all they did was make me feel sad and depressed, and again, cause me to eat more.

Is there a way to help a family member lose weight without being hurtful?

That is a good question and one that was brought to my attention when I attended the Athena/WIN Healthy Lifestyles Luncheon in Lansing last Thursday.  It is actually a great question, but it’s also very difficult to answer.

Tell me Something I Don’t Know

Let me start by saying that during my 25 years of being overweight, the last thing I needed was to be INFORMED that I was overweight. So in order not to be hurtful, please keep in mind that a person who is overweight doesn’t need to be reminded of it daily, they know it already.

Save Your Advice

I personally did not like when a family member said:  “You should…” or “You need do…”  All these words did was to make me extremely angry, even though I kept a smile on my face. I wasn’t ignorant just because I was overweight. I knew I needed to eat right. I knew I should exercise.  I knew it all.  Doing it was another thing.

Believe in Them but REALLY Believe

What helped me was a having a person (Melinda) who stated that she truly believed in me.  She kindly told me that I could “and would” lose my weight and agreed to walk with me if I wanted her to. She didn’t act like a diet expert, she didn’t tell me about all the health issues my weight could create or criticize my size. Melinda was who I call my “encouraging friend.” She didn’t ask me questions like “What did you eat today?” “Did you exercise yet?” or “How much weight have you lost so far?”  Instead she was a friend, no bothersome questions and always that one person who believed in me, and I knew it.

If you are hoping to help a loved one lose weight, please try to simply be their “encouraging friend” …one person who continues to let them know by telling them that you believe in them, always.

And please take the time to share this article with others since it helps when you know that you aren’t alone in your weight loss struggles.  I understand because I’ve been there and that is the reason I’m here – I can help.

Photo Credit: honor the gift

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  1. I realize this article is a year old, but I still would really like to comment. I am not overweight, but I still have issues with my body. I have friends who are overweight who I am very close to and I would love to encourage to lose weight, but I don’t feel its my place to offer them an invite to encourage them. I feel if they wanted the help they would come to me. I enjoy running, sports, swimming, hiking and working out and would love for them to join me when they had the time, I would even set time aside for them. I do keep exercise and healthy eating as part of my lifestyle and because I think of it as part of my life, so when it comes up in conversation that I went on a run, or that I am trying to cut junk food out of my diet, with one of my friends, I get completely ignored and the other one usually ridicules me. I do feel like sometimes they try to sabotage my routines or hold me back from accomplishing my goals just because they either don’t share those goals or feel they can’t reach them so they don’t try. They get bugged when I don’t want to drink or don’t want to go out to eat for lunch because it doesn’t fit my diet. The one that gets me is when we do go out to eat and I am picking through the menu for something that isn’t too heavy, and they say, they eat whatever they want. Obviously! I could understand that people who are overweight, don’t need to be told they are overweight. I do however feel that we are reaching a point here in the US especially that peoples lifestyles have become too sedentary, and too much emphasis has been placed on food. Meanwhile as the percentage of people who become overweight increases it seems that instead of people putting a little effort into their well being, they actually exert more energy into resisting a healthy change. I don’t mean to offend people, its just a frustrating situation to feel like its not okay for me to be fit because they aren’t. I don’t think its right to insult anyone fat or thin just because you have insecurities about your body. I guess I would like to end my saying, if you don’t want to hear it from anyone about yourself, be supportive for others that are putting effort into improving themselves, and maybe take that as encouragement, or motivation for yourself that if they can do it, so can you.

    1. tajy,
      Thank you for commenting on this post … yes, maybe it is a year old but very important just the same!You brought up many valid points – I can clearly tell that you are frustrated with the behavior of your friends; but you are also very concerned about their well being and wish to help them.  Since I dealt with obesity for 25 years, I can understand the way they are acting -yet I’m not saying that it’s right.When I was overweight, I tried to avoid comments from those who were thin & I didn’t care about their exercise routine or their healthy diets.  I was in denial & did not want to face reality that I should take care of my body like they were taking care of theirs.  I always “felt fine” & yes … I also ordered “anything I wanted from the menu” when dining out.  If the person I was dining with ordered healthy items, I just told myself that they were going overboard & they simply didn’t know how to enjoy good-tasting food.  This may be difficult for many to believe, but it really didn’t seem like being overweight was unhealthy.  I did want to lose weight but my focus was only on appearance, not on my body’s health.  It took a long time to finally ‘get it.’ You don’t mention the age of your friends … I’m wondering if they are still in the denial stage like I was?    I love that you want to encourage them to lose weight – and yes, if they want help they ‘may’ come to you.  But let me gently inform you that if they DO NOT, it may be because they are slightly jealous.  I will admit I was jealous of all my thin friends basically because I thought “it wasn’t fair” that they were born thin & I was born fat.  I would have NEVER asked a thin friend for help because I assumed that they didn’t understand what it’s like to be overweight, thus they have no idea what it’s like to try to lose it.    As far as giving any advice to you to help your friends…1st, as you stated: they don’t need to be told that they should lose weight- I’m sure that they know that already.   May I suggest you simply ask them to go for a walk, and do NOT stress that it is for exercise purposes – just mention that it’s nice outdoors & it’s better than being cooped up inside.  You enjoy running, swimming, hiking, etc. which is awesome, but activities such as those are often not desired by a person who is overweight.  Walking is simple, free, and enjoyable – plus you can do it anywhere at anytime of day – this is an activity that most people of ANY SIZE like to do!  Your friends notice when you order healthy for lunch, and I feel that as you continue to do so they may follow in your footsteps.  Sometimes the ‘more you tell them to do something’ … like order healthy menu items, the more likely they will be to order unhealthy.  Many people do NOT like being told what to do.  I know many people in my family who used to smoke cigarettes.  The more I begged them to quit, the more they seemed to smoke.   These family members did decide to quit smoking when THEY WERE READY.  How do we help a person become ready to lose weight and live healthy?I wish I had the answer to that ~ but considering we all have different personalities, different backgrounds, etc. there really isn’t the PERFECT answer.  I will say that my friend, Melinda, was the person who told me “You CAN do this, Jodi – it is time.  I believe in you.”   Those words helped me become the healthy person I am today.I wish you the best – and please encourage your friends to visit me here, but only when YOU feel it is the “right time!”  Thank you, again, Jodi

      1. These are helpful words of wisdom, but not helpful enough for my own situation. Like the above post, I am very healthy and fit. I currently live with my sister, who is morbidly obese. When I first moved in, I hoped that by cooking healthy meals for both of us, that might help her to get into that mode. But she would just go and eat another meal or two and/or several large snacks later that night. I had hoped that because I began an exercise regimen when I moved in with her, it would help to motivate her to want to exercise as well. And she did go to a few personal training sessions with her dojo but then stopped. Let me interject here: she has always been overweight. She had gastric bypass surgery many years ago and lost a TON of weight and was a totally different person. Vibrant, healthy, happy. She had a glow. Now she always looks depressed or pissed off. And she is. Because of herself. She’s told me she wants to change things. We even went on a juice fast at the beginning of the year. But then she went back to eating WAY too much. She just makes NO effort at all to help herself. Since I’ve lived with her, I have lost almost 30 lbs and just completed a 5K with top results. Did that motivate her? No, it had the reverse effect and made her eat more. I’ve tried subtleties. I don’t know what else to do and it is BEYOND frustrating to me. It makes me mad that she won’t even TRY. At this point, I feel like all I can do is say something to her out loud. PLEASE please help me help her. I love her too much to watch her do this to herself any longer.

        1. stillripple,

          I would first like to congratulate YOU on your wonderful weight loss along and your completion of a 5K … and with top results no less ~ how awesome are you? I love it! Your healthy lifestyle is surely something to be proud of … and believe me, your words are very inspiring and are likely to motivate others who read about what you have accomplished!

          You mentioned that you feel that you didn’t motivate your sister when you achieved these wonderful goals – but I am thinking that there is a chance that you really did, she just may not say anything to you about it. I have a sister too and when we were younger, she was always the thin one … which caused me to be jealous and eat more, especially when she received compliments & I did not. There is a possibility that the same could be happening in your situation.

          You truly love your sister, it is very obvious as you have done everything in your power to help her. Please let me say: Now she has to want to help herself.

          Al Roker from NBC’s Today show said it best the other day. He claimed that he didn’t start living healthier until he, himself was ready. Even though his wife along with other loved ones wanted him to lose weight, he had to want it. When he was ready, he made the change.

          I wish I could give you the perfect answer, but in all honesty there really isn’t one. Each one of us are different. In my situation, it took the passing of a dear relative before I realized that I needed to get on the right track and start living healthier. Your sister obviously knows how to live healthy, she has done it in the past.

          Please continue to motivate and support her when she asks for it … she knows you love her. I can only assume that she is frustrated with herself too; most likely trying to change even though many people in her life may feel she is not.

          I will keep you and your sister in my thoughts and hope that all works out wonderfully. Contact me anytime, I’m here to help in any way that I can.

          Jodi

  2. hey,
    i’m 16 and i’m going through the exact same thing as you did my parents keep saying “you should” and “you have to” but honestly i’m comfortable with myself….okay so i’m not reed thin but i’m not an elephant either and if i like myself why should i listen to them…all my friends like me just the way i am and are very supportive only my parents are doing this….the rest of my family members are also fine with me…it’s just my parents who are always bugging me and taunting me and honestly i get soooooo mad and frustrated that i just feel like hitting them. (although i know i can’t but still…the feeling is there.

  3. bhawisha,

    Thank you for connecting with me; your comments caused me to “really think” about some things.

    I can understand how you are upset and frustrated at your parents about their comments, it hurts and causes you to become angry at them. Family members and friends are not saying the same things, which probably makes it seem as though your parents are “picking on you” – and since they are the ones who love you the most, it really hurts. It’s very familiar to me, you are NOT alone. But …

    Please understand that they say the things they do because they love you – yet they may need to use different words in order to allow you understand that. You didn’t explain what they tell you that you “should do?” Eat healthier foods? Exercise daily?

    It’s hard to be a parent and say the right things all the time. I’m a mother of three and I’ve made some mistakes myself. My kids understand that I just want the ultimate best for them! When they were babies, I could control what they ate and I always made sure they consumed the healthiest items possible. But when they were older, they controlled what food they consumed, often eating unhealthy items like chips and dip, pop, etc. especially when spending time with their friends. I would get upset with them. I didn’t want to them to grow up overweight and sad like I was. Comments were made by me to my children because I cared. I’m sure that there was a time or two when I made them angry.

    Maybe you can gently explain to your parents that their words cause you to become upset, and that you do understand how important your good health is to them. I personally don’t feel as though they want you to be “reed thin” like you mentioned, but they want you to be healthy and happy!

    If you need to share anything with me in the future, let me know … I am here for you, bhawisha. I support you.

    Jodi

  4. Hey Jodi!
    I’m only a young adult, unlike my sister who is almost in her thirties. She has two kids under five and a husband. She weighs about 200+ pounds and every time I see her I about burst into tears, I can’t stand to face her much less tell her to lose weight. She’s been to the doctor and the doctor has threatened her to lose weight. My sister went through a tough job loss which wrecked her self confidence I have no idea how to help her. Everytime I talk to her she seems interested, but thinks that walking can not help her, she’s “too” far gone to be helped like that. She believes that she has to have something intense to lose weight. Please help ! Thanks bunches!

  5. Addie,

    I think you are doing a wonderful job at trying to help your sister and I’m sure she truly appreciates your concern for her. You mentioned that your sister “seems interested” when you talk to her about losing weight. I believe that is a good thing because it shows that she does want to do something, but I feel at this point she is just a bit overwhelmed.

    Often when an overweight individual contemplates the process of weight loss, the thought of losing a significant amount of weight enters their mind and it immediately becomes frustrating because a person doesn’t know where or how to begin. If she thinks that walking can NOT help her because she is too far gone… that tells me that she is at the point of feeling that nothing can help her. We obviously know that is not true, but now how to convince her of that?

    Many people who are extremely overweight, morbidly obese in my situation, have tried several forms of dieting. It’s common for these “quick fix” diets to fail and seems to be pretty normal for this “diet failure” to cause a person to feel as if they must accept their current size, telling themselves that they should just accept being fat.

    I have spoken to countless obese individuals who feel this way … and I will admit that’s how I felt as well. At 300 pounds I had almost given up too. I didn’t believe that something as simple as walking could help me either – but then it did! The first step: TRY IT.

    There are hundreds of people who have informed me that they, too, have lost weight walking. A gentleman from Lansing, Jon Stanton, weighed 430 pounds. He read that daily walking helped others lose weight, including myself (I walked only 22 minutes a day for a total of 1.5 miles – 162 POUNDS were lost by doing this every day!) Jon knew he just had to TRY IT … and he walked off 230 pounds!

    Of course, eating healthier was important as well but there was no mention of diets. Three meals per day, healthy snacks and a better outlook on the future was all part of the process. There was no “focus date” as to when the weight had to be lost. It was a new healthy lifestyle … one that was fun and doable.

    He was not TOO FAR GONE and neither is your wonderful sister! Please, tell her to visit me here or she can find me on Facebook. I would love to motivate her and let her know that I believe she can lose her excess weight ~ and I hope that I can help her believe in herself. I can already tell that she has your amazing support and you’ll be there to let her know that she can do it!

    And she can!

    Thank you for being there for her … and please, remember I’m here for both of you if you ever need me.

    Jodi

    1. Hi Jodie,
      I am from India. This is the first time i googled “how to convince family member to lose weight” and there i found your website and i think you are the right person that i can vent to. I basically have been a person known to be thin to normal weight after being married. But then the pounds started piling on after 25 to 26 years of age but still not over weight. Just had an ugly tummy. The thing is while i got watching some health shows while i was in Cape town, Africa..they inspired me..to be healthy. The first time i realised..although i am not fat, i still am so out of shape and so slack and i never really thought of food as a source of nutrition. So for the purpose of healthy living i started to eat better and read up everything from a free library thankfully on healthy living. So there started my journey towards healthier living. That was year 2009. My life has changed today and i have truely been on a journey to get where i am today and i know so much about the pitfalls of unhealthy eating and staying inactive that i am motivated most of the time to eat well if not i giving into junk..but very moderately. But now i see my a member of my family who has always been over weight, now obese and i thought that with all my new found knowledge, i should be able to now actually talk more sense, but it fell on deaf years. I knew a lot of health issues are going to be just around the corner adn there it has all happened. The High BP, Kidney stones, urine infection and always falling sick with fevers etc. Finally what got me actually so bugged is now he got recently diagonosed with a sugar reading of 400 and i just dont know what else i can do. His support system is pretty bad as far as this goes coz they too live life eating just about anything despite having health issues. He is my Bro in law adn im not his closest person to even tell him too much, but it really bothers me why people cant atleast start somewhere. I last told him that if u ever wanna get started to changing things do call me if u like coz i can surely guide u ina way u will be willing to…but im sure..what i said is of not much value. What more can i do…please help!!!

  6. Karyn,

    I’m happy to know that you feel comfortable “venting” with me … I truly understand why you feel the way you do, believe me. Your brother-in-law probably realizes that you want to help him and I’m sure that he does appreciate that. Please don’t say that your words were not of much value – he listened and he will do something … but ONLY when he is ready.

    There probably isn’t any perfect advice here- you let him know that you care about him and that you are willing to help in any way that you can. Sometimes it just takes a ‘turning point’ in a person’s life to make the necessary changes. We can’t “force” a turning point to occur … it just does.

    In the meantime, maybe suggest that an exercise as simple as walking every day for at least 20 minutes can make a big difference in how a person feels: more energy, a clearer mind and so much more! If your bro-in-law has a dog, suggest he walks the dog daily.

    I’m proud of you for living a healthier lifestyle and focusing on helping those that you love to do the same. I think you are AWESOME! You’ll be in my thoughts and I wish that all goes well for your bro-in-law.

    Jodi

  7. Hi Jodi,
    Thanks for the encouragement and kind word :)..infact he just a got a dog recently and thats exactly what i plan to tell him next is to take the dog for a walk. Incidentally his sugar reading has given him a jolt and he kinda mentioned to my hubby that he plans to bring about some changes to his health and i got to know that just the next evening after i wrote in. After reading all the comments above..i have come to realize..that each one has to make that decision when they are ready.
    Good luck to all trying to get healthy..

    1. Karyn,

      No problem at all … I’m so happy to learn that your bro-in-law is now a proud dog owner, I love it!

      By what you’ve informed me of, it sounds as though he is on the road towards a healthier lifestyle – I couldn’t be happier and I KNOW that you feel the same way!

      Please continue to stay in touch and feel free to visit whenever you need to “vent” again or simply want to share some news! Take care and take pride in the fact that YOU ARE MOTIVATING OTHERS TO FOCUS ON BETTER HEALTH – thank you for doing so!

      Jodi

  8. Hi Jodi:

    I have a big issue that I have no idea how to go about it. My best friend is not doing well. He has a bad diet, doesn’t work out and now is at the point where he is tired all the time now and cranky. He does not fit in booths well at restorants, has issues bending down or walking fast. I love him so much and NEVER tell him anything negitive or judge him. If I tell him I am “I am here for you as a friend” or recommend he walk with me he gets all upset about it. His diet is mostly pizza and diet soda. Barely any water. I know if he lost weight he would feel so much better and I really need help here. I feel stuck and I am tired of watching him be unhappy. What can I do?!?! I know you say it is when he s ready…he says he is but then when I take the next step he goes back to doing what he always does. Please help!!!

    1. Hello Raina,

      I’m happy to learn that you are so concerned about the health of your best friend, it sounds as though he really needs your help. To be completely honest, his attitude and behavior patterns sound extremely familiar; it’s almost as though you are describing the “BEFORE” me.

      Helping your friend to start leading a healthier lifestyle may take some creativity, which will take a little time … but please never give up on him. He needs you. My friend, Melinda, was in your exact shoes. She watched as I struggled to fit into the restaurant booths, witnessed my unhealthy eating habits and low water intake, and mostly – my lack of desire to exercise.

      But she kept on me and explained that she knew I was hurting inside; she could see that I didn’t like being morbidly obese and that I was scared about my future health. Smiling back at her was all I could do … I explained that I was fine with my size/weight – God made me that way and I had accepted it. Melinda didn’t “buy it” – then she looked me in the eye telling me that we were going to get healthy together. It was almost like she didn’t give me any alternative, she was going to make me do it!!!

      Yes, the turning point in my life was the sudden death of an obese relative; Shirley’s passing allowed me to realize that we have only one life and had to start focusing on improving the health of mine. But Melinda was there, just like you are there for your friend. It was wonderful to have support and someone who believed in me. She ate healthier and walked daily with me. She would ask me about any struggles or concerns and try to help me ‘fix them.’

      You stated your friend becomes upset with you when you try to help or mention taking a walk? He’s not really upset with “you” … he’s most likely more upset with himself. I can guarantee that he desires to lose weight and wishes to lead a healthier lifestyle, but if he has attempted to do this in the past and failed – he’s probably scared of failing again.

      I’m wondering if you ever looked him in the eyes and told him what you explained to me in your comments? Think about that, okay.

      I will keep both of you in my thoughts … it’s a tough situation to be in, I know that. If you have any other concerns, I’m here for you – for him. Don’t give up; I BELIEVE YOU CAN HELP HIM.

      Jodi

      Jodi

  9. Hi! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give
    a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy reading through
    your blog posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums
    that deal with the same subjects? Thank you so
    much!

    1. Hello Adiphene!

      Thank you for giving the “quick shout out” and for the lovely comment … thank you sooooo much, your kind words are very much appreciated!

      I’m happy to learn that you enjoy reading my blog posts- awesome! If you ever have any blog content ideas that you would like me to cover please feel free to share those ideas ~ I would love to focus on a subject that you are interested in.

      As far as other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same subject matter, I’m sure that I can locate many of them. Please allow me to do some research and I will get back with you as soon as possible with the info.

      Thank you, again, for visiting … I’m here for you anytime! Jodi

  10. Jodi, thank you so much for this piece. i grew up with an overweight father and watched my mother cajole and shame him. it was truly hard to watch. I have a slightly dfferent question for you: my partner, who is overweight, actually approached me about helping him find resources to lose weight. Can you recommend things that I can do and resources I can point him to? Currently, I try to be active with him (walks and other forms of exercise) and we eat healthily when we eat together. He said that he would like some help with structure and accountability, something that I’m not, as his partner, the person to give. He has (and knows he has) childhood issues that contribute to his weight issues, making me think it would be helpful for him to talk to someone. He thinks that too. How does one go about finding a therapist who works in this area?

  11. I have a daughter who is 39 and needs to lose about 60 tp 80 #s. There is heart disease in her dad’s side of the family (yes he is obese too). Her uncle died from heart disease when he was in his early 50’s and my daughter is about 12 years younger then that. I know about not saying or doing anything to hurt her feelings but I am so worried about her. No I don’t think she is trying to get rid of the weight either.

    I suppose there is nothing I can do?

    1. Jane,

      I think it is wonderful that you are trying to help your daughter become healthier and I understand that you are worried. Yes, I agree that it is very difficult to know what to say or to do when a loved one is overweight and you wish to help…yet you do not want to upset that person. My parents dealt with the same issue for 25 years; it was difficult for them as well.

      You mentioned that you “don’t think she is trying to get rid of the weight.” Has she told you that she isn’t concerned about shedding her excess weight? … or do you feel as though it is possible that she’s simply not sharing the struggles with weight loss success that she may be encountering?

      It’s difficult to know. It is also difficult to know what to do in your situation. My advice is to ask her to start walking (or find another physical activity that you may enjoy) three or four times per week. Please do NOT stress that she “needs to or should” because it may upset her. If you let her know that you want to exercise because you realize how important it is to your OWN good health, she may want to be there for you. I’m certain she’ll find that walking is enjoyable and she will notice how simple it is to exercise with just putting “one foot in front of the other” for 30 minutes or so!

      If the mood is good, you may want to let her know about my personal story, that walking improved my health and allowed me to drop 160+ pounds by just walking each day and eating better. Success stories help others realize that they, too, can do the same. It is highly likely that she would LIKE to lose weight, but may not feel it is possible. I was there. It took awhile to understand that yes, it can be done!

      I’m here if you have any questions for me … please do not hesitate to contact me, Jane, I mean that.

      Stay in touch.

      Jodi

      1. Jodi
        I appreciate the comments. They are very helpful. Difficult to know how to help someone who won’t help themselves at all. I’ve tried being supportive, pleading, and recently lost it and said some mean things. Just at wits end. Person is now having trouble getting out of chairs and trouble walking. Just don’t know if I can watch and support them down this path. Any advice would be much appreciated.

  12. I really enjoyed reading this post, it gave me a whole other insight into something I can’t really understand. I’ve googled on how to give the right advice to obese people, as I’ve noticed my boyfriend is having troubles with his weight.
    I had a phone call with him today which made me feel like I didn’t know how to help him.
    I met him last year and he was a lot thinner than he is now. After a while of getting to know each other, I gradually discovered that he has struggled with being over-weight for a long time. He manages to lose weight but can gain it again. In the beginning, I didnt pay much attention to his body type, I though he was in good shape. A few months later I noticed he looked a bit chubbier. A while later, he admitted his jeans are becoming tight. When I went back home on holiday for Christmas, I made a joke about how I would gain around 200 kilos with my mothers cooking. When I returned, I had gained maybe one or two kilos, and I noticed he gained quite a lot more weight himself. After that, he started mentioning he should probably cut back on eating to lose his Christmas-weight.
    Some months later, he remained in the same weight and one day he told me an old co-worked of his mentioned he had gained a lot of weight and she had never seen him this big before. He said “I should probably start losing some weight now”. Since then, other people had made similar remarks, and he has not yet started on a weight loss.
    We are now in July, and he has told me today that he has never enjoyed visiting the beach, since he feels uncomfortable with his body in public. He mentioned some friends plan on going to a beach tomorrow, yet he convinced some of them to go on a hyke instead, which seems quite positive. He then completed the plan with an outing to the pubs with drinking and eating involved. I now have an idea of how he copes with the feeling of being overweight, he decides to eat more. Also, I am now completely sure that he has a problem with his own image, which for me was not a very important thing, but I want to help him have a more positive idea of himself.
    In the past, I have mentioned I would go jogging with him, but he shows no interest in such, yet he was engaging in raquetball weekly-sessions in the past with a friend, with the intention of losing weight. I hope all these specific details help, because I have no idea on how to support him but am trying to give you a picture of his individual self. I would greatly appreciate some advice. I love him and want to support him, in every way, whatever he wants to do.

  13. Hi
    My son has really gotten over weight–It really aggravates me that people feel so free to comment on his size. Obesity is a very visible problem–meanwhile those who are making these comments are boozing it up, or not measuring up in some area of life that is not quite as glaring.
    I can say that I have seen my son cry tears of shame after remarks are made from unloving people.
    And just expecting others to shape up is not helpful….people who are obese really have eating disorders, much like others might have personality disorders, depression, bipolar, PTSD, alcoholism, or might be just plain rude.
    Please be thoughtful in what you say to those who are struggling with obesity and hopefully these same people will treat you and others with respect and dignity.
    Thanks.

  14. I am overweight. And my husband is some what overweight. It doesn’t show on him as it does me.Im trying to lose weight over the summer. Now this morning he says basically he is too. Im not competive,but I feel intimidated. I once went on a weightloss challenge. He joined and beat me.I should’ve been proud,but it made me mad plus he was the only male there.I want to encourage him,but………….Its frustrating….yell

  15. Dear Jodi,
    I came across your website google searching weight loss programs and support because I am incredibly worried about my cousin. She is only 25 and very obese. Our family has watched as she spirals into a darker place and no one knows how to breach the subject as it is extremely sensitive. My cousin did not grow up overweight. She started gaining weight at the end of high school and continued to do so in college. It was not until after college that she became obese however. She has a large bosom, which has continued to grow larger as she gains more weight. This makes it difficult and painful to workout. I think she’s now in a place where she’s unhappy and never feels good. My question for you is, if she hasn’t reached out to anyone for help–should we reach out to her? I don’t want to hurt her feelings. If she was asking for help, I would find every way possible to help her to a healthier lifestyle. For now, it is the elephant in the room, everyone walks on egg shells about saying something she may find offensive about her weight. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  16. I have a 23 yr old son who lives across the country from us and has gained sugnificant amount of weight and I am worried about his health and happiness. I really could us some suggestion on how to help.

  17. I think maybe inspiring via things one can do when fit and active may help?
    I’d like to get my friend out more walking around. She’s willing to walk around town, but maybe a nice nature walk. Nature really does a thing to you if you let it…..

    the worst is her dad is obese too, and had a heart surgery about a year ago….yet they are all becoming more obese despite this.

  18. Hi Jodi, I have a 26 yr old son that he has always struggled with his weight. I feel responsable because I fed him with a lot of junk food growing up. Since he graduated college and moved out, he has gained a lot of weight from a size 34 pants to 38 or more by now. I have tried to talk to him about it but he rolled his eyes or changes the subject. I want don’t know how to encourage him to loose weight without hurting his feelings. I decided to buy him a 30 day weight loss plan that includes 2 shakes a day and 2 snacks and a meal for Christmas. This plan is very expensive. I worry that he may not accept it and his feelings would be hurt. I was thinking of writing a nice note that we can do this weight loss plan together. I would encourage him every step of the way. Please help me with some good advice how to encourage him with out hurting feelings

  19. I don’t know how to talk to my sister about her weight – which has spiraled to obesity. I just get angry and don’t understand why she does not take control. I have said nothing because anything I say will come out wrong

    My mom won’t get involved which is also infuriating as she watches her daughter get more obese.

    I don’t know what to do

  20. Thank you for your post. I’m also the overweight one in my family. The well intended comments from family really hurt. They hurt because of everyone out there, you’re family is supposed to be the ones that love you the most. Love you unconditionally. And if they can’t love me because I’m fat, who will? What hurts is I’m 41. At 26 I had gastric bypass surgery. Lost 275lbs in 6 months. I had surgery January 23rd, 2003. Two weeks prior I was transferred to the hospital from the skilled nursing facility where I had been staying for 6 months after being in the hospital for 2 months. I think I weighed close to 750lbs at the time. After my gastric by pass surgery, I almost died after surgery. I made peace with myself and was ready for I knew my life is no longer in my hands. It’s in Gods. I had spent my whole life being angry at how people judged, treated me because I’m obese. Doctor’s telling me at 8, continue on and you won’t live to see your 16th Birthday. Another Doctor telling me I wouldn’t live to see Christmas. The most recent doctor, when I asked for a plan to help, just told me don’t eat. I feel less than human for being obese. I feel like a criminal. My crime – being fat. I don’t think I have any real friends. My Mom depends on what I get, as little as it is to help out. She talks all the time about taking a trip with me overseas. Just the two of us. I don’t believe it anymore. Just think it’s something she says to make me feel better. My step dad always acts like I don’t exist. Especially when my Mom’s home. I feel like I have nothing of value to contribute, except the little bit I get every month. The only distraction that works is music. I’m sad. I have no one. People with kids have a reason to live. I don’t know why I’m still here. My Dad, he can’t stand me either. Kicked me out to go live with my Mom when I was 10 years old. He disowned me after that and has never had anything to do with me since. For the longest time I have believed, if my own Dad can’t and doesn’t want to love me, what makes me think anyone else ever will. My sibling is tall and skinny. We both have problems, but clearly mine don’t matter because I live with my Mom and step dad. Right now, I’m at the point where I don’t want the focus of my life to be just all about my weight. I am not my weight. I tried to try being happy who I am, liking myself (instead of hating myself), but the focus always comes back to my weight. I’m at the point where being dead doesn’t seem like such a terrible thing. I just want to be good enough the way I am. I just want to be happy. I just want to be… me. What’s wrong with that? Has there ever been any successful people from being continuously torn down?

    1. Ann,
      Stay strong, I feel your pain. You are special just the way you are. Don’t think no one loves you. Your mom must feel your pain too, but doesn’t know how to express it, or she is afraid to hurt your feelings. If people say something about your weight is because they are really concerned. It’s not that they don’t love you. Just be patient with yourself. Love yourself, you are worth it!! I bet you have the sweetest smile, use it more often, I bet you will receive them back and it will make you feel better, and you will make others feel great too!!! There are people that are really caring in this world. Reached out to them, help them!! Don’t feel sorry, fight for yourself and your life. Of course it’s difficult, but believe me it’s worth it!! I love to hear you love music, it is one of the best medicines!! Just promise me that you will smile more, just live your day, one day at a time. Be strong!! At reading most of the comments above, yours is the one that caught my attention, and believe me, I CARE!!! Start by just walking one block a week. Then 2 blocks and so forth. Then you’ll see that every week it will be easier… it doesn’t matter if it’s rains or is too hot, put a hat on, take a bottle of water, and keep going. Never, ever give up!! Ah!!! and what is most important, don’t eat processed foods, they are the worst!! I struggle with weight as well, and know how difficult it is to lose it.

      Stay strong!!

  21. Jodi,
    Hi. I googled how to talk to someone about their obesity and found your site. I’m an RN and have always been tall and thin, and live a healthy lifestyle. My daughter was born loving food and my husband and I really battled with her growing up to keep her from over eating. She stayed active in sports but stayed on the edge of being overweight. After leaving for college, she immediately put on a lot of weight. ( we were no longer controlling her). In her early twenties she got involved in a very unhealthy relationship. I stayed close to her during it and she eventually was able to get herself out of it. Since then she has put on even more weight and now is morbidly obese. She is now involved in a loving relationship with a young man who adores her and encourages her to eat since that’s what seems to make her happy. I have stopped discussing weight with her at all. I get together with her occasionally for a walk. What’s the best way to communicate with her without feeling like I’m constantly biting my tongue? I really worry about her health and my sister recently passed away at 48 due to weight and diabetes complications Thanks for any insight you can give me.

    1. Hi Barb
      It’s weird how one day you’re just ready to make changes… you have to wait until she feels it and just enjoy her in the meantime x

  22. Thank you for this advice. I have been searching for a way to address my son’s obesity without being intrusive or offensive. I am very concerned about the health implications. But my son is a wonderful man; he would do anything for anybody. He is the last person I would want to hurt, either intentionally or accidentally. I haven’t said anything to him about his weight – I was going to, however, when we visited him. But then I thought he knows. So I always tell him I love him, can’t wait to see him, and am so proud of him. I pray he finds his way to a healthier lifestyle but for now he is all I could wish for in a son.

  23. Hi
    I hit upon this post because I house share with a very lazy, obese friend… I gained a lot of weight with him around because he drags my mood down, always has food on hand as a fixer and feeds into my natural bad habits around food. I’m not blaming him for MY BEHAVIOUR, I’m just saying that this is what I allowed to happen. I have begun to pull away from this and have started a new eating regime where I banned 4 foods (chocolate, sweets/candy, cake and ice-cream) but can eat any amount of proper food within a 3 meals a day structure. Day by day it is hell and I want to give in at least 10 times most days but I won’t because 10 days in and I’m already slimmer in my face, waking earlier and much more energetic and positive. I am using my garden as my ‘gym’ and doing small amounts, resting then having another go… it is very hard for my house mate to see that little changes oft repeated build up to a new self… he says ‘I can’t’ to just about everything. I will continue my journey and try to pull him along – thank you kind people x

  24. How are people going to get fat people motivated to lose weight if we just let them live in their ignorant little world? You’ve kind of got to be a little hard on them or they get comfortable and think being fat is okay, it’s not. It’s unhealthy and it’s been proven. I don’t care if you think I’m being rude, it’s unhealthy, plain and simple and I’m going to let you know that.

  25. First and foremost, I love my son with all my heart. He is a very kind and gentle soul. I do not ever want to be the source of pain or hurt. However, there is a fine line between letting a loved one decide when they’re ready to eat healthy and exercise and saying something before it’s too late. Before college, my son was rather thin at 145#. He is 5’9. I heard people say that most college kids put on an extra 15# at college as they go through the cafeteria buffets. I thought that was just fine since my son could stand to gain a few pounds. When he was going through middle and high school, he was quite active in his community hockey association, so he remained fit during those years. As a family, we would go on walks and bike rides. After 4 years in college, I saw my son go from 145# to approx 190# by the time he graduated. I was frustrated. He needed to gain some weight at the start of college, but he didn’t need to gain nearly 50#. His father and I encouraged him to eat healthier and incorporate physical activity in his life and I can happily say that our son listened. Then something else happened. He met and married a wonderful girl, but there is a BUT…who cones from a family where healthy food and exercise are akin to being a foreign language. Despite this, my son started working out at a local gym earlier this year. I know he is aware of his overweight condition. By the way, he is pushing 230# now. A fine weight if you are 6′ and fit. He is neither. Anyway, the gym attendance waned to a halt as my daughter in law was not supportive and has no interest, it seems, in helping her own self out. My son initially encouraged his wife to join him so they could support one another, but she refused and eventually, he also gave up. If the closest person to you is not supportive and that person is not concerned about the health issues that directly stem from obesity, how can I, as a parent, make a difference? I don’t want my son to be my “Shirley”. I want to be able to see him live a long, happy and healthy life. Im scared for him and worry about diabetes, heart disease…etc. I wish there was a way to have a positive impact on both my son and his wife. I love them both but feel helpless.

  26. I’m glad that I came across this. My son is 20, 5’10 and probably around 330 lbs. He just keeps gaining and has been on blood pressure pills for about a year. I am a guilty parent who has said those words that you mentioned not to say. I try not to say too much anymore because I know he is tired of it. He is in college and eats out a lot, and is very sedentary, a big video gamer and his job is a proof reader from home. I’m very concerned for him as diabetes runs in my family. I’m obese myself and try to lose but I know that I haven’t tried hard enough, so I’m not the best role model. I’m hoping that something clicks with him soon.

  27. Thank you,, it breaks my heart everyday. I’ve spent lots of $$$ helping her. Now I’m concerned with her health for the 1st time. I don’t want to turn my head and than she blames me for NOT saying something. And I don’t want her to get upset if I bring it up, stuck between a rock and a hard place.

  28. thanks so much for the advice about simply how to be a help and encourage my 13 yr. old niece who is now 275 lbs. transitioning from middle school to high school. the doctor’s tried to impress upon her mother back six years ago about the propensity of her becoming diabetes by putting them both in an educational program that promoted portion sizes and quality of food. Unfortunately because of the child’s lifestyle, of being raised by the village,(her mother a single parent), there were attempts by some but not by all to make sure the doctors diet regime was followed. I believe her motivation for over-eating was indeed driven by the instability of her parents dysfunctional relationship relationship and drama. She was however an active child, in the last two years running marathons and after school girls program and marching band. But to little avail weight wise and now a failed relationship between her mother and step-dad, she is entering into the most important time in her life and I am concerned as to how to help her, since now she can be reasoned with from a adolescent with a different kind of peer pressure. She is an A student and is somewhat now wanting to be in the spotlight. what further advice can you give me, her mother’s side of family does have thyroid problems, but her mother assures me that she id having regular blood work.

  29. Hi. My son is 18 and weighs at least 340 lbs and 6 feet tall. I truly don’t know what to do anymore. I love my son more than any words can say. My son just graduated high school. He has always been overweight but has gained the most of his weight in the last two years. He works a part time job at the local grocery store as a checker. He eats very large portions at every meal and when he’s done with the meal he goes straight to the refrigerator for anything else he can find. We are a family of 5 and I can’t keep enough food in the house because unfortunately Ryan will eat all before anyone can get to it. I am not exaggerating how bad it is! Here’s the thing Ryan also has a major phobia of being around a lot of people or even being in situations where he may be the center of attention (literally trying to have a one on one conversation). Ryan believes he can’t do anything right and is a huge failure. He is only comfortable in his room playing video and computer games. I took him to the dr last year hoping they would help him. I talked to the dr privately before the appointment and explained all about Ryan and begged for them to help. Once in the appointment and after blood test. The dr told Ryan he didn’t have diabetes YET but need to loose weight (obviously). The best advice the dr could give was to throw away all computer and video games and to start carrying about himself. Really!!!!! What do you think the 17 year old at that time was thinking! We left the appointment and all he could say was he would kill himself before he would do that ( he has said this many times in the past about anything that makes him angry). I honestly cry myself to sleep every night! It doesn’t matter what we say to him he refuses any kind of help. Please please I need help with this. I’m so scared I’m lops my young son.

        1. Hi Wendy, you should have received an email from our team with some additional information. Thank you. -Angela

  30. Hi there,

    my sons girlfriend is overweight, obeese. I have tried convincing her to go to a weight wathchers clinic because she can’t do it along but I have had no luck. I don’t want to nag at her over and over. Its really not my place. She does to to the gym, swimming 3 to 4 times a week but I think she needs to be more motivated and really limit her intake. I really feel bad for her and I am afraid for her she is just too young . Please we need help .

  31. hello,

    I sent an email yesterday and have not heard anything back.
    my sons girlfriend is overweight-obeese. I have tried to help and also let her know that we would help her financially if she wanted to go to a weight loss clinic. But I don’t think she like when I try to help her. We really care for and are very worried for her health. She is just too young to be this much overweight. She does to the gym mostly swimming but i think she need more than just swimming. she really needs to also watch her diet how can i convince her she need to watch out her intake. Please I desperately need your help . I think my son is just not sure how he can approach her about this. He just does not want to hurt her. But I really think he is hurting her by not letting her know how he really feels. This just so heart breaking I don’t want to hurt my son or his girlfriend. Please any advise that you can please provide is so much appreciated.

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