You can save a life by helping someone end their obesity

Jodi Davis

| 4 min read

It’s common for people to share obesity-related health concerns with me. It’s one of those topics that people feel comfortable sharing with me I guess. They understand that I’m not a doctor so they aren’t asking for advice, but they just like knowing that I am there to listen. Realizing that I know the severity of health risks related to obesity based in part on my husband’s cousin losing her life due to obesity-related heart issues, makes it easier for them to tell me things that they would otherwise keep bottled up inside. It’s scary for many people, especially when they feel completely helpless because they have absolutely no control over a particular form of obesity.
The form I’m referring to is one that affects them, but not in the way you may think. I’m referring to how it feels when a close friend or relative is obese. When that person has made the decision to NOT attempt to become healthier, it is upsetting for all who care about that individual. It’s only natural that an immediate fear is created, one that allows those concerned to wonder if that person could have a much shorter life span because of their excess weight.
This weekend I had a conversation about that exact form of obesity and it sparked a few memories of something that I don’t like to focus on. It’s not pleasant but I can’t eliminate all the funerals I’ve attended that took place because of obesity-related health issues from my memory bank. I’m sure that the majority of you reading this have been to a few yourselves. In fact, I’m positive of it. Then I recall how many times I’ve heard these all too familiar words: “If only they would have taken better care of themselves.”
We know that we can’t predict when a heart attack is going to take place. We also realize that we have no idea when a stroke is going to occur. Those things just happen, without much or any warning at all. If an individual survives one of these life-altering events, they are almost certain to make some major changes to their lifestyle. They are given a second-chance and they begin to consume healthier foods and become more physically active. They are the lucky ones.
But what about the ones that aren’t so lucky? They leave behind friends and family members who are completely devastated. Friends and family members who continue to say for years one of the, “if only’s.” If only she would have lost some weight. If only she would have listened to me and started eating better. If only she would have exercised like I told her to. If only she would have known how much stress she was putting on her body from her excess weight. If only she knew that she would never be able to see her children, spouse, family members or friends ever again. If only she had one more chance. If only she would have known that her unhealthy lifestyle was going to send her to the grave.
The she in the above paragraph could have been me. Instead, that she was my husband’s cousin, and we still say today: “If only…”
I want to end those conversations. My wish is to help your close friends and relatives take better care of their health and help you diminish the fear of losing them due to obesity. I don’t want you to have to say those words, “If only.”
You can’t force a person to create a healthier life in order to end their obesity. It doesn’t work that way. What you can do is to be there for support, allowing them to know that you care about their health and that you’ll do what it takes to help them. It’s not easy, but it can be done.
If you have any additional questions, please ask me … that’s why I am here. I don’t ever want you to feel helpless when it comes to ending obesity – you CAN help. And that help you give can save someone’s life.
Photo credit smig44_UK

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