Tellin’ The Truth Tuesday~What If I Have A Very Overweight Friend?

by adustyframe ~ September 18th, 2012

Edited to note~I originally titled this “what if I have a fat friend” because I loathe the word obese. I lumped myself in with the fat friends because let’s face it–there are no “nice words for the weight I was. However, I don’t intend this post to be offensive so I changed the title 🙂

Ok, time to tackle a tough problem–how do you help a friend who is very oveverweight?

I do not have all the answers but I can tell you what I think since I was the fat friend. I’m not the expert but perhaps I can give you some ideas and challenge you to indeed HELP your friend.

I was very overweight–obviously since I’ve lost 115 lbs and still have at least 50 lbs to lose–WHY DOES IT TAKE SO LONG!?!?!?!

The entire time I was that overweight only one Christian woman asked me if I’d like to do a Bible study with her and be accountable about food issues. She had recently lost 50 lbs and wanted to help me. Her desire to help me wasn’t because she felt superior to me. I’m sure it was because she knew it was hard work and she was concerned for me.

I was MORTIFIED–not because of her words or mannerisms but because it was even necessary for her to ask me. It took me a long time to decide if I should get together with her just because I was so embarrassed. By the time I decided to meet with her, they were moving out of state so I was off the hook. Unfortunately, I was still overweight!

I did have a friend who was working on weight loss who went to the gym with me for awhile. That was encouraging and it was easier to go to the gym with her because she wasn’t tiny either! I enjoyed the working out but I didn’t lose any weight!

I do think that while Lee was gone, I was under so much stress that something was truly wrong with my metabolism. I went to the doctor for a check up and asked to have my levels checked and everything came back fine–I was hoping that something was very wrong and a pill would help! (shucks!)

So, if you have a very overweight friend here are a few things I think you can do to help them.

1. Pray for them. Ask God to help them have a desire to take care of their health. Pray for God to help them see their excuses and to be honest with themselves.

I had excuses and some of them were very very valid. However, when we hold onto our excuses, we can never make progress. Losing weight wasn’t easy for me, but that doesn’t mean I should have stayed the way I was. Even if one loses weight very slowly or has a really horrible metabolism, or can’t exercise very much, one can still take small steps toward health goals and build on their successes over time.

2. Ask them if they’d like to walk with you or go to the gym. Don’t take them on as your special project–only ask them to work out with you if you are already working out and taking time for your health.

Please realize that if someone is very overweight, they really cannot do your crazy fitness routine–at least not at 1st. Don’t push them to go crazy–just workout with them and encourage them to actually work out. Let them start small and work up to longer workout times. You be the cheerleader. Perhaps after a little while, you can say something like, “Hey, I tried this routine (or DVD) last week and really liked it would you like to try it with me?

3. Don’t eat junk in front of  them. If you really want to help them, when you are eating together, don’t order the bread basket. Don’t order dessert! Model healthy eating habits and don’t make a big deal out of it. But come on–when you SAY you want to help your friend lose weight and you pig out on cheesecake in front of her while she’s trying to behave on her plan–that’s not nice!

4. Don’t criticize their diet–If they’ve found a plan that works for them and is motivating them to work on their health don’t tell them what is wrong with it. I ended up finding a diet that a lot of people don’t like but it worked for me. I eat completely differently than I did. I eat very healthy now and made changes and confronted eating habits that other diets never made me face.

I really did try every diet out there. I read fitness books and magazines. I knew a LOT about nutrition. I had to find what worked for me and people’s rude comments about it didn’t help. If you don’t like their diet pray for them and keep it to yourself.

It’s frustrating to hear people tell you they want to help you lose weight while they criticize every choice you make.

5. If you are very thin, just realize your friend’s journey won’t mirror your own. I’m not sure how to say this nicely–but if you’ve never been more than a few pounds overweight you may know what works for you, but that doesn’t mean it applies across the board to all humans everywhere.

You also don’t know about the stigma, the looks, the laughs, the self-loathing, the body that feels like an enemy, the constant frustrations……just be supportive but don’t give glib advice.

6. Confront your friend on their excuses but don’t be mean. For example, the carrot cake does NOT make us eat it. If your friend says things like that or things like, “I HAVE to have chocolate.” You can gently speak truth to them. Don’t say, “Wow you really DO want to stay fat don’t you.” or anything like that;)! But you could say, “Come on now–the cake didn’t make you eat it. You chose to eat it.”

7. Don’t comment on every morsel they put in their mouth. Many eating plans do allow a treat on occasion. You don’t know that they are cheating if they eat a treat. They may have saved their calories for a treat.

8. Don’t make your entire friendship about their weight. You don’t have to hold them accountable every time you see or speak to them. You don’t have to take every opportunity to tell them about a workout or diet you read about.

Ask them how often they’d like to check in with you and then stick to that.

9. Support their health goals  Share a fitness magazine with them. Print out recipes you’ve found they may like to try. Give them gifts that don’t involve food–lotion, candles, craft supplies, etc.

10. Realize your friend is so much more than her weight.  You care about her weight because you care about her. Remember why she’s your friend. Make most of the time you spend together about something other than her weight. Don’t always bring it up–don’t always talk about it–don’t make her feel like she’s now your pet project.

Value her for who she is.

11. If none of this works?  Just keep praying for her and being her friend. No one will lose weight if they aren’t ready and self-motivated.


6 Thoughts Shared to Tellin’ The Truth Tuesday~What If I Have A Very Overweight Friend?

  1. Catherine

    What a great list! I am the fat-friend & I know a lot of these things would help me out.

  2. Barbara H.

    Excellent advice, especially #1. As the overweight friend myself (and this holds true for drinking, smoking, etc. — though I don’t so those, I have family members who do), I really don’t know anything you can say to “make” them see the light and change their ways until they are ready.

    I especially appreciate #3 as well. A lot of times when you go out with someone or go to their homes for a meal, they’ll have an insanely rich dessert (I don’t know why our company desserts are usually that way!) or very high-calorie meal, and may think, “Well, it is just this once.” But overweight people tell themselves that all the time. How much better to serve good low-calorie things, not only for that meal, but to encourage the person that there is good-tasting food that’s not high calorie.

    #5 is very important, too (well, they all; are. 🙂 ). That happened with me with a friend who can’t seem to gain weight no matter what she does. When she tried to speak to me once about weight, all I could think was “What do YOU know about it?” That wasn’t the right response on my part, but still, you are very right that they can’t know what the obese person goes through.

  3. Erika

    This is a great list! I’ve never had a weight issue, so some of things I would never think of. I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to someone about their weight because I can’t relate to the hardships. This has made me want to be more supportive though.

  4. Lexi

    This is a great list! I have a friend who is very overweight and is now having health problems due to her weight. I so want to help her but I’ve never known how. I am petite so I always felt terrible even saying anything to her because I just cannot relate. Your list really convicted me that I need to pray for her and that I can be honest with her. But I can’t be the one to change her. She has to be motivated to make those changes but now I know how I can best support her if she decides to actively address her weight problem. It is very hard to watch her struggle and not working to address the issue. So, thank you for your list because I now feel like I better understand how she feels and I know how I can help (and how not to help!)

  5. Lora @ my blessed life

    Thank you from you heart on this. And may I add “kudos” to you for you amazing weight loss!

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