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When you have a loved one struggling with their weight, it’s understandable to want to say something. After all, you love them. You want them to lead a long, healthy life – and carrying around extra weight could hinder that.
But how do you broach the subject without hurting your loved one’s feelings or causing them to become defensive? Having that conversation is always going to be difficult, but here are a few tips to make it a bit easier.
Whether it’s your spouse, significant other or a close friend or relative, here are six tips for talking about weight loss.
Think carefully about how and when to bring up the subject of weight gain with a friend or family member. Try and find a time when just the two of you can talk, since bringing up such a sensitive subject in front of a group could potentially be embarrassing. Make sure there are no distractions and he or she isn’t preoccupied with something else. Talking while the two of you are driving alone in the car or have some time to yourselves in the evening is better than trying to bring it up while you’re rushing through your morning routine.
Emphasize the health concerns rather than your observations about his or her appearance. Stick to the facts, not your opinions. Have you noticed the one you love has stopped doing something that was once part of his or her routine? Is he or she often short of breath or easily fatigued? Struggling with high blood pressure? Start by expressing your love first, then your concerns.
Regardless of whether your loved one has 20 or 100 pounds to lose, beginning a weight-loss regimen is a serious challenge. Perhaps you have personal experience with the struggle that you can share to let your loved one know they aren’t in this alone. Let them know that you understand how hard it is and you’re willing to support them in whatever way they need.
Even if you’ve never struggled with your weight, you probably have experienced a similar struggle with something else, such as quitting smoking or giving up another unhealthy habit. Being open with your own story will allow your loved one to feel like they can be more vulnerable with their own.
This could be something as substantial as becoming workout buddies or something smaller, like picking a restaurant with healthy options when you ask your loved one to join you for dinner. However, while it’s your job to offer the help, make sure you let your loved one dictate the manner in which you help. That way, they won’t feel pressured or overwhelmed at the beginning of their journey.
Depending on how your loved one reacts to your initial conversation, he or she might be interested in your advice on certain resources. Perhaps you know someone who has had success with a popular plan like Weight Watchers. Or maybe you can recommend your family physician. If you’re talking to your spouse about losing weight, schedule an annual physical for both of you and go together. That way you can leave the difficult conversation to your physician, and your spouse may be more receptive to hearing it from someone who can be objective.
Just remember to be mindful of what your loved one wants and needs from you so your suggestions aren’t viewed as a judgment.
Weight gain is often tied to larger emotional issues. While it might necessitate an even more delicate conversation, don’t forget to consider what else your loved one might be going through. Let them know that you’re available if there’s anything else they want to talk about.
It’s never easy to have this conversation, but sometimes it’s necessary. Have you gone through this with someone you love? Share your tips for talking to a loved about weight loss in the comments below.
Looking for resources to offer your loved one on their weight loss journey? Send them a link to download our free healthy eating guide!