TOP TEN WAYS YOU CAN BE A SUPPORTER FOR YOUR FRIEND SEEKING TO LOSE WEIGHT
1. Stay positive. Focus your friends’ efforts on their goals and successes, their triumphs and hopes.
2. Be persistent. It is a long road, no matter whether your friend has surgery or pursues a medically supervised program. Long-term weight loss does not happen overnight.
3. Meet for a walk. Even the most motivated patient working on their weight loss goals, often finds it hard to find walking partners or people to socialize with as they pursue fitness goals and exercise. Become a walking partner or fitness partner. Make specific dates and regular times when you meet with your friend and go on that long walk or head to the gym together.
4. Meet for lunch. If you have a standing date with somebody, you can make it at a place that will promote very healthy nutritional choices. You can get in the routine of ordering a satisfying but healthy salad and enjoying some sugar free iced tea with your friend on a regular basis. The conversation and social interaction will make the meal and experience enjoyable every time.
5. Bring others into the circle. Losing weight is a long-term project that takes a lot of support and effort. If you can bring others into the circle and help encourage everyone in the circle of friends to think healthier and educate themselves about long-term healthy nutrition and healthy weight, it will really help your close friend that you are trying to support. It is a statistical fact that you are more likely to lose weight and stay at a healthy weight if the people around you are also at a healthy weight.
6. Be an example. Are you a little overweight yourself? Could you stand to lose a few pounds? Take the messages to heart. Focus on your own health also and improve your own fitness in support of your friend’s efforts. He or she will admire you for what you are doing, and you will both then be pulling in the same direction.
7. Expand your own food repertoire. If you are entertaining or hosting a baby shower or going out to dinner or having a group of friends over for book club, you need to expand your repertoire of what is acceptable to serve. If you are truly going to be a top level support person to your friend who is pursuing long-term serious weight loss, you will help immensely if you can change the menu a bit at these social functions involving food. Check out some of the recipes from Chef Dave Fouts 90 Ways to Ditch Your Diet (360 Publishing). This part can require tact and grace, cleverness and great sensibility about how to not draw undue attention to your friend’s weight problem, and yet at the same time offer healthy snacks, meals and hors d’ oeuvres for company. But you can do it. Be creative.
8. Avoid singling out your friend. This can be a challenge if you and perhaps other friends or acquaintances would like to treat you to ice cream or cotton candy or order your favorite fast food cheeseburger. The name of the game here is to make your weight loss and experience a positive one for your friend. Avoid singling them out, making them feel unworthy, lonely or separate. Work hard to try to integrate them into situations where everyone is doing healthy things and doing activities, using muscles, burning fat, consuming healthy calories, or doing totally non-food things altogether. Try hard to avoid making their weight loss journey a negative experience where they might feel they are missing out on the fun of sharing cotton candy with friends.
9. Run interference. Here is another delicate one. You probably realize who in your circle of acquaintances around your friend is likely to become a saboteur or undermine their efforts to become healthier. Maybe it is another person with a weight problem who refuses to get help. Maybe it is a person who is always “naturally skinny” and prefers your friend in their role as the overweight one. Whoever they are, you can probably predict some of the things that are going to happen that will undermine your friend’s chances of success. Take action. It is delicate, I know, but there are some things you can do. The first is to use the knowledge that you have gained by becoming an expert in the health statistics of overweight and obesity and the great health improvements associated with weight loss. Share these with your would be saboteur friend and acquaintances. Bring them on board gently through knowledge, insight, education and persuasion. Don’t be heavy handed but little hints here and there, little facts could really help; and who knows, you might be helping more than one person lose weight and become healthier.
10. Be the lifeline. Everyone trying to change their life hits weak moments or relapses when they need a life line. Life’s craziness starts to intervene and throw us off our mission, and we find for reasons seemingly out of our control we are reverting back to old behaviors. In that situation your friend could really use the chance to call you and talk in a moment of crisis. Your job is to be the life line, be there and listen. Ask them if they still feel the goals they originally set are worthwhile. Ask them to enumerate what their goals were and why they wanted to achieve them and reassure them that there is no reason to throw in the towel, no relapse is too great. Tell them they just have to get right back on that horse.
11. Celebrate milestones with non-food rewards. If your friend has lost the first 10 pounds or 20 pounds and this feels like a serious accomplishment, then celebrate it for what it is, and offer a reward that does not involve food, like say a new pair of jeans or a massage or an offer to baby sit the kids while your friend goes to the movies.
12. Help with the pantry clean-out. There will come a time if your friend is really serious about losing weight that he will need to rid the pantry, refrigerator and whole house of the favorite high calorie, high carbohydrate snack foods. You can help. Stand shoulder to shoulder with him as he tosses away the favorite orange flavored crunchy chips and the bags of candy treats. Your extra pair of eyes may spot some things that need to go.