Thursday, July 7, 2011

And the award for best supporting role goes too..

Over a month ago, I received a comment from one Roberto on one of my weekly weigh-in posts. He asked what a partner can do to help someone just starting out on a weight loss journey. It's taken me a while to get this post up, but here it is. Sorry for the delay!
Image: digitalart /

Weight loss and weight maintenance can be tricky topics for more than just the person losing or maintaining. Often times when one person in a relationship loses weight, the entire dynamic can change. But it doesn't have to be that way! Here are a few things you can do to help:
  • Just ask! Don't be afraid to ask what you can do to help. The loser/maintainer is doing this for themselves to be healthier and quite possibly happier in the long run.
  • Support, don't instruct  - Don't play the role of coach. That's not what is needful in this situation. At the core of it, weight loss and maintenance is an extremely personal thing. If you try to tell someone that you think they should be doing something differently, it will likely be construed as a lack of support. 
  • Be a helper, not a hindrance - If they're preparing special meals for themselves and other meals for you or your family, offer to eat what they've prepared.  Or offer to help them cook, clean, etc. Don't make them feel alienated because they're trying to change their eating habits. The worst thing you can do is make them feel like they have to go at this alone.
  • Don't automatically jump to food to celebrate! Try to come up with new ways to celebrate. Flowers, manicure, massage, etc. I especially recommend massages as gifts to people who are just starting out on a weight training program. Massages can help ease some of the muscular soreness experienced post workout. Be creative though, make it personalized to the person in question.
  • Encourage a healthier lifestyle, not just the weight loss - Losing weight is really only a piece of the puzzle. Learning to sustain habits that will keep you healthy in the long run is a bigger factor.  Suggest an evening stroll after dinner instead of watching a television show. It'll help you both digest and get you off the couch. 
  • Learn about their weight loss strategy - It will help if you try to understand why they're doing what they're doing. Don't judge, just learn and offer help where you can.
Lastly, and I think this one is the most important so I've separated it out from the rest:
  • Be a good listener! They are going to have days where they struggle, there are going to be bad days. Be a shoulder to cry on, allow them to just rant. Do not offer solutions to their problems, let them figure it out on their own. You are just there as a sounding board. Try to use insightful questions to guide them towards their own conclusions.
Have you been part of someone's weight loss/maintenance journey? Have some tips you want to add to this? Let us know in a comment below!