As a fit person, it can be hard to relate to your family or friends that have weight issues. You may find yourself having conflicting emotions when it comes to their situation, which is understandable but not necessarily healthy. You may want to help your friends in their battle with their weight, you may feel guilty for being naturally thin and healthy, or even resentful of their situation while they enjoy the comfort of overindulgence. No matter how you’re feeling, there are certain steps that you can take to try and support your friends during this time and make sure that you don’t neglect your own health in the process.
For starters, perhaps the best thing you can do for someone struggling with their weight is simply to listen and offer a compassionate ear. There are probably many underlying issues in your friend’s life that may have created a conducive environment for them to be overweight. It might be helpful to ask unbiased, open-ended questions to get to the root of the problem. If your friend is looking for advice, you can then offer suggestions on nutrition and fitness that have worked for you in the past.
It is also imperative that you be patient and validate your friend’s feelings. Oftentimes, individuals dealing with weight issues are very hard on themselves and feel like they are failing on a daily basis. Let your friend know that you see them as capable and strong individuals and that their weight does not define their character. They need to be reminded that they are good people who are worthy of respect no matter their size or weight.
Another great thing to do is stay active together. Whether it’s hiking, running or playing sports, it can help your friend feel included in activities that many overweight people might shy away from. It also gives them a chance to interact with like-minded individuals, and maybe even push their limits in terms of physical activity. This is a great way to give them a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem.
It is also important that you do not enable their unhealthy behaviors in any way. As much as you may love them, by enabling their habits you are not doing them any favors. Instead, look for ways in which you can support them without necessarily catering to their cravings for junk food or excessive alcohol consumption. Encourage healthier and more mindful eating patterns and connect them with resources if needed, such as therapy or private coaching.
Understanding your friend’s weight issues will require you to take an honest look at your own thoughts and beliefs about health and nutrition. If anything, you should be striving to support them and understand where they are coming from. With the right approach and attitude, you can set a positive example and influence those around you to live a healthier lifestyle. May your love and patience carry them through the ups and downs of their journey.
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