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Weight Loss
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How to motivate someone you love to lose weight?

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I have a wonderful 17 year old sister who is about 100 pounds overweight. She is a dynamic person, but cannot motivate herself to drop the weight. What can I do to help motivate her to start that journey? Have you received advice that worked from someone? Every time I bring the issue up, I feel that I am only making her more self conscious about her body. :(

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You can only lead by example.

You can offer her healthy foods and ask her to go on walks or bike rides with you...

But unfortunately you cannot really get anyone else to change unless they are ready to change themselves...

This is both my opinion and experience...and has taken me years to accept. There are people in my family I would have liked to help.

Original Post by kmstearns:

You can only lead by example.

But unfortunately you cannot really get anyone else to change unless they are ready to change themselves...


THIS. I live with a family that is entirely obese/super obese. The only time they will act/eat healthy is when they are around me. My mother is dying from her dietary choices and no matter how hard I try to help her she won't listen. I keep trying because I hope that I can change her before it's too late but its rather futile. 

You can only show them the path, you can't make them walk down it unless they want to. 

I agree with the others, in that you cannot make someone else lose weight/diet etc. However, one thing that has helped me in the past when I was at a really low point because I was obese (partly due to eating habits/comfort eating and partly due to severe health problems) was the offer from a family member to take me to a slimming club. They actually needed to drop around 28 pounds or so, so they went with me and we did it together. I have always found it easier and more motivating to lose weight with someone else. The slimming club experience taught me how to lose weight - what to eat, how to count calories etc.

The thing is... the event that led to this offer was that I broke down in front of them and when they asked what was wrong, the whole unhappiness and physical discomfort with my weight spilt out of my mouth... which gave them the opportunity to then help me. If I hadn't done that, they wouldn't have been able to help or offer as I would have definitely taken any comments about my weight as criticism and shaming.

I noticed you said she: 'cannnot motivate herself to drop the weight', is that something you have talked about with her... that she has expressed to you that she would like to lose weight, but can't find the motivation to? I feel that people have a time in their lives when they are ready to do it... and some people never have that time (as dsam has alluded to). The fact your sister is young seems a good indicator that her time may come in the next 5 or 6 years as she moves on in her life as a young person. You will be able to help her better if she a. wants to make that step and b. chooses to talk to you about it. Raising it yourself will probably do nothing to motivate her. Google: Ragen Chastain Dances with Fat and read her blog... you will see that absolutely the worst thing you can do to someone who is large is to try to enforce your own ideas about what is and is not right for them with regards their weight.


That's a very young age to be that overweight.  A question to think about is, is there some underlying reason for it?  Some past abuse of some kind or an emotional eater?  Speaking to someone may draw that out, help her to heal, and learn how to deal with thinks without using food.

She already knows she's overweight, telling her she needs to lose weight could be destructive and not helpful, even when it's from the heart.   She needs to want to do and find the strength within to achieve it.  

I wish your sister luck.

You can not change someone else motivation.

You can give her oppertunities to change however. you can invite her out to hike with you or bike or swim you can ask her if she wants to join an intermural sport with you.

Invite her over for dinner and cook and serve health food with her helping you so she learns to cook healthy foods

Do not provide or give junk food. Do not encourage seconds. Just be positive and supportive of good small changes

She will only do this when she is ready internally to do so.



I agree that she has to want to change.  And she will...give it time.

Remember that NO ONE needs to be told they're overweight...there isn't a single fat person in this world who doesn't already know it.  So no need to point it out to her.

Has she asked for your help?  If not, leave her be...she needs to figure it out for herself like we all did.  It took me until I was 25 to decide I wanted to change my life...and no one had ever told me I should/had to.  If they had I would have been hurt and probably rebelled (young people love doing the opposite of what they're told!)

If she HAS asked for your help (and ONLY if!) , I suggest doing what other people have suggested - invite her out for healthy activities, maybe take a healthy cooking class together.  But be careful that you don't invite her to do something that she's not ready for if you're in much better shape than she is! (speaking from experience).  For example, if you invite her to go on even a reasonably easy hike for you, she might find it difficult and become intimidated by her inability to keep up.  Pick a nice easy walk to start out...when she gets in better shape let her feel empowered to decide that she's ready for more of a challenge.  There's nothing worse than being the "fat person" panting along behind the fit people and trying to keep up.

Good luck ! :)

Toesinarow said it perfectly ---far better than I did!  From personal experience, I have had multiple disorders from both ends of the spectrum.  I knew exactly what I was and didn't need anyone pointing out the obvious or trying to be "helpful".  I also had a lot of inner issues going on and food, whether eating a lot of it or not eating at all, was how I handled it.  Simply love her, support her in whatever she endeavers to do, and set a good example for her in such a way that she will see and want to emulate you.

Also, don't harp on "healthy" this and that--it's the same as calling somebody "fat".  Invite her for meals and, yes, prepare and serve healthy food, but don't point it out.  If she mentions it, say that you're trying to change your eating habits, but don't include that you're hoping to influence her.  If she then says something about wishing she could do the same, offer to make it a sister-sister activity. 

Be as supportive as you can, and by all means invite her to do active things with you ("Hey, I'm going to the park.  Wanna come?"), but don't pester.  She knows she's overweight, and she also knows she's struggling with self-motivation; she doesn't need to be reminded.

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