How to help your friend lose weight

The journey toward health and fitness can be a lonely and difficult one sometimes.  Surrounding yourself with the right people can help make all the difference.

At the end of the day, you are in charge of your own actions, but the company you keep on this journey can either be a powerfully positive influence or a negative one.

If you take all the positive energy in the world and multiplied it by a trillion, it still wouldn’t equal how supportive my friends have been along the way!

Take my best friend for example (she’s smiling harder than I am in the main picture). When I began my journey, she supported me by going with me to the gym (even when she could have opted to stay home with her size 8 figure and fast metabolism).  She and her husband tried all of my experimental healthy recipes (even when some of them didn’t come out very tasty at first).  On my 29th birthday, not only did she (secretly) create an awesome video with dozens of my friends cheering me, she also filled a box with all of my favorite healthy food.  Flaxseed, almond flour, low carb protein shakes and a football-sized spaghetti squash were all inside!

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Another one of my closest girlfriends gave me some of her once-treasured dresses, jeans and coats that she slimmed her way out of wearing. While she could have sold them and made a killing, she chose instead to put a smile on my face as I shimmied my way into one of those sexy size 14 little black dresses.

One of my other amazing girlfriends helped make my dream of doing a fun photo shoot to celebrate entering the “100’s” come to life. From clothes selection, to makeup, hair and a dash of sexy swagger, she made sure the celebration of my personal weight loss milestone was everything I dreamed it would be.

At one of my lowest points, before I took action to start my journey, one of my good friends helped me see my own beauty. He encouraged me to see how attractive, sexy and stunning I was at my highest weight (roughly 267 pounds/ size 24).  Seeing myself that way helped me find confidence.

I could write a book about how incredible each person God placed in my circle of friends has been to me on this journey.  They know how to show up when it counts.

If you have a friend who is embarking on a journey to lose weight and make strides toward better health, here’s a few pointers:

  • Tell them how amazing they are at this very moment. Make sure they realize that if nothing changed about their body, they are still beautiful/handsome/sexy. Encourage them to do this for their health, not to be a certain size or number on a scale.
  • If they ask you to try a new workout or healthy food, you should do it. Be excited about it. What do you have to lose? You may even like it. If you don’t, offer ways to help them improve the workout or recipe. You can feed off of each other’s positive energy.
  • Don’t point out the obvious if they’re a little off track. For example, if you see them eating a large fry and a double decker loaded with cheese, don’t say “You shouldn’t be eating that.” Don’t give the universal eyebrow raise of disapproval. Trust me, they are fully aware of the not-so-great choice they’re making. Instead, ask them how they’re journey is going. Or, offer to go with them on their next workout. Better yet, choose something healthier on the menu to show you still support them even though they’re not making the best decision at that moment. Whatever you do, please don’t be condescending or judgmental.
  • When they tell you how much weight they’ve lost, even if it seems small to you, be VERY excited. Your excitement will help propel them on the journey. They’ll feed off of your energy, and will be excited to continue to make you proud.
  • If they tell you it’s too hard or they want to give up, remind them why they started the journey in the first place. This is where you can really step up. Take their hand and go for a walk, or a run, or on a trip to the grocery store to help them stock up on some healthy food.
  • Defend them to others who doubt their commitment to losing weight.  You’ve got to believe they can do it, even when others do not. You don’t have to come to fisticuffs with “Negative Nancys” but a simple smile and the words “I believe in her/him” is good.  You still may not convince the naysayers, but you’ve certainly shown your friend that you are down for the ride.

(Originally published April 7, 2014)