When Someone You Love Needs to Lose Weight

Steph Wagner

May 26, 2016

When someone you love really needs to lose weight

Apparently I love discussing really hard topics. (No actually, I don’t!)

However, I do have this topic come up on a weekly basis in my office. Someone loves someone who is in a really unhealthy place. They’re worried for them. They’ve tried to talk to them and share with them the concern but they don’t know what to do.

Many people look to me for help. What can I do to get them healthy??

Answer: you can’t do anything.

What!!!? That sounds so helpless! So heartless. Isn’t there something we can do or say to get them to realize how dangerous their lifestyle is?

The truth of the matter is harsh- we can’t make people change.

We cannot force someone to stop smoking. We cannot force someone to stop drinking Route 44 Cokes. We cannot force someone to stop pulling up to a drive thru window.

No amount of scary words can force a change. Change like this comes from within. If you’re someone who has go through a journey toward finding health- you know yourself that you had to come to that place of readiness on your own.

I listen to Dave Ramsey’s radio show often. I tear up every time someone calls in with a debt free scream! It reminds me of weight loss in so many ways. In fact, when listeners are asked how being out of debt makes them feel, I’ve often heard them say “it feels like a lost a hundred pounds.” They talk about how they never thought they could do it. They felt so far away from the end goal. The only reason they got started was because they got so mad about their current situation they had to get focused on turning the ship around.

And in the same way that I’m telling you we cannot make changes FOR someone, Dave says the same thing when listeners call in and ask how they can help get a family member to stop making such poor financial decisions. His response is often “you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.”

BUT. Here’s the positive side. (Because I love having a positive side!)

We can lead them to water.

We can share with them the POSITIVE message of how great we feel. How hard it was a times but how we would do it all again. My encouragement when someone wants to help a loved one find health and wellness? Speak positively…not negatively.

Negative motivators rarely work. If you sit someone down and have an “intervention” and tell them you’re worried they won’t live to see their 50th birthday…they will likely react on the defense. Wouldn’t you?

Instead, a positive motivator just may help them to ask you more questions. “I made such a great dinner last night, you would have loved it! It was really fast and actually really healthy, I couldn’t believe it!”


“I had my checkup at the doctor the other day and they said I’ve lost 64% of my body weight. If you would have told me that a year ago, I would never have believed it. It hasn’t been easy but that appointment today made me feel really good. Thanks for letting me share that with you.”


“I went to a really good support group the other night at my bariatric clinic. The topic was how to deal with emotional eating which I’ve ALWAYS struggled with. I was so encouraged to hear from all the other people at the group and what they do when they feel stressed. I think I’m going to start going more often.”

You get the idea. You didn’t say anything to that person about their bad habits. But you DID talk about how great you feel and how thankful you are for the changes you’ve made. Maaaaaybe this will lead to an open door for more questions or even an invitation to workout together or go to one of your appointments with you.

And maybe it doesn’t.

You also never know what time can do for that person. Maybe they truly aren’t ready to make a change. But if they view you as a safe person to talk to about these things, they just might come to you when the time is right for them.

*Note: If your loved ones are children or teenagers this will have a similar but different look. Talking with adolescents about health and weight is VERY delicate. My quick tip: focus on how good you feel when you eat well and move your body. Highlight the reasons for health as quality of life and not body image. BUT this topic is another blog entirely!

I’m sorry I don’t have a more sure-fire way to ignite your husband, friend, child, sister into making healthy changes. I know your heart is heavy for them. Pray for them. Be their cheerleader. But take a step back from being their mother…unless you are their mother! ;)

All my best to you (and yours) in health,


Steph :)