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How Do I Motivate My Friend to Lose Weight?
I'm concerned about a buddy of mine (Jon). He's been struggling with his weight recently and wants to be a cop but is about 100 lbs overweight. His eating habits are bad and he knows it. He binges on junk food and fast food. When I ask him about it, he either says "I know, but I'm really hungry." or something like "I've been really good lately."
He walks for exercise off and on, but also walks as much or more at work. I've suggested he join a gym and even tried to have him come to the gym with me, but he makes exuses about why he doesn't like gyms. I think its just because he's uncomfortable.
I've been working out off and on for 8 years since high school. I worked at 24 hour fitness for a year to surround myself with what I love. I am constantly reading and talking to people to gain knowledge about nutrition, cardio, weightlifting, and supplements. I have my own areas I struggle with but nothing like my friend.
Jon has never came right out and asked for my help, but when he mentions he desire to be a cop, or that he walked that day, I try to engage in a conversation about health and fitness, but he get uncomfortable and almost offended. I try to be subtle, I told him to checkout my page at bodyspace.com, I tell him about easy healthy meals and snacks I make, I invite him over to play frisbee (his favorite sport), I even told him to subscribe to your podcast but usually seems to have an excuse. What if anything more can I do to help him?
I'm letting Rob Kottenbrock take this one as he's got a ton of experience. Here's what Rob says:
It’s very obvious that you care a lot for your friend, Jon. He’s very fortunate to have a friend who cares and wants what is best for him.
As someone who spent his whole life as a fat guy and only recently enjoys life in a lean body, I can only tell you of my experience.
When I was fat, I believed that I wanted to lose weight. Now, I know that the desire and the drive were not strong enough. My desire for food was greater. I had an emotional tie to food that was so strong, almost nothing could break it. Food filled an emotional hole in my life.
The thought of entering a gym terrified me. There I was, nearly 340 pounds and knew I would not last 5 minutes on any exercise. I would be surrounded by fit people and knew that they would be judging me. All the torment I experienced in school came back to me. Not just the memories, but the actual experience. I remember the teasing, always picked last for a team and the disappointment of my teammates by default. Those experiences also led me to dislike fitness professionals and not want to hear their advice because I had no positive memories of them. Those are deep scars and take a long time to heal.
I don’t know if Jon has had similar experiences, but there is often and emotional battle that needs won first.
You can offer to help your friend all you want but until his desire to get lean overpowers whatever is holding him back, he’s not ready.
My priorities changed when I was almost killed in a home robbery.
Many members of my family have also battled with their weight. My parents have been on ‘diets’ for as long as I can remember. None have worked. Nine months ago my dad was diagnosed with a heart condition that made his heart go out of rhythm and he needed defibrillated often to get it back. His doctor told him that there was surgery to correct it but he would need to lose 70 pounds for the surgery to do any good. My dad asked me for help. He nearly cried when he came to the realization that all the wonderful things my mom can bake are no longer an option – except for very special occasions. That was hard to tell him and hard to watch. I helped my dad and he’s lost a lot of weight – so much so that he’s no longer on medication for high blood pressure, blood sugar and no longer needs the surgery. My mom went on the program to support him and has also done well. They are happier now than I’ve ever seen them. Their need to live won over whatever was getting in their way. My dad will turn 70 in a few months and says he feels better than he did 15 years ago.
At the same time, I worked up a plan for my sister. She gave up after two weeks. She’s not ready. That is frustrating. When she is, I’ll be there to help.
I guess to sum it up, there is only so much one can do. Without a very powerful and personal reason why, it’s very difficult for someone to lose weight. There needs to be a desire, deep down that is more powerful than anything else. Losing weight is a very slow, steady and difficult process. Every day one is faced with thousands of choices that can lead to success or failure. Without a deep, burning desire fueling those choices, it’s very difficult to succeed.
What advice can I give you? Don’t pressure Jon. He knows he’s overweight. He’s probably not proud of it. Pressure from others can just add to the frustration and feelings of helplessness. Instead, help him to find his reason why. If he wants to be a cop, talk about what it would be like if he were a cop. Dream it with him. If he gets a vision and some emotional ties to what it would be like to live that dream, that hope might gain some footing over the other emotions holding him back. And don't let on what your main goal is. Once he's so excited and wants it, ask him what you can do to help him get there. If losing weight is needed, he'll let you know.
The bottom line is that he’s not ready. That’s frustrating but he does not have access to the power to change his body - YET! Something is either in the way or stronger. That battle has to be won first. See if you can help with that.
Check my blog at www.robstransformation.blogspot.com/
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