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Could you tell an overweight friend to lose weight?

Posted May 14 2010 12:00am
75% of us say we couldn't, according to the current issue of SHAPE. And I'm not surprised. We love our friends dearly. We'd do anything for them, but when it comes to weight...there's just too many physical and emotional aspects involved. And it's the emotional aspect that tends to hold us back. We don't want to make our friends cry, and we certainly don't want to make them mad. We also value their self-esteem and don't want to ruin it by appearing overly critical. And we especially don't want to do anything that might turn away a friend.

But when those friends appear to give less than a care about their overall health and well being, and if it completely shows in their physical appearance—what the heck do we do? It's not always easy to sit back and watch someone you love self-destruct, but starting out with "Hey, Tubby..." probably won't fly.

No one likes their downfalls thrown in their face, which means that probably any version of such an opener won't work. And forget doing it in numbers, as you'll make it appear like an intervention. No need to gang up.

But you're concerned, right? You just want to help.

And you can, so here's my advice. SHAPE goes on to say that you should invite your overweight friend to the gym. While I think that's an excellent idea, I can see how it might be intimidating to someone who's never been. Perhaps you should pick active ways to hang out that might mirror certain efforts put forth at the gym. For example, when you go shopping, pick up the pace a little as you move from one store to the next. Or gossip  on a neighborhood walk or during a pick-up game of basketball at the park. And when you share a meal, set a good example. I've read a variety of different reports in the past that suggest we eat differently around our friends. We'll pig out because everyone else is, or we'll hold back because Healthy Friend did. So be that Healthy Friend. Again, set a good example.

You never know, your overweight friend might take notice and bring up their own personal battle after which you might feel more comfortable confronting them. Just remember that we all have to WANT to be helped. So if your overweight friend simply doesn't care, then realize there's nothing you can do. Pull back and enjoy your friend. You love them for who they are, not what they eat.

(To my friends: This blog was not written with any of you in mind!)
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