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Helping a Loved One Lose Weight

Cooking together is a good way to start weight loss.
Cooking together is a good way to start weight loss.

Many things that can jolt people onto the path of healthier living. It could be a serious medical diagnosis, the ending of a long-term relationship or something as simple as catching an unexpected glimpse of yourself in the mirror. The key to success is your desire for change.

However, you may not be the person who has a problem. It might be a spouse or loved one that needs help, but they don't seem willing to take action. What's the best way to help them find their way back to fitness?

First off, don't belittle, threaten or argue. Nagging only tends to make people dig in and resist harder. Just mentioning to a loved one that they might need to lose weight, could seriously damage the relationship. Here are some things I've seen work.

If it's your spouse, get a doctors appointment together. Be there to ask questions and take notes if it's an underlying medical condition. Ask for a referral to a psychologist or therapist if the issue is more mental. Be open to the possibility you might be a part of the problem.

Make it about you. If you've got a few pounds to lose, see if they'll help. Tell them about the specific goals you have and ask them to hold you accountable. Your excitement may be contagious. They may adopt some of your goals as their own.

Start cooking. It's really hard to eat healthy unless you're willing to make it yourself. So experiment with simple, healthier recipes. Then ask for help. Figure out quick and easy breakfast alternatives. Pack lunches to go. Plan dinners in advance. Make cooking healthy dishes together one of the things you share, instead of laying on the couch watching TV.

Make water a bigger part of your life. Replace soda and juice with bottles of water. Get reusable bottles to save money and make sure you never run out.

See if your loved one will join when you exercise, but remember that shame or fear may hold them back. Check if your gym has beginners exercise classes or consider using a personal trainer to build and teach you a program. Arrange to meet the instructors so they can let you know how things would be handled.

If exercising in a gym is out of the question, ask if they'll join you for an evening walk. Even something as simple as a stroll before or after dinner can work wonders. For loved ones that are a little competitive, see how they feel about signing up for a shorter race like a 5K or a charity fun walk. Then plan time in the weeks leading up to it for training.

Look for opportunities to do physical things on date nights. Go rollerblading, ice skating, skateboarding or skiing. Take a walk around town or go ride a horse. See if there are local classes to learn tennis, golf or swimming. Something as simple as a Frisbee is fun to throw in a park.

Get plenty of sleep. People who are sleep deprived don't have as much energy, tend to put on extra weight and generally view things in a more negative light. Make sure you're both getting at least eight hours so you can wake up refreshed and excited about doing things.

If nothing works, you have a decision to make. Some people are simply unwilling to change. If their choices will lead to a shorter life, you need to decide how you're going to continue in that relationship. You might not want to remain together with someone who won't take care of themself.

On the other hand, if you can't imagine your life without that person, you don't want the time you have left filled with arguments about diet and exercise. If they won't change and you want them to stay in your life, you have to take steps to care for yourself, and accept them for what (and how) they are.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.