We all have that overweight friend that has been trying crazy diets on and off, since forever, it seems, and never managed to shed any weight off for good. Any changes they make are temporary, and they only try crash diets that eventually fail and make them feel frustrated. If you’re really close to such a person (whether it’s your best friend or your mom, or even your spouse) and you’re pretty fitness-oriented, you might feel the urge to “show him/her the fitness way”.
But you know what your overweight friend will react like- scared, confused, maybe they will feel judged, and maybe they’ll just be convinced this healthy-eating-working-out thing is as inefficient as everything else they’ve tried. So we’ve gathered a bunch of tips and tricks through which you can encourage your overweight friends to work out, and become a better version of themselves.
1. Doctor’s Appointment
This is the first step, and the one that pretty much sets the tone, and shouts: ”Things are serious!” Make it crystal clear to your overweight friend that if you scheduled a doctor’s appointment for them you did so because you were worried about his/her HEALTH, not about how they looks! Keep in mind that your overweight friend is probably more self conscious than you’ve ever been so try to be reassuring that you do not judge them on their looks, but that they’re your friend and you want them to be healthy!
The doctor will be able to guide your overweight friend towards a nutrition program that might help, and maybe even a beginner workout routine. But the focus should be on finding out if they have any restrictions due to health issues- otherwise, you could even help with the nutrition and exercise yourself! The usual health problems that overweight people are predisposed to are:
- Type 2 Diabetes (about 80* of those who suffer from this are either overweight or obese);
- High blood pressure (having a larger body increases the pressure because the heart has to pump all that blood a lot faster than it normally would;
- Heart diseases (high bood pressure, as mentioned, which can lead to strokes, but also high cholesterol, high blood sugar);
- Sleep Apnea;
- Fatty Liver Disease;
- Pregnancy problems.
Well you get it. It’s a pretty dangerous life your overweight friend is living, but luckily it’s never too late to change your diet and exercising habits for the better.
2. Get Up Close And Personal
Try to have a very honest and non-judgmental conversation with your overweight friend about their eating habits. Explain to them what you know about caloric intake, and help them calculate how many calories they need a day, and how many they are currently having. Keep in mind the accent should be on the fact that they are overeating, and NOT on the fact that they should restrict calories like crazy- that’s what all the yo-yo diets are about!
Your focus should be on healthy weight loss, so make sure to explain that they should only be 500 calories below their maintenance caloric goal if they want to lose weight in a healthy way. Your overweight friend might otherwise think you’re nudging him/her towards another crash diet, so be sure to focus on the health benefits that they will gain if they try to eat nutritious, healthy food in moderate amounts.
As with the doctor talk, you should make sure that this is, again, a calorie-talk and nutrition-talk based on your utmost desire of seeing them lead a healthy and fulfilling life, free of all the health issues associated to being overweight. Switching the focus from “looking better” to “feeling better” as you talk about calories might help your overweight friend not become obsessive about restricting their caloric intake.
If it helps, you can tell him/her how many minutes they would have to walk, for instance, to burn off the calories from one donut (it’s about 48 minutes, if you’re wondering). But make sure this talk is entertaining, and try not to make exercising be “the bad guy”, or the ugly monster, because guess what’s the third tip!
3. Exercise With Your Overweight Friend
When you haven’t properly exercised in years, it can be daunting to even think about going for a long walk. Try to remember your first day at the gym- pretty scary, huh? By now you probably have a pretty set routine of exercises, so you’ll have to slow down a lot for the sessions when you work out with your overweight friend. Or maybe you’re just getting serious about this, so you could try a modified version of your own beginner program, and see how that goes.
Even leisure activities like going for a walk or a hike in a nice place, playing badminton or Frisbee on a nice sunny day, or even trying your hand at squash and learning the new sport together, can burn a lot of calories, and also be a ton of fun! You could also go for a bike ride together with your overweight friend, and if you happen to go to the same school or work together and live close by, you could commute together by bicycle daily or a few times a week. This will not only help your overweight friend, but it will also bring you quite a few benefits as well- who doesn’t need a bit more working out before heading to school or the office?
If you keep exercising entertaining and dun, your overweight friend might not even notice they’re working out. And this is extremely important, because sedentary people generally tend to see exercising as a sort of punishment that only masochistic fools with six pack abs dare try on a daily basis!
When you’re all done with whatever activity you shared, you can go over the health benefits they just acquired, and maybe calculate together how many calories that meant. Step by step you can encourage your overweight friend to work out with more confidence, and eventually he/she will be able to do this alone. But for starters, be the help they need!
Of course, this is not a fool-proof recipe. Your overweight friend has his/her own personality that will influence how things work out, and you might have to try over and over again. You’re going to have to be a little bit more patient than usual, so don’t just diss them because they didn’t enthusiastically want to completely change their lives all of a sudden (see where I’m getting with this?). Because if you really care about them and want them to make a change, you might be the only person that they trust enough to make that change with.
Do you have any such stories of when you helped an overweight friend start exercising and improving their diet? Share your inspiring story with us in the comments section below, and help other Fitneass readers see that this can definitely be done!