Can You Tell Someone You Love They Need to Lose Weight?
Experts weigh in on how to broach the topic without hurting your relationship.
"I'd ask him how much he weighs, and then I'd shed him!" exclaims Aileen Zsenyuk, a woman who recently lost 115-pounds. While her partner wasn't the catalyst for her weight loss, for some women, it's one of the worst things you could ever imagine coming out of a loved one's mouth: the words "you're fat."
Hurtful, maybe, but in some cases, absolutely necessary for the person's own health and well-being. In cases where one is morbidly obese, it could even save their life. But for some people, excess weight serves as a shield, one that they aren't quite ready to shed. According to certified health coach Holly Stokes, "Weight can be a way of hiding who we really are from others so they don't reject us or get too close, and often, it's a way of insulating yourself from a partner's criticism."
So instead of coming off as critical, try a more positive approach. Caryl Ehrlich, a weight-loss coach who helps people beat food addiction says that if you decide to tell someone they need to diet; there are tactful ways to take this step. "Instead of outwardly saying ‘you need to lose weight,' you could say ‘I love you just the way you are and I want you around for a long time for me and the kids, so you might want to eat in a healthier way.'
If you don't go about it the right way, Ehrlich says, it could have severe repercussions. "The recipient would be mortified that someone noticed they were overweight and the relationship would never ever be the same. That's when people go into the closet and become secret eaters," she says.
Actions speak louder than words, says Judy Lederman, author of Joining the Thin Club: Tips for Toning Your Mind AFTER You've Trimmed Your Body (Three Rivers Press, 2007). "Unless you want to cause animosity, do NOT tell them with words," Lederman says. "Instead, show the person you are concerned by taking them for nice, long walks, making them healthy meals, keeping junk food out of the house, and keeping healthy fruits and veggies readily available. You can also sign them up for a gym membership as a gift and do whatever it takes to get them into the gym, such as purchasing personal training sessions or massages."