I’m overwhelmed by the people who could ever judge anyone at a gym. That’s like judging a sinner at church. Just because someone joins a gym (or attends church for that matter), doesn’t mean they know everything there is to know to make the changes they need to make. That’s why they are there (duh!).
People are on a journey. Joining a gym is the first step, not the last step. THEN the journey begins. While I’ve personally never heard anyone make fun of someone who was overweight in a gym, I know it has happened somewhere, and it is a very real fear. Ironically, I probably see more people judging the fit people, like the power lifters, bodybuilders, NPC female athletes, yogis and CrossFitters for their extreme practices – but either way, there is no place for any of it in ANY gym.
If we compare the gym with the church, I think we all may be able to see things a bit differently. No matter where someone is in life, most people go to church because they know they need help. They know they need to make some changes, and showing up to church once a week is a start. Just because they go, doesn’t mean they change overnight. Even people who go to church still have junk to workout at home. It’s not like everyone who starts going to church immediately stops smoking, cussing, being selfish and making poor choices. No, making those types of improvements takes time. Over time, the people around them should start seeing their efforts to improve, and poor decisions should start shrinking like a dieter’s waistline.
The same goes for the gym. People can join a gym and learn a few tips here and there, but it takes time to accept it and apply it. I’ve had members who have been with me for YEARS who have been fed good advice for a long time, but weren’t willing to accept and apply it for a while. Does this make them a hypocrite, since they go to the gym but aren’t living healthy at home? No. It makes them a learner. Some learn the hard way, some learn the easy way – both are learning.
Sadly, people often go to the other extreme, making fun of the people who have applied all the principles and are completely “religious” about their fitness. They too can be an easy target of scrutiny. It’s the Super Member (like the Super Christian) that can be intimidating to be around, or be a turn off, because of their seemingly extreme ways.
Today, I’d like you to make a pact with yourself to try to put all judgement aside. We don’t know what people are going through personally. We don’t know people’s issues, or reasons for dieting, working out, or competing in fitness events. Sculpting their body may be the ONLY thing in their life they have control of – which may be their only sanity. There are also many reasons someone works out besides their looks. Some people do 2 hours of cardio a day because they have a tremendous amount of stress at home and they need to healthy social escape. The list goes on.
There are others who you may view as people who are “pretending” to do everything right but they haven’t lost a pound. Someone who has been a member of a gym for years and hasn’t dropped a pound is no different than someone who has attended church for years and still continues to sin. We should CELEBRATE they are still coming!! While we may not understand someone’s gym (or church) rituals or quirks, as long as they keep going, they have a chance to be impacted by the people around them. Some people are impacted easily, while others are stubborn and take time. Either way, we have to learn to love them where they are, just as I hope you love me where I am.
Let’s work together to build each other up no matter where we are on our fitness journey. Remember, EVERYONE started as a newbie – everyone! If you are further on your fitness journey, then encourage people around you, teaching them what you have learned – and never, ever, EVER give up on anyone, especially your self!
Surrender to Win: Part 1
In this 2-part blog, I will be talking about surrender, deliverance and denying ourself. I know, you are probably already looking for the EXIT key. Believe me, it may not be the motivational words you think you want to hear, but they are words (packed with truths) I believe you need to hear before you can chase your goals and begin to really change once and for all. By the time you are done with these 2 blogs, I believe (if you apply them) it truly can change your life. With that said, put on to your big-girl (or boy) britches and get ready for some tough talk.
In order to change, you must first surrender the things that have kept you from your goals so you can become who you want to be. You may need to surrender certain food, or surrender your time, so you can exercise more. You may need to surrender laziness and decide that is not who you want to be anymore. Whatever your goals, I guarantee it will require a certain level of surrendering.
Deliverance vs. Surrender
I believe many people are waiting around to be miraculously delivered from their addictions, struggles, weight, health, financial stress, bad habits and selfish ways. They might even pray for deliverance, that God would just take away their desires completely. I personally believe, most of us can’t be delivered until we first surrender.
Seriously, think about it this way. If you are holding on to something SO tight, how hard is it for it to be pulled away from you? It would be very difficult. However, as you loosen your grip, it becomes easier to take away (not that God needs to workout harder so he can win an arm wrestling match). But how fair is it to ask God to rip something out of your hands that you refuse to let go of? Even if He did take it from you, if your mind hasn’t let go and you will likely just take it right back.
We have to surrender. We have to take the first step and let go – in our mind, in our heart and in our actions. It may take weeks or months of letting go before you are completely delivered. You may have to let go every morning and decide to continue surrendering certain things every single day of your life.
Look at the first and second definitions of surrender. It explains surrender is often used in reference of giving up something for something else, something better. Surrendering to either avoid something bad, or in favor of something good. In war, someone may surrender (or wave the white flag) to save their life. In that case, a warrior may even lose his rights to land or freedom (something that is rightfully his), but it’s a trade-off. The same applies for us in many cases.
We have the right to eat whatever we want. We have the right to say whatever we want. We have the right to be as fat and lazy as we want ….BUT that doesn’t make it right or best for us. We choose to surrender those things in order to have life (and a better, happier, more peaceful and joyous, healthy life).
Of course most of us are not held at gunpoint, forcing us to choose and wave the white flag, but there comes a time in our life where we come to the end of ourselves. We get tired of feeling bad. We get tired of the repercussions of our poor choices. Then we finally realize that surrendering is the only way to deliverance – AND that it will be SO worth it!
Warning signs you may be in bondage with food:
Here are some warning signs you need to take your relationship with food more seriously and make some serious changes (surrendering) in order to WIN the fight with fat once and for all!
- When you are stressful, blue, mad, sad or excited – you reach for food. It’s your coping strategy.
- You panic if you can’t have it.
- You plan your whole diet around still trying to have certain foods or beverages.
- You focus on adding good habits, to avoid getting rid of bad ones.
- You look for fitness, diet plans, supplements and diet pills that allow you to keep doing/eating what you want. You buy every gimmick you see. (Why do you think stupid gimmicks like the “Cookie Diet”, “The Ab Belt” & Diet Pills does well? Because they prey on this type of person.)
- You work out more than you need to, to make up for eating more than you are supposed to.
- You can’t control yourself around it. If you have one, you have to have 5. If you can’t control yourself around something, then it is more than an indulgence, it’s an addiction.
- You binge. Maybe you deny yourself something, and when you finally do give in you go crazy.
- It is always on your mind. You talk about it, think about it, plan your day around it.
- You think you need it to be happy.
Homework (for the brave and determined:
While I’m not expert of food addiction, I can tell you that I’ve seen plenty of people be fully delivered from their prior addictions. You don’t have to fight a chemical dependency like a cocaine addict, but in some ways you likely have developed a coping strategy and a dependency on food to help you through life – to comfort you, to reward yourself, etc. In a way, food addiction is just an extreme bad habit that can be broken. Breaking habits take work, a lot of practice and a lot of introspection. So be honest with yourself and be openminded to the idea that your weight issue (or food/drink issue) is more than just a luxury you aren’t willing to part with – it could be more serious. If you treat is seriously, you CAN conquer it. However, the same way you can’t expect to put a bandaid on cancer and it heal, you can’t put a bandaid on a food addiction and expect it to go away. Some things must be cut out, removed, treated, operated on – until it’s GONE.
- What are the things (types of food, alcohol or habits) you need to surrender?
- Do you admit you are powerless around food, or certain types of food or drink? (this is actually the first step to recovery for true addicts. And it typically takes a while before someone come to grips with acknowledging they really are powerless. However, if you haven’t been able to give “it” up yet, it’s likely you are truly addicted to “it” or the lifestyle. Once you realize you are powerless, then you can begin “treatment” to gain back control.
- How do you plan to “let go” of these things? You have to know what this is going to look like. You also need to realize there’s a reward – you have to lose something to gain something (even better).
- What kind of support do you need? Are you willing to get the help you need no matter the cost (time, money, effort)? Put it this way, if you had cancer, would you do whatever it takes to get help?
- What actions and guidelines can you apply in your life that can help prevent you from falling into temptation. Drug addicts might change phones so drug dealers or friends don’t have their number anymore. They would quit frequenting their favorite hang outs, and start spending time with people who are on the same path. They would not allow whatever it is they are addicted to to be in the house, or around them. They would go to weekly meetings and they would join a 12-step program to learn what their triggers are so they can identify signs they may act out. They would require their friends and family to be supportive – and they too may join groups to learn how to be more supportive and understanding.
Note (the good news):
Realize, while some people will never be completely free from an addiction, as you separate yourself from the things that have ruled your life, it is likely those things will become less and less important to you. Over time, a rich food will likely not taste as good to you. Feeling healthy will feel SO good that you will know there is no comparison to your old past and old ways – so it will be easier to “say no”. The same way an true addict goes through withdrawals in the beginning, the hardest part will be the beginning of your journey. It will get easier, but also like an addict, you must never let down your guard. You have to guard yourself against things that can sabotage progress, as well as guard yourself against those same things when you reach your goal to avoid a relapse.
Next Up: Don’t forget to read tomorrow’s blog for PART 2 of this series. Subscribe (above right) to get notified when blogs are posted.
“I have a MAJOR issue with sugar from cookies, cakes, frosting etc. It is more of a psychological thing for me, because I used these kinds of food to comfort myself as a kid. The connection here is food is the only thing that loves me, so when things go bad and I need to feel loved I pig out on these types of food. Can you please give me ideas on how to STOP eating sugar?“
“Food is like an ex-lover that is just no good for me. Not just any ex, but a really sexy ex. When I think about him (food) all I remember are the good times. I forget how much pain and guilt he would cause. And after an incredible night together full of passion, he just leaves you crying on the living room floor in the fetal position full of guilt. And yet, late at night… I still want him so, so bad”.
Could this not be any better of a description of some people’s relationship with food? Loralie nailed it! You don’t have to necessarily be in an abusive relationship to get this. Any relationship that is not good for you is a great example of a bad relationship with food.
No More Compromises
I have to admit I have been pretty lucky over the years. The guys I dated were all pretty great guys, but even good guys can be BAD for you if they aren’t RIGHT for you. For instance, I dated one guy that was really an amazing guy before I met Steve. He was talented, smart, handsome, had a great family who embraced me, and was perfect – for someone, just not me.
I found myself compromising my values and settling for just a little less. Since he really was a super sweet guy, it was easy to think of all the good stuff, and easy to forget the bad. Then, one day, I realized we were both wasting precious time focusing on what was right, but ignoring what was wrong. We could either address the bad stuff right then, or we could deal with it later. Either way we were going to have to deal with it.
Good Doesn’t Mean Right
For me, it meant coming to grips with the simple fact that we were both good, but not good for each other. We were not in a healthy relationship. He was going to make a great husband - to someone else, but not me. And, I realized someone would love me exactly the way I needed to be loved, but he wasn’t going to be that guy.
I broke up with him that day, but it wasn’t easy. I cried and cried and cried – for days and weeks! BUT, I knew it was the right thing to do. It didn’t mean I wasn’t going to miss him and it didn’t mean that I would stop thinking about him. And, knowing I did the right thing was going to make it any easier. Even though I had a tremendous peace about my decision, it still hurt just the same.
I Don’t Need You Anymore
Food that isn’t good for you, in many ways, is just like a boyfriend that isn’t good for you. No matter how wonderful it makes you feel at times, it will ALWAYS let you down. Unfortunately though, we make compromises even though we don’t like the way it makes us feel.
Maybe it’s time you treat food like a bad ex. Remember, as much as you may love it, it will never love you back. Not only does it not love you, it will hurt you – leaving you feeling a little worse day by day. The only answer is to say goodbye. The longer you stay away, the stronger you will become. As you lose weight, as you get healthier, you will discover a new confidence – and you will love the new you more than you ever loved food.
It’s Time to Move On – and Move UP!
Shortly after breaking up with that guy, I met Steve. He was everything I ever dreamed of. He was romantic, loving, sensitive, funny, passionate, smart, handsome, and loved me completely. I could have NEVER imagined how good it would feel to be loved this way – and I would have never discovered his love if I didn’t first turn away from what I thought I loved at that time.
If you hold on to what just feels good right now, you may never discover just how great things could be. Healthy food loves you back. Fitness loves you back. Unhealthy food will always leave you unhealthy, and in a pit of regret and shame. Don’t let the initial taste of something sweet fool you, and lead you to a bitter end. Maybe today is your day to end your love relationship with food.
Should Fitness Leaders Encourage Cheating on Your Diet?
My Answer: A Big FAT No!
WARNING: This is a rare rant, but I believe it’s necessary and could be helpful. Here is the email I got in my inbox today that is sparking this topic.
Here, I have another one for ya! How about: “Cheat on Your Spouse (Without Getting Divorced)”. Or, what about “Cheat on Your Taxes (Without Getting Caught).” I wonder how that would work out for ya. All I know is that title would never fly if it were about any other subject other than diet.
Have you ever wondered why we treat dieting differently than anything else? Cheating is cheating. Instead of teaching people to cheat, let’s teach people how to eat right and maintain a healthy balance so they don’t HAVE to cheat (which I’m sure was their intensions, but still sends a bad message).
I personally believe if we can teach people how to improve the issues that CAUSE cheating, we wouldn’t need to cheat to begin with. I also believe people need to know the difference between cheating and treating.
Why We Cheat
Why do people cheat on anything?
- They feel like they are missing out
- They are deprived, they aren’t getting what they want, or feel like they need
- They are greedy
- They lack discipline
- They are looking for happiness
- And many other issues I’m sure a psychologist would tell us our real issue is
Strict dieting (and depriving) can absolutely cause some people to cheat and binge. It’s caused from extreme short-term discipline, or extreme (but typically short-lived) self control. Just because you have good discipline for a period of time doesn’t mean it won’t backfire on you. Ask your spouse to not have sex with you for a few months and see how that works out for ya. If you do that, you are putting them in a very bad and unhealthy place, so why would we do that to your own body?
While some issues are caused by extreme yo-yo discipline, other issues that cause cheating are from the opposite, a lack of discipline and self-control altogether. People who never really work on improving self control will continue to struggle until they really commit to making permanent changes. Instead, people will dabble in eating better for a period of time, but they never really stick with it long enough to learn a new long-term disciplined behavior. Self control is difficult in any area of our lives – it will not be easy, and it will take constant practice, but it is most definitely healthy.
Think of all the areas of our life that require constant discipline. If we have to constantly control our tongue, control our anger, control our desires, control our thoughts and control our spending, why would we think we would ever get to a place where we no longer have to control our eating? Self-control is required in all areas of our life if we want to live fruitful, healthy lives.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11
Cheating vs Treating
Now that we’ve talked about why we cheat, let’s talk about how we cheat. First, I think people misuse the word. Instead of looking at having a piece of cake as “cheating”, we should look at it as “treating” – BIG DIFFERENCE. The same way we make room in our budget to treat ourself to a new pair of shoes or a new purse, we need to learn to make room in our budget for a dinner out or a piece of pie. As long as we aren’t doing it all the time, it’s a healthy way to have treats. Unfortunately, many people are not treating, they are cheating. They are not making room for that treat. They aren’t shaving calories off somewhere else. They aren’t working it off now, and they have no plans to work it off later. They aren’t working to “buy” that treat the good old-fashioned hard-working way.
People are just taking what they want, when they want – whether they can afford it or not. Anywhere else, that would be called stealing. In the dieting world, it’s called cheating – but I’ve got news for ya. People are NOT getting away with it. They are imprisoned in body fat, tight pants, insecurities, depression and despair.
American Needs Stronger Leaders
WARNING: The following content is rated M for mature. Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense truths, unpleasant news, offensive and/or strong language. Caution is advised.
I am so tired of seeing headlines suggesting dieting is easy and fast. It’s not. While it doesn’t have to be awful (and when done right, can be much easier than you think), practicing discipline isn’t easy. It takes some level of effort – and results are rarely fast.
I’d like to encourage fitness leaders to choose their words carefully and, may I boldy say, challenge American to QUIT cheating. We need to encourage people to be accountable. We need to speak truth in love and, for once, actually tell people “it may be your fault”. It’s not a fun message to give, but at some point, people need to hear the truth – even if it isn’t as fun.
Could you imagine if Magazines used headlines like:
- 10 Ways to Practice Self-Control
- Learn How Balance Diet and Treats (not Cheats)
- Get the Foods You Need, So You Don’t Fall Off the Wagon
- Overweight? Then Move More or Eat Less
Of course those don’t sound near as fun as “have your cake and eat it too”. And “get off your fat butt and burn off that cake” would not only offend half of American, but it probably wouldn’t sell magazines. Sadly, America spends so much energy on being politically correct, and non-offensive, they don’t have the guts to use headlines that people really need to hear. Instead, they tell people what they want to hear, even if it’s not true, unhealthy, only partly true or even damaging. We live in a “feel-good” society that preaches “if it feels good, do it” and “you deserve it”.
Fitness leaders needs to help people get to the root of the problem and fix it, instead of encouraging followers to find ways around the problem, or mask it. Personally, in my opinion, we shouldn’t teach people how to cheat, or even appear to. That is just a bad message to me. While teaching practical eating tips so people can ENJOY life, and not be miserable on a diet, would ultimately teach people how to FEEL like they are cheating (which I am sure is what the magazine was doing) – I don’t think we should even use the word cheat in a positive sense. Why? Because the uneducated dieter could be led to believe that some people are getting amazing results by “cheating right” and doing whatever they want. NO! People get good results by eating right and practicing self control.
“…people always want to see what they can get away with first…”
People are already looking for every way to lose weight besides the right way. I see it way too much at the gym. People work really hard at the gym, only to blow it on poor choices because they basically want to see what they can get away with and still get the results they want. If you are dieting that way, I’ve got news for you – you can’t get away with it for long. Living like that is risky. It’s no different than stealing and hoping to get away with it. You have to be ready to get caught and face the consequences. The best thing you can do is just live right – and, in this case, eat right.
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. Proverbs 25:28
Every where we go we are inundated with weight loss commercials, diets, exercise gimmicks, workout fads and commercials for healthy food. Just by all the commercials alone, it is clear everyone knows America has a weight issue.
149 million Americans are overweight or obese. We suffer $208 billion in lost productivity and $46 billion in direct medical costs as a result of our weight issue. One out of three youth are overweight, and one out of six is obese. And, if a parent is overweight, their child has a startling 70% chance of being overweight or obese too. So, it would only make since that anyone who wants to make money would jump on the weight loss bandwagon to sell us something to fix our problem.
So how do diet and fitness brands try to grab our attention? They don’t attempt to hook us by listing health risks or obesity facts. No, they capture our attention with six-pack abs and hot fit bodies. Why? Because our outer body is more tangible and real to us. It’s what we see. But what about what we cannot see?
Rolls of fat are bothersome, and tight jeans are frustrating. Our outer layer of fat speaks to us every day. It stares us in the face and screams at us constantly – but what if your organs, blood and bones could talk to you and explaim how your weight affects them?
This picture (posted above) is a look inside the body of a person who is overweight vs a person at a healthy weight. Look at how crowded the overweight person’s organs are. Look at how the body fat shifts their joints out of whack and changes their posture.
Let Me Hear Your Body Talk
If your body could talk, your heart may ask you for a much-needed break, and complain about how hard and fast it’s been beating. Your lungs may tell you how cramped they are and how badly they would like to expand more so you could perform better. Your bones may cry for relief from carrying such large loads day in and day out. Your blood might be too busy yelling at your artery walls to even have time to complain to you about your cholesterol issues. Each blood drop is probably yelling “pardon me, coming through, make a way” because of all the build up it has to dodge or squeeze through every second of the day.
We take life for granted. It’s not that we forget the fact we are alive, but we neglect to realize all the work it takes to keep us alive. We have such high expectations for our body. We expect our body to perform well even when we treat it like crap. We act surprised when we have health issues when, if our body could talk, it’s probably been struggling for years.
Sure, weight loss looks great, but we can’t forget about how much better weight loss looks on the inside too. Don’t you think your body deserves a break – and maybe even a little pampering? It’s been working so hard all these years. Let’s take good care of it, so it can continue taking good care of you.
Today’s Fitness Motivation:
Yesterday I was driving across the parking lot at our gym and I had to slam on the breaks to avoid an overweight man on a mobility scooter zipping across the parking lot. This was in an area that homeless guys tend to hang out, like the guy who uses a knee brace and crutches as props for his begging corner – but that guy can’t seem to remember which leg he keeps the brace on. Anywho! Back to the scooter guy. How many people do we see on scooters who can actually walk?
While I whole-heartedly believe there are people who need a mobility scooter, I can’t remember the last time I actually saw a handicapped person using one who actually was not able to walk. I know they exist, but I believe these aids are hurting people more than helping them.
Maybe they start off using them because of an injury, or to help them be a little more mobile. But, it encourages more laziness and dependance – which can lead to even more weight gain. I believe that’s why we end up seeing so many heavy young people on scooters. It just becomes easier to use the scooter – and the more they use it, the more muscle strength and stamina they lose.
Scooters are an electric crutch that someone can get stuck with if they aren’t purposefully working hard to get away from using them. Of course I’m not suggesting that it’s going to be easy for these people – it will take work, but in most cases it’s totally doable. Unfortunately, we live in a world full of conveniences that have taken away one of the best exercises known to man – walking.
It used to be, that if you had to go to your neighbors, you’d walk – not drive your golf cart 5 houses down. Our neighborhood is relatively small. Houses are built along a 1.4 mile road that circles a lake. It literally could take me 5-8 minutes to get to the opposite side of the neighborhood on foot. Yet, jumping in the car is the knee jerk response when I’m going to the tennis courts just a half a mile away.
We realized just how spoiled we are when Steve did Fat March, a walking show for weight loss reality TV on ABC. Even when they were off camera, we walked pretty much everywhere if we wanted to go out to eat or hit the mall. I remember looking for a gym while visiting and calling around to see what was close by. When I found a gym about 2 miles away, the reality that I had to walk there sunk in. Of course it’s not like I can’t walk 2 miles, but I already missed being able to jump in the car and get there quickly. Steve laughed because, by that time, he’d already walked several hundred miles – what was 2 more!?
Although increasing your activity shouldn’t replace a purposeful exercise routine, it sure as heck is an important part of maintaining a good quality of life. If you don’t want to be stuck in a scooter when you are 70, you need to stay on your feet as much as possible when you are 40.
Impatience Makes Us Fat
I think the major problem with Americans today is we are always in a hurry. We don’t want to spend 10 minutes walking somewhere when we can get their in 2 minutes if we drive. Our impatience makes us lazy and it reducing activity. If cars weren’t so darn easy to jump in and out of, it would be much different. Even in the horse and buggy days, it might have been just as much work, and take as much time, to saddle a horse than it was to walk. So even then, walking was probably a smart option. Now we’ve gotten so smart we are acting dumb. We aren’t as aware of how our convenient and fast lifestyle is affecting our health and activity.
This blog is NOT to dump on people who use scooters. It’s not to judge anyone for where they are in their life. It is to ENCOURAGE people to NEVER give up on doing everything you can to have the BEST quality of life possible. Whether you can walk, but can’t run – or you can only walk with a cane. I just never want anyone to give up on their dreams of staying mobile and healthy. Even if you are completely healthy, it’s my hope that I can make you more aware of ways to protect your health and mobility. Here are some tips. Pass it along if you think they may help others.
A Dozen Ways to Increase Activity Throughout the Day
2. If you are going out to a nearby place to eat – walk, don’t drive.
3. Walk to neighbors and save the golf cart for golf.
4. Take walking tours while traveling.
5. Avoid taking a cab when downtown in big cities.
6. Skip the elevator and take the stairs as often as you can.
7. Don’t take a grocery cart, just out of convenience. Use your muscles and carry a basket when you can.
8. Walk your dog instead of just letting out in the back yard.
9. Trade sitting and drinking coffee with a neighbor or friend for a nice walk. Walking is one of the best ways to get exercise and catch up with a friend.
10. Choose restaurants that are near fun places to walk, like the beach, parks, downtown shops and the mall, so you can take a walk after dinner with your date.
11. Don’t enable loved ones. Dealing with someone who is handicapped is touchy. Although you want to be sensitive, you also need to hold them accountable and encourage them to stay active.
12. Stay active when you get injured. One of the worst things you can do is allow an injury to get you down. A few months ago Steve tore his MCL, medial meniscus and IT band. Although he can’t walk without a limp, and he can’t run, do kickboxing or BCx Boot Camp, he can do the bike and elliptical. He even does legs – carefully. It’s scary, but you have to stay active to rehabilitate injuries.
ENCOURAGEMENT: A Man Who Didn’t Give Up
WALKING WORKS: Steve’s Memory Reel from ABC’s Fat March:
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What’s your take on obesity and scooters? Do you know someone who beat the odds and lost the cane, chair or scooter wheels?
I know from experience this is one tough topic to bring up. I’ve had firsthand experience facing the dreaded “Fat Chat” with my own family. With a subject as sensitive as this one, you can’t take it lightly and your words should be carefully chosen. Unfortunately, most people are so scared to talk about it, and they avoid it altogether.
It’s not much different than approaching someone about a drug problem or mental illness. You probably wouldn’t even hesitate if your loved one was anorexic. Obesity is just as serious. It’s not just plain unhealthy, it can cause depression, loneliness, low self-esteem, sadness, tiredness, hopelessness and even social stress.
It will never be a fun topic, but it could cost them their life if you choose to ignore it. Although there are no set rules to follow, there are some tips I learned along the way that may be useful if you face this situation yourself.
10 Tip to Having Effective Conversation
2. Don’t just tell them what they want to hear. Often times, people will complain about not losing weight and swear they are doing everything right. The fact is, they aren’t doing everything right if they aren’t getting the right results. Unfortunately, many people will say stuff like “you are probably just turning fat to muscle” to make them feel better about not losing weight. If they aren’t losing weight, instead of meaningless encouragement to help them feel better in the moment, brag on their effort and encourage them to try something else.
3. Encourage them to keep trying. If someone says they are trying to lose weight, but they aren’t successful, encourage them to keep digging and keep learning. Challenge them to never accept little or no results. One time a member came to me saying she hadn’t really lost any weight since she joined a year ago. I told her weight is all calories in vs. calories out. She told me she ate healthy, and I told her she was probably just eating too much. I encouraged her to count up the calories and dig deep to find the extra calories. A couple of months later she stopped and thanked me. She said she had lost 10lbs and discovered she was taking in way more calories than she thought.
4. Be honest. Many people flat out lie when it comes to people’s weight. I’m not suggesting you tell them their butt looks big in their jeans, but I am suggesting you don’t lie to them. There are many loving things you can say to someone without lying like “I’m sorry you feel bad, you know I love you no matter what” or “I have fat days too, do you want to go for a walk with me?” And sometimes, it’s best to say nothing. Many times people are already lying to themselves. If you confirm their lie, they will start believing them – and begin to accept their situation (weight), instead of thinking about fixing it.
5. Empower them with knowledge. You’ll never get anywhere with opinions. However, education is empowering. No one is motivated to do things until they understand. They must truly grasp why, and how, those things work. The more someone learns about weight loss and how it all works, the more willing they are to apply it because it makes sense. They will learn it’s just science and it works – and it will work for them too.
6. Don’t allow them to make excuses. This isn’t a fun one, but I’ve had many people make a long list of excuses they were holding on to with a death grip. With every excuse they gave me, I had to explain why that excuse wasn’t a valid one. (Ironically, they already know this) When my own mother finally accepted her situation and decided to do something about it, her motto was “no more excuses” as she realized she had been making excuses for YEARS – and it was only prolonging the inevitable. She went on to lose over 80lbs.
7. Whatever you do, do it in love. This is the key to any type of confrontation. If you don’t have love, you can’t be productive. If you address their weight and make it clear it is because you are concerned for them, you are worried, you want to help them, and you want them in your life for as long as possible – who can really be mad at that? However, if you come across judgmental, you might as well right them off. They will tune you out as fast as a staticy radio channel.
8. Help them. Never tell someone what to do if you aren’t willing to help them. If you really care, your actions must speak louder than your words. If they aren’t ready for your help, let them know you are there for them when they are.
9. Let them know they CAN do it. Most people who are overweight truly think they were born that way. They think they have some kind of health issue preventing weight loss or that their body just won’t lose weight like everyone else. My sister thought she was just born a big boned girl. I had to convince my family that her weight was a direct reflection of calories consumed. At first my mom whole-heartedly believing she didn’t eat that bad. It was only after my sister lost her first chunk of weight, when she came to live with me, that she confessed all the junk she was eating (and hiding). Low and behold, after losing a ton of weight, she found her smaller bones hiding behind the fat.
10. Ask them what they need. Don’t assume what your loved one needs, ask them. Ask them if they’d like the accountability and find out if they enjoy the support. Be honest with them and let them know you only want to discuss it, but only if it’s helpful. Let them know how much you care about how they feel. Not everyone is motivated by the same things so find out specifically what encourages them the most, as well as what discourages them.
As with any sensitive subject, there’s always a risk of hurting someone’s feelings. But feelings heel and your chat may save their life. Be patient, loving, kind, understanding and sensitive. They may not respond overnight, but know some of life’s biggest challenges bring about big rewards.
What If They Don’t Respond?
If you brave this subject, there is one last tip I’ll give you: Release them. If they don’t respond or they are not ready, you have to let it go and release them from guilt. Everyone wants to be fit and healthy, but if they give you a million excuses, and it’s clear they aren’t ready, it’s important they don’t have that extra guilt weighing on them.
Let. It. Go! Don’t harass them, don’t keep inviting them to the gym, don’t push it. If you are leading by example, your lifestyle will remind them – and if you were genuine, they will call on you when they are ready.
The seed is planted. Now you just have to wait for it to sprout.
When is the right time to bring up someone’s unhealthy weight?
Here’s what some of my facebook friends had to say:
Abominator D Goheen when their shirts don’t cover their bellies.
Sarha Chalmers I would say when u know it is affecting their health not a great chat to have but it has to be done when u care for someone
Malinda Wilkerson Blevins You can help-give them info-nothing works till they make the decision…it is honestly something they have to WANT to do.
Laurie Colón I’d say no chat is needed. Not like they don’t know already. Why hurt them. Just plain cruel actually
Stan Black When you can point out how it is negatively affecting thier life, health, and welfare.
Skinny Aint Fit never !!!! unless its a loved one and the health is in jeopardy
Robin Testa Sullivan I have never done it unless the person brought it up first. I know what its like on the other side, although nobody ever said anything to me…think they just tiptoed around the issue like the elephant in the room, LOL.
Share your thoughts and experience with us below!
Does food have a grip on you, or do you have a grip on food?
I can’t tell you how many people tell me they are so sick of themselves. Sick of not controlling their food intake and weight. Food clearly has a grip on their life and they are eating themselves unhappy. Today we’re going to dive deep into the seriousness of letting food control your life. Get ready, because this isn’t going to be pretty!
Gluttony: to gulp down or swallow, means over-indulgence and over-consumption of food, drink, or wealth.
You don’t have to be FAT to struggle with food
When I think of gluttony, I think of seriously overweight people like ”Fat Bastard” in the Austin Powers movie. However, you don’t have to be morbidly obese to struggle with gluttony. Just ask Steve and I. We’ve seriously gulped down hideous amounts of food at times, and not once did we ever push away from the table feeling good about it. And we make a boatload of excuses to match the boatload of food we consume.
“We deserve it”. “We’ve been training so hard”. “At least it was all healthy”. But no matter what our lame excuses are, too much is too much – and it’s not healthy.
We humans like to rationalize pretty much everything. We’re the first people to judge someone else’s “sin” and then make excuses for our own. Of course, most of us don’t think of ourselves as gluttons, but if you are gulping down too much food, then you are indeed a glutton. Sorry, but it’s true.
If you can’t control it…
Sure, it would be super easy to look at someone addicted to crack and think “wow, I can’t believe someone would do that to themselves”, yet you maybe addicted to food. Just because food is legal, doesn’t mean we should abuse our bodies with it.
This is not a fun topic, but I think it’s important to address. Coming from a strong Christian home, I was taught to take care of my body – and treat it like a temple. However, I’ve treated my body like a saloon, garbage dump, and smoke stack in the past. I would have NEVER brought some of the things I put in my body into a church. Ironically, when I was the least disciplined with what went into my mouth, I was also the least disciplined in other areas of my life.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to target alcohol, cigarettes and drugs as the evil things you should get rid of – but what makes us think we can continue overeating and not practicing self-control with the rest of our life?
It’s not about Vanity
Interestingly enough, most of us know better. We know we should be working out and eating healthier, but we don’t do it. Did you know that just knowing what to do and not doing it is wrong? I’m not just suggesting it is not good for you, I’m saying it’s flat wrong.
“It is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” James 4:17
You don’t have to believe in God to benefit from scripture – and I believe most of us want to do the “right” thing. I think the problem lies in that we don’t think of eating poorly as right or wrong, but just a matter of vanity or choice. I mean, there are no food police giving out tickets for poor eating. We have the “right” to eat however we want – right? We may have that right, but that doesn’t make it right.
Maybe, if you’re struggling with self-control around food, you should treat the problem less like a vanity thing, and more as a right and wrong thing. You probably know what’s best for you, now you just need to start doing it.
1.) Decreases self esteem
2.) Increases jealousy
3.) Causes us to hide (especially from cameras)
4.) Makes us tired and lazy
5.) Makes us look and feel unattractive, which can be harmful in relationships
6.) Makes us physically ill
7.) Can be expensive (dining out/cocktails)
8.) Makes us unhappy
9.) Causes depression and added stress
10.) Makes us insecure and lack confidence in our work
If those are just a FEW things unhealthy eating habits can do to our lives, then why would even hesitate to get help and get healthy? It’s time to get healthy and happy again!
NOTE: If you think for one minute I’m judging you, or anyone struggling with eating – think again. We ALL struggle. I struggle. If you put a basket of nachos in front of me, I’ll out-eat any of you if I don’t practice self-control – and even my best self-control will still be overeating I guarantee!! The only difference is, I may go run it off. This is something I will continue to improve and manage for the rest of my life. When it comes to my body, I don’t want to look bad as much as I don’t want to disappoint God by mistreating this body he gave me. I want to be a good steward of my physical body as well as my life. When I’m done with this life, I want Him to say “Well done”. I will never be perfect, and I will always fail, but I will never stop trying – and I think that’s all He asks for.
I rarely am motivated to workout. It’s just something I have to keep doing, like brushing my teeth, to maintain the body God gave me best I can. Fat on your body is like fuzz on your teeth – when is OK to just leave it there? It deteriorates your body, and even makes you less attractive. It’s just not plain healthy – and it feels awful too.
Again, I’m bringing up the fact we treat fat differently than any other thing in our life – and body. Our health should be equal. If we have a sore spot, we treat it. We take care of our teeth, hair, nails, and even a minor sore throat. Tet, we may carry around a load of body fat and an unhealthy lifestyle that is going to kill us if we don’t do anything about it – and we totally ignore it or play it down.
Sure, I’m not overweight – however, I too often abuse my body. Whether it’s putting my workouts last, or eating something I know is bad for me, somehow it’s easy to justify our unhealthy lifestyle or decisions.
Even “fit” people, who supposedly are into exercise, are abusing their bodies with extreme diets and unbalanced exercise routines. Whether a person is running all the time and never doing anything to preserve muscle, flexibility, balance and core strength, or they are pumping iron all day long without ever exercising their heart and lungs – it’s like treating a heart condition and ignoring the big tumor on the side of you head.
Whole health is not some yoga pose and “Om” chant. Whole health is taking care of your body in it’s entirety. It’s getting check ups when you are supposed to, it’s exercising your heart and lungs as well as your muscles. It’s losing excess body fat that puts you at risk for an early death and poorer quality of health – and I’m not even talking about HUGE amount of weight. I’m talking about just 10-20lbs. If you don’t think your weight is killing you, think again.
Look at these statistics via US Department of Health & Human Services:
- Even moderate weight excess (10 to 20 pounds) increases the risk of death, particularly among adults aged 30 to 64 years.
- Individuals who are obese (BMI > 30)* have a 50 to 100% increased risk of premature death from all causes, compared to individuals with a healthy weight. Car accidents, trip and falls, illness – you name it.
- A weight gain of only 11 to 18 pounds doubles your chance of developing type 2 diabetes
- Over 80% of people with diabetes are overweight or obese.
- Women gaining more than 20 pounds from age 18 to midlife double their risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, compared to women whose weight remains stable.
- For every 2-pound increase in weight, the risk of developing arthritis is increased by 9 to 13%.
- Obesity during pregnancy increases risk for both the baby and the mother by 10 times.
- Obesity during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of birth defects, particularly neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.
- Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.
We tend to play down our body fat. We can always point out someone in worse condition and often treat the need to lose 10lbs as a vanity thing. If you are holding excess body fat, it’s not just about how you look and feel in your jeans – it’s staying alive so you can even wear a pair of jeans to begin with. This is about your health and quality of life. Don’t under-estimate the impact body fat makes on your life – or death. If you have it, it’s time to get rid of it.
We often think of guilty as a verdict, not a feeling or state of being. The dictionary uses words to describe guilty like “responsible, deserving and ashamed” – however, most of us don’t need a judge and jury to convince us of our guilt, especially when it comes to our health.
Someone posted this question on our club’s facebook page: “Why is it we always have more guilt about missing a workout than a workday?”
The answer is easy. We can run from our boss, but we can run from ourself. We face ourself in the mirror every day, knowing in our heart what we should and shouldn’t be doing. Just as someone can possibly fool a jury, they still walk away knowing who really is truly guilty – and whether they admit it or not, it will haunt them forever.
An overweight woman came into our club yesterday with a friend. The thinner one was clearly insecure and nervous about being there, yet the heavier woman was definitely more comfortable in her skin and smiled the entire time. I don’t know either woman but, if I had to guess, I’d guess the uncomfortable woman didn’t want to be there and was battling some guilt – to the point it was making her miserable.
Not everyone is convicted to go to the gym and take care of their bodies – yet. However, when they are, as Mr. T says, “I pitty the fool” if they don’t – because at that point they are responsible to act on that conviction.
It’s not much different than anything else in life. We’ve all been there. We were convicted to apologize but we didn’t. We were convicted to pay for someone’s food, but we didn’t. The problem is, unlike many isolated opportunities, we have the opportunity to act on our health it at any given time. We can make up excuses, but we know in our heart they are few valid ones.
Guilt is an ugly thing.
Guilt causes depression, angry, resentment, frustration and countless other negative feelings. Yet pride in making an effort stems confidence, strength, hope, optimism, dreams, happiness, growth, motivation, inspiration and results. Amazingly enough, very little effort can change how we feel. Doing something is always better than doing nothing.
Unhappiness often comes from not doing what is right – and, even worse, settling for what is wrong.