Help a Sister Out

Hi! Happy Monday! How’s your morning treating you?

I’m off to teach my first yoga-inspired strength class, so hopefully it goes well!

crow

While I’m “om-ing” and setting peoples’ thighs on fire, I thought today would be a great day for a discussion post.

I’ve removed the edited email to ensure discretion, but the topic is how to approach your friends, family, and loved ones  about food choices that may be doing more damage than good to their overall health.

This is a challenging topic because it’s hard to tell someone you’re worried about them without crossing the line or damaging a relationship.

While I’ve never had a sister, I do have four brothers.us

My brothers can each eat an entire pizza and play sports. I’ve never had to intervene with their eating habits or exercise schedule — they’re young, and they’re boys.

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Also, I’ve never had to address a friend about their health. Usually it’s the other way around, leading by example to hopefully motivate friends and family members to take better care of themselves. There have certainly been times when I’ve worried about the health of those I love, but not because they were working out too much or eating too little.. rather, the exact opposite. Sometimes I do wonder if I should say something, but the idea of damaging relationships or making them upset scares me. I’m one of those “avoid confrontations at all costs” kinda people, but the thing is, being overweight is just as dangerous to ones health as being underweight.

That all being said, here’s what I *think* may work:

Talk to your them. Tell them you love them and instead of attacking their new eating style, ask how they’ve been feeling since they made those changes. Tell them you noticed that they’ve lost weight and that you’re worried about them, since they have such an active lifestyle. Maybe by asking them questions instead of assuming/attacking, it will keep them from feeling like they have to defend themselves?

What do ya’ll think?

Have you ever had to talk to someone about their health? What was your experience like?

I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts <3

See ya later today!

xoxo

Gina

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72 Comments

  1. Parita @ myinnershakti on May 16, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    That is a tough conversation to have, but it’s much needed. I’ve been on both sides of the issue. I’ve had my best friends and family approach me about my unhealthy habits, and I’ve had to talk to a good friend about the negative path she was heading down. I think what helps the most is being honest and not beating around the bush on the issue – I’m a believe in tough love! With that being said, I also think it’s important to bring compassion and empathy to the table. It’s a fine line to balance, but once her sister knows she’s there for her and is willing to support her, she’ll be able to face and tackle the situation.

  2. Coralee on May 16, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Great topic and I Just want to caution people about advice for the overweight and to tread carefully as you really can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Over the course of 3 years I lost 90 pounds the slow, healthy and natural way and then due to stress from my career, a new marriage and infertility I have put about 50 pounds back on. I never thought this would happen to me but recently I have been able to stop beating myself up about it and am once again doing what I have to do to get healthy for life. The thing is that I don’t need advice from the average Joe as I know exactly what to do and am extremely motivated to figure this thing out for good and it doesn’t involve fad diets or extreme exercise.
    Because of my scary BMI (I’m 5’1) I had to sit through some well meaning advice from my young, female Doc last week and it was painful and involved talk of surgery, Zenical and 1100-1200 a day diets. This surprised me coming from her but she is a GP and hasn’t specialized in this area of course but that is a topic for another day.
    Bottom line is I am currently fat on the outside but don’t need unsolicited but well meaning advice as I have leaning about nutrition, diet and exercise for several years and it’s not the knowing it is the doing!

  3. Destini on May 16, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Since I started my healthier lifestyle I have a lot of people ask me questions about healthy eating habits, recipes and just what do I eat? I have had conversations with people before about their health. But I usually bring it up if they talk about it with a relating subject. It’s hard because its not soo much ur business. But if its someone you care about. Talking to them about eating healthy and living healthier isn’t a bad thing. Just be gentle.

  4. Tamar on May 16, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    I’m confused- did you take out the original email? I keep seeing comments about veganism and sisters but it doesn’t make sense with the post…I had a similar situation (my sister) and the problem is that even talking calmly and asking questions will sound like attacking if the recipient has an eating disorder.

    • Fitnessista on May 16, 2011 at 5:36 pm

      i did remove the email for privacy purposes. i had generalized it, but took it out to make sure.

  5. Maria on May 16, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Very tough situation to be in, but if you’re sisters, you should be able to say anything to each other. Maybe you can start out by asking her what she’s been doing to lose the weight and then say something like you’re worried for the amount she’s working out she’s not consuming enough calories?? I’ve never had to deal with this situation. But I do have a sister and we’re always motivating each other work out! You just talk nicely and calmly to one another and in a NON attacking way.

  6. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on May 16, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    I’ve never had to talk to a friend about her lifestyle, but I’ve been on the receiving end of a friendly “intervention” when my friends noticed I had lost too much weight. At the time I was SO mad at them, but once I accepted that they were right, I was so grateful for their concern. It really showed me how much they cared.

  7. The Get In Shape Girl on May 16, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    This is tough because you care, so you want them to talk to you and open up, not scare them off. I’ve found that I just talk about healthy & positive things about being healthy, eating good foods, etc around them and allow them to remember that I’m a fitness professional and that I can help when they are ready.

  8. Brenda@Year25 on May 16, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    This is a tough situation. I’m never sure when to bring something up. My modus operandi has been to wait until they bring up anything about weight/eating and then ask them thought provoking questions about it. Especially with girls, it’s complicated, because for the most part, their habits have evolved as a way for them to ‘look thinner,’ so if they are meeting their goal of losing weight, it’s hard for them to see their habits as being ‘unhealthy’ or ‘bad.’

  9. breakingsilence @ Freshman -15 on May 16, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    I’ve been on the other end of something like that, except it was misguided. When I was working part time in retail, a not so great habit I developed was to go buy fast food to eat on my lunch/dinner breaks. At the same time, my workout routine came to a halt. I definitely gained some weight because of it. Of course, I started to notice, and I decided that I wanted to start eating better (especially on my breaks) and exercising again. As you can guess, I started losing the extra “fast food/no workout” weight I’d gained and got back to a BMI that was/is perfect for my height. I felt more energetic and had a more positive self image. My doctor completely approved what I was doing. However, all my retail co-workers saw was that I was not eating a lot of junk food anymore and I was losing weight. I was cornered (on the sales floor!) one day by 3 of them (one of whom was a supervisor). They wanted to know how much I weighed, what I’d eaten before I came to work that morning, etc. I was like, “Excuse me?! How much I weigh and what I eat is none of your business! My doctor approves and that is ALL you need to know!”
    What I’m saying is: don’t take that step unless you have SOLID proof that they’re doing something unhealthy.

  10. LauraJayne on May 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    I know I’m late to the gate on this one – but it’s actually something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

    I used to be the sister who needed the help. I was 235, sedentary, and living a lifestyle that meant I was gaining weight fast. I had to realize, on my own, how unhealthy and miserable I was.

    Because of that, I am keeping my mouth shut, even though my sister is quickly following my bad habits path (although less extremely than I did). I try to encourage activities where we will be active and offer to cook/shop, but I shut my mouth other than that. I think she has to figure it out for herself – until she does that, it’ll just strain our relationship and since she isn’t doing anything crazy unhealthy, I’m not willing to do that!

  11. Calee on May 17, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Just have to say that I’m impressed with your crow pose! I’ve been working on that for a while and I’ve not gotten there yet.

  12. Calee on May 17, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Also, I just had this talk with my boyfriend, who was (and has been) severely overweight for years. He’s tried weight watchers, he generally eats healthy, he used to work out daily … but nothing really helped. No thyroid problems or anything. So with no results, he pretty much has given up on bothering to try — so back to pizza and no portion control and video games. And it’s not the WEIGHT that’s the problem … it’s what he’s eating and not doing.

    So I’ve had to have the discussion with him about that. It’s disheartening to see him work so hard and not see any results — I’ve been there — it’s not fun. I want to give up after a week of trying extra hard and not seeing results (I work out and eat healthy ALWAYS but when I want to shed 3-5 for special ocassions, I amp it up).

    You think a 300 lb guy that eats the same healthy stuff as his 100 lb girlfriend and who works out 45 mins every other day (I’ve told him to amp it up too!) would see some results. I can’t imagine being somebody who SHOULD see results and not seeing them. I am having a really hard time keeping him “on the wagon”. He does well when I have to work a bit harder myself because he wants to help me — but that’s not good for me because then I’m always in lose mode, and I shouldn’t be.

    I’ve had him track things on livestrong.com for a while to see where he’s going wrong, but he keeps forgetting to log. So I’m not sure what’s going on.

    Anyway — off topic — the discussion was hard, but it needed to happen. And honestly, it wasn’t about the weight. It was about the fact that I’m healthy and going to live a long time (assuming I don’t get hit by a truck while running) and that if he wants to marry me, he’s going to have to work hard to stick around for the long haul and not leave me a 50-year-old widow.

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