If you’re like me, and you’ve lost a significant amount of weight at some point in your life, someone has asked, “How did you do it?” Sometimes people are just curious, and sometimes people genuinely want advice to help themselves.
I lost about 150 pounds in less than a year. Because my weight loss was so drastic and fast, I was asked no less than 20 times a day about it and my new appearance. I was (almost) always more than happy to offer up my strategies.
However, during the last six years of maintaining my weight loss, I’ve learned to stay quiet about anything weight-loss-, diet-, or fitness-related when it comes to the people in my inner circle. I’m not trying to deny anyone help. More than anything else, I’d absolutely love to assist the people closest to me with losing weight and getting healthier like I did. Nothing would bring me greater satisfaction. But that’s not how it works, unfortunately.
Here are the four reasons I became tight-lipped about offering weight-loss advice:
1. You cannot change anyone’s mind about being healthy.
My younger brother weighed more than 800 pounds (yes, you read that right), and he knew he needed help. I couldn’t be the one to help him. No one will change their mind about what they are doing until they are ready. Being “ready” is unique and personal to each of us.
For him, it took an injury to his leg to make him assume responsibility for his health and lose over 300 pounds last year. Trying to reach out to someone when they aren’t ready can feel like you’re telling them you don’t accept them the way they are. Your well-intentioned gestured could be taken as fat shaming. Instead of using your opinion or advice to help someone close to you, focus on being a positive example with your actions.
2. Most people just want to talk about their weight-loss progress and are looking for praise.
Whenever the topic of weight loss, fitness, or trying a new diet comes up with friends or family, it’s usually because it’s something new they are testing out in their life. They want to share their experience with me. They don’t want to hear how ridiculous I think their new workout plan is. They’re sharing because they want praise for their efforts. Changing your lifestyle and habits isn’t an easy feat. People deserve praise over criticism and doubt about their new diet or exercise routine. Most of the time, it’s better to be a cheerleader than an expert.
3. People (in general) will not value FREE weight-loss advice.
How many times have you read an article online or received a free health consultation and never acted on it? Our brains are wired to disregard free or cheap stuff. Think about how differently you treat something you’ve purchased at Wal-Mart from something from the Apple Store. We don’t value cheap and free as much as we do when we’re putting money down on it. It can be very disheartening to continue to offer value to friends who aren’t willing to invest in themselves and do the real work.
4. When you are an insider and people see you every day, they are less likely to respect you as a professional.
It’s common to have friends and family members who have known us our entire lives never take us (or our professions) seriously. It doesn’t matter how much schooling I’ve been through, how many degrees or certifications I’ve earned, how many articles or books I’ve written, how long I've been running my own health-coaching business, or the fact that I’ve lived the lifestyle for over six years as a thinner, healthier person.
The ones closest to us usually don’t respect us as experts or professionals because they’ve been with us a long time. They’ve seen our struggles and failures, so they are less likely to want help from someone who has shown them that it’s not always a walk in the park. I’ve learned to be OK with watching friends and family members seek weight-loss help from others. Sometimes you just can’t help people you’re close to (no matter how much you want to).
The next time you think about offering your unsolicited health advice or a friend wants to “pick your brain,” consider this list of reasons why you shouldn’t offer up what you know. Your experience and wisdom are valuable, but not everyone is ready to hear or act upon it. Be selective in what you say and who you’re donating your two cents to if you want to save your sanity and relationships!
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