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Old 01-24-2012, 05:30 PM   #1
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Default Dear Mom,

Hey guys, I am about to confront my mom about losing weight. I am doing it via email so she can't argue with me.

She just came to visit with my dad last week, it was a three day drive here and three days back.

A little background...she has been overweight since having me..about 27 years.

She has gotten Diabetes and Sleep apnea from her weight.

She also has:
-Diverticulitus (digestive problem where your intestines can get infected easily, very painful)
-Restless Leg Syndrom (she doesn't sleep much)
-Asthma
-Shes had two partial knee replacements
-Lap Band surgery, which she has lost NO weight on after 3 years. (partly doctors fault for not paying attention)
-chronic pain
-BAD charlie horses from probably RLS..I have heard her scream bloody murder in the middle of the night
-Undiagnosed depression I am sure...


She is on tons of meds for all of this, and often has stomach issues. The last time I confronted her about 3 or so years ago she got mad when I asked her how much she was eating during her late night "snacking". She said she couldn't sleep or her stomach hurt and that was the only fix...ug.

Intel (my dad) tells me she can probably go through a bag of Cheetos a day! SO this last time around visiting she spent more time sick or lying around in pain than I have ever seen. It has gotten worse, she may try to blame it on the drive down or just "being sick" but it's bull and I KNOW she will feel so much better if she loses weight.

She's done a bunch of yo yo dieting but has never kept it off, she always gains back. My dad is on board to help, I even talked to her doctor. At this point it just talking to her about it...I just hope I can get her to realize what needs to be done.

Here is my letter to her. I would appreciate any feedback so I can edit if need be, before I send it. Thank you.

__________________________________________________ _____

Mom,
I hope you are feeling better from the trip. I wanted to write this down because every time I have brought up this issue in the past you get mad at me and make excuses.

I am extremely concerned about your health. I know it has been a rough several years for you, but it is only getting worse. I know you have it in your head that you are helpless to do anything without a medical treatment. However, I really believe your health WILL improve with weight loss. There is absolutely no down side to loosing that weight and you may be able to get rid of your diabetes and sleep apnea. I have even read (which I am sure you know) that the symptoms of restless legs can be reduced with weight loss too.

Iíve really wanted to encourage you more for a long time. I guess living this far away makes it less motivating for me, until again I am reminded of what ails you. What is so disappointing is that you had that surgery that was going to help you, what 3 or so years ago now and it hasnít done anything but mess up your stomach more.

I think it is time for you to stop relying on the surgery and do it the old fashion way, counting calories and exercise. You can go to your local doctor and have her set up a plan for you or I can help you too, but you have to listen and do it. Dad needs to diet too, and I told him thatÖso there is your support right at home.

I understand you are in a lot of pain many times, and your diverticulitus and various meds make your stomach hurtÖbut is that an excuse to eat to excess that will only destroy your health more? I know it will be hard to exercise for awhile with your toe, and you will have to go easy to start until you start loosing enough to make you more limber and comfortable.

You know I wouldnít be saying this if I didnít care. I love you, everyone in the family does and we want you around as long as possible. Not only that the quality of your life can be so much better...you will be able to keep up with your grandkids and maybe not get sick so often. I know you want to watch your grandchildren grow up. If you donít want to do it for yourself, do it for all of us. I am begging you mom, please work really hard at this. I know you can do it, but you need to stop making excuses even though they are good ones you canít go on telling yourself its ok not to care about what you eat because youíre in pain.

So if you donít think you can do it on your own, I am sure your doctor will help you. I know youíve dieted so many times over the years, but it is just so much easier to watch how much you eat and add a little movement than depending on some yoyo miracle diet.

Believe it or not, this is the only part of your health you really have control over. You canít turn off your RLS or diverticulitus but you can lose weight without the help of drugs or surgery.

You donít have to do it alone because I can help you. If you need to be held accountable daily I will do that. All you have to do is write it downÖbut really I think once you see what you eat on paper you will know what needs to be taken out. I donít see you eat a lot at meals but I think your late night ďpainĒ snacking is what is getting you. You donít count servings, and just eat for comfort and/or boredom. I donít see you eat every day, but I know you are not eating something right or you would have dropped your weight by now.

Seeing you this last time was really painful to see how much you suffer from so many different things. I just want you to feel better so you can live your life to the fullest. You arenít as old as you think you are, and it is never too late to drop weight. Please mom, please take this seriously and donít get upset. Please donít be mad that I brought it up, I love you no matter what, but it is killing me to see you suffer so much. I can only imagine how much it hurts dad, and the rest of the family who see you suffer more than I do. They donít want you to suffer either. You donít have to suffer as much as you do if you just trudge through the hassle of keeping a food diary. The weight will come off and you will feel better I have no doubt about that.

I know you want to feel better too. Please let me or the doctor work with you for a game plan. You donít have to feel alone. I know you can do this if you put your mind to it and commit. You arenít working or feeding a family anymore so it shouldnít be as hard to keep track of the things you eat. You donít even have to exercise that much if you watch what you eat real close. Exercise can come later.

I love you mom, and I want you to feel better. This is the only way I know I can help youÖbut you do have to help me help you.
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Old 01-24-2012, 05:47 PM   #2
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So, I have an honest question.

Do you think she doesn't know that she is overweight and it is affecting her health?

Do you think she doesn't know how to eat healthfully?

Do you think she is ignorant as to what steps she could take to lose weight?

Do you think she doesn't know why she's in pain or what is causing her health issues?

It's sort of like smoking. There is not a smoker in the country who doesn't know that smoking is bad for them. There is not a smoker in the country who doesn't know that he or she can decide to stop smoking cigarettes. There is not a smoker in the country who doesn't know that he or she can find support for quitting smoking in many places. So why do they still smoke? Because changing that habit is much easier said than done, and until the smoker is READY on the inside to quit, he or she won't be able to.

I appreciate your concern for your mom, but you're doing the same thing as telling a smoker "Smoking will kill you, all you have to do is stop smoking the cigarettes, and we'll support you in doing so". All true, but functionally useless unless she's ready to change her habits. True, this can work in a FORMAL intervention (say, for a drug or alcohol problem), but that's an entirely different animal than a letter.

It's very hard to accept that we can't make other people change, but ultimately, we have to accept it. I would have written a letter like this to my dad 100 times over the years, but I know that he won't change until he is ready. Until then, all I can do is demonstrate what healthy living looks like, and provide him with support if he asks.
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Old 01-24-2012, 05:54 PM   #3
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My two cents....

First, your concern and genuine love is so obvious from your message. I really like your offer to partner with her. A few suggestions:

1) In my job, I do a lot of negotiating. The first rule of negotiating is to start with what's right. I would suggest starting the letter with the paragraph that says how much you love her and how much she means to you and the family. Compliment, compliment, compliment....it will make the hard stuff easier. (A little bit of sugar helps the medicine go down ).

2) Remove anything that seems as if it's accusatory. For example, I would respectfully suggest removing words like "excuses" or "you just eat for comfort and boredom" or "stop relying on the surgery" or "you would have dropped your weight by now". I would especially reconsider "you aren't working or feeding a family." This may be true but these are offensive words. It's natural for one to defend an attack (even though i know you don't mean it that way). Try to find another phrase or remove the language.

3) I would offer to help her find "lighter" alternatives for her late night snacking.

4) You've asked her to help you help her. That is GREAT! But ask the next question....how can I help you?

My humble opinion and not criticism. I think your concern is GREAT and the LOVE is clear. That's the most important.
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Old 01-24-2012, 06:08 PM   #4
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I agree with Mandalinn and Free1. You can lead a horse to water . . . as the saying goes.

Write the email, but edit what you have down to a few lines. Tell her how much you love her and how concerned you are. Tell her you want her to feel better and want her to be healthy. Tell her you'll do anything she wants to help her along the way. Tell her your dad will help, too. DO NOT point out all the things she is doing / has done that don't work or are unhealthy. She knows what they are.

Your letter sounds like I could have written it. I am so apt to logically put it all down on paper. It makes so much sense. I then wait a day and re-read and edit. Then again. And again. Your mom knows all the things she should do. Offer her the help to do them without pointing out what they are. Try editing your original post down to the few facts and run it past us again.

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Old 01-24-2012, 06:13 PM   #5
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Hmm good points. It is a little harsh in spots, as I think my utter frustration with it seeps out. Good thing I am taking time to edit before sending.

But Mandalinn, I know my mom doesn't want to be overweight, but I think she expects that the surgery should have done it for her. That's why maybe a doctor telling her would be better. I don't know if she would listen to me.

I know smoking isn't the same as weight loss, but in some ways it has those addictive habits that are similar.

I can't sit back and watch without voicing my concerns and having them heard instead of her making excuses..because she does that. I may not word it like that when I edit.

I guess I have never been satisfied with myself when I was overweight and wanted to change it, and I did. I never thought of it from a point where I didn't care. Probably had more to do with my body image than health at the time.....but my mom has some really serious health issues and needs to be pushed in the right direction.

I believe the doctors have not stressed it enough, or offered her help other than surgery. When she had the lap band done, that doctor retired...and NOBODY was following up with her on fills and making sure she was making good food choices. They STILL aren't and she had to have the fill taken out recently because it caused her a ton of stomach issues.......so now what.

I just think she believes she can't do it without a miracle diet or surgery. She has never lost weight by simply counting calories or adding exercise. It's either been like weight watchers, nutrasystem..where they count it for you..and then she doesn't learn how to maintain because it doesn't teach you how to eat healthy in the real world. (well weight watchers more...but she did it a long time ago)

So yeah, I get it that she may not want to change it but I can't NOT try. I hate seeing her suffer so much.
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Old 01-24-2012, 06:14 PM   #6
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I agree with mandalinn82.

Please think twice before you send that letter. You may want to just keep it for your own therapy to help you deal with your mom. Maybe you could send her a letter telling her how much you love her and that your hope is that she would be able to become well for all of the wonderful reasons that you do state.

Offering her specific advice is going to make her defensive and will hurt your relationship, and I know that is not your goal here. I think your tone was fine, but I doubt she will receive it that way. Lack of knowledge is not her problem.

Do anything to keep the lines of communication open, offer love and encouragement and only give specific advice when it is asked for. I know that is very difficult to do. In time she may open up to the idea of taking care of herself, but if not, love her anyway.

Does she have any close friends that you could call on to encourage her?

We're pulling for you. You have a great heart and compassion. She is blessed to have you as a daughter.
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Old 01-24-2012, 06:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mandalinn82 View Post
So, I have an honest question.

Do you think she doesn't know that she is overweight and it is affecting her health?

Do you think she doesn't know how to eat healthfully?

Do you think she is ignorant as to what steps she could take to lose weight?

Do you think she doesn't know why she's in pain or what is causing her health issues?

It's sort of like smoking. There is not a smoker in the country who doesn't know that smoking is bad for them. There is not a smoker in the country who doesn't know that he or she can decide to stop smoking cigarettes. There is not a smoker in the country who doesn't know that he or she can find support for quitting smoking in many places. So why do they still smoke? Because changing that habit is much easier said than done, and until the smoker is READY on the inside to quit, he or she won't be able to.

I appreciate your concern for your mom, but you're doing the same thing as telling a smoker "Smoking will kill you, all you have to do is stop smoking the cigarettes, and we'll support you in doing so". All true, but functionally useless unless she's ready to change her habits. True, this can work in a FORMAL intervention (say, for a drug or alcohol problem), but that's an entirely different animal than a letter.

It's very hard to accept that we can't make other people change, but ultimately, we have to accept it. I would have written a letter like this to my dad 100 times over the years, but I know that he won't change until he is ready. Until then, all I can do is demonstrate what healthy living looks like, and provide him with support if he asks.
In total agreement. She may never have the strength to change. But your letter won't help her get there. She already knows how you feel. I wouldn't send the letter. As much as it hurts you to see here destroy here health, you can't change it. She has to want to change it and be ready to change it. This letter is for you to feel better thannitnis to prompt her to do something. So, write it, but tuck it away and don't send it.

If she only realized a lot of these problems would disappear with the weight loss. I didn't believe it possible was possible until I did it. But I did it when I was ready. No pleading would have gotten me there faster. Probably would have made it even worse for me actually as it would make me feel like an even bigger failure to know i was disappointing my family so much.
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Old 01-24-2012, 06:22 PM   #8
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If you need to say something so YOU feel better (which is what I'm hearing with the "I can't NOT send this" and "I have to try" parts of your response), then send it for you (or better, write it, get it out, and don't send it). But I'm telling you honestly, don't expect that sending it will help HER unless she is ready to change. The letter, as written, will make her defensive and even less likely to come to you for help even if she does decide to change.

I can sense how frustrating it is for you, and really, I couldn't understand better than I do now, since I'm in almost exactly the same position. Don't think that I don't worry about my dad not getting to meet his grandson if he dies from a heart attack. Don't think I don't think he COULD change, if he wanted to. But I also KNOW that I can't make him want to change, and until he wants to change, he won't change.

If you really need to send something, I'd really encourage it you to pare it way down as the other posters have stated. Honestly, telling her what to do as if she doesn't know implies that she's not smart enough/educated enough to know what she needs to do on her own, and again, it'd be a miracle if she didn't just get defensive and shut you out.
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Old 01-24-2012, 06:30 PM   #9
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I want to add - the people in this thread telling you that it won't do any good are almost all people who have experience with being truly morbidly obese. We've been in your mom's shoes, with our bodies hurting and our health failing, and we know what it took to get us OUT of that place. Unfortunately, we all know from experience that no one else telling us we needed to change could have made us do it. We had to make that decision for ourselves.

I really do feel the compassion you have, and your worry. It's heartbreaking, and I know how it feels. But as someone who has been there, it's really likely that sending this kind of letter to your mom will push her further from where you want her to end up (because if she gets defensive, she won't want to ask you for help, and if she gets hurt emotionally, she may eat emotionally, making the problem worse).
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Old 01-24-2012, 06:49 PM   #10
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I want to add - the people in this thread telling you that it won't do any good are almost all people who have experience with being truly morbidly obese.
I haven't been morbidly obese, but I have been the hypothetical smoker discussed above.

Don't send the letter.
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Old 01-24-2012, 06:53 PM   #11
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In total agreement. She may never have the strength to change. But your letter won't help her get there. She already knows how you feel. I wouldn't send the letter. As much as it hurts you to see here destroy here health, you can't change it. She has to want to change it and be ready to change it. This letter is for you to feel better thannitnis to prompt her to do something. So, write it, but tuck it away and don't send it.

If she only realized a lot of these problems would disappear with the weight loss. I didn't believe it possible was possible until I did it. But I did it when I was ready. No pleading would have gotten me there faster. Probably would have made it even worse for me actually as it would make me feel like an even bigger failure to know i was disappointing my family so much.
+1

Plus if she is like many of us are it actually fires our inner rebel who doesnt want to do it just because you say so.

My first thought when reading the letter was "Wow, that comes off superior and condescending" I know that isn't what you intend, but that is easily how it can be perceived. No only can you not change your mother this way but email is probably the WORST medium for communicating anything of emotional importance anyway.
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Old 01-24-2012, 06:58 PM   #12
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Thanks for the criticism, it is a way different point of view. What happens when you decide for yourself? I can't compare myself to my mom as I was heavier when I was young, and she was older after having kids.

I know she's miserable and she knows she has to lose weight. But what is a breaking point I don't get it..? I think she has a lot of issues to deal with in regards to her mom, and her health causing more depression.

She's been through the surgery and clearly wants to lose weight. It didn't do it for her and I think that is what she expected it to do. So now what?

I am just confused as to how you can sign up for a commitment like that, do it..and when it fails not question why? I think she believes if surgery can't do it she will never be able to by herself.
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Old 01-24-2012, 07:17 PM   #13
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What happens when you decide for yourself?
It's different for everyone. Something snaps. For me, it was trying on a wedding dress. For Lori Bell, she got inspired by the calendar, and started her journey on March 4th (get it? March Forth?) Something just HAPPENS. It's all very vague, and not something you can induce in someone else. It's a lot like addiction - the addict has to "hit bottom", but "bottom" is different for everyone. It can be near death for one person, and just barely slipping out of control for another.

You CAN do subtle things. Talk about 3FC and how great it is (I've gotten a couple of friends on the weight loss wagon with a referral here). Offer to cook and bring over healthy meals. Ask your mom if she'd like to take walks with you, if you're local, because YOU are working on getting healthier and you'd like the company. That's a whole world apart from telling her that she needs to change and how to do it, and may be received a whole lot better.
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Old 01-24-2012, 07:25 PM   #14
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I think it might be helpful for you to accept that in reality, she may never be able to do it for herself.

And I think it might also be helpful for you to consider that it's not up to you to help her, and that she may not want your help--at least not in the terms you've set it out.

I'd say don't send the letter. It is bound to hurt her feelings. That may not be what you intended, but that's what it will do. You have way too many judgments about her.

Meanwhile, I'm sure you have a lot going on in your own life that you can focus your energies on. Look to your own health and well being.

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Old 01-24-2012, 07:35 PM   #15
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I think it might be helpful for you to accept that in reality, she may never be able to do it for herself.

And I think it might also be helpful for you to consider that it's not up to you to help her, and that she may not want your help--at least not in the terms you've set it out.

I'd say don't send the letter. It is bound to hurt her feelings. That may not be what you intended, but that's what it will do. You have way too many judgments about her.

Meanwhile, I'm sure you have a lot going on in your own life that you can focus your energies on. Look to your own health and well being.

Jay
^ this. Part of being a grownup is accepting that other grownups don't have to do what you think is best. Just concentrate on your own journey. Maybe you losing weight will inspire her.
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