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How to get my dad to lose weight

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Old 12-30-2012, 03:47 AM   #1
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Default How to get my dad to lose weight

I need some help convincing my dad to change his eating habits so he can become healthier. This is long, so bear with me. For the short version, read the last paragraph.

My concern is not really with his weight (I love him regardless of how much he weighs) but rather with his health. He has ridiculously high blood pressure but won't take the meds because he's afraid he won't be able to get off them. And he's too proud to be on daily medication (that's an issue for another day). So the next best thing is weight-loss to bring his BP back down to normal levels.

It's not like he eats bad foods. Very few of the products in our house are processed or oily or fried. Most everything he eats is "healthy", he just eats A LOT of it. And by that I mean that he'll eat 4 boxes of raspberries in one sitting, for example. Raspberries are good for you, obviously, but those calories add, especially when you couple that with numerous sandwiches and cups of buttermilk.

I've tried numerous motivation tactics for him, but none of them seem to work. I've tracked his calories and shown him that even fruit can make him fat. I've encouraged him to go hiking with me whenever I'm in town (I live several states away so it's not that often). I've even harassed and lightly ridiculed him about his weight (not my finest method but that's what he does to me so I thought I'd show him how it feels to be on the receiving end for once).

Most recently, I've enlisted my mom's help and asked her to stop buying snack foods. Unfortunately, that doesn't limit how many sandwiches he eats or other staples that he raids from the fridge when everyone is sleeping.

I think the main problem is that he believes in the traditional version of dieting where you deprive yourself of all the things that you like and suffer until you get to your desired weight. Naturally, this doesn't last for very long and he quickly gains back the weight he so painfully lost. His other method is to maintain his current diet but exercise a lot, which also doesn't last long because something always comes up to interrupt his exercise routine and throw him off track.

So I need to find a way to make him see the light and realize that it's a lifestyle change and not a temporary thing. And that he can still eat everything he wants, just in much smaller quantities (like one box of raspberries instead of 4).

I know true long-term weight loss will only occur when (or if) he makes the decision for himself and the motivation needs to come from within. The thing is, my dad realizes this is impacting his health but doesn't seem to realize the gravity of the situation. It's infuriating to watch him eat himself to an early grave.

So how do I make him change his ways? And most importantly, how do I make him think that it was his idea to do this? That last question is because he still sees me as a 10-year-old who doesn't know anything, so it can't come from me.

Pretty much, I'm asking you to share the things that ultimately motivated you to commit to this once and for all, and/or what was method of lifestyle change works for you. And if you convinced a stubborn loved one to change their habits as well, then please let me know how you did it.
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Old 12-30-2012, 03:54 AM   #2
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My mom said that me losing weight would be the ultimate motivation for him to get thinner. There are two problems I find with that.

1) I've struggled with losing weight for over a decade, so clearly this will be a bit delayed. And I feel like he needs to start losing sooner rather than later. And he should be the example to me, and not me to him (maybe that's another point that's rooted much deeper in our family dynamics).

2) Even if the motivation is there, he will lose weight in his regular unsustainable and unhealthy way. I really want him to change his lifestyle so it's healthier and he maintains it.
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Old 12-30-2012, 04:57 AM   #3
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This is really trickery as that moment is different for everyone. For me it was getting to the point that I was so big I would not be able to shop at the plus size store in my town if I gained any more inches. The other deciding factor was that I was just about at 350 and I asked myself if I wanted to hit tht mark as in 10 years I would then probably weigh 450 and it would be much harder to do something about my weight. Weight is such a deep and personal issue. I don't know you can try anything but maybe therapy to get him to the place he needs to be.
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:24 AM   #4
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You can't. I'm sure that's not what you want to hear, but it's true. He has to be responsible for himself on this one. I think the more important issue is that he has KNOWN high blood pressure and NEEDS meds, but doesn't take them. Completely unacceptable - that's what I'd be giving him a hard time about. Maybe he'd like to meet some of my patients who have had a stroke - I'm guessing losing your ability to speak, move, or live independently is just slightly more annoying than being dependent on a once-a-day, minimal side effects drug. If he's too proud to take a pill daily, I don't imagine he'd deal well with being a financial burden in a nursing home needing all of his most basic and private needs taken care of by health care staff. Seriously, take a hard stance on that - it's far easier than teaching him the ins and outs of nutrition, diet, exercise, motivation and persistance required to lose and maintain a large amount of weight, and will have an immediate benefit while you try to lead by example. LOL - sorry for the rant, this issue just hits me hard. Good luck!
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:30 AM   #5
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It's great to see your concern for your dad's health. It's a difficult situation and as you say, until he is really committed to the cause, there is little that can be done to change his eating habits for the better.

Does he cook a lot at home? Or does your mother/other family member do so? If he isn't the main cook, could the main cook perhaps exercise more portion control than normal?

If your dad is munching too many sandwiches, could the household consider buying less bread? No bread = no sandwiches? Or switch up the loaf to a lower calorie one?

Other than that, I'd consider some sort of health approach. He must be aware that he is damaging his health, so maybe a bit of education or a trip to the Doc's for a physical is what is needed.

Good luck, I hope your dad feels ready to make a change soon!
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:49 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by augeremt View Post
My mom said that me losing weight would be the ultimate motivation for him to get thinner.
And this is probably the only way you can help. It worked for my Dad and my family. My own success inspired them.

You can't, unfortunately, push your family members to get healthy. They really have to be able to do it on their own. I know your heart is in the right place, but people must make these decisions for themselves.

Leading by example is powerful. Don't dismiss it!
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Old 12-30-2012, 07:45 AM   #7
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That is hard to make someone lose weight against his will. The best chance to convince him to make a change is to get some help from his friends/associates. If there's someone into biking, martial arts or any other sport the guys love, they could ask him to join them. That would leave him less time to hang around the fridge.
There's also men's corner on this site, maybe you could ask them, they know better how guys mind works.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:24 AM   #8
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I just lost my father in February...and he had a love for food. He was diabetic (uncontrolled, mom wouldn't let him take insulin...she is holistic) with high BP, then had strokes and couldn't walk or talk for 5 years. It was horrible to see my strong, loving father go thru this.

In restrospect, he had depression, and mom's late life crisis of the stuff she did really pushed him over the brink (I'm not blaming it on mom, but acknowledging factors), and he took care of himself less and less.

I lived too far from him and saw him too infrequently to have a loving conversation telling him how concerned I was. Mom nagged him (nagged him, what all men adore), but she couldn't control him from a mid afternoon drive to get a cheeseburger for a snack. He found comfort and solace in food.

I think the only things I could've done if I had lived closer were to make sure he didn't have a primary problem (for him, diabetes and depression) and make sure he was medicated for it (FWIW - he went to my doctor when he visited me alone and the dr put him on glipizide, my mom had a COW). AND get him out more, do more things with him, make sure he was enjoying life. Make sure he had hobbies, and he didn't sit at home eating all day.

So I agree with the other chicks - you can't make him lose weight or talk him into it, but you can make sure he is okay otherwise, and if he's a happy stable person, make sure he has other things to do. (and this will be hard with distance for you too, but lots of phone calls and encouragement!)
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Old 12-30-2012, 10:25 AM   #9
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Do you live in the same town?
You could ask him to go walking with you as
you don't feel really safe walking on your own...
Men like to solve problems, they like to feel they
are taking care of their family and daughters will
always be their dad's little girl.
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Old 12-30-2012, 01:36 PM   #10
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You cannot force him to lose weight and you can set the example. Saying he should is just a cope out as to why you aren't doing what you want him to.
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:00 AM   #11
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Thank you so much for these responses! I've been out of town the last couple of days, hence my silence. They're all very informative and I appreciate your thoughts about the matter.
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:07 AM   #12
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This is really trickery as that moment is different for everyone. For me it was getting to the point that I was so big I would not be able to shop at the plus size store in my town if I gained any more inches. The other deciding factor was that I was just about at 350 and I asked myself if I wanted to hit tht mark as in 10 years I would then probably weigh 450 and it would be much harder to do something about my weight. Weight is such a deep and personal issue. I don't know you can try anything but maybe therapy to get him to the place he needs to be.
I completely agree with your statement that weight is a deep and personal issue, and this is especially true for my family. We all have issues with food and my dad seems to have other issues with the way his life is going that he seems to medicate with food. Therapy would be the best and most effective solution but I have a better chance getting him to lose weight than convincing him to see a therapist.

I do believe that my dad has turned a corner these last couple of weeks and part of the reason was seeing himself in a non-slimming mirror. His size shocked him and the fact that he recently had to buy new work shirts because the other ones didn't fit was the final straw.
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:13 AM   #13
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You can't. I'm sure that's not what you want to hear, but it's true. He has to be responsible for himself on this one. I think the more important issue is that he has KNOWN high blood pressure and NEEDS meds, but doesn't take them. Completely unacceptable - that's what I'd be giving him a hard time about. Maybe he'd like to meet some of my patients who have had a stroke - I'm guessing losing your ability to speak, move, or live independently is just slightly more annoying than being dependent on a once-a-day, minimal side effects drug. If he's too proud to take a pill daily, I don't imagine he'd deal well with being a financial burden in a nursing home needing all of his most basic and private needs taken care of by health care staff. Seriously, take a hard stance on that - it's far easier than teaching him the ins and outs of nutrition, diet, exercise, motivation and persistance required to lose and maintain a large amount of weight, and will have an immediate benefit while you try to lead by example. LOL - sorry for the rant, this issue just hits me hard. Good luck!
I'm involved with healthcare and have treated my fair share of stroke victims, and what you describe is honestly my greatest fear about this situation. My mom has been looking for a doctor for him and he is receptive to getting a physical and finally getting on medication, which is very comforting. But it's taken him forever to get to this point and I have this nagging feeling that he won't get on them fast enough.

Every conversation I have with both of my parents now involves asking how the doctor search is going and I made my mom swear to make him an appointment by his birthday in February. So we're getting somewhere finally.
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:21 AM   #14
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It's great to see your concern for your dad's health. It's a difficult situation and as you say, until he is really committed to the cause, there is little that can be done to change his eating habits for the better.

Does he cook a lot at home? Or does your mother/other family member do so? If he isn't the main cook, could the main cook perhaps exercise more portion control than normal?

If your dad is munching too many sandwiches, could the household consider buying less bread? No bread = no sandwiches? Or switch up the loaf to a lower calorie one?

Other than that, I'd consider some sort of health approach. He must be aware that he is damaging his health, so maybe a bit of education or a trip to the Doc's for a physical is what is needed.

Good luck, I hope your dad feels ready to make a change soon!
My mom does all the cooking and her meals are actually very low calorie and nutritious. The problem my dad and I both have is we like our carbs so sometimes we overload on pasta and potatoes. My poor mother has weathered many arguments where we complain that she didn't cook enough noodles, but she stands her ground and limits what she makes. God bless her for that.

The issue is the sandwiches and the munching (both for me and my dad). She has committed to buying less of that kind of food so I am seeing some real progress.

And I talked to my dad today and he seems genuinely serious and more rational about his weight-loss this time. I think the week of full family attack on him by the entire family has finally driven the point home. It was brutal, but it seems our informal intervention has worked. I'm very hopeful about how this will work out.
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:26 AM   #15
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And this is probably the only way you can help. It worked for my Dad and my family. My own success inspired them.

You can't, unfortunately, push your family members to get healthy. They really have to be able to do it on their own. I know your heart is in the right place, but people must make these decisions for themselves.

Leading by example is powerful. Don't dismiss it!
I've even fairly successful with my most recent weight-loss effort and I think that has helped my dad see that he needs to do something as well (see my response to the previous poster). I think he realizes how hard this has been for me and now that I'm succeeding (slowly but surely) I think he sees that it is possible for him as well.

So I'm kind of surprised that even though I haven't dropped to a healthy weight quite yet, he's taking it as inspiration. And that's even more reason for me to continue losing.
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