Originally Posted by AngelxxRose
I will always be on the journey to lose/maintain weight (losing baby weight currently) but I don't know the answer to this question. Someone very close to me is struggling to lose weight and I want to help this person as much as possible. Is there anything I can do? Has anyone done/said anything that helped you in your journey to lose weight? Any advice would be very appreciated!
How can I help motivate this person? Or is it completely on them?
We're not the people to ask. Your loved one is. We can't tell you how to help someone we don't know. And any help has to come with their consent and ideally their input. Deciding to help someone without their input is like deciding to help a stranger in a wheelchair by getting behind them and pushing them along without asking if they wanted that help in the first place - or like the joke about the boy scout who drags an old lady across a street she has just crossed, because he never bothered to ask whether his idea of help would help. He assumed she needed help crossing the street and tried to help without even asking if she needed or wanted it.
Personally, I wouldn't be offended if someone asked me "Is there anything I can do to help?" but that's not what most people who want to help actually do. Instead they make all sorts of efforts to help based on assumptions about my intelligence, education, effort, mental state.... If they had asked first, they would have known I didn't need the kind of help they assumed I did.
In short, the help they assume I need and try to force upon me, isn't the kind of help I need.
I've gotten a lot of condescending "help" from people. I didn't resent the attempt at help, but I did resent the false assumptions, especially when the person didn't have the courtesy to ask whether I would like help, and what kind I needed.
I've gotten unsolicited weight loss, nutrition, exercise, and mental health advice from people with far less knowledge and education on the subject that I have. And worse (because anyone can make an unfortunate assumption) they often ignore the fact that I've explained my background and lack of need for that particular kind of help, and instead of backing off - continue to press their own agenda, deciding that they know what kind of help I need.
There's nothing wrong with asking "is there anything you would like me to do to help?" as long as you listen to and respect the answer, and are willing to face the possibility that the person might actually know more than you think they do (maybe even more than you do).
"Is there any way we can help each other" is a more respectful request, because it doesn't imply that you assume you're in the superior position (even if you think you are). I absoltely hate getting unsolicited help from people who automatically assume they have something to teach me - and nothing I could possibly teach them. Not only are they generally wrong, they're often not open to sharing information. It's not intentionally rude, they just assume I have nothing to teach them, so they're not open to it. They're so focused on wanting to do a good deed for me, that they're not open to an equal relationship.
Being respectful is the hardest part, because most people in trying to help, do forget to ask whether the help is wanted or need, and also tend to find it easier to give the help they think the person needs, rather than listening and respecting the desires of the person they're trying to help.
An example from personal experience is my husband's stepmother. Instead of asking us how she can accomodate our diets (both hubby and I are diabetic and restricting carbs to lose weight), she decides to "help" by purchasing "diet foods," which we've asked her not to do (because most taste terrible).
We've tried to explain our diet and our food philosophy. We've told her that we don't use diet products, because there aren't many good ones. We've also asked her not to make special food for us, because it's easier to eat less of whatever she serves, or to pick and choose what we eat from what is offerd.
She ignores everything we say and continues to buy diet salad dressings that taste like crap (and are full of HFCS), fat free hot dogs (which have the texture of rubber), diet bread, and foods she believe are healthy (which sometimes are and sometimes aren't)...
I appreciate that she wants to help, but the best way for her to help is do nothing (or to at least listen to the help we would prefer).
They normally, eat fairly healthy if a little bland, and so her regular meals would be just fine. We've said over and over that the fruit salad she usually puts on the table, is dessert enough for us, but instead she'll insist on making a (horrible) sugar free pumpkin pie, and will be upset if we don't eat a piece (and I know full well the carbs and calories in the sf pie aren't much better than a regular pie, besides which I've told her before that I dislike pumpkin pie, but it's the only pie she knows how to make).
I'm not saying you would be so insensitive (SMIL is a bit denser than most), I'm just saying that only your loved one can tell you how and if you can help.