Sunday, May 13, 2007

Planning a "fat intervention" with a loved one?

A loving Uncle once cornered me (we were in the car I believe) when he decided to tell me that I needed to lose weight. Without reliving that extremely uncomfortable situation all over again I will simply tell you how I feel about "fat person" interventions. When planning one of these "we have to save her before she kills herself" interventions please keep some of the things below in mind.

What do you think you're going to tell her (or him, or me, or whoever) that she doesn't already know? Chances are she knows she has a weight problem. Chances are she's probably tried every diet imaginable even if you don't realize she's dieting.

Chances are she's probably aware of the health issues she could be facing. She's probably afraid for her health herself. You'd have to be living in a cave not to know about how dangerous it is to your health to be overweight. It's on every magazine, every TV show, every radio station... she knows it. She may have even thought about having weight loss surgery. It's a thought that went through my head about half a million times.

Have you really thought about how you think she'll feel once you try talking to her about an issue that she probably feels has spun out of control? You think she'll be wide eyed and inspired? Shamed into changing her ways? Chances are she may feel attacked and defensive. If this is a multi-person intervention she may become paranoid that you guys are talking about her behind her back. Then she'll feel resentful of you for butting your nose into her life. She'll take it very personal...then again, who wouldn't?

Then after a while she'll feel bad about herself because she knows your right. She'll probably be embarrassed of herself. She'll feel weak, out of control, unable to get a grip. She'll be so sad and disappointed in herself. She'll probably say more hurtful things to herself then you can ever imagine. (she may even say these before your intervention). Things like "How can you be so fat? How can you be so disgusting?" or "God, even your _____ thinks your fat! You're sick."

She'll feel alone and helpless, isolates, even though the solution seems so simple. Then she'll eat food to comfort herself...starting a whole cycle all over again. It is a cycle, after all, as she's probably a pro-yo-yo-er.

The bottom line is there is nothing you can do to push your loved one into losing weight as it is something she has to do for herself. She's going to have to hit her own "rock bottom" before she'll really make a lasting change. Like an alcoholic until she treats her weight and eating habits as an actual problem then there isn't a whole lot you can do for her.

I personally don't know one single over weight person who has ever said "until my sister/mom/uncle/friend sat and talked to me about my weight issues I didn't realize I had a problem and that's what made me change my ways."

I know it's hard to sit and watch your family members make bad decisions that effect their health and life but you have to realize you can't control what she does. It is out of your hands.

I know a lot of people who will say "I don't care if it hurts her feelings, maybe that's what she needs... some tough love". Again, she is probably tougher on herself than any tough love you think you can dish out. You would be shocked into silence if I would share with you some of the cruel, terrible things I have told myself and thought about myself over the years. If you really don't care if you hurt her feelings then go ahead with your intervention... but don't be surprised when it's met with less than open arms (and maybe take a look at what you're getting out of this intervention).

It is very difficult to do but you have to remember that she's an adult responsible for her own actions. Sometimes you have to let people make their own mistakes no matter how badly it hurts you to see it happen. We all grow up and face reality in our own time. Until then the best thing you can do is be our true, non-judtmental friend.


Meredith said...

I grew up very overweight ...

My grandmother used to try to bribe us (my twin sister and me) into losing weight by telling us she'd buy us this or that if we lost it. I dispised the women my entire life and to tihs day hers was the only funeral I never cried at because I honestly felt that this world was better without her bitterness.

People need to learn to shut up sometimes.

Ellen said...

This: "she is probably tougher on herself than any tough love you think you can dish out" is too, too true.

Your entire post -- wow. You nailed it. And it is so unfortunate that some people don't get it.

***CCC*** said...

A friend of mine recently linked me to your blog and I have to say--it's amazing.

You not only have a way with words, you SEE GET it.

Best of luck on your journey! I hope you don't mind if I link you to my own blog :)

Anonymous said...

CCC you can link me anytime!

GeorgieGirl said...

Sarah, I'm glad you found my post and gave me such great ideas to help my teenager. I'm very happy you clued me in about your article. You have a beautiful way with words! I completely understood what you were saying. I'm thankful you found me before I took any actions.