How to broach the subject of weight with someone

(9 Posts)
Iggity Mon 28-Jan-13 13:06:46

My younger sister (aged 28) is morbidly obese. I'm really not sure how heavy but maybe around 16 stone. She is shorter than me so just a guess.

Pretty much, since she was a child, she has always been overweight but in the past few years, she seems to have put loads on. She has just moved to the UK and whilst we aren't in the same area, she travelled to visit yesterday. I hadn't seen her in about one year but do see pics on FB and I was quite upset when I saw her.

She's had and continues to have various health problems, some of which are likely to be weight related with high blood pressure the most recent. She has just started university as well and that may be making things worse. She also smokes and drinks (pints of Guinness).

Where do you start? Is it up to her? I just feel I can't sit back any longer and say nothing to her and watch her slowly killing herself. The high BP at 28 yrs really worries me and I'm scared that the next thing will be diabetes. I have in the past encouraged her to exercise etc. and whilst talking about uni with her yesterday, she mentioned she is going to start playing tennis with a friend.

I don't know what her GP has said to her but can't imagine that her weight hasn't been mentioned. I was going to suggest going back to ask to be prescribed Weight watchers and referral to a counsellor or someone she can talk to about her weight. I really don't think she has a clue about healthy eating. She announced to me yesterday that she had had her first Greggs! She doesn't do any exercise either. I think now at uni, she is probably bored a bit as she is older than the other students and she doesn't have too many lectures each week.

Am I just being an interfering older sister and should mind my own business? I will do anything I can to help her including paying for her to go and see a counsellor, personal trainer in gym etc. I am too far away to travel regularly as she is in North Wales and I am in London. Ultimately I don't want to upset her or make her feel bad. I have struggled with my own weight pretty much all my life too and could do with losing a stone (or two) myself. Maybe I should suggest we do this together?

TheMaskedHorror Mon 28-Jan-13 13:37:11

Its hard because you're her sister and you care about her but I'm sure she already knows she's v overweight and probably wants to lose weight herself.

I think the best you can do is encourage her if she brings the subject up herself. I know you mean well but she may resent it if you start going on about it to her.

I'd keep out of it unless she talks to you about it. You can't throw money at it and make it go away, (I should know, I've had the counselling, the personal training, the gym memberships, etc) she needs to want to lose weight and be committed to it.

If you lived closer I would have suggested that you mention your own weight struggles and asked if she wanted to do something like slimming world together, but as you live so far away I can't help but feel like she might think you're preaching from your ivory tower to her if you call up to discuss her problem.

I can understand your point of view, but trust me she won't be unaware of her weight problem, she will know about healthy eating. Yes, the doctor will have mentioned it (every time she goes in for anything from flu to athletes foot) but implementing the healthy eating and exercise plan is different from knowing about it. She may just feel alone and unsupported and potentially too shy to join a group or confess she has a problem. Is she depressed?

BY the way the counselling might not be a bad idea but be aware that most counsellors are shit, and the ones that are trained in this area won't be in it to make her lose weight, they'll just try to help her eat in a more normal way. Losing weight would hopefully be a by-product of that.

MikeOxardInTheSnow Mon 28-Jan-13 13:55:59

How slim are you OP? How would you feel if someone suggested you lose weight? I think she knows she is overweight, and you saying something is not going to do anything to change her, it'll probably just make her sad. If you were close enough to lose weight together and be supports for each other then I could see the point, but otherwise I don't see how it could help.

lifesobeautiful Mon 28-Jan-13 14:20:15

I think, if you can deliver the news gently - and are prepared for an initially upset or even angry reaction - that you should try to say something. It's obvious you love your sister and care about her and want her to be happy and healthy. Talking to people about personal things like that is very tricky (like trying to tell you someone you love they have bad breath or something), but if a member of someone's own family can't be honest, then nobody can. Perhaps you could start off by saying you'd like to lose a little weight and get fit this year - like a belated new year's resolution - but you need a wingman. Would she be it? And see where that takes you. We have a cousin who, for various reasons, has become incredibly boastful and mean about people and talks endlessly about her job. She hasn't had a boyfriend in years, and would love one, and we her family all know it's not her looks, but her increasingly difficult personality. Anyway, eventually her older brother sat her down and gave her a very frank talking to (in a positive way). It's made a huge difference to her. Good luck!

Iggity Mon 28-Jan-13 21:27:56

Thanks for the advice....appreciate hearing some independent opinions. Will try and support her best I can.

angelinterceptor Mon 28-Jan-13 21:38:05

It could be very upsetting for her - however well meaning you mean to be.

I am overweight - I am trying, I have been to see my GP (who by the way NEVER mentioned anything in any previous meetings) I am probably 4 or 5 stone overweight, about a size 18/20 but I think I am much heavier maybe than I actually look.

My GP was very unsympathetic, and told me it isnt rocket science (this was when I queried the Harcombe diet which she was recommending). The practice nurse was no better.

My "friend" approached me after too many drinks, and started prodding me about my weight. Suggesting surgery, and if I wanted her to come along with me etc It left me feeling even worse, and any self esteem I thought I had disappeared.

My DH knowing I am unhappy about it, but struggling with a sugar addiction and such very low self esteem says things like. "when you're skinny we can go to Barbados" or when I was going out for a walk in the snow last week in a pair of thick leggings "are you going to go out like that?"

Tread very very carefully, I absolutely hate it when well meaning people say things to me, because its never any use - and just makes me feel worse.

Your sister's very lucky to have such a thoughtful sibling, I had years of unsympathetic family members telling me I was fat (even when I was a teenager and looking back on it wasn't really that fat, probably a size 12?)

There are some things you could do 'together' despite the distance such as my fitness pal or weightwatcher online. With mfp there is a forum and you can view friends diaries and I assume weight watchers is the same. Or you could join one of the threads here for support.

I am not sure how you would mention this, perhaps you could join mfp and a thread and tell her how excited you are? Or you could take up a sport, the shred, anything really and hope that your enthusiasm is contagious.

I'm in the now or never thread and I can't begin to tell you how good it is to have a place to let off steam, discuss the emotional issues that might be causing you to eat and discussing food, recipes, exercise, health. The key thing about these groups is that when you have a 'bad' day or week you don't give up, you carry on.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 29-Jan-13 18:17:30

One of my gym friends met her sister for lunch on a fasting day - and had a bowl of vegetable soup as her starter and a vegetable stir fry as her main course. Said nothing. But made the point that a little of the right food goes a long way.
It seems to be starting to work on the sister.

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