How to Help Friends or Family Members Who Want (or Need) to Lose Weight

Seeing others struggle, no matter what they’re struggling with, is tough. Super tough. Especially when the person who is struggling is a friend or family member. We love those closest to us, and we want them to be happy and successful in all areas of their lives.

I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with weight loss in my years and years of experience in the transformation world. I’ve seen them lose weight, gain it back, lose it again, and gain even more back. I’ve done all I physically and mentally could do to help and support them. Believe me, if there was a magic button I could’ve pushed and all that extra weight and the baggage that comes with it would disappear (because extra weight is heavy in more than just pounds!), it would’ve been so tempting to push that button.

But…and this is a HUGE BUT…the worst thing I could do for someone I love is push that button and make the changes for them. Why? Because there is no magic button, and I’d be doing them a huge disservice if I took the opportunity and growth and experience away from them that they’d gain going through the journey of transformation. And to be honest, that magic button change would be short-term. We respect and honor and protect the things we work hard for. Including, and especially, weight loss.

Here’s the deal: Change, no matter the type of change, has to come from a desire within the person who wants or needs to make that change. You cannot make someone else change. You cannot do the work to change for them. And that realization can be tough, especially when you see others struggling, even to the point of putting their health and their lives at risk.

The change—any change—has to come from them. They’re the only ones who can decide to change and then take the steps to change. But…you can support them through the changes they’re making. And that’s an important part to play in their transformation! According to the Mayo Clinic, the support of friends and family members can be a key to long-term weight loss success.

Accountability is key to transformation and achieving any goal. Learn more here.

What does the process of change look like?

So, to better equip you to help those you love achieve their transformation goals, let’s break down what the process of change looks like, otherwise known as The Transtheoretical Model, or more commonly known as The Stages of Change:

  • Stage 1. Precontemplation: Don’t think a change is needed.
  • Stage 2. Contemplation: Starting to consider change, but not quite ready to commit to change.
  • Stage 3. Preparation: Preparing to change, maybe even making steps towards change (researching workout and/or nutrition plans, starting to work out, starting to eat more healthily, etc.). This step can often be triggered by a scary health experience or diagnosis.
  • Stage 4. Action: Regularly engaging in activities to promote change (workout out and/or nutrition plan adherence) for 3-6 months. Putting plans in place to combat any roadblocks that might come up.
  • Stage 5. Maintenance: Regularly engaging in the activities to promote change (workout out and/or nutrition plan adherence) for more than six months. Able to successfully navigate any roadblocks and potential relapses.

Why do I share The Stages of Change? It’s important for both you and the person who wants to change to understand which stage they’re in right now because someone who doesn’t think they need to change and someone who is preparing to change are in two totally different spaces and mindsets.

Think of a goal you want to accomplish: What stage of change are you in right now?

Top tips to help someone you love lose weight for good

While you can’t make a change for someone else, you can be helpful on their journey, so here are six tips you can put into place today to help someone you love lose that weight for good.

Tip #1. Remember: This is their goal, not your goal. The way you go about achieving a goal, especially a transformation-related goal, might be different from what will work for them or from the steps they want to take to achieve their goal. Offer suggestions when asked, but realize that your suggestions might be implemented or ignored. And both are okay!

Tip #2. Cheer, don’t coach. This tip goes along with tip #1. Embarking on a transformation journey can be overwhelming and frustrating with so many things to learn and do. So, the last thing your loved one needs is another person, especially someone close to them, continually suggesting things for them to do and try. Your role is to cheer them on, notice and congratulate them on every single small win, and keep telling them they CAN do this!

Tip #3. Meet them where they’re at right now. You can’t force someone out of the stage of change they’re in. It just won’t work. So, understand where they are, support them as much as you can, and they’ll progress on their transformation path in the way that’s best for them.

Tip #4. Encourage baby steps. It’s going to be so tempting to them to want to hit all their workouts and nutrition plan perfectly, but this is a recipe for disaster. Instead, encourage them to take on just one new thing at a time so they can develop healthy habits and experience long-term results—results that will stick. Research backs this up:

  • Take on 1 new thing at a time = 80% chance for success.
  • Take on 2 new things at a time = 35% chance for success.
  • Take on 3+ new things at a time = 3% chance for success.

Tip #5. Help them build integrity. Integrity, especially personal integrity, is THE key to achieving any goal, but especially where weight loss is concerned. When you do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it, no matter what, the results WILL come. And that’s a promise! In fact, this is the first step I take with every single client I work with. How do you help someone build integrity? Through a little thing I call a Power Promise. A Power Promise is a promise you make to yourself, and this promise is so simple that you can do it every time, no matter what. When it comes to helping your loved one make their first Power Promise, this promise doesn’t even have to be transformation-related. The important thing is to slowly help them build their self-confidence and personal integrity and get them winning right from the beginning.

Learn more about Power Promises + Integrity here.

Tip #6. Ask them how you can best support them, then do that. Whether it’s through frequent check-ins, less frequent check-ins, whatever type of check-in works best for them (phone, text, etc.)…, it’s all about doing whatever they feel will work best for them. Their perspective of support might be different than yours or someone else’s. Remember: Weight loss—or any type of goal—has a learning curve, and your friend or family member is on that learning curve. Allow them the space to learn and grow.

Transformation is hard. Watching someone you love struggle to transform their lives, especially when it comes to losing weight, is hard. It’s our natural inclination to want to jump in and try and do the work for them. Don’t do that. Instead, use the tips I’ve shared, and not only will you be able to support them along their transformation journey, but I bet that relationship will grow even stronger!

xo,

Related reading:

Build a life you love: Set Goals + Achieve Them
How to Build Momentum, Accomplish Your Goals, + Create a Life You LOVE!
How to Beat the Odds and Actually Finish Your Goals | Jon Acuff
Consistency Is Key: How to Make Your Fitness Goals a Reality
How SMART Are Your Goals?

190 Responses

  1. Hey Powells!

    I’m in need of help. I’m a 37 year old father of 4. My youngest being 3mo.
    I struggle with my weight horribly.
    I’ve been as high as 385 as low as 220. Right now I’m around 320. I cannot seem to find a balance to my diet. I try to stay balanced with carbs and fat. I have some medical issues that I battle with as well. Being a family of 6, I cannot afford to hire professional help to work out with. I am a full time employee and a Fullntime father also my wife is full time at work and at home. I’m looking for your help to make sure I’m alive to see my kids grow up.

    Heidi, Chris, I hope you have time to read this and can find it in your hearts to reach out to us.

    Sincerely ,
    Ronny Johnson.
    A father in need.

    1. Hi Ronny: Thank you so much for your post. You can begin your transformation journey today with the same program (carb cycling) that Chris and Heidi use on the show. Learn the basics of their program here: https://heidipowell.net/9060. And the exercise part of their program requires no equipment and no gym membership, so that should work very well for you! Their program will teach you everything you need to know and do to achieve your transformation goals. You can do this!

  2. Good morning…could you please tell me the different between low carb plan and Carb cycling? And what are the health benefits between them or which one is best and why. You & Chris are awesome and I love to read your Facebook post (you are so down to earth) and info on your website. I also listen to you & Chris each morning on Vemma bod-e transformation app. Thank you in advance for taking time to read this. You are the best!

    1. Hi Shari: There are many different low carb plans out there, so there’s really not a set answer to explain them. Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program alternates low and high carb days throughout the week. You can learn more in these posts: heidipowell.net/2713/carb-cycling-101/ and https://heidipowell.net/4514/carb-confusion/. Hope that helps!

  3. I need help. My boyfriend is 21 and he only has about 50 pounds to lose. He is trying to eat better, less carbs, and he is doing basketball like 1-2 hours per day, walking 1 hour per date, and sometimes doing T25 videos and he is just not losing weight. He lost 2 pounds the first week and then nothing the second week and then .08 pounds the third week. What can I do to help him, he is getting discouraged fast.

    1. Hi Tonya: He might be interested in checking out Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program – the same program they use on the show. It can work no matter how many pounds he wants to lose, and he can learn more about their program here: https://heidipowell.net/9060. We wish him the best – he can do this!

  4. How do you save some one who doesn’t believe they are worth saving? I am well aware I can not fight this battle for someone else but i don’t even know how to get through to this family member who would rather eat themselves into the grave then to make any attempt at saving themselves. With Everything I say comes a retort that I can’t possibly know what i’m talking about….. yet i’m 117 and he’s 401 but i don’t know what i’m talking about. I don’t know what to do or who to hire to at least come talk to him.

    i know you have more then you can hande but can either of you maybe refer me to someone who will actually talk to him?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Emi: I’m so sorry for what you’re going through – it must be so frustrating! If you haven’t already tried this, his doctor might be a good place to start. He/she should be able to talk to him about the medical/health dangers associated with being 401 pounds, and this could be a wake up call for him. A doctor specializing in Bariatrics could also be a good tool for you, since he/she would have some tools over and above what a primary care physician would have and could treat him and his issues with obesity specifically. You might also contact the Powell Metabolics program (link is in the post), and they could also be a resource and/or point you to other resources. We wish you the best, and hope you can make some progress with him.

  5. Hello Team Powell,

    My name is Jaison and I am from NC. It’s currently 3:30 am and I find myself sitting in tears outside of a hotel during a vacation with my mother. I am extremely concerned with the health of my mother.

    She is 53 yrs old and has a weight issue. She has been a smoker most of her life and has recently in the past 6 months finally accomplished the goal of stopping smoking. Which I am very proud of.

    I myself come from a small family. It’s basically only my mother and step father. So obviously it’s very important to me for my mother to be healthy.

    She struggles with her weight and tries to diet properly, but she really lacks the excerise and ability to be mobile and active due to her weight and that worries me tremendously. On our vacation you can’t enjoy a walk with family friends due to shortness of breath and issues with legs and feet due to weight.

    I woke up tonight at 1 am to the sound of her snoring and struggling to breath. Breathing for about 30 seconds and then silence and no breathing for 30 seconds. When she starts breathing again it’s almost as if her body is struggling and fighting for air. After laying in bed for over 2 hrs listening to the most important person in my life struggle to breathe properly while sleeping I found myself googling and searching the Web for anything or anyone that could help.

    I see where other people have posted stories and comments all being replied to with directions to a book or website as the Powells are currently not taking on any clients. And I don’t know if they will ever read this post, but it’s just the efforts of a only son reaching out for help for the one they love the most.

    I don’t know how to help my mother make the change she so desperately needs. I know change must come from within the person them selves. But I feel she is hampered by other issues like fibro milage, she is currently on blood thinners.I could advise her to see her doctor, but she goes in for routine check ups and blood work on a weekly basis and with the medical field seeming more about dollars versus actual help and health. It’s always some new pill or drug that a doctor wants to prescribe.

    I’m really and truly lost and don’t know what to do. If the Powells do take on new clients please contact me as I would be willing to do whatever it takes to have someone like Chris or Heidi help my mother live a happier, longer, and more active lifestyle free of pain and struggle.

    She constantly pushes me to meet a nice girl and make some grand babies. And my biggest fear is that time will run out before I can provide that kind of happiness to her.

    The sound of someone struggling for breathe as they sleep at night is horrifying and I pray that this email will be the start of changing all of that.

    Thank you for the time and I will pray that one day the Powells can help push my mother in the direction she needs to go with the proper motivation. I know they have both changed so many lives of people living with the same issues as my mother. And I would love nothing more than to see her be one of the thousands of success stories behind Chris and Heidi

    Kindest regards
    Jaison Bibbey
    Greensboro NC

    1. Hi Jaison: Thank you so much for posting and telling us about your mother. I can’t imagine how difficult this must be for you – I can only guess from reading your comment. Unfortunately, Chris and Heidi are not taking on clients at this time; however, there are a few helpful suggestions in this post, so I would start with helping her make and keep that first promise to herself. This is truly the key to achieving any goal, when you think about it. Then have her discuss Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program with a healthcare team who will work with her to get healthy and will help her make any necessary modifications for her health issues. They are best to help her since they know her exact issues and can work with her on a one-on-one basis to make sure she’s staying safe while working to reach her goals. There are links to their carb cycling program, a post about the promises process, as well as to their program – Powell Metabolics – which can work through her health insurance provider. And you’re right – any changes have to be her decision, and that’s why Chris and Heidi always have their clients learn to make and keep promises as their first step. One last thing: You mentioned your mother’s sleep issues – has she seen a sleep specialist? If not, that might also be a good idea as good sleep is so important to not only good health, but losing weight as well. We truly wish you both the best, and please keep us updated on her progress. She is so fortunate to have such a caring and loving son!

  6. Dearest Chris and Heidi Powell,

    My name is April Melissa Fisher. I am 47 years old and I live in South Carolina. I watch your program time from time and like so many others I have fallen to the “weight gain”. It all began when I was 18 years old. I weighed 125 pounds this is where I started going down. I quit high school in my 11th year. to get married only to be abused by my spouse. I as kicked with steel toe shoes on my inner thigh by him and I knew then I HAD to leave but he would threaten me if I ever did. While shopping for grocery one afternoon we began to get into it over a head of lettuce, yes you read that right a head of lettuce. One thing came to another and I just threw the lettuce at him and started running. I ran out side and hid until I could get someone to call my Mother to come get me. While she did and we started to our home he was threatening me. Police were called and I was able to go inside to get my belongings and my pet cat. He had throw-ed my cat against the wall and tore up all my clothes and sugared my make up etc. I really had NOTHING left. But I moved back home to my mother’s and I quickly started trying to rebuild my life back.
    With depression and bad eating habits not really paying attention and actually letting food be my confront on everyday life. I began to gain more and more not really knowing it, you don’t realize that your on a decline until you hit the grown and at this time I haven’t hit the ground.
    I managed to get my life back in order and was doing a lot of activity’s with friends, working going to the lakes enjoying what I missed getting married so young. That’s when I met husband # 2.
    I met him walking home from work one after noon but told him I wasn’t interested and kept walking. I later met him out one night and we began to talk and hit it off. That next morning was father’s day and my mother said we had company coming over. and that they had a son my age. Oh great I thought, I am not staying around here. lol.
    before I could get out of the house the door bell rang and I answered it. Behold it was HIM….. yes, my parents knew his parents and before we knew it we were dating. Things were going good for a while. I weighed about 160 still thin for my height so you couldn’t really tell I was putting on much weight but within that following year I began to get pregnant. I gained 75 pounds during that pregnant. and gave birth to a healthy Son. within a couple of years our relationship started to turn ugly. He wouldn’t marry me to give the baby a name. until he was 5 years old. and by then I had given birth to another son. Only with Jessie I gained about 65 pounds. by this time I was at 225 pounds. I knew I had to do something but the pressure of trying to keep everything going was very hard on my personally. We both was not faithful during our marriage and it dissolved. but not without a lot of slapping, hair pulling. calling each other names him ramming his car into mine etc. Was a terrible marriage but I loved him he was the father of my Son’s. I did everything I could to hold it together for my family. He would call me names ugly names. which only made me eat more and more daily. I ate to hide my pain, I ate to often. I was on a roller coaster and just wanted OFF!
    I tried everything. diet pills after diet pills nothing worked. by this time I was up to 275 pounds. I finally got out of that marriage and started trying to lose and I did for a while it didn’t last long though. I was a single mother trying to keep my boys a home. it became to much for me to handle and I began to eat more and more by this time I was ballooning up to 300. I ended up marrying a man that he knew I didn’t love but cared for but to give my boys a home I married him. He was very good to me. But I wasn’t happy. so I kept on eating. I was so out of control no one could help me. I decided I would check into Gastric bypass. I decided to have it done a Roux-En-Y Gastric Bypass in 2001 But before I could have it done I had lost a good friend to death. That hit me real hard. More mental pressure on me because I should of been at her house at the time but choose to stay home and she ended up having an asthma attack which ended her life. I was lost. Mentally lost. I had lost my best friend and didn’t know what I was going to do. by this time, I was up to 500 pounds. I ended up going through with the surgery and I started losing. I was down to 300 pounds when I finally met the “right man” for me. He and I moved from Arkansas to South Carolina in 2005. Things were going good for a while. and I don’t know what happened. I just fell off. started gaining again and this time nothing I could do would help me to lose this weight. I later ended up going back under the knife in 2010 to have a revision done. I explained to the Doctor what I was going though and what was happening and told him something wasn’t right. I was gaining and I shouldn’t be able to eat the things I was eating. NOTHING got me full. I could eat and within minutes I could eat again and that kept on and on . After surgery that next morning he came to my bedside and said. he couldn’t find anything wrong and all he done was move my intestine so that the food would stay longer in my pouch. I knew, I knew right then I had went through everything for nothing.. I was heart broken but he assured me I would lose.. well, I didn’t. fact is. I have gain intonational 150 pounds SINCE that year. My knee’s are so bad that I cant hardly walk now, my feet hurt to where when I go somewhere I need a motor cart to shop etc. March 18th 2012 I lost my youngest son to a motorcycle wreck and I just didn’t care. Didn’t care if I lived or died. Since then I had to wake up and realize I have another Son, to take care of. I have a mother that’s 71 going on 72 probably by the time you get this letter and both has there issues too. My son is going through pain of his own. ( long story ) but he has NO life. he’s 28 years old and hasn’t worked enough in his life to ever have a tax income. I cant get him seen by a doctor due to money issues. I have tried many times by saving but keeps saying there is no problem but there IS a problem. He is in pain 24/7. that keeps me upset. not knowing where he’ll be if something happens to me. My mother is at the age she wont be around either and my husband, well, he’s NOT his father so he would move on with his life I’m sure. and my son would be put on the streets. That’s pressure and you know a food addict we turn to food to hide our pain.
    I am sorry that my letter is so long but I wanted you to see what mess I am in. I REALLY need some help. and I have no one to turn too. I hurt all over Please. if you find it in your heart to read my letter and can help me would you ??
    I am begging for help. I am the cook in our home and not everyone likes what I cook and then complains which makes me eat more.. I am just LOST ! please help me.

    Thank you taken the time to read and if you decide or would help me please let me know.. my address is

    Melissa Fisher
    703 Caldwell Street
    Newberry, Sc 29108
    (803)944-2858
    message ( 870) 310-4873

    Ps. I watched Rachel’s story and I could relate to her in SOO many ways.. Kudo’s to her and for her weight loss. she looked amazing.. Thank you again~

    1. Hi Melissa: I’m so sorry to hear about all you’ve had to deal with, and I can’t imagine how difficult this all has been for you. Heidi would love to help you personally, but unfortunately, she is not taking on new clients due to her heavy filming schedule, other obligations, and young family. I do hope you understand. But please don?t put your life on hold waiting for Heidi before beginning your own transformation. You can start today with the tools she and Chris have provided for all of us to use to achieve our transformation goals, and you can find all of these tools in this post on this blog: https://heidipowell.net/9060. And please discuss Heidi and Chris’ program with your healthcare team first, and then follow any modifications they recommend. Take one baby step at a time, and you can do this!

  7. Hi Chris and Heidi,
    I have a best friend she is the best she brings the sun out with it’s cloudy outside, she is 32 years old and she has went to the doctors and they told her that they wont do anything with her weight because she is healthy but in her family there are health risks and she wants help she needs it she weights 375 pounds she has done diets juices diet nothing is working she even goes to the gym but I think she needs a push. I want her to feel good about herself because she makes me happy I want her happy healthy, she has a low self esteem and but she hides it.

    Can you help my friend please

    1. Hi Donna: Chris and Heidi aren’t taking on clients due to their heavy filming schedules, other obligations, and young family, so that’s why they’ve made all the tools they use available for all of us to use to achieve our transformation goals. Check out the info and links in this post and in this one also: https://heidipowell.net/9060. These are all the tools your friend needs to begin her transformation journey. And please have her discuss this program with her healthcare team first, and then follow their recommendations. We wish her the best!

  8. Hi! I watch your show often, and i wonder if you have ever considered working with someone who is disabled. I have a good friend who struggles with fibro myalgia, back issues and knee pain. Losing a significant amount of weight would help her soooo much. Do you ever put people like that on your show?

    Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Carolyn: ABC initially handles all applications for the show, and you can find more info about future castings at http://www.extremeweightlosscasting.com. But your friend doesn’t need to wait for the show – she can begin her transformation today! Learn more about Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program – the same program they use on EWL – here: htttp://heidipowell.net/9060. And as with any nutrition and exercise program, please have her discuss this program with her healthcare team first, and then follow any modifications they might recommend. She can do this!

  9. Hi I’m Antoinette (Toni)
    I am 32, a single mother of 3 , and I am 700 lbs. I could give you a play by play of how my life is a living hell but I’m sure you could imagine. At this point I don’t know what to do. I can barely stand and not even my family and friends can really help me at this point. All I want to do is live but things aren’t looking so bright for me. It hurts me more to see my children suffer in behind it all. I haven’t been to the doctor because I cant find transportation to get to and from. Without a doctor I have no help. On top of that I have Lymphedema in my lower extremities. I’ve been tucked away in my home for years. I have missed my kids middle school graduations, and never met teachers. I have missed life in my twenties and I just fear the same will be for my thirties. I have so much I want to give my kids but this wall is way to high for me to climb alone. Any advice that you can give me will be greatly appreciated.

    Antoinette Canada
    [email protected]

    1. Hi Toni: Thank you for sharing your story with us, and I can’t imagine how difficult this is for you. I’d suggest you check out Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” The book contains their complete nutrition and exercise program, and it’s the same one they use on the show. It will teach you everything you need to know and do to achieve your own transformation! Learn all about it here: https://heidipowell.net/9060/how-to-begin-your-transformation-journey-step-by-step/. And as with any nutrition and exercise program, it’s best to discuss their program with your healthcare team, and then follow their recommendations. I know you said you haven’t been to see a doctor yet, but it is important that you work with one to make sure you’re kept as safe as possible while you’re working to achieve your transformation goals. Some doctors are making house calls, and perhaps there is a physician in your area who is doing this. We sincerely wish you the best!

  10. Hi I’m writing for my daughter Kelly she is 36 and she is close to 200 pounds over weight. And I have tried since she was about the age of 12 to get her to watch her weight or to lose. About a year ago I thought just maybe she might have a chance we join this gym and I paid for her to work with a trainer she just loved him lost 60lbs but she lost her job about three years ago and I don’t have the money so keep paying for him but for some reason I can’t get her to work it’s like something is holding her back she keeps finding things wrong with her I just want her to love her self to get another job to get out there lose weight find a life she’s always wanted but she holds in a lot of pain and she’s letting that hold her back .We can’t seem to say anything to her to help her. I’m so lost everyday I watch her and her pain and how she over looks what ever we say. I feel I have failed her that I haven’t been able to give her we she needs to have a life.
    Thank you
    Jenny Coto
    Hammond,Ind

    1. Hi Jenny: I’m so sorry – it’s easy to see how frustrated and worried you are. Kelly really needs to decide to make these changes for herself; unfortunately, you can’t do it for her. Keep encouraging her, help her make and keep those promises to herself (the link to the promise keeping process is in this post), and hopefully she’ll be ready to begin her transformation journey. We wish you both the best!

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