Family Support

Hi,

This may already have been something discussed by forum members, but I wanted to detail some of the experiences I've had with family support as a means to start off my weight loss journey and get it off my chest.

For as long as I can remember, I've always been on the heavier side of healthy. I have an older sister who was also built very much like myself, who I was very close with. When she went off to University, she put on a bit more weight, so would have been overweight for her height - since I was still living with my parents back at home, I heard my gran and mum discuss this fairly regularly. Talk would turn to how she had put on some weight, and I don't think in an intentionally horrible way, but I think because they both have weight/thyroid issues, it makes them feel better about it somehow? Almost watching what they deem the 'inevitable' happen.

Anyway, after this weight gaining period, my sister developed bulimia and very quickly lost all that and more. The chatter among my mum and gran continued, but now the focus was on how thin my sister was getting and I got the feeling they weren't talking out of concern, but out of spite that my sister had (in however unhealthy way) done what they could never do. Even I found myself joining in somewhat out of spite.

Now a couple of years on, I find myself in the position where I know I am still bordering on overweight, and would feel much healthier (and happier!) at my 9 stone target, but who is there to support me? I don't have an eating disorder like my sister, I want to do it in a healthy and steady way, but if I start to mention it to my mum or gran the response is 'oh no, you're a lovely size', 'you look fine' etc., even though I know if I don't act, I will end up on the slope to becoming obese like they have before me. I feel as though when I attempt to eat healthily or have a healthy lifestyle around them this is almost discouraged.

My boyfriend knows I would like to lose some weight as well, although again the feedback I get is that 'I look fine' and 'you're not fat' etc., which is nice, but I feel I need positive support on my weight loss journey, not normalizing the fact that I am overweight.

I feel this is one of the main reasons I have not been able to achieve my goal yet, and get so far and then stall.

If you've read this far, forum member, my question to you is how do you cope with this? How have you found to continue your journey towards a happier, healthier you, but without making family members feel as though it's an insult because they aren't doing so too?

16 Replies

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  • I sympathise with a lot of what you've said Rose-A and I really don't think you're as alone as you think. A lot of what gets talked about here is how to communicate wanting to make healthier changes without having to explicitly tell partners/family you're trying to lose weight. Regarding your boyfriend, I love mine so much for saying he loved me as I was before I started losing weight as this meant I wasn't doing it because of any negative comment he'd made, but more despite his positive comments. And trust me your partner will say the same if you lose a little weight too, as he obviously loves you as a person, not because you fit in with any kind of physical ideal. Despite losing over 2 stone, my boyfriend loves my new figure as much as my old one, as I still have my curves. As long as you manage to keep everything in perspective and maintain a healthy approach to weight loss, I'm sure your partner will be the same. I would say don't feel discouraged by negative comments from your mum/gran - focus on the positive comments from your partner, and work from that as a basis for healthy, sustainable change :)

  • Thank you for your kind words Ruth - I'm definitely going to try really hard this time to stick to my goals and not dwell on the negativity!

  • I think I understand where you are coming from. My decision to become healthier has been met by a lot of disgruntled comments and raised eyebrows by family members. For years I allowed their attitudes on weight to dictate my views on food and how my body was, I essentially allowed myself to become bigger because it was the norm for my family and it was a lot easier to accept what they did than to challenge those views.

    I think you know in your heart what you want and how you want to be. If your idea of what is healthy is different to those around you, don't be afraid to challenge it. You don't have to go and start an argument over it but politely turn down offers to eat unhealthy foods or unhealthy portion sizes. Negative comments can be taken in your stride, I usually reply with 'I know this may not make sense to you but it's what I need to do for myself'. Take any positive feedback, like I'm sure your boyfriend will give you and channel that into your attitude towards your new lifestyle.

    Remember your change is for you, not to please anybody else. It is not a change to get acceptance from family members who may never have the will power to change their lives. It's not for the acceptance of friends or social media critics who concern themselves with only aesthetics. If you do the change for you, you will learn to empower yourself.

    I rely on my boyfriend for support and in doing so have found my own ability to inspire myself. Remember there is always this forum! Everyone is willing for you to achieve your idea of healthy you :)

    Best wishes!!

    xx

  • Its a great question and I really liked the replies from Ruth and KRML.

    You're describing such a complicated dynamic and one I think you share with lots of people here including me. The specifics vary but toxic gossip, sabotage, envy, comparison and some quite nasty feelings are mixed up in affectionate concern. It goes on for generations and it's painful. It might take you years to figure out how to deal with it -I am still working on it.

    I am not sure I have answers but at the moment. I live, exercise and eat healthily, and I have taken the issues of my own weight, fitness and other lifestyle choices out of the family zone. I simply do not hear what my mother or siblings would like to say about me or each other. We interact in lots of other ways that are really positive!,

  • "I have taken the issues of my own weight, fitness and other lifestyle choices out of the family zone." THIS. <3

  • Yes! As KRML says, your change is for you, not to please others. Your body, your health and your future are yours, not anyone else's.

    And, if you can develop a thick skin (and deaf ears), so much the better! ☺

  • Family support is a big issue, sometimes you get the feeling they are out to sabotage you, probably to cover their own problems. But remember, you are doing this for YOU, for your health and your well-being. I try not to rub people's noses in it, try to avoid any discussion if it's obvious they're not prepared to listen and, if necessary, harness my husband for support. If my diabetic mother-in-law still insists on putting a slice of cake on my plate I will eat some, but slip the rest to my husband or children. I will sit in a cafe with her and not have a slice of cake at all (fortunately cake is not one of my vices). Or politely refuse the dessert. If it turns into a big issue I will have the dessert, but leave most of it! And I let my husband rush to my defence! I was absolutely astounded when he lectured his mother on the evils of sugar and processed food, throwing in the demon fructose, expounding on fatty livers and explaining why belly fat was so bad. And I thought he hadn't been listening!

    Family members can make you feel very guilty - but this is about you and your life. You have to live it, not them!

  • The part about your husband made me laugh - what a lovely supportive guy!

    To be honest, I've seen what being overweight has done to my mum's health and self esteem and I just don't want that for myself

  • Exactly. And we don't want to turn into our mothers do we? Mine was also obese and it ruined her life (that and the smoking). She wouldn't admit it though and as a child you don't question your parents behavior. But I can't imagine her last years were happy. We were a "stiff upper lip" family though, so these subjects never got discussed. Very sad really.

  • What a amazing moment from your husband. He sounds great.

  • He's pretty cool! Well I love him anyway!😎😈

  • Not knowing you personally would be difficult to give you advice. There are positive answers (you may like) as well as negative answers. (Answers you may not like)

    Negative answers :

    Are you really obese / overweight? Some people have heavy bones 😀

    You boyfriend thinks you are fine. He obviously likes you the way you look. If he wanted a skinny rake, he would look somewhere else. 😍

    A woman needs curves, curves are feminine. Curvy people are generally happy people. 💃🏻

    Positive answers:

    Don't worry about other people. Think of yourself. You are number one.

    If You are uncomfortable and unhappy about the way you are and look, you need to do something about it.

    Surround yourself with positive people, share your goal expectations with positive people and don't mention it to anybody else who can give you an answer you don't like.

    Make changes slowly without any fuss

    My situation was opposite. The love of my life keep nagging me to lose weight as he was worried about my health, then my doctor frighten the proverbial out of me and for good reason. I finally found the NHS 12 week program and my life will never be the same again. Woop de woop....

    So , ignore the relatives as you are the one living your life not them. Treat yourself by looking after yourself.

  • Your response was really useful, helped me think things through a bit:

    -ve answers:

    > Yes, I'm overweight, it's not just the weight but also measurements :(

    > I've been with my boyfriend for about 7 years now, so he's known me back when I was the weight I would like to get back to as well, I think he just likes me all sizes haha

    > Totally agree with this - I want to keep curviness <3

    +ve answers:

    > I think this is probably the hardest thing for me, not worrying about others

    > Agree. I think it's been difficult to get the motivation until now

    > This forum <3

    Thank you for posing them!

  • You have got some wonderful answers here. Some of your story is familiar to me. There is no history of obesity in the family . There was a Love of food, a reverence for good food and admiration for a good appetite . That was fine for my parents' generation as they did hard physical work on a small farm, and although the food choices might not have been as healthy as is recognised today, it was plain and unprocessed.

    However my siblings and i all carry weight as our food choices are not as plain as they might be and we don't exercise enough. If I mentioned weight to my sister I was to not to be obsessive. So I kept it to myself.

    It's only since I've had cancer that I get family support as being overweight was the only risk factor I had .

    I'm not sure if that helps you with your story Rose, but people do deny the obvious. Sometimes gor their sakes , sometimes for yours.

    I've found this forum good for that reason . Do you have any friends who may be more supportive? If so it might be more effective to cultivate them and ignore the family. Or at least curb your expectations :-)

  • Hi Rose-A,

    To the (lack of) support issue my answer was this: not to tell everyone, but only a selected few who had to know. Which on this occasion is my boyfriend, because we live together hence share mealtimes. As long as I cook for him enough, he is fine with whatever I am eating PROVIDED he can see me eat healthily. (I never had bulimia or anorexia thank goodness, but we have a close friend who did, so my boyfriend keeps an eye on me so to speak.) I always experienced that the more people knew about my diet, the less support I got. Maybe it helps this time that I am not on an actual ' XYZ Diet'- I just count calories before cooking and on a piece of paper at my desk, so they do not see me saying 'No' to something all the time. I just have that cookie or a piece of toast every now and again, and remember that I have to add that 100 calorie to my intake at the end of the day. I understand that if you are on a diet where food items are actually restricted, then it is hard to keep this weight loss program to yourself without explaining your reasons all the time. I always find that if I say: 'no thanks, I cannot have that as it is forbidden in my diet', then the arguments started. But if I just say 'no thanks, I do not feel like it, or I am full', I can avoid some of these (sometimes patronizing) conversations.

    And this is why I joined this forum. So that I will have a forum/channel where I can actually talk about my feelings regarding my weight loss freely.

  • Your experience sounds extremely similar to mine, thanks for your response :) I'm glad others are using this forum in the same way :D

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