Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day 52- Leftovers again

Leftovers only work when they're things you would eat anyway. So the rest of the mac and cheese is finding a new home, and I think most of the squash casserole is too. they were both great for a small taste, but wow, do I ever hate the way eggs taste.

Now, there are foods that I hate that I would (and have been known to) eat if they were the only thing available, and not eating them meant not eating at all- eggs, some textures, raw celery. And there are foods that I hate and would never eat, even if it saved me from near certain death, like mushrooms and shrimp- mushrooms because I'm allergic, and shrimp (prawns) because they squish then crunch.

And then there are the foods that I used to love that I hope never to have to eat again. Like bacon. Never believe anyone who tells you they don't miss the taste of bacon. Only people who've never had it could not miss it.

So what's my point. Right. I was watching The Biggest Loser. Yes, really. Until I started watching it I never would have thought that people didn't know how to pick healthy foods. Now, I know I am not the queen of healthy food choices (white flour and chips... yum) but it just didn't make sense to me. Then I was watching the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution show (notice a pattern here? I'd watch travel shows, but i can't find any new ones on hulu.).

Someone in my personal life (who shall remain nameless and otherwise unidentified) is going down the same path. No portion control, no counting calories in or out, no idea why she keeps gaining weight. When I try talking to her about it, she gets angry or defensive, and goes on all out attack. She has no idea how many calories are in a beer (or how many she drinks a week). No idea how many are in the snacks she gets late at night after work and going out (every night, it sometimes seems). No idea how much more is going in than coming out. And i see it tearing her apart.

I know any changes anyone make have to come from them or nothing really changes, but how do I get her (or anyone) to see the really basic things she can do to change? She doesn't listen to me, i'm "skinny" so have no idea what I'm talking about, nevermind that three years ago I was at the very upper edge of healthy. The most annoying part is, I think, that I know she knows this stuff. She knows that if she eats more calories than she burns, she's going to gain weight. She just won't change anything to balance the equation.

I don't want her (or anyone other than me, really) to be thin so they look good. I want people to be healthy. I want this person to be healthy, so she can take advantage of opportunities, rather than having to turn them down because she's too tired, or she's out of shape. I want to be able to take her on Crazy Dog Beach trips and have her keep up. And I *know* she's not able to. I can hear and see how unhealthy and unhappy she is.

So I need to find ways to encourage her to change, past the point that she doesn't want to, can't afford to, or doesn't have time. But I have no idea how. Someone who is used to going out every night, or three times a week, with no limits on what they do that night, doesn't want to change anything. Someone without a budget doesn't want to get one- spending freely (money or food) is much more fun. So (short of cooking for her), how do I help her in a healthy direction? Anyone (successfully) been on either side of this? How do I help someone be healthy without them feeling like I'm saying they're a lazy slob now? Because I don't think this person is. She's just lost.


Oh, and I think I'm allowed to garden.


  1. According to the computer, someone in my life has a life expectancy of 44, which means that he's going to die in four or five years. This is something that he's known about since 2004, but he hasn't really tried to do anything about it.

    He's overweight. The most effort he's ever tried to put into losing weight has been the Atkins diet. That meant that instead of eating half a plate of BBQ with sides and dessert, he skipped the sides and dessert and ate a whole plate of BBQ.

    I think he lost about twenty pounds and then gave up.

    Some of us used to go over to his place and have pizza on Friday. For a time I tried getting less pizza and having soup and salad before the pizza. But that was just Fridays, and the rest of the week he kept doing whatever he normally did. I quit trying to do the soup and salad thing. We don't much have pizza Fridays now anyway.

    He used to be normal. Then he was just a little overweight, but still pretty normal. And then he broke his leg, had to stay in bed for a long time, and spent several months in bed watching videos and having take-out delivered. And then the broken leg healed, and the rest of him was like he is now.

    I am overweight now myself, but nothing like that.

    I'm not his mother. He's a grown man with a job who pays his bills and such. He's going to do whatever he wants to do.

  2. First of all, since I believe this is the first time I'm commenting even though I've been reading for a couple of weeks, I'd like to say that I think you are amazing.
    You don't mention the age of the person you're referring to, so I don't know if this is pertinent, but I was always in decent shape until recently, when I went through menopause. My body virtually quit burning calories. It's very discouraging even when I exercise, because it seems as though nothing is happening. I am a vegetarian, and have been for about 35 yrs, but I don't eat as healthy as you do. So there's that. But the bottom line is that you really can't do anything for your friend; she has to get fed up with her situation and want to make the changes that you desire for her. I know this, because I know the types of changes I need to make, and my husband mentioning things I could do doesn't help me get motivated at all, even though I love him and want to be skinny again for him. Just love and support your friend, and when you do have a fun day at the beach she will get a little nagging feeling that she would rather be in better shape, and maybe that will help.
    Anyway, sounds like you're an awesome friend.

  3. I echo what the others say... you can't change someone else. I think all you can do is be an example.

    (When/if you talk to her about what she should do, its as though you are judging her and she comes up short. Its a tricky tricky road to travel.)

    I continue to enjoy your blog and am looking forward to finding out if one can actually feed oneself on a dollar a day.

  4. I know it's part of a bigger problem. I try not to tell her things that she could do. I want to involve her in more physical things I do, but I don't know what her limits are. If she gets out of breath going up a flight of stairs, how can I get her to go hiking with me?

    I know what I need to do is support her in whatever healthy decisions she makes, and invite her along when I do stuff. She's not even 30, so the time to change things around would be now. I just get an overwhelming feeling from her that she's given up. Maybe if I help her set and reach a goal at something else, she'll eventually make and reach health goals on her own.

    Cathie- healthy? Me? I keep cheating with chips and cookies. It's not deep fried candy bars, but it's not salad and Brussels sprouts, either.

  5. First time reader here but I already want to chime in. I'm just like your friend, overweight and crying out for help. You don't need to be "all in her face" about it. You want to ease her into things. Give her fun recipes to try by saying oh I just tried this and really enjoyed it. Take her hiking but understand that you need to go at her pace because it's not about you. Helpful small suggestions might help her get into the right frame of mind where she can make big steps. Good Luck!


  6. you said that you get the "overwhelming feeling that she's given up." .... plus you say she's drinking a lot.

    i think it's a common misconception that people who are significantly overweight are unhappy because they are overweight. in my experience (both personally and from what i've observed in others i know) it's the reverse. people are overweight because they are unhappy. not that it doesn't get to be a vicious cycle, but the underlying problem is the unhappiness / depression.

    focus on that.

  7. I'm guessing this person is in their late 20's and is at that point when your body's metabolism slows down, you can't eat and drink whatever you want, and basically starving yourself for a couple days doesn't make up for the days you binged and make you skinny again like it used to in college. The best thing you can do is lead by example or have her other friends lead by example. Once someone sees others successful with weight loss, it sometimes clicks that - hey, I could do that. Since you're skinny, I'm guessing this friend will need someone closer to her shape to follow. Maybe you can convince another unhealthy friend to change instead :)

  8. As a person who has struggled with weight since childhood, there is nothing you can do or say to help her get started. In fact, your well meaning comments may be taken as criticism and she may develop a pattern of hiding, whether that be her feelings or what she eats or how active she is. She MUST do it for herself. By all means keep being supportive and setting a good example. Definietly show concern for her health and well being and let her know you want her around for the long journey. Do invite her to go hiking or spend time with the dogs on the beach, but be aware she will be slower than you and let her figure out what her limits are. Feeling excluded will not help and sometimes not being able to keep up with the rest of the group can be the inspiration needed. The biggest thing is that she will know you are a friend who cares and you just might get the work assignment to be her Nag Coach to stay motivated on the tough days.

  9. @Regina- absolutely at her pace- does no good to get her out and doing stuff if she ends up feeling like it's a death march. I'd never get her to go again.

    @Maureen- yeah, the unhappy started first, and now they're just wrapped up together. Exercise helps with depression (or so everyone keeps telling me) so it would be extra helpful- if I could get her to go.

    @JD- I'd enlist her other friends, but the ones she listens to don't want to change, and don't want her to either. They seem to spend time convincing her that she can't do things. Drives me crazy, but she likes them.

    I guess what it comes down to is I can't help her be happy. I can't force her to set and attain goals. I can't force her to exercise or eat healthy, or pass up beer for water. I can just invite her along while I do those things, and hope it helps.

  10. Have you tried an approach that is more about her mood than her weight or eating habits?

    As in "You seem to be really down lately, and I'm worried that you're not your old, cheerful self. Can I do anything to help?" If you've noticed she was unhappy BEFORE she started gaining weight and abandoning healthy life choices, then she will have to get happy again before the rest changes. If you can get her to start talking about what has her down in language that has nothing to do with her health or habits, maybe you can get her to a point where she either addresses her problem, or realizes she needs help with something. Otherwise, healthy eating and exercise is just a band-aid, and even if you got her to make those choices, her unhappiness would probably just manifest itself in another way.

  11. I always knew the people who said they didn't miss bacon were liars. Now it's confirmed.

    Perhaps you can invite her to a picnic where you bring the food? Or if you jog, invite her along? Also invite her to do lazy things like sit on the couch and play video games so she doesn't feel like you only want to hang out based on healthy stuff you feel like she should be doing.

    But the reality is there isn't anything you can do except try to help w/o saying you're helping or looking like you're helping (i.e., planning activities that are healthy or feeding her healthy food).

    My sister is like this too. There's nothing I can do, I've finally learned, so I no longer mention it.

  12. Hello,

    I give my opinion as someone who has lost 80 pounds (still 35 to go) and has discovered how great healthy living can be. Don't nag. From my personal experience I'd say everyone is right- she has to make the decision for herself. You can be there for her, but please don't put the focus just on her weight. When my friends tried to do that, it just made me feel alienated and like that was all they saw in me, my fat rolls.

    If I were you, I would talk to her about her feelings first of all. Ask her if she's happy...if she could change one thing about her life, what would it be...that kind of thing. If weight comes up, then you can offer to support her in any way she needs. If it doesn't come up, you can be more subtle. Maybe try inviting her over for dinner for a healthy meal or inviting her out when you go hiking.

    Personally, I wouldn't worry too much about her fitness level. She's an adult and should be able to know her limits. Besides, sometimes we have to push through the initial difficulties to get in shape. I did a boot camp exercise class having hardly ever exercised before. I had to be embarrassed and be worse than everyone else, but it was worth it once I started seeing results. Everyone has to start somewhere. And you can tell her that she'll feel great after, but until she experiences it for herself, they're just words. Kind of like describing the taste of bacon to someone who has never eaten it...it's just not the same.

    Good luck with your friend and good luck with your budget!

  13. I really agree with all of most of these comments, especially Kim's - being someone's ally, especially as a not-overweight-person, can be especially helpful. It sounds like she just needs a little epiphany to realize that she's unhappy and she DOES have the agency to change her situation, that she has power over her own life. And she's the only one that can do that (I realize many suicidal/addict friends and one disability later)! Being a quiet voice of encouragement--and discouragement from those friends that don't allow her agency--is a lot.

    And don't stress yourself out over it, anymore than it is to be around unhappy people anyway! You can't help others if you don't take care of yourself, and of course you are doing the best you can :) Wishing you strength and inspiration in this journey!

    and of course, a big YAY for gardening!

  14. I think she might be right that you simply can't understand where she is right now. Not that you haven't ever been unhealthy but for people who are overweight or focus on food it is a difficult situation to navigate. I know that if one of my friends who occasionally forgot to eat commented on my diet I would not take them seriously because I don't understand how anyone can ever forget to eat. We would simply be approaching the situation from two completely different view points and talking past one another. If you want to help her it has to come from a non-judgmental place. You would be better off inviting her to hike or swim with you and keeping quiet her diet.

  15. Thank you, everyone, for your opinions and ideas. I'll keep them in mind while I think about how to help this friend. Really, I want her to be happy and healthy, but you don't have to be skinny to be either of those things. Hmm, I'll have to think more about this.