Whom better than obese people themselves when it comes to knowing what motivational tactics work best, and which are entirely ineffective? A study investigated this, involving interviews with 142 obese people; what did these individuals themselves have to say about weight loss interventions and how best to be motivated?
The interviews were conducted by phone, headed by Dr. Samantha Thomas from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, and a team of researchers. She explains, “This study provides a number of new insights into how and why obese individuals support and uptake different interventions. Importantly, participants supported public health interventions which they perceived were non-judgmental, non-stigmatizing and empowered individuals to improve their lifestyles rather than focusing on weight loss per se.”
Obese people in the study did not see much effectiveness in strategies that they viewed as stigmatizing, or attempts by well-meaning folks to motivate the obese individual by using blame and shame tactics. Obese people want to know how to lose weight, rather than be reminded in negative ways of their size. It’s easy for the thinner person to say, “What’s there to know how to do? Just eat less.”
But this sometimes isn’t the problem with obese men and women. I’m a certified personal trainer and know for a fact that few obese men and women know how to exercise correctly, in a way that’s conducive to weight loss. Simply showing up at the gym and putting in the time is not enough for many plus-size individuals. Going through the motions, even for two hours, will produce minimal results — I repeat: minimal results, i.e., often not even visible.
Many people in Dr. Thomas’s study believed that the weight loss industry is “greedy” and a “rip-off.” But interestingly, many of the subjects also said they’d try commercial dieting plans for weight loss. Dr. Thomas explained that this was because the subjects had “very little other support available to them.”
If a family member is obese and you’ve been badgering this person to lose weight, and this person hasn’t, then this means your strategy has failed. Have you talked to the family member about how to lose weight? How to exercise? The best time to exercise? How to tweak the diet so that there’s less hunger and better carbohydrate metabolism?
If a family member is obese, then lead that person by example: Take up exercise yourself, even if you’re thin; thin people are not exempt from the need to exercise. Invite that obese family member on a walk in the park; join a gym together; take up martial arts together. Don’t criticize; get involved instead.