Monday, August 25, 2014

Guilt Tripping Someone who is Overweight

Back when I was losing weight very successfully, I loved to watch Biggest Loser. One of the ways trainers would try to get contestants in the right mind set to lose weight was to essentially make the contestant feel guilty for being overweight.

For example, how could you possibly choose “insert unhealthy food here” over your child or loved one? Don’t you know that this food will kill you? Why aren’t you working harder; do you want to die of a heart attack and leave your children behind?

And while these questions might have truth to them, I no longer believe this is the way to encourage someone to lose weight. And here’s why:

Being overweight comes with a lot of guilt. Heck, maybe guilt is even a contributing factor to weight gain since those of us who are overweight are also often guilty of eating our feelings.

I feel guilty every single time I put something in my mouth that deep down I know isn’t going to get me closer to my goals. I feel ashamed of the rolls of fat that make my shirt snugger in my mid-section. I am ashamed of my thighs that, when I was younger, school-age boys would make weatherly references to. I can’t even lift my arms without feeling ashamed of my ever-growing bat wings. I am ashamed that I can no longer wear my beautiful, sparkling wedding ring that I had resized when I was meeting my weight loss goals.

And with shame comes lots and lots of guilt.

And I worry about keeping up with my daughter when she is old enough to walk and run around. And that encourages me to get back on track. And then I slip up and I feel overwhelmingly guilty that I cannot stay on track, even for her.

And the truth is, when you try to “encourage” someone to lose weight by reminding her/him of the loved ones that he/she could potentially disappoint by being overweight, you are implying that the choice comes down to whether or not the overweight individual will chose, say, a brownie over their beautiful little child or loving spouse.

And that is a lot of guilt to lay upon an already struggling soul. And often that guilt becomes an awful lot of shame.

If most overweight people are like me, they’re already beating themselves up. And I would say this occurs every single hour of the day. I doubt an hour ever goes by when I am not conscious of my overweight body, of my food choices, of my health, and of the guilt I feel because I struggle so terribly.

So if guilt tripping is not the way to go, how can you encourage a loved one to lose weight?

By encouraging healthy behaviors. And not in a way that is obvious that you are trying to get him/her to lose weight.

For example, suggest going for a walk because you want to spend time together—not implying that this person needs to move more to burn more calories. Build the individual up—more than likely he/she is suffering from low self-esteem. And most importantly, offer unconditional love.

To make changes, one has to be emotionally ready to do so. No amount of pestering is going to make that happen. It’s truly a process.


  1. I can never explain all the guilt I feel when I eat. And then when I try to blog about my mistakes to get it all out, someone leaves an ugly comment or email. Not just rude. UGLY. Lol So that's why I ditched comments on my blog. I will eat and then beat myself up like crazy AFTERWARD. We used to go play tennis or walk the track together as a family in the evenings. Somehow now we've gotten to where we just watch a Youtube video in the evenings. Sitting around... Not good!

  2. Thanks for writing this, I can relate so much and have done this many times to my own self.



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