T Nation

Getting Someone to See the Light

My family sucks at health. My mom kind of figured it out and just eats less and eats more protein, works out occasionally, and she doesn’t go hungry and her weight is under control. You basically can’t be in the same room as my sister without her screaming, and mentioning anything about food (even like, describing something as healthy) in her proximity would be cause for a multi hour full family fight of screaming hysteria. She can’t be near if I mention anything trying to help my dad, and just hearing from my mom or someone that I was going to try to get him to eat healthier would make her ANGRY. Yeah, she would actually get angry and try to thwart my plans of trying to help my dad. So that’s the environment we’re in. It is bad.

My concern is my dad. He has maintained his weight (300-315 range) for several years. He’s a big guy, 6’4 and big framed, so it isn’t incredibly horrible and he carries it well, but he needs to lose the weight and has some health issues from it as a result. Including needing a surgery that he’s been holding off until he loses some weight, which just isn’t happening.

He’s been trying to lose it the whole time, more ambitiously the past few years, with zero success. He’s really smart and has a ridiculously comprehensive physiology/biology education with a PHD and all of that shit but just won’t make a commitment and can’t can’t implement anything. He has a completely warped idea of how much he eats and what he needs to eat to lose weight and just ignores the issue for months at a time, then he’ll drop ten pounds and eventually gain it back over and over, never even coming close to implementing any dietary plan. For years.

The only thing he’ll do is try and eat a little less and fail. He tries to do low intensity cardio and that lets him maintain or lose a little, but has a busy job and inevitably stops and gains it back. He’s afraid to do any lifting because he’s old (early 50s) and has a back issue that hurts him (bone spurs), plus his slight irregular heartbeat, plus occasional shoulder/rotator pain and a past knee injury, etc. He can’t do hard cardio either, he just walks and does light stationary biking- that may be for the best and I think diet is the big big issue. I had him do some mobility once and have an ok idea of how the back issue causes him problems, but not what it means, so if anyone has more detailed advice I can elaborate there but it’s pretty nasty.

He has no meal plan and just doesn’t eat sometimes, snacking until dinner most days ( I think). I have no success in getting him to say what he’s eaten and he doesn’t track it and has selective memory and no concept of calories or anything anyway.

I have no desire to make him follow any strict plan. I just want to see him eat less and make healthier food selections, and I know he’d show huge results.

I just don’t know what I can do to get him to change. Tried bothering him about it, backing off of it, general advice, really not bothering him too frequently but it doesn’t make a difference at all.

I know it isn’t my job to control anyone’s lives, but he is just spinning out of control and the only thing that’s going to change anything might be something terrible.

I was hoping some people here would have good stories and recommendations to help.

My mom’s pre-diabetic, she’s slowly learning. I’ve tried arguing with her, which doesn’t end well. so now whenever she has questions related to health I answer them as best I can, while also considering how to make changes she’ll actually stick to.

If you’ve got the time then do it with him. Go on the exact same diet and go LSD crdioing with him. He’ll be more consistent if its a team effort sorta.

When clients adhere to training and nutrition guidelines the best is when their training partners/friends are doing it with them. that being said The anabolic diet is not exactly hard to follow correctly and people seem to like it and the results, especially female athletes.

But yeah sometimes there is not ricking old dogs.

-chris

[quote]Avocado wrote:
If you’ve got the time then do it with him. Go on the exact same diet and go LSD crdioing with him. He’ll be more consistent if its a team effort sorta.
[/quote]

Great advice.

People can change – but very few do. It is almost impossible to get someone else to change – unless that person wants to change. I’m a skeptic by nature, and have atheistic attitudes about religion. The only hot-button topic more inflammatory than health/diet is religion – but there are some lessons to be learned in trying to change someone (or to get them to accept a new idea).

  1. Try to find a common ground. You cannot completely restructure this guy’s diet and exercise regimen over night – it just won’t work. Protein powders, high protein, low carb, and weight lifting is too dramatic of a change. If you can at least agree to work together, try to eat better, and “figure out” what works best together. Then it becomes more of an “us against the problem” attitude instead of “me against you” attitude. Which leads to …

  2. Take small steps. Find healthy/alternative foods/meals that you can work in slowly. If he likes scrambled eggs/bacon for breakfast, try some scrambled eggs with mushrooms and bacon. Then go for scrambled eggs and spinache with bacon. Then go for the eggs, spinache and mushrooms (and leave out the bacon). Etc… Small steps. He’s not going to like each step – but you can make progress.

What if you cooked his meals for the day or week what ever and labeled them with times of when to eat. You would then know he is atleast getting that and hope he does not snack throughout the day on junk. Then let him slowly take over.

[quote]riverhawk23 wrote:
What if you cooked his meals for the day or week what ever and labeled them with times of when to eat. You would then know he is atleast getting that and hope he does not snack throughout the day on junk. Then let him slowly take over.[/quote]

Problem is that he gets up 3-4 hours before me to go to work and isn’t back until the evening. I like the idea of cooking him some food or at least monitoring what gets made.

I doubt there’s any problem with him eating to satiety if he cleans up his plan, at least at first

The problem is the snacking on all of the junk two hours after dinner to compensate for being bored or not eating earlier I guess

[quote]Avocado wrote:
If you’ve got the time then do it with him. Go on the exact same diet and go LSD crdioing with him. He’ll be more consistent if its a team effort sorta.

When clients adhere to training and nutrition guidelines the best is when their training partners/friends are doing it with them. that being said The anabolic diet is not exactly hard to follow correctly and people seem to like it and the results, especially female athletes.

But yeah sometimes there is not ricking old dogs.

-chris[/quote]

thanks. I’ll ask him about going to the gym. The big thing is definitely the diet and committing to change

There’s no way I’d be able to even get him to do anything low carb, unless low is relative. The man’s been eating and eating well for 50 years and came from a cooking household.

Maybe I can “design” a breakfast plan for him like riverhawk suggested. And try to get some idea of how he can eat while at work from 7 to 5 or whatever. Get another moderately healthy meal or two in there

[quote]actionjeff wrote:
He’s really smart and has a ridiculously comprehensive physiology/biology education with a PHD and all of that shit but just won’t make a commitment

I know it isn’t my job to control anyone’s lives, but he is just spinning out of control and the only thing that’s going to change anything might be something terrible.

I was hoping some people here would have good stories and recommendations to help. [/quote]

Well maybe we can turn what I am going to say into a positive. Unfortunately my grandpa was just the same way. He had a PhD in toxicology, was emeritus faculty at a major university by the end of his career. He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the late 60s or so and was too stubborn to pay much attention to it. It didn’t matter how much he knew (and he knew a lot about physiology obviously); he wanted to live, eat and not be diabetic. He ended up a full type 1 by the late 80s and died about 5 years ago after a few really hard years, in and out of the hospital struggling to make it through numerous infections, years of dialysis and multiple bouts with dementia.

Anyways the point I’m getting to is that he had a terrible time the last few years of his life and it’s nothing anyone wants to see their family go through. Me, I knew it was coming so it’s easier to handle, but for his daughters and the other women in the family it was not. The amount of crying was just absurd, and his life ended much earlier than it could have had he not disregarded his condition so blatantly. Hell he could have seen his one intelligent grandson (me) come to success in the similar areas of science he once studied so pervasively. Too bad…

Perhaps you can put the bleak truth in his face and tell him about what happens to people when they ignore their health for too long. The last years of their life will be hard, expensive and stressful for their loved ones. If stuff like this isn’t enough, then you’re best off just letting him be and allowing yourself to learn from the problems he has as a reminder to stay healthy as long as you live. There’s only so much you can do about something like this.

Also in terms of diet, I would suggest fish oil first and foremost. It may be easier to get him to take a medicine than not eat food.