T Nation

Helping Mom & Dad Drop Weight


Hi all.

I recently set myself the goal of helping my mother and father make a shift from 'dangerously obese' to 'slightly overweight' in the next year. My father is 5'10" and is shifting 260lbs around right now. My mother about 5'5" and 205lbs.
They've both 'tried every diet under the sun', which basically means weight watchers, weigh-less and some other crap. They constantly yo-yo back up after some small success. They're both victims of the 'fat is bad' myth and I believe this, coupled with infrequent meals, dehydration and a tendency to fall off the wagon because they don't allow themselves cheat days, is the reason that they can't keep weight off. My father is reasonably active, rushing about everywhere for work, but my mother is pretty sedentary.

So that's half the situation. Here's the other half:

I'm not on the same continent as them, and thus our usual means of communication are email and Skype. I can't personally train them, monitor them or be there to smack them on the wrist when they start teetering. For this reason, I'm hesitant about recommending any kind of set exercise regime. I'll suggest strongly that they go for walks, take the dogs out, park far away at the shopping mall, take the stairs instead of the lift and all that jazz.
Unfortunately they have a history of short-term manic cardio that they drop like a sack of cats when their lack of results or feelings of hopelessness surface.

So the first question is: If I sort out their calorie reqs, get them to eat 6 times a day, make them drink much more water and basically follow Mr. Berardi's 7 habits of highly effective nutrition, will that be enough to effect a major change in their body composition. I'd imagine the answer is 'yes, to a limit', but I could be horribly wrong, and I don't want to be.

Secondly, is it worth troubling them with macronutrient timing? Does it make a big enough difference to explain to them the whole "fat+carbs=bad" equation?

Thirdly, seeing as they're obese, and seeing as I have no idea what their bodyfat might be, what's the best method for working out their caloric requirements?

Fourthly, What macronutrient ratio should I use? I made some nice progress on Mr. Waterbury's 33/33/33 angle until I changed to the Anabolic Diet (which is great btw).

Lastly, any idea of how much weight they can realistically expect to lose with no real increase in physical activity and a deficit of about 750 calories, over a period of about 3 months? And as a sub-question, do you think 750calories is a good figure?

If I can figure everything out, and I can prod my folks into maintaining a more healthy lifestyle, I'll try to keep a thread updated with their progress.



So, why does the title of this thread say you want them on the juice?


I think you are over-complicating things for them. If, like you mention, they go on and off diets what makes you think that they will not go off the recommendations you outline for them.

My suggestion for your situation would be to 1 check what are the ethnic foods they are accustomed to eating and try to suggest they change some of the dishes making them with less fat and less carbs. Also buy them a stepper or elliptical machine for the home and get both of them to do 30 minutes every day of cardio. Not hard, but just to get the blood flowing every morning.

That would be better for you than to waste all the time preparing some complicated diet that they will look at and say "impossible to follow".

Remember fat loss is 2 ways: calorie restriction and / or increased calorie expenditure.

You are better to go into the other side of the equation. When they follow healthy regular cardio (and not running around from place to place that is not cardio) and you are home then there can be some direct help with the food intake.


Gear? You do know what that insinuates right? Steroids...


It also means all the amps, risers and other heavy shit I need to cart around to play my bass.


First things first:

Take is S-L-O-W. I would have them implement 1 of Berardi's habits a week(saving the 6 meals a day for last) until they have them all down.

It is VERY difficult to get people not into bodybuilding to eat 6 times a day... VERY difficult. 3 small meals and 2 or 3 snacks is the best way to go.

Let them know what to expect. I usually tell people 2 pounds per week is the upper limit of fat loss in most people. So if they lose 2 pounds, they lost 100% of their goal. And if they "only" lose a pound, thats progress as well. Just put them on a bodyweight x 12 and see what happens, adjust accordingly with the results.

Dont "Put them on a diet." A "diet" is something that ends eventually. They need to establish new eating habits for the rest of their lives.

Also, they NEED to be doing some kind resistance training. If no weights are available push ups, dips off the couch, and body squats are fine. This will stimulate the metabolism and tell the body it needs to keep the muscle it has and not burn it for fuel.

I highly recommend something like the "Cheat to Lose" diet, because it lets people eat whatever at the end of the week and it still works. That "light at the end of the tunnel" is very powerful for people and it helps them stick to it during the week.


Oh, I get it! He wants his parents to be your roadies, free of charge. That'll be their exercise regimen. I love these win/win situations.


To those of you who replied with advice, thank you very much.
I've changed the title, so maybe it'll be less confusing for some readers who don't really read the post.


My opinion- your setting them up for failure. It's that simple. If they do not take the initiative to learn everything on their own that you would need to tell them- they will fail. People who truly make those lifelong body composition changes are those who are educated on the right ways to do so. Those people that just expect the answers to be told to them give up at the first sign of distress because they do not know better.

Here's my advice, and I've used it on a couple family members (one with great success, loss of over 100lbs, and another with no so great success), and on co-workers and some friends. Introduce them to JB's literature. Don't spoon feed it to them. Give them the tools they need to make the jump into the lifestyle without needing to "prod" them. Introduce them to some literature on proper exercise routines. Let them read up for themselves that excessive cardio is no good, and that weight training it the new black.

You can't force anyone to do anything they do not want to do. Most people have to have some sort of life-altering experience before they make drastic changes anyway. Unless that has happened to them, you'll be fighting an uphill battle.


Thanks for the feedback Lonnoe123 and eengrms76. It's sound stuff and I'll definitely be heeding it. I agree with eengrms76 that if I didn't give them any information and just told them what to do, there's no doubt that they would fail. I've found from personal experience that knowing why I'm doing something is as important as knowing how to do it, especially in the realm of body transformation, where the results can be slow or hard to distinguish.

I'll use a combination of the advice you've given me. I'll give them all the information they need to understand what to do and why they need to do it, but I won't overload them. As Lonnie123 suggested, I'll introduce them to the 7 habits of highly effective nutrition, starting with 'drink at least a gallon of water a day'. I'll include an article article about the benefits of this habit and ask them to try to follow it for one week.
If they manage that, I'll introduce a new habit with another explanation or article. Eventually we should get all seven habits under our belt. Fortunately, quality information abounds on Tnation.

I'll also check out the Cheat to Lose diet. Thanks for suggesting that.