T Nation

Just a thank you and a serious question.

Quick thank you to those of you who have been incredibly helpful in getting me started on being a T-man, specificall Phill and Tampa who always seem to have a good suggestion. I’m down to 235 at 13 percent body fat and feeling really comfortable about what I have done and where I am going. My girlfriend has lost 30 pounds doing t-dawg type diets, and she looks mighty fine. I am continually spreading the gospel of good health and nutrition to those who have no idea. It’s quite funny trying to explain to people that things they have been doing are just flat out wrong. Some listen, others do nothing but argue.

I do have a serious question though, and I hope I don’t get any flack for this. My mom is 57 years old and overweight. I am worried about her both mentally and physicall in terms of her weight. Her being overweight is such a huge burden on her psyche, and her health. What kind of diet do you guys suggest? She is too sel conciouss to go to a gym and do any kind of weight traning, so something she could do at home would be the best. I don’t know exactly what her body weight is, but it is above 200 in my estimation and she is only 5’3" ANy suggestions?

Quick question, what exactly does R-ALA do? Is it worth buying to use on training days?

I work as a trainer and deal with people like your mother all the time so hopefully I can help.

The first thing is to determine if your mother is ready to change. If she is then you can help, if she’s not you need to get her to realize that something has to happen. So first let’s look at the possible stages of change that she’s in:

Five stages of change have been conceptualized for a variety of problem behaviours. The five stages of change are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. (http://www.uri.edu/research/cprc/TTM/StagesOfChange.htm)

Precontemplation is the stage at which there is no intention to change behaviour in the foreseeable future. Many individuals in this stage are unaware or underaware of their problems.

Contemplation is the stage in which people are aware that a problem exists and are seriously thinking about overcoming it but have not yet made a commitment to take action.

Preparation is a stage that combines intention and behavioural criteria. Individuals in this stage are intending to take action in the next month and have unsuccessfully taken action in the past year.

Action is the stage in which individuals modify their behaviour, experiences, or environment in order to overcome their problems. Action involves the most overt behavioural changes and requires considerable commitment of time and energy.

Maintenance is the stage in which people work to prevent relapse and consolidate the gains attained during action. For addictive behaviours this stage extends from six months to an indeterminate period past the initial action.

Now that you know where she is you need to know how to help her.

Precontemplation is best helped through education and consciousness raising. That is you need to help her realize that she needs to change, this is usually best accomplished through providing her with the appropriate info and helping her come to her own realization about her condition.

Contemplation is best helped through social support and goal setting. Help her to decide exactly what she wants to achieve, set goals and then help her determine the necessary processes to achieve them. Remember to use the SMART acronym, goals should be:

Time oriented

Preparation if you’re setting goals you’re already in this stage, just continue to help.

Action is the time she’ll need the most support and help to stick with her program, be there for her and try to remain non-judgemental.

So, now that you know where she is and how to help at each stage you need to determine how you’re going to help.

My suggestion is to read Berardi’s ““7 Habits”” article. Try to introduce each of the 7 points one at a time, with many of my clients I find this is the easiest way to help them change. The big key is to not overwhelm her with too much, try to keep it gradual and simple.

In terms of exercise you mentioned that she won’t go to a gym, at this stage that’s really not a big deal. Again, the key is to keep it simple, get her doing whatever she will do and help her. If you can get her out for a short walk once a week that’s better than nothing, twice a week is better than once a week. Remember, it’s about making gradual improvements not about revolutionizing her life all at once.

I hope this helps and if there’s anything else I can do feel free to let me know.


Thanks for that. This is the thing that is so frusterating. She walks 10,000 steps a day, no questions asked. She uses a pedometer and keeps it in a diary to make sure she is doing what she is supposed to be doing. When I am home, I don’t see her eating anything that should be making her have such a hard time losing weight. She does however, tend to sneak things at night when I am asleep, as it is more of a comfort thing. She is very willing to try, she has done numerous diets, lost a good amount of weight, then hits a plateu and gets depressed and falls back into the cycle. I am impressed with her physical ouput for someone as old as she is, I’m just wondering if she is doing it all wrong. I have thought about getting her an elliptical or a treadmill to use at home. I read over my original e-mail and eralized that I made her out to be more slovenly than she actually is, she is an active mother who does quite a bit of stuff, she just can’t seem to lose weight.

Tank, I gotta second what Stuart has said.

1st she wont make the change until SHE wants to. No matter how much you try and help and motivate her.

All you can do is consistantly try and help her, but be sure not to put her down in any way, she is most likely doing that enough in her own head.

Printing off articles like JB’s seven habits article and such are great. Leave them around for her. Dont force it on her, simply tell her you have something she might find interesting and let her get to it herself.

In the end just keep motivating her in a positive way, and let her come to you for the big (hopefull change).

I, as well as many others, could go into training and diet she could use, but it will be all for not untill she is ready.

This approach worked with my mother actually. I would simply talk with her about the changes I was making. She slowly drew off of me what caught her interest and I guess what she felt she could do at that point in time. It started with vitamins and such and slowly moved to diet. By the way the diet is nothing to strict much along the 7 habit line, but has done wonders. Then about three months ago she asked me help her set up a training program. Know she is a bech pressing, ATG squatting, dead lifting, etc. momma.

Now she is a major motivation for me, as well as others. She is only six months removed from major cancer removal surgery, and she is lifting like no other and is on fire to continually make progress. It has led to me having to help a # of her friends set up training programs, and when I am lifting just thinking of her pushing Iron makes me go that much harder.

I dont know if any of that actually helped but thats what I have to add I guess.

Any further ?'s dont hesitate to ask.

By the way congrats on your progress keep it up and keep us posted.


Stu, that’s about one of the best posts I’ve ever seen on the forum!!! Thank you for putting that up.

Tank, re the r-ALA, it’s a very powerful partitioning agent. It increases the amount of carbs that can be stored in the muscles. More carbs in the muscles means less that spills over to fat. r-ALA rates pretty high on my list of “can’t live without it” type supps. Use it 20-30 minutes before your larger carb containing meals or before your cheat meals. Use 100mg of r-ALA for every 30-50g of carbs.

Re your mother’s situation, I hope you’ll take Stu’s words to heart. Your mother has got to want to make changes. It doesn’t matter how badly you want things for her, she’s got to want it herself. And no, you didn’t cast her in a less than favorable light. She’s like a lot of people her age who are struggling with their weight. Her biggest problem is the middle-of-the-night eating thing.

Just be a role model and a loving son. If she’s interested, show her the T-Dawg article. Let her know that there isn’t a diet out there that doesn’t need to be adjusted and tweaked along the way. Plateaus are something we all fight.

If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Okay, it sounds like your mother has problems with adherance. There are strategies that you can use to try to help her with this.

Contract for Change
Have her sign a contract with herself to do certain things (or not do) set up rewards if she fulfills the contract and penalties if she doesn’t. Try not to make the rewards food oriented as it will get her fixating and try not to make the punishment exercise as it will create negative associations. Also, make the contract for a period of time, start with one week and work up.

Social Support
Have her talk to someone (you, a friend, whomever) prior to engaging in an undesirable activity. Point out she can still do it if she wants (though possibly under contractual penalty) provided she’s talked to you first. Don’t hit her with a guilt trip, be supportive.

Behavioural Incompatability
Whenever she wants to do something she shouldn’t have her do something that would make the undesireable behaviour impossible. So if she wants to eat something have her go for a walk, if she’s out of the house with no money she can’t eat.

I would try these and see how they go, again implement them slowly but used properly they can be useful tools.


ps. Keep throwing the problems out, we’ll keep helping.

I forgot to add this:

Your mother sounds like someone who’s afraid of suceeding. This is really very common, often people feer success because it’s an unknown. They also fear success because it means they have to live up to the pressure of their newfound position.

Unfortunately there’s little you can do about this, you could have her talk to a psychologist as they could help. The other thing you could do is to deliberately set her up for success in small ways, make her first goals small for example. As she becomes used to succeeding she’ll become more comfortable with it and more likely to want to continue.


I will agree with the others, that if she is going to change she has to want it for herself. As for the diet, try to slowly work her in to upping the protein and lowering the carbs. Try not to say what she cant eat, but explain to her what she can. Keeping a food log would also be helpful. The term “diet” I would avoid, and try to get her to make a “lifestyle change” If she has any overweight friends try and get them to join in to make it a sort or peer support/contest atmosphere. As for weight lifting, check with a dr. first and then get into it slowly going from bodyweight exercises up.

Those ARE really great pieces of advice. If motivated, you may want to have her do a “home test” for hypothyroidism. Check out this site:
and type “Armour Dessicated Thyroid” into their search engine.
I also firmly believe that ALL people over 40 years old are insulin resistant to one degree or another. R-ALA is great for this, as are chromium and selenium. Personally, I think everyone over 40 should be on the medications Avandia or Actos which increase muscle glucose responsiveness. Glucophage (Metformin) is a third option but it tends to work more on the liver than on muscle tissue.
And really, the best offense against insulin resistance is weight-lifting. My mom is 71 years-old and still hits the iron.
God bless…