The prevalence of obesity in our society has reached a critical level. Americans, both young and old, are struggling to get their weight under control but anyone who has tried to lose weight knows that it’s no easy feat. It can be especially hard if you don’t have a good support system (or if the people around you are downright antagonistic). If you know of someone who is trying to change their lifestyle, here are some suggestions for being a positive and helpful presence during their journey.

Don’t Tempt Them

Changing lifelong habits can be extremely difficult. If you know that someone is trying to avoid certain foods, don’t bring them around. If you live together, resist bringing these items into the house and, if you must, eat them elsewhere on your own. Don’t ask if they miss those foods or talk about how good they taste.

Learn Their Plan

Get interested in what they have chosen to do about their weight. If they want to share, allow them to explain their process, whether it be from a book they’ve read, a show they’ve seen or instructions from a medical professional. Understanding the issue and chosen plan of action will not only help you be most supportive but it also lets them know that their health is important to you.

Don’t Focus on Weight

One of the worst feelings for someone losing weight is stepping on the scale and seeing nothing change. If they are exercising they might be gaining muscle. If they are taking medication they might be retaining water. This could mean the scale doesn’t budge, but they are still getting healthier. Avoid asking how much they weigh and focus more on all of the healthy changes they have been making.

Get Moving Together

Nearly all of us can afford to be more active and there are so many cool events and races nowadays. Why not encourage your loved one by getting involved and registering for something fun? Even if you don’t participate in an organized event, you could go to the gym together or make an effort to go for a walk during your lunch break or after dinner. It will benefit both of you!

Recognize Their Efforts

It takes just as much effort to be sarcastic or negative as it does to be encouraging and positive. Take a moment to focus on all of the things they have been doing to better themselves and let them know how impressed you are. Your kind words will mean a lot more to them than you might expect.

Misery loves company and, all too often, people who try to lose weight are discouraged by those around them who want them to fail. This isn’t because they are bad people but change can be scary and difficult. If someone else’s weight loss leaves you feeling threatened or jealous, recognize and explore those feelings and then work through them without projecting them onto others. Who knows? Maybe their improving habits will have a positive effect on you!