Help, I’m Worried About My Family!

Do you have a family member or loved one that you really care about?

Are they unhealthy and defensive about it?

Want to help them but they don’t want to be helped?

You’re not alone.

Today I want to try something a bit different on Nerd Fitness; two weeks ago, I received an email from a Rebel who has taken great strides to change her life.  However, she has a family member that is headed towards an early grave, and she feels helpless while watching it happen.

I’m going to share my ideas, and then I’d love to hear your thoughts: what would you do in this situation?

Kelsey and her brother

bart and lisa simpson

Hi Steve!!!

Totally random, but a few months ago I subscribed to your mailing list while I was exploring the paleo lifestyle. I love all the material that you have put together, but the fact that you used gaming terminology really struck a chord in me. Well, I don’t know what the heck you’re talking about, but my brother, Mike, has been gaming obsessively for nearly 20 years. A story you are all too familiar with. He is morbidly obese, still lives at home, has no education (though he is brilliant), and no job. He is a month away from his 29th birthday, and I feel like I can’t avoid the issue much longer.

As you can imagine, the topic is touchy, hostile, and emotional. Historically, when his weight or apathy was brought up by my parents he would react explosively, probably to just deter them from bringing it up again. For the most part, that tactic has worked. I’ll spare you all the details of sadness and hurt, and get down to the point of why I am reaching out.

Have you had any experience with intervening? What might be a good way to reach a gamer like my brother and connect him to your community? I just was curious if you had any insights. I know that I can’t make someone do something that they don’t want to, but I have to try or I could lose him.

Thank you for what you do and your Nerd Fitness community at large. I have had great difficulty understanding my brother and his lifestyle, but reading all the emails you send have helped shed some light.

Sincerely,

Kelsey

my thoughts

Steve Kamb

This is heartbreaking to read, but I’m really glad Kelsey reached out to me.  

First and foremost: I am not a doctor or a therapist – just a nerd who’s thinking about what I would do if I were in Kelsey’s shoes.  So, I would first recommend that Kelsey seek outside professional help if that’s an option.  Speaking with a therapist or counselor and talking through a strategy could be incredibly beneficial.

Okay, now that THAT’S out of the way, here are my thoughts:

I’ve always said that you can’t force somebody to exercise – if they’re not interested in bettering themselves, yelling at them is a great way to get them to feel worse, get defensive, hostile, and feel even more negative thoughts about not being healthy.

We’ve dealt with a similar issue in the past here on the site: you essentially need to become Captain America.

You can’t force people to want to better themselves, but you can become that shining example of how great life is when you’re fit, constantly encouraging, supporting, and inviting loved ones to join you on fun activities that promote a further sense of well-being.

However, in this particular situation, it seems like there’s a bigger problem than being unhealthy and not having a job - Mike is stuck. Stuck perpetuating bad habits with no way out. His parents are enabling his behavior.  With no job, no desire/need to get a job, an unhealthy lifestyle, and still living at home, it sounds like Kelsey’s parents are allowing Mike to live this way.

I don’t claim to know the whole story as to why Mike never moved out of his house, so I’m going to make a few educated assumptions to go along with  my advice - I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an underlying issue here.

Let’s get one thing straight:  Mike knows he’s overweight.  He’s reminded every day by TV, gaming, magazines, his friends, movies, and so on.  Making him more aware of this fact is only going to make matters worse.  Telling him outright that he needs to lose weight and change isn’t going to work.

Negatively attacking him in hoping he will change ain’t gonna help either.  If you’ve spent enough time on the internet/youtube, you’ve probably stumbled across Boogie2988, a hilarious video gamer also who happens to be overweight.

Although he’s usually a total goofball, he posted a really heartfelt video about what his life is like and what he struggles with on a daily basis.  I believe it’s worth five minutes of your time:

Boogie: Fat Shaming

Certainly as far as the lack of a job goes, Mike has to rediscover that personal responsibility is the greatest quality a human being can possess.   I think it’s important to remember that we are all the masters of our fate, and over the years Mike has lost sight of that.

Yes, I know kicking Mike out of the house, cutting off his food supply, or forcing him to pay rent is an option, but situations like this are often more complicated than that.

Above all, there is one tactic I’ve seen help turn people’s entire  lives around: getting healthy.

I have seen hundreds of people who have transformed themselves physically, built up momentum, and then ask themselves: “hey, what else am I capable of?”

Regardless of where Mike starts his Journey, with fitness or with other aspects of his life, he could use a win or two to prove to himself: “hey, I am in control, and I can change. What else can I change?”

I’m going to guess that he loves video games because it’s a chance to escape: to be somebody different, to be somebody respected, powerful and strong.

Seven years ago, when I had a job I hated, I counted down the minutes until I could rush home to play Everquest 2, in which I was a powerful wizard named Morphos that could rain fire down upon dragons…rather than a skinny guy, still dealing with acne, that sold construction equipment.  Eventually, I decided to create my own game and then travel the world: I had to learn that leveling up myself and going on adventures was WAY more fun than any game I could ever play.

Mike needs to learn that life can be one giant video game too.  I truly think Mike could benefit from Nerd Fitness, but he has to want to read it and take action on his own.

Depending on her relationship with Mike, she could take an active interest in his life, and have a candid conversation with him.  Explain that she found a new great site that she loves and thinks he’d enjoy it.   She could speak with Mike as a person, and be truthful, honest, and most of all positive with him.

Here are some more specific examples of articles that might resonate with him:

When everything is going wrong, all it takes is one or two wins for things to change momentum in the other direction.  I think Kelsey can do her part to help her brother have that one win.

Momentum is a powerful tool – right now, it’s all working against Mike. But it only takes a little bit to change one’s fate.

My favorite response

write letter

I shared this story on the Nerd Fitness Facebook page, and we received some really great responses.

Have you ever read something and then go: “DAMN, I WISH I WROTE THAT!”?  

That’s how I feel about Katja’s response below. Well said!

Katja: Until recently, I was very much like this person. It’s humiliating when the people who allegedly care about you are trying to change you so they can love you. That may not be the actual situation, but that is how it feels, like you’re being manipulated into a lifestyle and culture that has rejected you from day one.

You know what he wants? Look at what games he’s playing. THAT is the life he wants, and he actually has that in a virtual way: he is useful, he has skills, he makes decisions on his own. He wants quests and jobs to do. You don’t play games out of boredom, you play them for the feeling of accomplishment.

If you really want to get him moving, then offer him a life worth living, create adventures. Some have suggested LARP, but he may need to be eased into it at first. (The anonymity of gaming is part of its appeal.) Arrange a few road trips to places you’ve never been before, maybe under the guise of going to some nerd store. Go exploring. Kidnap him and get “lost.” In an extreme example, have a fake mental breakdown and run away with him in tow. Run out of money. Give him stories to tell about his crazy adventures; he’ll look for more.

Heroes need opportunities to be heroic. 

Nobody plays a character they don’t want to be, so let him know it’s possible to be that character IRL. Encourage his aptitudes but not in a condescending way. Again, look to the games he plays: Does he shoot guns? Bows and arrows? He can do those things for real. Is he into magic-type things? Maybe he’s good at chemistry. It seems like there may be no one willing to know who he really is, or at least, he thinks he’ll be laughed at for wanting something so impossible.

Start strength training because you want to get stronger (YOU, not him.) Bet him money that he can’t lift more than you (with absolutely no talk about getting thinner. This must be about getting stronger.) Compare him to his gaming characters, favorably. Give him a challenge. Strength training is best because it’s not cardio (which sucks for anyone overweight) and you can immediately feel your muscles ache, which feels good in a weird way.

I actually work toward muscle ache now, because it means I’m getting stronger. Make a chart of YOUR workout, reps and sets (don’t make one for him.) Maybe you could do something wrong, or fail and he’ll want to give YOU advice. Don’t include the parents.

He doesn’t want this to be a family thing; it should bolster independence.

Eliminate the diet, weight, fat, obese and exercise conversations from your vocabulary. Those are triggers to emotional pain. And no leaving subliminal messages around, like fitness magazines and articles on the dangers of obesity. Do you think he’s a moron? Please. It’s just another thing to judge him and accuse him of being a loser.

Kicking him out, taking his game away, getting him arrested? Yeah, that’ll help (eyeroll.) Stop treating him like a problem and more like a person. The gaming makes him feel worthwhile, and the people around him don’t. Fix that first.

How Would the NF Community help?

rebellion facebook

In addition to Katja, a number of you gave some awesome insight and advice to Kelsey.  I really appreciate those that took the time to chime in. We’re all in this together, and we’re all struggling with the same thing: a desire to live a better life, and make the lives of those around us better.

Here are some of my favorites:

Zachary wants to make this a team effort:

From what I read he still lives with the Parentals…Get them on board with eating properly, getting rid of all the sugar and canned/packaged products, and eating home cooked natural foods.

Since he doesn’t have a job he has no way to go and buy food that is worthless. If that doesn’t work he’ll have to go find a job to keep eating the way he currently does so either way it’s a win. Also, I agree with several others who say that he will not change unless he wants to.

Meriel shares her experience with her LARP group:

What I found really pushed me along weight loss wise was ending up joining a LARP group that met for events. As I was already a nerd, gamer and loved RPG-related stuff then it was like a revelation for me to be essentially, gaming in the real world.

Fighting, running about, doing objectives, interacting with characters, it was great, and it was a non-judgmental atmosphere so I did not feel self-conscious or inferior to fitter players, yet I found myself wanting to get fit, to work out and drop pounds because I wanted to look badass! It’s things like these, stuff that gets you out and about that can give a person a reason to start making changes and help make friends that’ll support and encourage them.

Rebecca wants to focus on the relationship:

I’d look at what my relationship was currently (Do we talk about heavy topics? Do we keep it light? Do we spend any time together?). If we have a superficial relationship, then I’d take steps first to deepen the relationship before I felt like we could have any conversation of significance. We have to earn the right to have a meaningful heart-to-heart with a loved one who is closed off. And to get there, we have to demonstrate we love them, unconditionally, for who they are right now.

Ruth thinks subtly sharing Nerd Fitness might help!

Have you ‘accidentally’ left any of Steve’s articles lying around for him to read? My particular favourite – even as a non-gamer – was trying to work out what character I was. A Druid or an elf? Maybe having that kind of context – Have you ‘accidentally’ left any of Steve’s articles lying around for him to read? My particular favourite – even as a non-gamer – was trying to work out what character I was. A Druid or an elf? Maybe having that kind of context – “hey bro – what character do you think you are??”! – might help start the conversation.

Paleo Dieting suggests bonding over hobbies:

Help to nurture what he’s good at. Encourage him to start trying to make money off of what he loves doing. My brother was the same. He started writing, as an independent writer, for gaming websites. He got his GED, got a job as editor-in-chief for Turbine, and lost 100 pounds!

Stasia shares her own experience:

A friend of mine was obese, hated herself for it but was absolutely petrified of taking action and because of this was too scared to step foot into a gym. At this point in my life I was really into Crossfit and clean healthy eating and wanted to share my new love with her.

So rather than saying “let’s do some exercise!” I’d ask her to walk to the shops or wherever with me and slowly started picking up the pace so she’d have to stride to keep up with me. I’d invite her over for dinner and make her paleo meals. This slowly subconsciously gave her the idea that she was physically capable of more than waddling from the fridge to her room and let her know I was there to catch her when she fell.

Katie wants to make sure Kelsey is sensitive:

If he’s sensitive, talking about changing your diet to “lose weight” will likely trigger him being defensive. Just make the change and don’t discuss it or judge him for servings and/or cheats. Let him watch his family eating healthy. When he’s ready to bring it up on his own, let him in on the conversation and contribute to ideas for the grocery list. If he feels like he has contributed good ideas and is part of the process, he’s more likely to stick to new eating habits.

Tina wants to focus on the mental aspects first:

It’s a vicious circle he’s in, because if you don’t address the mental, the physical won’t happen, but once you address the physical the mental usually takes care of itself.

Dillon wants to utilize his interests:

Check out local conventions in the area that involve things he likes. I’ve never been able to sit at a con. It’s mostly 8-12 hours of walking or standing. If he likes zombies and you’re in a major city look for any zombie crawl events. Laser tag is also a nice in-between for gaming and an active life.

What do You Think?

contemplation

If you didn’t get a chance to chime in on Facebook, what are your thoughts?

Is Mike screwed? Should Kelsey take care of herself and hope Mike comes around?

Is Kelsey out of place for trying, or is it her responsibility to help take care of her family?

What would you do in this situation?

This is a difficult topic, and everybody will have different answers, but I’d love to hear from you.  Please be VERY specific in your answers, with actionable steps that you would take if you were in this situation.

If Kelsey has emailed us this us with this situation, I’d guess there are probably hundreds of NF readers dealing with the same situation.  I hope we can all accept, understand, support, and encourage our family members, and live long and happy lives with them in this game we call life.

-Steve

PS: Close to 2500 women have already signed up for the Nerd Fitness Women’s Academy Launch ListIf you’re a woman and interested in joining us for the First Class that launches the week of the 23rd, make sure you sign up – we’re only keeping enrollment open for a few days!

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Photo Source: Mario and Luigi, Bart and Lisa, letter, contemplation

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  • Kristin

    This left me floored! My father is completely like this in the weight department, and I honestly have had tons of discussions from a fear based perspective. I am from a family of 2. My dad and me. He’s overweight and eat incredibly unhealthy and I fear he’s going to leave me too soon and in light of that, I’m pressuring him to change. I think I’m going to start trying to sneaky Paleo dinner approach with him and asking him to “help” me with trips that involve more action. I want to see him healthy and whole… he loved bike riding… it’s time for us to get bikes! I’m now rethinking this. Thanks so much for this article.

  • Steph

    I love this article! I especially like Stasia’s comments on getting her friend involved in things she was already doing, doing activities together for the support and the initial nudge into action. I’ve been looking for a way to get my roommate on board with healthier habits lately, and I think this is great.
    I wouldn’t completely discount the thought of being “mean” though. Not always my style nor is it necessarily preferred, but sometimes passive-aggressive support can only get you so far. A frank conversation at some point from loved ones may provide that jolt of urgency or necessity of change.

  • Xena

    Wow, this left me crying, because I have to think about all my beloved ones and how they might be worried about my health, though I am not such a though case as Mike and did already lose weight. For me, it is highly motivating to get my family & friends to stop worrying.

    Katjas response is worth pure gold. Best answer I’ve ever read to this topic!
    Avoid actions that cause a defensive attitude. Start a good relationship with him so he gets relaxed and positively influenced. Show him that its about claiming his right to live, not about to fit into a body scheme!

    *need tissue* *sob*

  • Xena

    Only when you are as overweight as Mike, every bit of pressure is venom. He gets it all the time, it actually took part in getting him to that stage.
    For me it would be wrong because I am a very calm and peace loving person; loud noises and mean words scare me and make me hide, no matter when :D
    But for people with slight overweight who are “just” lazy, it might be right.

  • JM

    I am a Mike myself, and busy dragging myself out of the gutter. Step by step and it is difficult some days. Any support is good, I don’t have any. And I know what is wrong with me, and it doesn’t make it any easier. There is a TED talk by Hans Rosling about demographics, and in it he says “It is easier for a country to get wealthy when it is healthy”. Health come before anything else.

  • Sulinar

    This is a really difficult issue and Kelsey will have to be very careful not to make what she’s trying to do too obvious. Let’s face it, if you’re overweight, you are on HYPER alert to anything that might relate to that. One NF activity that immediately springs to mind as both nerdy and fairly discreet is Walking to Mordor (http://nerdfitnessrebellion.com/index.php?/topic/25654-one-does-not-simply-walk-into-mordor/). If Kelsey can invite Mike to walk with her – even for a walk around the block – while tracking her mileage, and explain that it’s because she’s walking to Mordor, (especially if he has to explain to her exactly what the significance of that is) then maybe that will pique his interest.

    The other thing I was going to suggest was already mentioned, which is that it would be a good idea to get the parents involved first. Someone who is obese is just like an alcoholic – THEY have to want to change before that change will happen. All you can really do as a family member is create the inspirational environment that makes them see change as easier than carrying on with their current behaviour.

  • Christian

    Tried to get him into cooking? One of the key factors to a healthy lifestyle is healthy food. Cooking is not a threat as opposed to working out. Cooking involves recipes, gathering items and various levels of difficulty that one can gradually work up to – all elements RPGs are built around. One may say that every dish is a quest on it’s own.

    All seemingly non-physical, yet – if one is obese – good enough of a very light workout (going shopping, running about in the kitchen, chopping things, cleaning up, …). It’s also a very social activity with continuous rewards; Everyone’s happy if someone cooks for them.

    Learning about cooking and healthy food is a perfect bridge to other health-related stuff.

  • Erin

    This very nearly describes my husband. I have to agree 100% with Katja’s suggestions and add that making progress here requires a great deal of patience.

  • Steph

    Totally agree, I’m definitely not a frequent advocate of loud noises :) I know for me though sometimes if someone shows urgency it can be enough to give me motivation.

  • Junimoon

    I would tackle it by “focusing on yourself” while simultaneously bringing him into the conversation. Let him help YOU. “What kind of character should I be?” “I read X on NF and I’m thinking of doing Y. Do you think that is a good idea?”. If you are doing the BBWW, let him help you count reps or time your sets. If you are doing paleo, let him be a taste-tester/critic of your recipes. Ask him to be your cheerleader. In this way you are bringing him into the community, showing him the resources, but not forcing his hand. With luck he will be inspired by your progress, he will see the support and great attitudes of the community (non-shaming, non-judgmental) and he might want to start participating himself.

  • Linda

    Don’t give up. I was your brother – now I am off depression and high blood pressure. Assure him it’s a journey and you just want him to be around a LONG time! I was fortunate, my kids stayed on me. I am better for it and still unraveling decades of poor habits but everyday is a victory! I have come so far, I now inspire folks on my own page!

    So… don’t stop. Don’t shame him, don’t bully him, don’t guilt him but don’t stop!

  • FaceAK

    Don’t give up on him. I’ve been primal/paleo for a little over a year now and have slowly but surely been nudging my family in that direction (mom, dad, and sister are all overweight, as I was, and dad has diabetes, as I’m sure I would eventually have developed). I started small, just little explanations of why I was eating the way I was WITHOUT any references to my weight. I talked more about how great I felt, that I had more energy to do the things I liked, and I still ate amazing food.

    Then I proved it. I cooked meals when I was home, I stayed active and posted about it on social media where I knew they would see it. I didn’t have to talk about the weight because it came off, and they could tell. Last week, my mom asked to borrow my copy of the Primal Blueprint. Remember, this all has happened over the last year. Be patient, and know that people do notice. It takes time, but they do notice.

    On the other hand, my (then) boyfriend was completely different. My family is 3,000 miles away, but my boyfriend lived with me. He was also overweight and very inactive. He saw me daily eating clean, shared all my primal evening meals with me when he wasn’t working, and saw how I was working out (no chronic cardio, heavy lifting and short jogs). Yet he still ate terribly when on his own, spent hours at the gym using machines and doing the elyptical for an hour, and saw little to no results. I tried to explain to him why what he was doing wasn’t working, but he always got defensive about it (between my collegiate volleyball career and everything I’ve learned about paleo/primal, I consider myself to know a lot…not everything, but a lot). He saw my transformation over the last year and a half, but didn’t think it would work for him (or something).

    So, it’s hard to say if being the “example” works. It doesn’t for everyone. It seems like Kelsey’s brother could benefit from more of an “intervention,” but it’s so hard to know.

    Just don’t give up on him, and be patient.

  • ShotgunSally

    This article speaks of my own brother in so many ways. He’s my older brother and at 30 years old he’s living in my mothers basement working 1-2 shifts a week at A&W. He’s smart, brilliant even, he was labelled as gifted in school for something like reading and communication or something (I was too young to understand). Last spring he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and started getting medicated which was when he started at his current job but he’s still somehow missing the mark. He plays video games and goes to work and nothing else. My mother is struggling to support him yet he makes only enough to buy himself food and won’t seek more. He’s not overweight but he’s definitely not fit. I want to see an improvement but my frustration level is interfering with my ability to help ><

  • Anonymous

    I believe the best thing you can do Kelsey is be best you can be fitness/health wise and show your brother that it can be/is fun, and the best way to do that is to spend time with him and in his world of gaming. If one of my clan members started training with me it would be the funniest work out ever!

  • Neil Obstadt

    OK, a couple questions. Does he drink or use any recreational drugs? Ever spend time with friends? I didn’t note anything about his leaving the house. Does he (apart from say, junk food runs)? Any history of depression in the family? Or agoraphobia? The angry outbursts to shut down anyone over mentioning his weight or inactivity sounds like a good sign of clinical depression. May need a pro for this.

  • James Williams

    Firstly, a massive thank-you for Kelsey reaching out and to Steve for writing this article. As it really hit home.

    I am very much like Mike. It’s coming up to my 29th birthday, currently jobless and living at home with the folks. Although, I’m currently working on my fitness and overall health, as well as applying for jobs. It Kelsey’s situation of helping out a loved one that I can really relate to.

    Back in January of this year, my mum suffered from a stroke. Fast forward 8 months on and she really has made a truly remarkable recovery. The main problem now, is that her old ways (habits) have crept back in to her life. After numerous talks about her lifestyle choices and how she really needs to make some important changes. These chats have more often than not resulted in both of us getting annoyed with one another (which in return, has left me feeling very frustrated and helpless at times). Now, after reading this post, I feel it has brought some clarity to the situation. As well as the confidence to adopt a new way of reason and approach.

    Personally, I think you (Kelsey) have done a really brave and important thing but first addressing your concerns. Now, it’s the important matter of how, you will go about the matter. Building a relationship is definitely key in my opinion. I think Xena’s advice is spot on, “Start a good relationship with him so he gets relaxed and positively influenced”. I think Nerd Fitness would be a great start for him too. These little steps are what are important… From there, I can’t see why your brother will get out of his rut, and make some big changes stick. More importantly, keep being an awesome sister and supporting him.

    Sorry, for the long response.

  • Mel Iss

    When I saw Steve’s Original FB post on this, I said a prayer in my head that someone would be able to give advice to help this family (cause I had nothin’). Steve, I think your response here is dead on. It’s thoughtful and comes from a place of love and understanding. I live by the mottos, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” (Ghandi said that, btw). And “Nothing ever said or done from a place of love can be wrong.” (I said that one.) So I think your advice is perfect. Live the example, without judgment of others and be an inspiration of strength, love, and good health in body mind and spirit. Isn’t that what Rebel Fitness is all about anyway? We are all in this together. No egos. Just support.

  • thealicat

    Perhaps tell him you have found nerd fitness and how much you like it and ask him to help you understand the “nerd” side of things? Ask him to help you find your profession work out how to level up your stats?

  • Corvo

    This article is great.

  • http://www.worldclasslasik.com/lasik/choosing-best-new-york-lasik-surgeon Best Lasik Surgeon

    Thank you. This really motivated me to sit down and have an important talk.

  • issusservant

    I don’t want to spoil or to ruin any hopes. I’ve been there, receiving advice and giving it. All of us can change..but none can make that choice but ourselves

  • http://regularhealthycompetition.com/ Tom T.

    Taking a walk is a great idea. It seems harmless enough and could be time spent to build your relationship, even outside of discussions of weight loss or self-improvement. Anything you can to get small victories!
    RegularHealthyComptition.com

  • http://regularhealthycompetition.com/ Tom T.

    This is a great option as well. Cooking does have the elements of RPGs. It is a learning experience and allows you to learn and develop new skills. This is a slick way to get someone who usually is sitting quite a bit up on their feet. Great suggestion.
    RegularHealthyCompetition.com

  • http://steadystrength.com/ Adam Pegg

    That was a really touching video. I think in this situation there just needs to be an invitation. he obviously doesn’t want to be unhealthy. The motivation to be unhealthy is negative comments, so use the opposite to get him moving. Just a simple talk without pressure could be the tool to find out what would motivate him to go in the opposite direction. Then act on that!

  • http://altah.net/ Elizabeth Golluscio

    Thanks for this important story – and WOW, Katja, THANK YOU for getting us “concerned friends and family” to re-evaluate our attitudes and approaches!!

  • ulla

    This is brilliant!
    And not only because I love cooking, but because it’s simple and beautiful on so many levels.

  • Splash the Lab

    If he “reacts explosively” to suggested changes, that seems pretty serious. Behaviorally, he’s protecting his “stuff”, which in this case is free rent, food, and gaming. If your parents are on board with this, I don’t think there is too much that can be done. If they are not, my gosh it almost sounds like elder abuse. He’s got a pretty sweet deal there. I’m probably older than your parents…if my kid wouldn’t move out, I’d sell the house and move away leaving no forwarding address. admittedly, I can’t understand staying with the parental units any longer than legally required; I moved out at 17 for college and never went home again.

  • Anna H.

    Oh my gosh. When I saw the title and the beginning of this article, I was really worried this was going to be a case of “Force him! Make him feel bad! INTERFERE IN HIS LIFE.” Perhaps not in such harsh terms, but it happens constantly. I am so relieved it’s not that.

    I have been in Kelsey’s and Mike’s position. It sucks. Forcing him to change and interfering in his business won’t help – he’s the only person who can make changes for him, and I am really glad that’s mentioned in this article. Also really appreciate mentioning that he knows that he’s fat, a fact so often glossed over in articles about family and friends.

    I’m in favour of being Captain America, gentle examples, but not pushing. As soon as you push, they push back. Control is so important to almost everyone, if you try to control them, they push back harder.

    At the end of the day, Mike’s life is his choice. We’re allowed to make choices that make us “boring, fitness-obsessed weirdos” and he’s allowed to make his choices too.

    Also, just, all of the applause to Katja. I want this framed and in every establishment I can think of.

  • Jessie

    ^This this this! Attraction works far better than promotion.

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  • Em

    I’m amazed no one has pointed this out yet: The Internet is a drug. It has an actual addictive effect on many people’s brains, and online multiplayer games like WoW and Evercrack are specifically designed to hook people and keep them hooked.

    Mike is not going to get better as long as he has free access to his drug of choice. Period. Reality is tough and fantasyland is easy. Supplying this guy with free Internet is like giving an alcoholic free booze. He cannot or will not abstain on his own, or he would have done that by now. Want him to sober up? Don’t give him the choice to be high.

    I’d suggest canceling Internet service at the house, or allowing it for only one hour a day. Unplug the router and lock it in a safe or take it to work. When Mike has to face reality and can’t live in his addiction, he will probably decide he hates reality. At that point he may be ready to change his reality. But he’ll never change as long as he can live in fantasyland. Of course, if his parents are determined to let their son slowly kill himself, there’s no law against enabling …

  • fitcoach

    We all have that family member or friend that we wish would live a healthier lifestyle. I think the main thing is living a healthy lifestyle and inviting that person to participate when we go for a run or even a walk around the neighborhood. – myfitcoach.net

  • KariVery

    This was incredibly timely in my life today (even though I am reading it late). Especially the comment from Katja…”people who allegedly care about you are trying to change you so they can love you.” I am a bully in the guise of trying to “help” or trying to “motivate” like the friend of the man in the video who is concerned, but is going about his motivation in the worst of ways. Yep, that is me. And I keep thinking something will resonate with my husband to make him want to change. Well, I understand now that all he wants to know is that I love him RIGHT NOW not matter what. Message understood. Thank you, Steve, Katja and Mr. Boogie, you might have just saved my marriage.
    Ps – all I could think of while watching that video was what an attractive person he is and how beautiful his eyes are, and it made me sad that he hated himself when he obviously has so much to offer.

  • Annie Lewis

    Thank you for this Article. It’s frustrating that people don’t understand that ‘encouraging’ you to join weight loss groups and telling you that they’re worried just makes you feel worse. I wish so much that people would let me just handle my issues in my own time, and invite me to do active things or go try a new healthy restaurant/recipe. It just makes me feel worse when people try to ‘help.’ I’m not dumb, I know very well that I’m overweight. Don’t tell me “oh, let’s do this together…you should do this…you shouldn’t do that…Why are you eating that? Did you check the calories?” It just makes me feel awful.

  • Annie Lewis

    He is not protecting his stuff. He’s reacting explosively because he is already hurting inside, and the direct approach of telling him what to do just further tells him he is failing. It’s better to invite him to do outdoor/active activities and try healthy recipes because that is real support.

  • Annie Lewis

    THANK YOU!

  • OF

    This article is fantastic. I have a similar problem with my own brother. He’s such a talented and intelligent guy, but he settles at such a low version of himself. He does work, but far below his skills and at a job he hates. He is quite out of shape and I worry about his health. He has done some work on his own at times. A few years ago he was at 450lbs and now he’s down to almost 350lbs. But he loses his momentum. To be fair, so do I. But I’m not in as much danger as he is, health-wise. The suggestions from the article and other respondents have given me so many ideas of how to get him moving without hurting him emotionally. He’s sensitive and that turns into defensiveness when confronted with words like “diet” and “exercise”. Thanks to Steve and all the people who have given their two cents.