Dear Tara Marie,
How do you motivate a 70 year old obese, arthritic woman to change her way of life? Suffice it to say, she has a complicated medical history and I don’t believe she is in the right mindset to see this through. She has lost weight but does not keep it off. I am sure you have heard this story before. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions you have. I should add that I am speaking of my mother who is a grandmother to a gorgeous and intelligent 3 year old girl. I look forward to your response.
Thank you so much for writing and my heart goes out to you. My experience has shown me that when people don’t want help, it can be like talking to a brick wall. If I were taking this case, I would connect with her and figure out why she’s not in the right mindset to take the help she’s being offered. Is it because she’s given up? Is it because the poor woman is in severe pain from her arthritis? I would start here and address this issue first. When I have a client who is not willing or ready to change (although it’s clear that she’s not enjoying her life) I figure out why she doesn’t want to change and work on that before I launch into an elaborate program.
If your Mom has given up, she may need to see some semblance of progress before she believes in herself again. I would bargain with her to take a few small steps. There’s nothing like success to make you want more success. If the issue is that she’s in pain and fears that exercise will create more pain, I would show her some specific exercises that she can do without pain. 70 is not very old these days, and the truth is, if she were not obese her joints would not hurt as much as they do. Sometimes it’s getting past the first 4-6 weeks of adjusting to a new way of life and then we can coast!
Again, nail down why she’s resistant to helping herself and conquer this issue before you worry about anything else. Until she’s a willing participant, there is little that you can do unless you monitor her 24/7 and impose your will on her—which is next to impossible unless she’s put in a rehab situation where she loses personal control of her life.
I hope this helps, and good luck!