How to Support Someone on Their Weight Loss Journey

Five ways to help someone lose weight

Two friends work out together,  helping each other on their weight-loss journey.

Five ways to help someone lose weight

Most people who have tried to lose weight know it can be a challenge and having a supportive network can make all the difference.


You can be a valuable partner in helping someone you care about succeed on their weight loss journey. Here are five ways to show your support:

1.   Encourage healthy habits

Breaking old habits and adopting new, healthier ones is one of the main strategies to lose weight and maintain weight loss. Many people trying to lose weight may feel overwhelmed by having to completely change their diet, so help them by breaking it into smaller changes. 


“Show them how to incorporate lean proteins and whole foods, including whole grains, vegetables and fruit, into their meal planning,” says Jennie Luna, MD, an endocrinologist at Scripps Clinic Hillcrest who specializes in obesity medicine. “Share healthy recipes or suggest getting together to prepare a meal that replaces poor choices with smarter ones.”

2.   Don’t make it harder

It’s important to be mindful of the foods you bring around people who are trying to lose weight.

Avoid bringing processed foods, such as chips, crackers, cookies and pastries, home or to the workplace. Instead, opt for healthy options, such as fruit trays.

At lunch or dinner, order healthy choices.

3.   Be a workout buddy

Exercising with someone can be a great way to support their weight loss journey and motivate them to be more active. Go for a walk, take a yoga class or learn a new sport, such as pickleball, together.

People are less inclined to skip exercise when they’re meeting a workout partner, and when the workout is enjoyable, it doesn’t seem like a chore.

4.   Be empathetic and positive

Weight loss isn’t easy and can be fraught with a range of emotions, including frustration, anxiety and disappointment. It’s common to experience setbacks along the way or reach plateaus where the scale doesn’t budge.


“It’s important to be patient and understanding. Being a good listener can help someone who is frustrated relieve anxiety and renew their focus on their weight loss goal,” says Dr. Luna. “Let them express their feelings without judgment, acknowledge that they are trying their best and encourage them to keep going.”

5.   Celebrate progress

Whether they’ve lost a few pounds or hit an exercise goal, taking the time to acknowledge their hard work can help them stay motivated.

While celebrating milestones with food can be a tempting option, it’s important to find non-food rewards that can help keep them on track, such as a new workout outfit or a spa day.

When to consider bariatric surgery

It’s important to remember that, in some cases, people who are overweight cannot lose weight or keep it off even when they do everything right. If a loved one has virtually exhausted their weight loss options, it might be time to consider bariatric surgery, also called weight loss surgery.


Bariatric surgery is usually a minimally invasive procedure that alters how the body processes food to support rapid, lasting weight loss. Because only a few small incisions are made, patients may have less pain, decreased risk of complications, shorter recovery time and better cosmetic results.


There are several types of bariatric surgery, including:

Gastric sleeve surgery

Also known as vertical sleeve gastrectomy or gastric sleeve resection, gastric sleeve surgery permanently reduces and changes the size of your stomach.

Your bariatric surgeon removes 80% of your stomach. The remaining portion is shaped like a tube or “sleeve” and can hold only about two ounces of food. Food moves through it more slowly, allowing you to feel full longer and helping you lose weight.

Gastric bypass surgery

Your surgeon will make your stomach smaller and attach it to a lower part of your small intestine. This means that the food you eat will not pass through the top part of your small intestine where most of the calories and nutrients are absorbed.

As a result of gastric bypass surgery, your body will absorb fewer calories and nutrients from the food you eat, and this will help you lose weight.

You will still get enough nutrients from the food you eat, so you will not suffer from malnutrition.

Single anastomosis duodenal-ileal (SADI) surgery

Often recommended for people with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 50 or those who have not lost enough weight from gastric sleeve surgery alone, SADI surgery combines gastric sleeve surgery and gastric bypass surgery to provide very aggressive weight loss.

“Bariatric weight loss surgery can be very effective for the right candidates who have tried many other weight loss methods,” says Dr. Luna. “If you know someone who has tried everything and still can’t lose weight, encourage them to talk to an experienced endocrinologist or bariatric surgeon about their options.”

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