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Trouble motivating my younger brother (19M, 240+ lbs) to lose weight


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I have a younger brother who is tall and strong, but overweight and rather sedentary. He is 19 years old, 6’3", and over 240 lbs. He was always a chubby kid with a tendency to overload with junk food, but I guess my parents never decided to take his bad habits seriously enough, despite my father’s efforts to encourage him to lose weight (which, to this day, consist mostly of him yelling at my brother about how tight his clothes have gotten and why the hell he won’t do anything about it). A doctor’s visit from several years ago revealed that he was pre-diabetic, and I’m assuming he still is. He doesn’t really care about things like simple vs. complex carbs, portion control, or high- vs low-glycemic index foods. And with all this news about young people dying from COVID-19 due to preexisting conditions like obesity and diabetes, I’m really starting to get worried.


I (24F) have always cared a lot about my own physical health — I’m actually studying to become a doctor. I try to limit my intake of processed foods, I rarely eat out these days, and I exercise regularly. My BMI has always been in the healthy zone, and over the years I’ve discovered ways to make exercise more fun for myself. I’m actually a huge nerd who loves video games and pretty much all things medieval fantasy, but hobbies like martial arts and LARP have helped me to stay fit over the years. 


My brother has also always been a bit of a geek. Like...we both like to play Smash Bros and Dragon Ball Z games together, for instance, but I’ve found more satisfaction from learning to fight like those characters in real life than to just be good at button mashing combinations. Unfortunately, my brother does not share those interests.

TL;DR I don’t know how to encourage my brother to improve his diet and start a regular exercise routine. I don’t think he’s as willing to suspend his disbelief as I am and use his fictional role models to motivate him to get in better shape. I remember not too long ago that he mentioned he was interested in taking boxing classes, as he is physically very strong and boxing would seem cathartic for him. However, that wouldn’t be possible right now, due to the closure of all non-essential businesses. 

What would you suggest I do?



We all have to play life on different difficulty levels.

Some people are born with superior genetics, or to rich parents, and never have to work a day in their lives: these people are playing the game on Easy mode (and they might struggle with finding true meaning!).

Others are born into broken homes, in third-world countries, with chronic ailments or into poor school systems, and they have to play the game on Legendary difficulty.

The greater the origin story, the more dramatic the Hero’s Journey.

We can either complain about the character we’ve rolled, or we can acknowledge it and then play that character to the best of our ability.


— Steve Kamb, Level Up Your Life, page 92



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I'd suggest being a good role model by practicing healthy behaviours yourself; and that's it. Lecturing your brother about his health isn't likely to encourage him to do anything about it, as far as I know from most sibling relationships I've seen/experienced. Be a good big sister; not his coach, or parent, or dietician. :) 


You can invite him over for healthy meals, share a link to Nerd Fitness if you think he'd be interested in the academy or forum, offer to cook with him if he'd like to learn how to cook his favourite meal, invite him to join you at the gym if he'd like, and if encourage him to get involved he expresses interest in active hobbies like LARPing, boxing, or playing sports with friends. But this needs to be a drip feed, not a constant barrage of information and suggestions every time you see him.


At 19, he may yet meet friends in college or work that want to do other stuff, which may cause him to incidentally become more active. Or he may decide he wants to 'get sexy' so he can get laid - but it needs to come from him. Telling him what to do is most likely to just piss him off I'm guessing. Also, at 6'3" and 240lbs, he's not THAT heavy for his frame size - a little bit of weight lifting could go a LONG way, and he may just not be quite ready to do that yet. Give him time, and space, and support. Ultimately he is responsible for his own health, and you cannot control his choices.

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Ultimately, it is your brother's choice.Has he expressed a desire to lose weight? If not, than  there isn't much you can do. If he wants to, and you just want to encourage him, then maybe suggest things you can do together. At home, maybe you can look up boxing videos, and start that, then when gyms open up, if he is interestested, maybe join a boxing gym with him. But, really, it is his life and his decision.Also, for what it's worth, I know I've seen  on social media how now is  the time to get in shape, but I think it is one of the worst times to try and start a diet and overhaul your life. We are already in stress, and trying to change everything on top of that, is just mega level hard. 

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