Talk about a touchy subject! Here’s how to give your friend a (nice) nudge.

What do you do when you care about a friend, you’re worried about her health, and her habits aren’t helping her out? No one likes a nag. But there’s a lot at stake. Heart health, for example. Fitness can play a key role. And while we think of it as a man’s issue, it’s the leading cause of death among women.

So how do you do you deal when someone you love is treading into risky territory? You may feel powerless, but here are a few things you can try.

  1. Be direct. Try one quick statement of concern, one on one, so that the person doesn’t feel ambushed or spoken down to. Something like “Hey, I love you and I want you around for a long time, and I have to admit I’m a little bit worried about your health.” That may be enough to open the lines of communication.
  2. Offer to help. Sometimes what works best is asking what you can do. An offer of help can be a good way to wrap up the direct conversation, or a way to respond when someone is complaining about her weight and exercise.
  3. Share an article. Forward something you see in the news or on a blog like this one. You don’t have to get preachy; the content is from the article, not you. You can simply say, “I found this really interesting. Thought you might, too.”
  4. Make it a gift. The opportunity to do something for yourself and your body is a treat. And it should feel like one! Celebrate an upcoming occasion by treating your friend to a workout. It’s as easy as ordering her a personal Skype session and saying, “I wanted to treat you to something I love.”
  5. Take a class together. Write to your friend. Tell her you’re nervous about trying something new and ask her to come with you. Putting yourself in the same boat by taking a class you’ve never taken before will help your friend feel at ease.
  6. Switch out the plans. Too often we meet friends for a night of sitting, eating, and drinking. Instead when she suggests plans ask to take a walk. Other options: Explore a farmer’s market and indulge with healthy local fruit. Head for an antique fair –  strolling the “aisles” is a surprisingly good workout for someone who’s getting moving again.
  7. Cook for her: If you do want to do a meal together, do it at home and cook some healthy recipes that might inspire her. Make extra and sent her home with some of them. Follow up with the recipes so she can try them herself.

Here’s hoping we will be seeing you—both of you—soon.

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