I’m sure you know from experience that It’s almost impossible to be successful at reaching a big goal (like weight loss) when your loved ones treat it like a joke.
As a woman who lost 150 pounds in 11 months, I can tell you unquestionably that one of the biggest reasons I failed so many times in the past was due to my lackluster support system. I had to move across the country by myself to get into a new environment before I could lose the weight for good.
But the good news is that your partner shouldn’t have to run away from you to be successful at weight loss.
Probably one of the biggest hesitations people have about supporting their loved one on their weight loss journey is the undeniable fact that their life will have to change a little, too. But the chances are good that your health could use improving. So, the sooner you see the value in supporting your partner on her journey, the sooner you’ll have “wins” of your own.
Here are five non-negotiable things your partner will need from you on her weight loss journey:
Get Physical with Her!
If binge watching Netflix while mindlessly eating is taking up your time together, decide to fill that time with physical activity experiences, instead. Walking, hiking, jogging, or biking are great low-risk ways to incorporate exercise into both of your lives while exploring your neighborhood and creating new memories together.
If outdoors stuff isn’t for you yet, get a gym membership together. Fitness centers can be intimidating when you’re trying to get fit, but it’s easier when you have someone you trust by your side. Make your new date night a 30-60 minute sweat session that incorporates a mixture of cardio, weight training, and fitness classes like yoga, kickboxing, and even Zumba. Fitness classes are also a great place for her to mingle and expand her circle of friends who have similar goals (this will take some of the pressure off of you).
If you want this to work, your biggest job is to be a cheerleader for her, not her coach. She didn’t hire you for your opinion or advice. She deserves to be your equal in this—so make it fun for the both of you. Instead of using phrases like “You have to workout today” or “You’re not going to lose any weight if you keep sitting on the couch,” remind her that YOU want to go on an adventure with her and you want her to come along for fun.
If you can, think back to a recent activity you did together that was a lot of fun for her and remind her of it. It’s not just about reminding her of what her goal is; it’s reminding her of how she feels when she’s taking positive action toward her goals.
You’re Not the Food Police!
One of the worst things you can do to your partner is judging her food choices. She’s already trying so hard to make the best decisions and she doesn’t need someone spying over her shoulder every time she makes a less-than-optimal food choice.
You may believe you’re being helpful by monitoring her meals, but remember that no one likes to be reprimanded or reminded that they are doing something “wrong.” This type of treatment only creates shame and could lead to even more destructive behaviors with food (like eating in secret and binge eating). Talk about good intentions backfiring!
Sitting with your mouth shut can be one of the biggest favors you give her. The only control you have over the situation is what you put into your own mouth and what comes out of your mouth. So if she’s experiencing a moment of weakness, you must be strong enough to stay quiet and listen (nonjudgmentally) to what she has to say to you (if anything) about her food choices and why she’s comforting with food.
Your goal should be building the trust with her so that she can turn to you and talk about her bad day, instead of self-sabotaging with food. The moment, “Are you sure you can eat that?” crosses your lips, you’ve lost her and her trust.
Don’t be a Hypocrite!
I’m sure you’ve heard somewhere that about half of all dieters report that other people pressure them to eat foods that weren’t on their diet, and most succumb to that pressure at some point. It’s not just the good-natured brownie-baking co-worker that lay on the pressure to indulge– it’s also the people in the household.
While it may seem a bit extreme to follow the exact diet with her, it may be the best thing you can do to keep her away from food temptations. The hardest part is always getting started, so make it a point to have very similar meals when eating together for the first few weeks. She needs to know eating healthy isn’t a punishment that only she has to do.
After a few weeks, making healthier food choices should get easier for her, and you may be able to eat a slice of pizza or ice cream cone in front of her once in awhile. However, you should NEVER tempt her by asking if she wants a bite or taste of your food. She’s committed to healthier food options and may not be ready for “just a bite” yet.
It might be in your nature to be generous and share, but it’s way too easy for her to say “yes” to the bite of food when she ought to not have to make the decision at all.
Many experts would suggest that you just eat the pizza or ice cream on your own—away from her. But eating junk food in secret has the potential to create your own disordered eating behavior. Please highly consider this before you leave your partner at home to cheat on her with food.
Make it Easier for Her!
As a weight loss coach, one of the biggest barriers I hear from women about losing weight is the time and energy it takes to prepare healthy food and workout (while juggling everything else).
You can help her eliminate excuses by offering to help her with the tasks that are the most time consuming or energy depleting for her. Relieve some of that unnecessary stress by picking up the slack a little bit with chores, stopping by the grocery store for her, preparing a meal or two, and watching the kids (if you have them) so she can exercise or have some self-care time.
Women (especially moms) experience so much guilt about taking time for themselves and their health. While it’s important for your partner to express her needs to you, it’s equally important that you know this is something she likely struggles with and offer to help before she gets burnt out and gives up.
If she’s a bit of a control freak about certain things, ask her to make a detailed list of how you can help her. And it’s okay to hire help, too.
Don’t Mention Her Weight!
Lastly, if your partner has put on weight since you got together, it can be difficult to see her getting heavier (and possibly unhealthy). But there is only one good time to talk about her weight, and that is when she brings it up first.
When she’s ready to talk about losing weight, focus more on the health benefits rather than how her looks might change. Remind her that getting healthier could help her have a healthy pregnancy (if that’s a goal), and you could actually grow old together. Dropping just a few pounds could have massive health benefits—so focus on that!
Making comments about how she used to look will only create distance in your relationship and depress her. Instead, give her positive feedback about what you like about her current body. Remind her that you still find her incredibly sexy and desirable.
Don’t even think that you can motivate (or manipulate) her into losing weight by withholding affection or sex. There’s no faster way to divorce (or breakup) than being made to feel unloved for who you are and what you look like.
Because weight loss is such a touchy subject, I’ll let you be the judge of how supporting your partner on her weight loss journey could potentially improve life for the both of you in significant ways. You owe it to yourself and to her to take this journey together.
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