Steve came to see me when the physical discomfort of carrying around extra weight was worse than the pleasure of overeating all of his favorite high-fat, high-calorie foods. My promise of no dieting or deprivation was especially appealing to him because he had never had to deal with losing weight earlier in life and was at a loss on managing it alone. He was in a busy, high-stress career and had never taken the time to shop for food or cook.
During the weeks of coaching, he gradually learned about his triggers, including environmental, physical and emotional and how to gradually circumvent some, replace others and have awareness of all. He also slowly changed some of the food he ate, making certain to choose several foods he enjoyed, while adding new and healthy choices. Learning about mindful eating practices drastically changed his overeating patterns and cravings.
Steve realized at the beginning of the program that he would need to be more involved in planning, shopping, preparing and cooking the meals and snacks. This changed the dynamics of the relationship with his wife. She had always been the one to shop and cook and now he was taking over her territory. Although she had told him she supported him in his weight loss efforts, she complained about his food purchases and meal choices.
I have had many clients, both men and women, ask me jokingly if I also do marital counseling. One woman didn’t tell her husband that she began coaching with me until almost the end of the 3-month program. Some partners become threatened when their loved one begins to lose weight, make lifestyle changes that increases energy, improves sleep and learn better ways to manage stress than eating. If the spouse is heavy too, it puts a special pressure on the relationship because one is moving forward and being successful and one is stuck in the same place. I occasionally see the other spouse unconsciously (I hope) sabotaging my client’s efforts.
Here are a few tips to successfully lose weight and protect your loving relationship:
• Your spouse may feel threatened as you lose weight, so include her/him more in the new plan.
• Have an honest conversation with your spouse from the start about the changes and the benefits for both of you, but don’t make their acceptance necessary for your success.
• Discuss each new step of the plan so they don’t feel left out, especially if you’re meeting with a coach.
• Don’t insist that your spouse eats what you eat. Remember that this was your decision, not theirs. Offer them your new, healthy choices, but be comfortable if they choose to eat the old way.
• As you lose weight, feel better and look better, reassure your spouse that you still love them. Show them and tell them.
• Communication is the #1 reason that any marriage fails, so continuously communicate your fears, concerns, goals and achievements and ask your spouse the same.