Dieting as a couple? How to keep it from ruining your relationship
What happens when a couple tries to lose weight together? It can be the recipe for success . . . or a total disaster. Losing weight is difficult, and if someone feels alone during the process, lasting change may seem impossible. If a couple goes through the journey together, though, they can create healthier habits and strengthen their relationship. Supporting each other, having fun and being honest are the keys to making it work.
Compare behaviours rather than numbers
Comparing body weight and/or kilograms lost isn’t the best way to go. This is especially important for women to remember, since men will likely lose weight quicker. If you want to compare, consider using behaviours and habits to gauge how you’re doing. Notice what your partner is doing well and use that to learn how you can improve.
- “My partner brought his lunch to work every day this week, so I’ll try to do the same. We can pack our lunches at the same time.”
- “I feel good about not having had a soda all week, but my partner exercised five times this week. I’m going to focus on exercising three times next week.”
- “I filled half my plate with veggies at lunch and dinner. I’m going to work with my partner so we both increase our vegetable intake.”
Make competition useful
Competition is an effective motivator for many, but a couple needs to remember they’re on the same team! If every event turns into a competition, weight loss may be achieved, but the relationship might suffer. Instead, use competition to stay accountable and focused.
- “My partner woke up at 5 a.m. and got an early morning workout. I’m going to make sure I get my evening workout!”
- “My partner only had one glass of wine at the party last night. At our next event, I’m going to follow that lead to help me manage my alcohol intake.”
Splurge vs. sabotage
Treats and sweets are key to success, but moderation is essential. It’s important to realise that your splurges may be different from your partner’s. One person may want a glass of wine while the other wants a doughnut. One may want to sleep in and watch TV, while the other wants to take a walk and eat french fries. Everyone can enjoy a treat when they want it, but that doesn’t mean both partners need to participate. One may not want a treat that day. One may be craving something different. If one side of the couple feels obliged to splurge out of guilt, that can lead to resentment and arguments.
Loving honesty vs. nag
While many excel at nagging, the recipient rarely enjoys being on the other side of that conversation. Having a partner who’s working for the food police can take the fun out of a romantic dinner! While a partner may be sincerely trying to help, too much scrutinising may cause the other half of the relationship to sabotage everything. Both sides of the couple are trying to succeed, to be their best selves. Consider a calm, honest conversation, or even an email or note to express thoughts and concerns. A relationship can get stronger through this journey.
There’s one indisputable truth about weight loss: One diet does not fit all. While a couple can be in this experience together, it doesn’t mean you have to follow the same plan. What you eat, how you exercise, your schedule and your goals can all be different. Respect that. In order for weight loss to be successful, it has to make sense to the individual. Do what feels right to you even if your partner doesn’t agree or want to participate.
This is the most important. Losing weight is tough stuff! If a couple jumps into deprivation mode and creates a rigid and strict plan, it will likely not stick. There are ways to make this process enjoyable. Take a silly dance class together or go for a gorgeous walk or hike. Take a fun cooking class or start a cooking night with friends to create a social aspect to changing eating plans. Plan a date night that has nothing to do with eating healthy or splurging. Go see a movie or a show. Join a group or take a class such as book club, art class or game night. Laugh a lot! There are going to be moments of frustration, anger or struggle. Taking a moment to find some humor will help with the bumps in the road.
- Strategise together – discuss routines, schedules and ideas so both people are on the same page.
- Do something fun together to build support.
- Be nice to each other – a simple “Looking good!” or “Nice work!” goes a long way. Take a moment for a compliment.
- Prepare quick and easy recipes – keep it simple. Cook foods enjoyed by all, make simple recipes, and add flavour and condiments individually to suit specific needs.
- Have each other’s back, because there will be plenty of difficult moments. The most powerful tool is that you are in this together.
The Washington Post
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