This is for the men out there. Of whom I probably have few following. But for what it’s worth if you’ve stumbled into my blog… mwah ha ha…
So, you want your wife to lose weight? Do you miss that little Miss you courted and married? That active and slender gal who really turned you on? Trust me, we want to be back there in 20-something firm boobs and ass territory. No wobbly bits or tummies. It’s just that there are some little hiccups that come along the way. Gravity is the big one, and we just can’t help that very much. Pregnancy and kids for sure. If you want to truly mess up a body, get pregnant (and multiples is a true out-of-body experience. My husband has scars on his eyes from seeing about 14 pounds of twins in my belly on my otherwise 148 lb frame; hey dude, you helped put them there!). Being “Mom of the Year” and preparing all of those wonderful chocolate chip cookies, cakes, treats, and delicious dinners, the casseroles for the sick or grieving neighbors, enough left for our family of course. Crazy hormones at all times, but especially at THAT time of life which can set in from the mid 40s on. That’s when the true body snatchers hit, and your body becomes a metabolic and hormonal mess.
Trying to be a true Proverbs 31 wife, we provide food for our families, we don’t eat the bread of idleness, but we will shrewdly make sure there is no waste and eat that last tater tot/fry/chicken nugget the kid left on his plate. Food is love, food is family, food is fellowship. Food can be comforting when you aren’t hugging us or loving us. Food nourishes us, food makes us fat.
And, well, we do fall into bad habits of not exercising regularly, or eating crap. Many of us medicate with food. I know I did: 95 pounds worth over a 20 year marriage. We take some of the blame. Not planning out menus and defaulting to the fast food lane or the pizza delivery. Everyone is happy, and Mom can take a breath. There’s hardly a woman alive who hasn’t had at least a temporary fling (or a long-term affair) with a bag of chips, a sleeve of cookies, or a pint (quart) of ice cream.
Yes, most of us really do not like the weight we’ve put on over the years. We want it gone. I think that at least half of the women I know would say they are on a diet. Many more probably are. The really amazing superwomen might tell you they just “control” what they eat, keep a balance. The ones who dare to say they can eat whatever they want and not gain an ounce should have a target painted on them.
And there are periods of time when we really, really mean that we are going to lose weight. In 2012 I decided enough with being fat, and heading down a rabbit hole of health issues. I lost 75 pounds in about 5 months. I know, that’s fast, but it’s what I needed to do. When we are going to get serious about losing pounds, getting closer to ideal weights, we are a force to be reckoned with. Like please don’t bring that box of cookies home and in my line of sight (even if I brought it home last week)– I may have to divorce you.
Thirty pounds have come back for me. I want them gone. And it’s not been easy, lots of yo yo dieting over the past 3 years hasn’t worked. And I’m serious, with a plan and a goal. Nothing like an accidental selfie to spur you into action with renewed fervor.
Here are some pointers for husbands who want to support a wife’s weight loss goals:
- First of all, husband, you are either already in decent shape for your age (no big bellies hanging over belts… dad guts are OK), or at least making some really good progress in that direction. You can’t even utter the word diet or pounds without this prerequisite.
- Don’t nag your wife to lose weight, that’s a dead end. Listen to what she says to you. If she says she wants to lose weight, smile encouragingly (I didn’t say maniacally), immediately tell her how proud you are, how her health and happiness is important to you, tell her you are there for her, and ask if there is anything you can do to support her. Be willing to accept an answer of “No.” And then just pray for her. Can’t hurt.
- Know what HER goals are. If she says 10 pounds and you think 20 is better, keep that to yourself. Know not only her ideal weight goals, but what her food plan is, her time frame (many women are working towards a goal: summer, that reunion, a wedding, a party). Try not to get in and take over, or be tempted to tweak. Chances are, she can figure out that 20 pounds is more what she needs. Ask how you can support her goals. DON’T NAG if she doesn’t exactly follow the stated plan to the letter. Of course is she is telling you she’s on the potato-chip and cupcake diet, or wine and cheese diet, she might need a little reality check. But trust me, guys, there are some crazy diets out there, which while perhaps impractical for the long-term at least get us moving in the right direction. We are smart. We know we can’t sustain eating 800 calories worth of shakes and protein bars forever. We just need that incentive to keep going, and to fire up our metabolism burn.
- You are not her coach. You play a supporting role, only. Don’t tell her how many calories, crackers or reps. Just ask her how you can support her goals. Unless it is to order her a Big Mac, every night. Maybe then you can say, I don’t think I’d be supporting you well if I did that…
- When she moans that her diet is not working while she’s stuffing a cookie into her mouth, take a deep breath. Tell her everyone hits plateaus. We all mess up, that’s just human. Ignore that cookie. Don’t even look at it. Tomorrow is a new day, honey. What can I do to help? And then hug her. Don’t try to wrestle the cookie out of her hand, but if you play your cards right, she might put it down if she feels loved and attractive to you.
- Don’t tell her what YOU think works for you. Please. We all know that men and women lose weight differently. Support her plan.
- When she loses a pound… even a half a pound… whatever makes her seem a little excited… jump up and down, high five her, hug her, CELEBRATE!! Tell her how you knew she would do it, how proud you are. Be supportive of every little accomplishment, even if it is she didn’t eat the whole pizza this time.
- If you (or she) proposes eating a meal out, ask her what works best for her. Survey menus on line in advance Anything with lots of soup, salad or small bite options are best. Anyplace with deep fried, wok fried or any fried, big on the carbs (pizza, buns, pasta), or lacking in green vegetables, probably not so good. I know that more and more, I am picking my meal long before I hit the restaurant, and plan my other food accordingly (yes, I know that at the Greek restaurant I WILL order the galaktouboureko dessert, even if only to have a couple bites. I don’t get to have galaktouboureko often). I also know that I am most tempted to be bad when eating out. Occasional treats or cheats are OK, as long as you plan them.
- Keep asking what you can do to help support her. Please resist the urge to tell her what you think would work better! My hubby loves to run on the track, and swim laps in a highly-chlorinated (and maybe urinated) public pool. He can think of few better ways to exercise, and I’d have to agree these are good ones. BUT, I HATE dusty, dirty, crowded, sun-beating-down-on-you tracks. I’d much rather hike on a shady scenic path. My long hair (which has some help staying blond, i.e., doesn’t like chlorine) takes about an hour to style, and I sometimes can get away with a week between wash and style. Swimming doesn’t work for me. Walking, yoga, hiking, biking, an occasional gym machine workout with my hair pulled up and a sweat band, I can do.
- Women supporting women is an ideal way to have accountability with empathy(sorry, I do not think this a trait found in male DNA). This is why the Weight Watcher’s model has worked for many (it stopped working for me a few decades ago, alas). Encourage your wife to pair up with a female friend if she can. Even churches run programs to provide diet support. At some point you are not going to make the right empathetic statements, and occasionally you are going to be the sole reason of her weight problems (she doesn’t really mean it, but it will come out that way). You need a back-up cheerleader. My best friend is a wonderful cheerleader, a great support, a good listener; I know she gets what this is allabout. She makes the right sympathetic statements, and knows when to encourage, and when to gently admonish/motivate. She’s the queen of positive spin. Of great emojis. She’s the bestie who will cheat with you and say, “we’re starting the diet tomorrow.” She’s been here.
- ASK HER WHAT WILL HELP HER, AND LISTEN. It might not make sense to you, but it does to her. I just asked my husband if instead of plopping his cookie package on the counter in plain view, if he could PLEASE hide it away. I have even given him his own high cabinet for this purpose. He looks at me like I’m a little crazy, and I admit to him that in desperate moments I might be tempted to raid his stash, but it provides me with a more controlled environment. As for the Heath Klondike Bars that just “showed up” in the freezer… still trying to figure out how to disguise this-and resist it.
Don’t let her diet “punish” you. This is the hardest thing for SJ and me, as we are with each other constantly. We both are on our own for breakfast, lunch, and between, but I usually plan our dinner together. A healthy lean and green paleo-inspired dinner may not be what he wants all the time, I get that (I try to make appetizing dishes). I’m a good sport and will make a pot of his favorite starchy white rice, or a baked potato for him. There are days when he’s craving a box of southern fried chicken, a greasy food-truck plate, a Mexican plate, or a nice 610 calorie 57g carb pot-pie, and I don’t begrudge him these treats. He is a fit man, he controls his intake and exercise over the long range. I’m fine with that, but I won’t partake while trying to diet–I know my weaknesses, and yes, it is a little tempting. He fries up bacon in the morning, and the lingering smell is irresistible. He’ll ask if I want some, and often I’m strong enough to say no as I fix my protein shake. More times than not, if he makes extra, I can slip it away to top a healthy salad later. All I can say, is, for a period of time, maybe you guys can have your little treats in secret, and maybe not in our faces. Don’t deprive yourself with her diet, but stop and ask yourself what is supportive for the short run?
(Today, in honor of July 4, I suggested that I defrost a couple hamburger patties for us; they’d most likely be served bunless, on a bed of greens, with tomatoes and avocados. Some cool watermelon with fresh mint and lime juice on the side. He mentioned his favorite burger joint– would I want to walk over later? I smiled and said, “sure, I’ll walk over with you.” He realized what I was saying. “But you won’t order one?” “No, but it’s OK. I’m fine cooking mine at home later, where I have more control over the calories and less temptation.” This seemed to devolve into a deprivation for him, despite my urgings for him to go indulge himself, he can afford it. I don’t know quite what happened after that… but our conversation spirals down. Everything I requested he do to support me was met with what he thinks he’s been going above and beyond doing. He seems guilty for proposing the “bad burger,” and resentful I am resisting. I think he gets defensive that I’m judging his “treats” as “bad,” when all I’m trying to say is that they are bad for me in diet mode, could he please just put them out of sight to help me? He starts suggesting what I should do (and by inference, that what I am doing isn’t right). He defends himself and claims to be supportive. I ask him to listen to what I need, and not for him to tell me what I should do, or what he wants to do for me. He asks if I want to go walking with him… I say sure, envisioning a nice shady walk in 90 degree weather. He meant track. Sigh, apparently he hasn’t been listening. We’ve been here before… I silently–and not-so-silently– wonder why he doesn’t hear me. And angry words are exchanged).
And you know how this all started? Today I broke through a major weight hurdle, a crazy number on my scale that had been MIA for about 18 months. My body stubbornly would not budge below that “magical” number. This is purely psychological, but 4/10 of a pound lower from yesterday was a real motivator to keep me going. I still have a long way to go to my goal. But today I was happy, relieved, vindicated, motivated, and a little proud.
And all I wanted was a hug and a “good job, babe, I’m proud of you.”