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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

So, You Want Your Mate Aboard Ship?

"What can I do to get my husband (or significant other) to lose weight and get in shape?"

I have only one answer, NOTHING!

I am kidding. Sort of.

I hear this all the time, "It is so hard for me to stay on track because my husband just doesn't give a hoot about his fitness."  Or, "I love my girlfriend, but she just gets mad at me when I suggest she not eat the chocolate bar."  (Hey guys, bad move!)  "My husband was in the best shape when we got married.  Now, he's at least fifty pounds overweight!  I nag him every night"  (This method NEVER works.)

Spouses or "significant others" do not seem to have much influence with their loved one when they want them to lose weight and/ or get in shape.  It is almost as if your partner works against your wishes for them.  One of my clients told me how she'd prepare a healthy, light dinner her husband loved only to find potato chip crumbs all over the couch the next morning.  Obviously, he wasn't trying to hide the evidence.

My husband at the airport.  No discomfort!  He's a lean, mean, fighting machine!  (And, he gains weight when he snacks on crap!)  He loves feeling fit!

My advice is not to nag or make suggestions.   Our mates really do not want to hear it from us when it comes to their fitness.  Unless they ask for your opinion or advice, do not give it!  I'll bet there are a few of you out there who've already tried this approach.  How many of you have had any success with it?

Here are my three rules for you to help your mate to get in shape:

     1.  Most men (and women) want to fix their mates problems.  So, make it YOUR issue!  This is easy. "Honey, I've been trying to lose (five, ten, fifteen) pounds and am so frustrated!  What do YOU suggest?  I really need your help right now because those cookies in the pantry call out to me all day long.  It is hard to resist!  Can you help me?"  Men are fixers and have hero fantasies, they will offer a few suggestions and all it takes from YOU is, "Can you do this with me?"  Soft, gentle and non-judgmental wins every time!

     2.  Most men are visual (and women, too, when it comes to food or seeing an attractive fit woman!) Out of sight, out of mind!  If you are the "gatekeeper" in the family (the one who buys the groceries) you can easily NOT purchase those foods your MATE will imbibe on when you aren't around to judge him for it.
        3.  The emotional/ intellectual approach is also a winner.  There are a number of people out there who could give a rat's rear end about their own fitness, (or YOUR desires for them to have a healthier body) however, their children or a good buddy rank high when it comes to motivating them.   Daddy just might train to get in shape for his kids activities.  For example, if his sweet daughter has a field trip to Yosemite to climb Half Dome or his son has signed up for baseball, he is more inclined to get-In-shape for his treasured children than for himself!   And, a friend will have a bigger impact with your Mate than you.  Just don't be sneaky and put his friend in an uncomfortable situation.  A simple, "I love my husband so much I want him to live a long and healthy life.  How do you stay motivated?" is enough. 

    I am interested so in this subject.  What do you deal with when it comes to your partner's fitness?  

      I took this photo of a guy at the airport.  He was extremely uncomfortable!

      I know it is hard to get off your Mate's back and allow your Mate to find his or her own motivation for a fit lifestyle.  But, YOU will not succeed by taking over their life!  You will succeed by loving them and being patient.  (And by keeping crap out of the house!)

      Why do we "let it go" after we're married or living together?


      1. Debra, I just try to be healthy on my end and not nag him too much. Usually, he will follow my lead, and eat what I prepare. But I had to let go of trying to control what he eats outside the home. It became too frustrating for me and for him!


      2. The worst thing I see spouses doing (and mostly it's the wife) is treating their husband like a child. They tell them what to wear, what to eat, and talk sharply to them. Can they blame them if their husband doesn't find them as attractive any more when they are acting more like their mother than their wife?

        The only person you can change is yourself. Whenever I am tempted to nag, I always remember I am not perfect either. This causes me to focus more on my own self-improvement rather than theirs. My husband is a grown-up and more than capable of making good decisions.

        Accepting someone exactly as they are is a huge help. Often if people feel like they are being subtly pushed in a direction they will push back ever so slightly. Leading works better than pushing.

      3. You both are spot on! i know Adrienne's husband and I know how they respect each other. It sounds like you, Fiona, have the same type of relationship we do. Act as you want to be treated and all will follow!