Did you gain a husband—and an extra 50 pounds on your hips? It’s probably not the wedding cake, but studies show that married couples tend to gain more weight as years pass than their single friends. Married couples change their lifestyles to include more obesity-promoting activities such as cuddling on the couch instead of working out at the gym and sharing hot fudge sundaes instead of dieting to squeeze into that attention-getting skirt.
And there are emotional considerations as well. An old wives’ tale goes, “Husbands gain weight when they are happy; wives gain weight when they are unhappy.” Contented husbands enjoy their food and nestle in their homes. Discontented husbands tend to find escape outside the home and try to work off their frustrations in the gym, bar or office. Happy wives bustle about while unhappy wives shut down, swallow their worries and seek the temporary comfort of food.
Additionally, as their wedding vows suggest, spouses influence each other--for better or worse. In our early married life, my husband and I did everything together--including gain weight. He had a wicked sweet tooth and enjoyed dessert nightly. Even though I’m not a sweet eater, I wouldn’t pass up at least a few bites of ice cream or brownies. Soon, we both gained 30 pounds.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. The health-conscious spouse can be a positive influence on her mate. My concern for our health soon turned our attention to more wholesome habits. I often serve his favorite fresh berries as dessert and include a wide variety of fresh salads in our diet.
But not all spouses will be eager to overhaul poor lifelong habits, and a stubborn spouse can be difficult to deal with. I learned a few tricks to help my bullheaded husband lose weight and get healthy. You can help your spouse, too. Here are a few ideas from my e-booklet entitled, “How to help your spouse lose weight—and get healthy!”
*First, be a good example without pressing him. Make your new habits inviting. “Gosh, it feels great to walk in the fresh air!” “This salmon is fantastic!” It’s cruel and counterproductive to expect him to make changes without making them yourself. When I had to cut out sugar for my diabetes, my husband would dig into a hot fudge sundae and say, “I don’t have diabetes!” Heartless, I tell you. He since has seen the error of his ways.
*Refrain from being his food police. Don’t tsk your tongue when he makes poor selections or forbid him to eat old favorites. He’ll only sneak them when you’re not looking and the goal is for him to take ownership of his health. Arguing, nagging and threatening only causes more stress which leads to weight gain and marital problems.
*Focus on familiar favorites that are nutritious. Make a list of his favorite foods that are healthful. Berries? Grilled chicken? Bean burritos? When meal planning, focus on those first.
*Lighten up his favorites. My husband loves broccoli salad but the original recipe calls for a lot of mayonnaise and bacon. Use turkey bacon and light mayo instead. At first, replace only half the mayo with light mayo until his taste buds adjust to the new taste.
*Allow for some indulgences on occasion. Can you imagine a life devoid of your favorite foods? Deprivation leads to binging. If he makes healthful choices 90 percent of the time, it’s perfectly fine to indulge in less healthful choices 10 percent of the time.
*Make changes slowly. Radical changes are hard to make without rebellion and backsliding into former bad habits. My husband balked at turkey bacon so I replaced only half the bacon with turkey bacon in a recipe. Feel good about the small successes.
Be sure to applaud—and reward—his efforts. He’ll have more incentive to continue.
Here are some books I wrote about this:
Help Your Spouse Lose Weight and Get Healthy in 12 Easy Steps
The ebook version on Kindle is only .99 cents!
Mind Game for Weight Loss: Change how you see food and exercise in an instant
The e-version is only .99.