Weight loss encompasses much more than simply eating healthy and exercising more. The physical aspects of weight loss are difficult enough, but the mental and emotional impact can be even tougher.
But what's one thing that can make it slightly easier for the journeyer? A supportive partner who acts as an ally and encourages them to achieve their goals!
Learn how to help someone lose weight here.
How to Be a Supportive Partner
So your spouse is starting a weight loss program and you start to wonder how you can best support them. Here are six ways to be their ally and help them accomplish their pursuits.
1. Celebrate Their Accomplishments with Them
Of course, celebrating every big and little win with your partner is an excellent way to support their endeavors! Not only will this help them maintain motivation to continue on their journey, but it is also a confidence booster and reminds them that they can achieve difficult goals.
Positivity tends to multiply, and witnessing a partner's success may make you more likely to accomplish your own goals.
Now, on a weight loss journey, it's best to avoid celebrating with food. Instead, celebrate with a fun activity or relaxing self-care.
2. Listen to Their Struggles
When someone is sharing struggles, it's easy to want to share advice as if you know the best answer. However, learn how to really listen - and listen without feeling a need to respond right away.
Sometimes, a partner simply needs to vent about the weight loss obstacles they are facing. Releasing this information is often sufficient without added input.
Again, wanting to immediately fix the problem is human nature. Oftentimes, though, active listening is the most supportive action.
3. Create Grocery Lists Together
Just like incorporating children into the cooking experience makes them more interested in food and more likely to eat a wider variety of foods, creating the grocery list with your partner prepares you for the types of foods they will be munching on. It also offers you the opportunity to exert some autonomy.
It is important that the supportive partner not feel like they are being forced to eat "weight loss" foods if that is not their desire. Otherwise, resentment can start to spark.
Some people also believe that not keeping any unhealthy food in the house is the way to go. However, this often backfires, increasing cravings and the desire to seek less healthful foods elsewhere.
4. Choose Restaurants with Healthy Options
Weight loss journeyers often feel pretty restricted with food choices. This especially serves true in the beginning stages when they might not be aware of the numerous options.
Occasionally going out to eat can instill some normalcy and allow the journeyer to still feel included in social activities. However, it is best if the restaurant offers meal choices that coincide with weight loss such as lean proteins, cooked veggies, and quality carbohydrates.
Overall, ways to support them while at the restaurant include:
• Skipping the breadbasket to reduce temptation or asking that it be removed from the table after taking a slice yourself
• Helping them choose a meal only if they ask
• Setting an example by practicing moderation yourself
5. Cook More Meals at Home
While maintaining some normalcy with the occasional restaurant visit is good, it is ultimately a better idea to prepare more meals at home. Bonus points if you and your partner cook together!
Home cooking is a simple way to naturally practice moderation, use antiinflammatory oils when baking and roasting, and build nutritious, satisfying meals. It can also reduce stress for the partner on the weight loss journey if they do not have to cook multiple meals for the household, especially if the meals lack nutrition. This will only increase temptation and added stress is the opposite of a weight loss ally.
Also consider helping out with meal planning and prepping. Not only does the show support in a relationship but opens up room for more quality time together beyond food!
6. Engage in Partner Workout Challenges
Finally, cannot forget about fitness, as exercise is almost always part of the weight loss equation. Making it a relationship or family affair increases the likelihood that the journeyer will engage in and enjoy the movement.
In general, working out with a partner improves outcomes by increasing accountability and camaraderie. Determine enjoyable activities together such as long walks, cycling, or even starting a fitness challenge! A little competitiveness never hurt anyone.
Finally, think of ways to add in more natural movement. This might include parking in the furthest parking space, walking to work, and performing household chores together.
What NOT to Say and Do
Just like some things will support a partner's weight loss journey, other actions are more likely to impede it. It’s wise to avoid the following!
1. Do Not Reduce the Journey to the Scale
Weight loss is so much more than the number reflected on the scale. It truly is a physical, mental, and emotional journey!
Not to mention, the scale is arbitrary and not the most reliable reflector of success. The gritty transformation of changing habits, endlessly learning, and gaining confidence is true success.
2. Do Not Always Comment on Their Appearance
It sounds like a paradox, but it is also true. Besides, there are many more interesting aspects to their weight loss journey!
Appearance compliments, however well-intended, perpetuate the societal notion that smaller bodies are more worthy. It can also create pressure to continue losing weight at the expense of health.
3. Do Not Dismiss Their Feelings
Hopefully, it has been established that a weight loss journey requires grit and determination. There are going to be obstacles and difficult days and hard emotions.
Dismissing feelings is a surefire way to cause resentment and arguments. Sometimes, they may just need to vent or talk about their struggles, and it can be most supportive to listen attentively.
4. Do Not Berate Them for Choosing Healthy Foods
Constantly tempting your partner with things like, "Can't you just cheat once?" "Why won't you eat this?" or "Just break your rules once," will not make them feel good.
They are already working through difficulties and temptations and don’t need to be reminded of this all the time.
5. Do Not Parade Unhealthy Food Choices Around Them
Similar to verbal taunting, parading foods they are trying to limit in front of them adds an unnecessary layer of temptation.
Know you should not be expected to follow every guideline of their plan. But perhaps do not intentionally eat processed and packaged "junk" foods in front of their face just for the sake of doing it.
The Bottom Line on Being a Supportive Partner
Weight loss is a complex but brave pursuit that is made easier with supportive surroundings. As a journeyer's partner, remain allied and encouraging.
Although it is ultimately their weight loss journey at the end of the day, both of you will benefit from positivity and the joint effort. In fact, you might just decide to join them on a weight loss or other health journey!
Gans K. How to Help Your Spouse or Partner Lose Weight. U.S. News. Published October 6, 2021. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/how-to-help-your-spouse-or-partner-lose-weight.