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How to Lose Weight with an Unsupportive Spouse

Kim Yawitz, RD

Sarcastic comments. Pouting when you get out of bed for an early workout. Constantly bringing home your favorite treats (you know, the ones that make you lose all self-control). Weight loss is hard enough with a supportive network, but even more so when you feel like your loved ones are sabotaging you. If you’ve ever wondered how to lose weight with an unsupportive spouse, then you’ve come to the right place.

Now, maybe you don’t want or need to lose weight. Maybe you’re not even married! If you’ve ever shouted a big goal from the rooftops, only to have the people below shout back “zip it!,” you’re going to want to read this.

(Feel free to substitute “friend/mom/coworker/roommate” for “partner.”)

In this post, I’m going to share some reasons why even people who love you very much shift into turd mode when you try to make big life changes, and what to do if you find yourself in this position.

What’s Up with Debbie Downer Over There?

If you want to know how to lose weight with an unsupportive spouse, it helps to know some reasons why they’re being unsupportive.

There are a few different possibilities, but here are just a few:

  • Your partner thinks you’re perfect as you are (awwwww! kind of).
  • You’re a chronic dieter, and your partner is over it.
  • Your loved one doesn’t understand your process, or the types of changes that you’re trying to implement to reach your goals.
  • You haven’t given them enough time to adjust. If you’re having a bad day and cookies have always cheered you up, he (using the male pronoun throughout for simplicity) may be trying to help.
  • Your partner understands that the changes you’re making will require them to make some changes. And he doesn’t like it one bit.

Obviously, some of these are a bit easier to solve (and stomach!) than others. Let’s talk about a few ways to nip this issue in the bud.

How to Lose Weight With an Unsupportive Spouse

Want to know how to lose weight with an unsupportive spouse? Here are 5 tips.

Ditch the Victim Mentality

If you’re constantly wondering why your spouse is sabotaging you, step one is to stop playing the victim.

There are a couple of problems with the statement, “He is always sabotaging me.” And these problems are more likely to thwart your efforts than your contrarian partner.

The first problem is the use of the word “always.” Is your partner truly bringing you cookies every moment of every day? Or tying you to a chair so you can’t go to the gym?

Yeah, probably not.

The second issue is that this statement is what’s called a projection.

According to Mark England, founder of procabulary (and my mentor in the amazing Enlifted Coaches program), “Projections assign exclusive responsibility to someone or something outside of yourself, for who you are and who you ‘have to be.'”

Laying the blame squarely on your spouse for tempting you, or making you feel guilty when you give in to temptation, is a convenient distraction. And, adding the “always” only cranks the drama up to 11.

Fortunately, a simple translation is all it takes for a pretty liberating mindset shift.

Read this out loud, “He is always sabotaging me.

How does this make you feel? Frustrated? Angry? Resentful? Yeah.

Now, read this out loud and take a deep breath into your belly after: “I am always sabotaging me.”

Ain’t that a kick in the boobs? But is it more accurate? Your spouse might bring you delicious goodies, but ultimately the decision about whether to eat them is on you, my friend.

Still, that statement feels disempowering, so let’s do a little word voodoo.

Read this out loud with a deep belly breath after: “I am always supporting me.”

How does that one feel to you? Because, to me, it feels like I’m someone who consistently makes choices to help me reach my goals. It feels hopeful and empowering.

Now, this: “I support me.”

You’re in the driver’s seat, boo. You’d love your spouse’s support, but you don’t need it. You support you.

But, can you do anything to get your spouse on board with you? I have some ideas.

Share Your Why

If your spouse loves you just the way you are, or even if they’re just being silly and selfish, sharing your why might help.

But first, do you even fully understand your why?

One way to dig deeper on it is to pretend you’re explaining it to a pesky inquisitive 4-year-old. Write down a general goal, and then ask yourself why 5-7 times. Here’s how that looks.

“I want to lose 20 pounds.”
Toddler: “But whyyyyyy?”
“Because I don’t feel good about myself.”
Toddler : “But whyyyy?”
“Because I am tired of getting winded when I walk up a flight of stairs.”
Toddler: “But whyyyy?”
“Because it scares me. It makes me worry that I’m putting my health at risk.”
Toddler: “But why is that important?” (this is a very sophisticated toddler)
“Because I want to be around to chase my grandkids around the yard one day.”

So, after digging deep, we learn that you want to lose 20 pounds so that you can improve your health and live a longer, happier life. Rock on! Tell your spouse, and have a grown-up discussion about it.

Telling him why it’s so important to you might be all it takes!

Map Out Your Journey

With change comes uncertainty, for you and your spouse!

Being clear on what your journey will look like can help you to bring your spouse on board.

The first step is to set aside a quiet time for the two of you to talk. Don’t ambush him when he’s scarfing down breakfast on his way out the door. Make an appointment.

Start by telling him exactly why you want to do it (see above). Then, be very specific about your process.

“I want to lose 20 pounds so that I can improve my health and live a longer, happier life. I plan to start making some changes next week. I’ll be planning some healthy meals, eating fewer meals out, and keeping foods that I struggle with out of the house. I love you, and I’d really appreciate your support on this.”

Beyond that, ask for what you need! He’s new to this too, so don’t get mad at him for not reading your mind. This will save you a lot of drama down the road.

Enforce Boundaries

Honest question: How often do you let things slide in your relationship because you don’t want to rock the boat?

It feels scary sometimes to tell someone you love that they’re doing something that doesn’t work for you. But, as author and coach Prentis Hemphill once said, “Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously.”

It’s not mean to tell your partner that you need them to stop filling your wine glass when you’re not looking. In fact, doing so keeps resentment at bay.

If you’re still nervous, keep in mind that you can set boundaries kindly! Try this on for size:

“Hey, I wouldn’t expect you to know this because we’ve never discussed it. But I’m working really hard to lose weight, and I need you to stop bringing me a Big Gulp every day. I know you do this to show me love, and I love you too, which I why I’m telling you this. I don’t want to become frustrated or resentful.”

Put on your big girl pants and use your words. It’ll save your diet (and improve your relationship!).

Get Help

Hopefully, your spouse will get it together once you explain your why, set clear expectations, and enforce boundaries.

But what if he doesn’t?

I’ll be honest. It happens. I’ve had clients with spouses who’ve scoffed at their efforts, or told them they’re no fun anymore.

And again, I’ll be honest. Is this a healthy relationship? Your partner should be on your side more often than not. And while I’m not suggesting separation if he’s bringing you down, I do think a good therapist can help here.

Therapy is a great way to explore your relationships and find ways to make them healthier. Couples therapy is helpful for sure, but so is one-on-one!

Now, let’s say your spouse is generally loving and supportive but you need a bit more help. In this case, I’d recommend a nutrition coach (like me!) to keep you on track.

TL;DR

If you’re wondering how to lose weight with an unsupportive spouse, it might help to think about why he’s not fully on board.

He might need more info and more time, he might not understand your motivations and desires, OR he might recognize that your goals could keep him from fulfilling some of his own vices.

Taking full ownership for your journey is an important step. But, explaining your why, describing your processes, setting and upholding boundaries, and getting help will increase your odds of success.

Now, I’d love to hear from you! Have you ever felt like your spouse wasn’t on your team? What helped you to be successful?

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