Monday, September 1, 2008

Should my Man Diet with Me?

Misty studies the cover of Diet Now magazine. The headline reads "We lost 200 pounds together." Carina lost more pounds than her husband John did. Their story was one of mutual support and encouragement. They worked out together. They cooked together. They never cheated their food plan and they actually learned how to appreciate collard greens without the fat back. Back in reality, Misty reads the article and comments, "I would lose weight too if my man was on a diet with me."

Misty's husband could lose a good 25 pounds. The extra pounds do not seem to bother him. He eats pizza or lasagna every night of the week and the most exercise he gets is walking from the couch to the car. Misty wishes she had a relationship like John and Carina's but she just doesn't. What is Misty to do? Give up on her dream of losing weight?

I was never on the cover of any weight loss magazine. All I wanted was to be fit, so when Zeke and I started dating we decided to go on a diet together. It was a new year's resolution and you guessed it, it did not work. Our diet was very convenient, considering that we lived in 2 hours away and there was no daily accountability. When we talked on the phone we shared what we ate and how much we exercised. Were we both totally honest? No way! We were not supposed to eat prohibited foods such as pizza and ice cream but we both did.


One evening I went to a basketball game where Zeke was playing tuba with his college's marching band. While I was sitting on the stands distracted watching the game, Zeke managed to hide a slice of pizza behind his tuba and secretly ate it! No wonder he wasn't hungry after the game! These are some of the reasons that diet didn't last very long so we parted eating ways.

I continued my cycle of yo-yo dieting throughout our engagement and marriage. The problem was that I ballooned after a few months of married life. I decided that if my man was dieting with me, certainly, I would lose those extra 66 pounds. Taking him to nutrition education meetings didn't work - he was miserable. Eating exactly the same things didn't work - his taste was much different from mine. Leaving my man alone worked. He was my excuse not to surrender totally to God's plan for my health.
I finally understood that God had a plan for me individually. My body is not like Zeke's. We are different individuals who are married. Once I let go of that crutch, I learned interesting things about pursuing healthy habits while being married.

My husband benefits from being around me and eating the good stuff I eat. Sedentary time in my schedule was transformed to walking time. We started to enjoy eating thinks like kale. We started eating tofu and we now use TVP. Even when Zeke is by himself, he chooses more greens and lean protein than he's ever done before. He also is more active because we walk more together. Oh, he also gets to hear all about health blogs and what happened in the gym that day.

I have a friend who lost over 40 pounds on a diet and her husband, who cared nothing about going to meetings and counting points, lost 26 pounds. Your influence in your family's health is greater than you imagine. They don't have to do everything you are doing (unless they so choose to) in order to get the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. You are setting a healthy example for your family when you are committed to your own health.

The only support I needed was to have my husband's blessing to pay for the nutrition education class and adapt to the new lifestyle. Your unity with your man doesn't always mean the two of you are doing everything together while wearing matching T-shirts. Sister, all you need is direction from God and your man's blessing. The working out of the process is mostly up to you, it comes from self.
I know families who went on diets together and lost weight together but this never happened to me. I would guess that this is not reality for most people. Here are some tips to approach the weight management with your man:

• Honesty is the Place to StartBe open and honest from the start. Share with your man how he could help you. If affirmation is what you need, tell him. If you would like him to walk with you every now and then, express yourself. If he's not into exercise at all, ask him if it's okay for you to join the gym.

• Don't Force It
I love running. My husband loves playing racquetball. We dislike one another's favorite sports. We do agree in walking together every now and then. There's no reason to force him to do something I like. Find something in common you can do together, even if it's cleaning the yard (that's physical activity).

• Don't be Bitter
Don't hate if your husband starts drinking more water and drops 10 pounds in two weeks. People are different. Be supportive and continue to work on your own healthy habits. Remember that you reap what you sow. Sow support and encouragement.

• Plan the Menu
The challenging part for families who are not on the same weight management plan is deciding what's for dinner. I encourage you to plan your menu together. If you can't plan it together, ask your man what he'd like to eat and throw add some healthy suggestions to the menu. For example, I suggested that our homemade pizza was loaded with veggies and TVP. I know what my husband's favorite veggies are, so we make sure to eat them during the week.

If you can get full support at home you are very likely to have a successful weight loss journey. If not, make the decision for yourself, ask for your man's blessing and I'm a witness, you can succeed. The first step needs to come from you.

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