In 2013, a survey commissioned by Diet Chef found that more than 60% of people to put on weight when in a comfortable relationship, with 72% saying that their partner had also put on weight. Overall, 66% of couples thought they had put on weight together.
If this sounds familiar, and you’re both looking to reverse the situation (yet individually lack the motivation to do so) the obvious solution is to do it together. These things are undoubtedly easier done with a companion – someone with the same goals as you who can provide motivation and understanding along the way.
However, losing weight as a couple can also prove to be a bit of a minefield, with the potential to cause arguments, upset and even drive a wedge between you. So, to guide you through the process, we spoke to several experts to give you the best chance possible of beating the bulge without ruining the relationship.
- Broaching the subject
- Exercising together
- Eating healthily
- More From FIRST
- The best way to lose weight boils down to these three things
- A HARD LOOK AT FOOD CHOICES
- CONNECTING WITH SUPPORT
- ‘Real Housewife’ Teddi Mellencamp shares her weight loss journey
- SEEING HEALTH IMPROVEMENTS
- A BOOST IN ACTIVITY
- MAINTAINING SUCCESS
- MORE WEIGHT-LOSS SUCCESS STORIES
- The ultimate his ‘n’ hers diet plan – easy but effective shape-up plan made for two
- The Best Way to Lose Weight as a Couple, According to Science
- A couple resolved to lose weight in 2016 — and have lost more than 390 pounds since
Broaching the subject
Weight, and particularly weight gain, is a bit of a taboo subject within relationships, which is why the first hurdle in deciding to lose weight together is often the hardest. Hilda Burke, psychotherapist and couples counsellor, tells us the best way to get the ball rolling without hurting any feelings.
“To make any remark or to give ‘useful advice’ to your partner about their weight might be perceived as you not accepting them just as they are. Or worse, that you don’t find them attractive as they are and need them to change in order for you to feel potentially attracted to them again! That’s why I’d urge caution when encouraging a partner to embark on a weight loss journey with you.”
If you do think that your partner needs to lose weight, Hilda suggests leading by example. This is a positive tactic that won’t make your other half feel disempowered and doesn’t risk damaging the relationship. She says:
“If you’re eating healthily, taking regular exercise and enjoying the benefits – a clearer mind, better health and a fitter body – then I’m sure your partner will take notice and be inspired to follow suit.”
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Ultimately, the only way to know you are embarking on a health journey that ensures your relationship doesn’t take a hit is to accept that you – and only you – are responsible for the outcome.
“If you both agree to go running together, go to the gym three times a week and eat salad for dinner, and then one of you bails on that plan, the other may feel that it’s ok to also give up. This could lead to blame, which can trigger deep resentment in the relationship. The only way to achieve a healthy, non co-dependent relationship is if each person is responsible and accountable for himself or herself. While it can be potentially very bonding for a couple to engage in healthy activities together, for it to be sustainable and enduring you ultimately need to be doing it for yourself.”
In theory, exercising together should be fun and simple. Yet in practice, there are all sorts of things that can make it more complicated then you would think, with differences in ability or strength putting a spanner in the works and causing frustration. Fitness instructor and personal trainer Jacqui Jackson says:
“My top tip for couples that want to work out, but don’t have the same fitness levels is to focus on body weight resistance, changes in tempo or doing it for a certain amount of time. For example, complete a mini circuit of squats, crunches, press ups, tricep dips and glute bridges. Do each exercise for 1 minute before moving onto the next. So if one of you is better at press-ups than the other, you can push yourself harder and do more in the time you have.”
If you want to take your workouts outside, Jacqui suggests doing a team obstacle race or bootcamp together, as these can be really fun and will strengthen your bond as a couple.
“Or, for those a little more competitive, how about a run? The slower runner sets off first and the challenge will be to reach a certain landmark before the faster runner catches up. This makes both runners work that little bit harder. Whoever wins buys lunch!”
It’s also important to include activities that both of you enjoy, which can be hard – especially if one likes cardio and one likes strength training, for example. So have a think about how you can combine the activities you both enjoy.
“Overall, there are huge benefits to working out with a buddy. You are more likely to keep to it, push yourself harder, stay longer and most importantly enjoy it! Who says you can’t laugh and have fun when exercising? Enjoying similar activities and pursuits can help strengthen your relationship as you have that common interest. The key is to be considerate of each other and be open minded to new activities and sports.”
The underlying principles of a healthy diet for weight loss apply to both men and women, with the only variable being in portion size. This means that you can both enjoy the same healthy meals together, making it easier to keep your eating habits on track. Lily Soutter, nutritionist and weight loss expert, says:
“In order to lose body fat whilst maintaining lean muscle mass, it is vital that a couple follow a diet, which balances blood sugar. This includes good quality protein with each meal and snack, which is essential for keeping hunger at bay. Protein sources include fish, lean meats, eggs, pulses, tempeh, nuts, seeds and natural yoghurt. The diet would also include healthy fats such as oily fish, avocado, nuts, seeds and cold pressed oils, and an abundance of fibrous vegetables.”
It’s no secret that couples who have been together for a while, especially those who live together, can develop unhealthy habits, such as drinking during the week or getting a takeaway every Friday. To help you beat these habits and stay on the wagon, Lily suggests the following tips.
Love is often associated with food, for example we may show love by buying sweet treat for our partner or by dining out. Instead, use non-food related ways to you care: like buying a gift or booking a fun activity to do together.
2. Take up healthy cooking classes
This is a great way to spend quality time with one another and can make healthy meals appealing for you both!
3. Have alcohol free nights
Make a pact to have at least 4 alcohol free nights each week.
4. Detox your cupboards
Out of site out of mind! If you’ve got into a habit of munching away on unhealthy snacks on movie nights, it may be time to detox your kitchen of unnecessary junk. You can both agree to stock your cupboards with healthy snacks like fruit, nuts, seeds, hummus and crudités or homemade bliss balls.
Tom MertonGetty Images
5. Keep cravings at bay
Try whizzing up some fresh berries with Greek yoghurt for a tasty alternative to sugar. This is a high protein, low sugar snack so perfect for blood sugar balancing.
6. Get more sleep
Studies have shown that being tired can cause us to eat 300-400 more calories the next day. In order to keep energy levels high, we tend to choose sugary or starchy quick fixes after a bad night’s sleep.
7. Drink more water
People often mistake thirst for hunger. If cravings kick in, then drink a glass of water or have a warm herbal tea and wait for at least 20 minutes for cravings to subside.
Cravings for specific comfort foods are often a result of an emotional hunger. Instead of soothing your emotions with food, self-sooth with a non food related activities such as having a hot bath, taking a brisk walk or watching your favourite programme.
Jenny L. Cook Jenny Cook is an award-winning writer and editor who covers health and personal finance.
If you and your partner are trying to slim down together, you may have noticed some unexpected tension arise in your relationship. Often couples decide to try out the keto diet or Whole30 together, then find themselves bickering, and ultimately not losing the weight. But the key to winning in love, and weight loss, is simply working as a team.
A study published in the scientific journal Health Communication found that creating a “synchronized environment” was the most effective approach for couples on a weight-loss journey together. This means the partners share a positive attitude and act as a team. Being encouraging, while also being open to encouragement, will make it more likely you both drop those unwanted pounds for good.
While it might seem obvious that working together would be helpful, you’d be surprised how differently many couples in the study (there were 389 participants, all of whom were trying to lose weight with a romantic partner) approached their weight-loss journey. Some folks, described as “lone battlers” worked out on their own or made their own meals with little assistance from a significant other. Meanwhile, others only received sporadic encouragement and some even fought with their partner over the best weight-loss strategy.
“Partner behaviors that support the weight loss can be viewed differently depending on the environment,” said study author René Dailey, PhD, in a press release. “For example, a person who wants to focus on diet but their partner focuses on exercise might see the partner’s suggestion of going for a walk as intrusive and unhelpful. By contrast, a person who feels they and their partner are on the same page about how to lose weight could welcome the suggestion.” And in turn, lose more weight.
It’s important to make a game plan that you and your partner are both keen to follow from the beginning, whether that means not eating carbs, working out five times a week, or both. The study suggests that couples can also benefit greatly from talking directly and finding the best support strategies to offer each other. Although it may be challenging at first, it can help both people lose weight, and perhaps even benefit the partnership overall.
It just goes to show that a little teamwork can make a big difference, in all facets of relationship!
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Names: Bill and Elena Rodriguez
Ages: Bill, 57; Elena, 48
Residence: Roseau, Minnesota
Jobs: Bill works as a design lead for Polaris Industries; Elena works for Marvin Windows and Doors
Family status: Married with two adult children and four grandchildren under age 8
Elena’s peak weight: 237 pounds, a “tight” size 16. “The seams of my pants were screaming,” she says.
Elena’s current weight: 150 pounds, size 6
Elena’s height: 5 feet 6 inches
Bill’s peak weight: 223 pounds
Bill’s current weight: 180 pounds (he got down to 172 but Elena felt he was too skinny)
Bill’s height: 5 feet 10 inches
When Elena and Bill Rodriguez committed to losing weight together, they wanted to try something new. Elena had struggled with her weight for almost 30 years, beginning with her first pregnancy, when bedrest and a battle with depression sent her weight shooting up from 120 to more than 200 pounds. She gained and lost weight over the years, ultimately peaking at 237 pounds.
For Bill, a creeping sedentary lifestyle coupled with poor eating habits drove his weight gain. “We’re empty nesters. Once the kids got out of the house we started eating out more. Not that we were eating badly, but we shouldn’t have had such big portions,” he says. “As you get older your system starts slowing down, and with that your weight starts going up. It’s such a gradual thing you don’t really notice it. Then you see a picture of yourself and think, ‘Wow, my face really filled in.’”
Bill Rodriguez, before and after weight lossCourtesy of Bill Rodriguez
When Bill spotted a coworker who had lost a lot of weight, he asked how he did it. It turned out he had joined the Profile by Sanford program.
Elena was dubious at first. “I thought, ‘Oh, it’s just another weight-loss plan. I’ve tried them all.’ If there was a diet I tried it,” she says. “I’m 48 and my goal was to lose weight by the age of 40. That never happened — I had let myself down. Everything else had failed. I was at the last straw. I felt like if this doesn’t work, nothing will,” she says.
Elena Rodriguez, before and after weight lossCourtesy of Elena Rodriguez
In April 2017 they decided to give it a shot, together. The plan cost them each $150 for a year. For Elena, the price motivated her to stick with it. She committed to following the plan without cheating — that way, she figured, if she didn’t lose weight she could ask for her money back.
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The best way to lose weight boils down to these three things
May 31, 201802:11
A HARD LOOK AT FOOD CHOICES
Bill and Elena changed their diets in the first three to four months on Profile, and stuck with those changes. Fatty, fried, and junk foods were out, replaced by Profile’s shakes, bars, and soups, lots of raw and steamed vegetables, and tons of water.
“They give you a shopping list of items to go look for to make your meals. It really just teaches you to eat better,” Bill says. The couple cooked together and encouraged each other. While Profile supports a range of food choices, Bill and Elena eventually moved to a vegetarian, then vegan, diet. “We looked into different reasons we gain weight, and even foods that are considered to be good foods drive weight gain,” Bill says.
CONNECTING WITH SUPPORT
For Elena, what made the difference this time was accountability. First, they committed to losing weight as a couple. “I think the fact that we did it together was a key factor, and that the things we changed really fit well with us,” Bill says. Elena notes that trying to lose weight together with Bill brought out her competitive side.
Second, the plan includes a smart scale that measures and records weight, body fat, hydration, muscle and bone.
And third, the plan includes coaching. “I felt pretty high-class having a coach,” Elena says. Profile’s coaches connect with members regularly in person or via Skype or phone to talk about how they’re doing. “If you’re really craving something, or if you were starving or felt a specific way, they’ll say, ‘Well, try eating this or doing this.’ You can make these simple little adjustments to fill that void you’re feeling,” Bill says.
May 1, 201802:29
Elena worked with a few coaches, and says that while they were all great, she clicked with Ashleigh Ackley. “It felt like she knew me. She knew my story, my struggles, my anxieties. I felt like I could tell her everything and she always had a solution. She would say, ‘Try this and see if this works,’ and if I wasn’t ready to do something that was OK. It was like I had a teammate who wasn’t going to let me fail. She built me up and that’s much of the reason this is still working. She really ingrained in me opportunities and options. She showed me how to rely on things that worked. A lot of the weight situation is really emotional for me, and she kept building me up, pumping into my head that it’s OK and it’s going to work,” she says.
Ackley calls coaching the backbone of the program. “Everyone is different, but there are always outside temptations and challenges,” she says. “We guide members. We don’t tell them what to do. We help them have success.”
Most coaching sessions start with a review of the previous week — looking back at what went well and what was challenging. They then look forward to the upcoming week to spot challenges. For example, there might be travel planned, or sports events with tempting concessions, or weeknights at home fighting a snacking habit.
Ackley recalls helping Elena plan for a work event. They talked about Elena’s goals — did she want to indulge there, or make healthier choices from what was available, or bring her own foods? What foods will they have, and what are their serving sizes? Planning ahead of time helps people enjoy the events in their lives without sabotaging their weight-loss goals.
SEEING HEALTH IMPROVEMENTS
Bill and Elena want to be around to watch their four grandchildren grow up. Elena’s father was only 66 when he passed away after a stroke, and he had had high blood pressure and diabetes. “I have grandchildren now. I don’t want to be old and miserable. I want to enjoy my life. I don’t want to put my kids through loss, and I don’t want to enhance the possibility of dying,” she says.
Their weight loss has led to improvements in their health. While they both battled high blood pressure, they have healthy levels now, and Elena no longer needs medication to control hers. She’s also seen improvement in vitiligo, a skin condition that causes loss of pigment. They expect that their healthier diets will reduce their likelihood of developing diabetes.
Their weight loss has brought a financial benefit as well. They get a discount on their health insurance if they meet certain criteria for body mass index, blood pressure and other health markers. “Not only are we healthier, now we qualify for that discount,” Bill says.
A BOOST IN ACTIVITY
In the past, Elena and Bill walked a local 5K event. This year, they ran it together for the first time. Bill has added strength training to his routine. “Given my age, I have to start working on building more muscle. When you’re building muscle, you tend to burn fat more efficiently,” he says. “With a sedentary lifestyle you get that muscle atrophy.”
Outside of workouts, their grandchildren keep them active, biking alongside them while they run. Bill has even joined them skateboarding. “That’s something I wouldn’t have considered doing, as heavy as I was,” he says. They also paddleboard most weekends when the weather is good.
Elena and Bill met their weight-loss goals and also learned how to cope with temporary setbacks. For example, Elena tends to gain a few pounds when she travels. And when they remodeled their house they couldn’t cook at home. “Ashley taught me that this is OK, and this is what we need to do to get back on track,” Elena says.
Elena says, “I feel better from the ground up. Even our sex life is better. Profile has redefined who I am — my body and my spirit.”
Bill and Elena’s Typical Day
Breakfast: A nectarine and an apple with a protein shake, or oatmeal with Stevia and maybe a banana
Lunch: Salad with salsa for dressing, pasta, or stir-fried or steamed vegetables, with quinoa, edamame, almonds or beans for protein
Dinner: Bean soup with avocado or a vegan pizza
Snacks: Dairy-free yogurt with a piece of fruit, chopped veggies, sometimes homemade popcorn
“70 percent of what we eat is vegetable-driven,” Bill says. “In the morning, we plan out our meals for the day and cut up all kinds of vegetables — cucumbers, carrots, radishes, snap peas—sometimes 10 different vegetables.”
MORE WEIGHT-LOSS SUCCESS STORIES
- How a spreadsheet helped this man lose 60 pounds
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- This man lost 50 pounds with intermittent fasting
- The 80/20 rule helped this woman lose weight
- Changing the way she talks about food helped this woman drop 10 pounds
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The ultimate his ‘n’ hers diet plan – easy but effective shape-up plan made for two
Couples who slim at the same time are much more successful, according to the latest studies.
US researchers investigating the diet “ripple effect” found that when one partner starts to lose weight, the other generally ends up losing weight too.
And the study, by the University of Connecticut, found this effect held true even if the other partner hadn’t planned to join the diet at the start.
Whether it’s copying healthier habits or simply eating smaller dishes, good food intentions are often passed on to your loved one.
When both partners are consciously trying to shed pounds together, the positive effects can be even more impressive.
A recent UK study found that trying to lose weight at the same time as your spouse made both three times more likely to succeed.
“Many previous studies have shown that your chances of losing the weight – and keeping it off – improve vastly if you and your partner change your diet and exercise habits together,” agrees nutritionist Linda Foster.
“And it makes sense – you can eat one healthy meal together without the hassle of preparing two separate plates, you can exercise as part of spending time together and of course spur each other on when motivation is flagging.”
So if you and your loved one could do with shedding a few pounds, why not do it together with our simple but tasty plan for two?
The couple’s food planner
How it works
The healthiest and most effective way to lose weight is to eat plenty of lean protein, such as chicken, fish, eggs and nuts, along with wholemeal carbs including granary bread and plenty of fruit and veg.
This balanced diet will ensure you lose body fat but still maintain lean muscle mass and also helps to
keep your blood sugar levels stable, banishing your food cravings.
Our plan includes some protein with each meal and snack, which is essential for keeping hunger at bay, along with healthy fats, such as oily fish and avocado.
The meals are simple, tasty and quick to prepare, so you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen.
And better still, on this diet there’s no need to count calories – all you have to do is stick to the easy male and female portion sizes below to shed up to a jean size in two weeks.
How to hand-measure healthy portions
Forget fiddly calorie counting, all you need to control potion size is your hand!
1 protein portion of meat, fish, eggs or beans should be about the size of your palm (not including your fingers)
Your closed fist, meanwhile, roughly represents the size of 1 vegetable portion
And a sensible carb portion – of potatoes, rice or pasta – should fit inside your cupped hand
Portion sizes on this diet
2 palm-sized pieces of protein with every meal
2 fists of veg with every meal
2 cupped hands of carbs with most meals
Portion sizes on this diet
1 palm-sized piece of protein with every meal
1 fist of veg with every meal
1 cupped hand of carbs with most meals
Your meal planner
Pick from the breakfasts, lunches and dinners below, allowing for two daily snacks and applying the portion rules for men and women
(Image: The Image Bank)
Veggie omelette (made with 2 eggs for men, 1 for women), plus a handful of chopped red pepper and mushrooms
Granary toast with peanut or almond butter (2 slices for men, 1 for women), plus a small satsuma
Boiled eggs (2 for men, 1 for women) with two slices of granary toast, plus half a sliced avocado and 1 apple
Strawberry and banana milkshake made with semi-skimmed milk and 1 small banana, a handful of strawberries. Plus, 1 pot of no-added sugar yogurt
Porridge, made with any type of milk and topped with a handful of mixed berries and 1 tbsp chopped nuts and seeds
Avocado and bacon salad, with 1 grilled rasher of bacon (2 for men), half a sliced avocado, mixed green leaves, lemon juice and black pepper, plus 1 pear
Wholemeal pitta filled with houmous and half a sliced red pepper, 1 small no-added sugar yogurt pot
Sweet jacket potato topped with 1 small can of tuna, mixed with 1 tbsp sweetcorn, 1 tbsp natural yogurt, plus 2 plums
Smoked mackerel salad with hard-boiled eggs (2 for men, 1 for women) and baby spinach leaves, drizzled with some balsamic vinegar. Followed by 1 small banana
One can of tinned sardines in tomato sauce on granary toast, no butter (2 slices for men, 1 for women). And an apple
(Image: Getty Images)
Lean steak, grilled and served with sauted mushrooms, red pepper and broccoli
Salmon fillet baked in foil with lemon juice, with tomato and cucumber salad, plus half a sliced avocado
Chicken breast sliced and stuffed with 1 tbsp low-fat Boursin cheese, wrapped in a slice of Parma ham, served with green salad
Cod fillet, baked with a matchbox-sized piece of mozzarella in foil with chopped basil, served with some new potatoes, carrots, broccoli and green beans
Baked trout with 1 tbsp flaked almonds, oven-roasted Mediterranean veg – sliced peppers, courgettes, tomatoes and red onion, drizzled with 1 tbsp olive oil cooked on a tray for 20 minutes
Sliced apple with one tbsp peanut butter
Small pot plain yogurt
1⁄2 sliced avocado on one slice of ham
Handful of cherry tomatoes with a matchbox-sized piece of mozzarella cheese
Carrot sticks with 1 tbsp houmous
Two oatcakes with cream cheese
Small handful of almonds, peanuts or Brazil nuts
5 ways to avoid the pitfalls of double dieting
1 Don’t expect the same speed of weight loss
One of the most common drawbacks to losing weight as a couple is the biological differences between men and women.
Men generally lose weight faster in the beginning as their bodies are naturally programmed to store less fat and tend to carry more muscle, giving them a faster metabolism.
This might be infuriating for women, but don’t get discouraged if your man seems to be dropping pounds more quickly than you are. Set your own goals and stick to them and try to support and encourage each other without making comparisons.
2 Exercise at the right pace
If you’re dieting together there’s a good chance you’ll be exercising together too. However, research shows that while vigorous activity helps men lose weight, for women it can just make them hungrier and subsequently eat to replace all the calories they’ve just burnt off.
But there is a solution if you want to exercise together: University of Toronto researchers found that women doing lower intensity exercise didn’t have the same drive to consume all the calories they’d burnt off.
Which means that brisk walking, dancing or yoga are a better bet for joint workouts than a power run or spin class!
Just be sure to jointly schedule at least 150 minutes of moderate-paced activity per week to help boost weight loss for both of you.
3 Make a pact to ditch unhealthy snacks
When trying to make more healthy choices as a couple, it’s important for both of you to agree not to bring unhealthy foods, such as crisps, biscuits and soft drinks, into the house.
If junk foods are out of sight, you’ll be less likely to binge on them, which makes it easier to stay on track.
4 Stop eating in front of the telly
It’s easy for couples to get into the habit of TV dinners. The problem is, research shows that watching television while you eat distracts you from signals that tell you when you’re full, making it far easier to overeat.
Try enjoying dinner time at the table together instead, so you can just focus on your food – and each other of course.
5 Motivate each other during weak moments
If one of you is struggling with motivation, remind him or her of all the reasons you both want to lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle. Make the most of having each other to lean on for support.
And if you do fall off the wagon and have the occasional binge night together, don’t be too hard on yourselves – just return to the diet the following day, and you’ll soon be back on the path to a slimmer, healthier partnership.
The Best Way to Lose Weight as a Couple, According to Science
Weight is usually not an easy thing to talk about. But if you are in a relationship and one or both of you is working to lose weight, it’s best to discuss what kind of support you need, a recent study published in the Journal of Health Communication suggests. Not only will this make you more likely to reach your health goals, it will also keep your relationship strong and free of unnecessary tension.
René Dailey, PhD, professor of communication studies at the University of Texas at Austin, analyzed an online survey of 389 adults who were actively trying to lose weight and living with a partner. About 60% of these individuals’ partners were also trying to lose weight. She found the types of support that tend to work best depend on what kind of relational environment the individual has.
According to her work, the most common strategies for support are encouragement (praise, understanding and reassurances), influence (asking, pushing or reminding to make healthy choices) and coercion (using guilt, fear and rejection to elicit healthy behaviors).
But people in certain relational environments report more or less of each of these, and each is more or less effective.
THE FOUR RELATIONAL ENVIRONMENTS
Couples in synchronized environments tend to see weight loss as a team effort, even if only one person is working to slim down. That partner receives support and doesn’t have to choose between their relationship and their weight loss. All three support strategies work in this kind of relationship, though encouragement tends to be most effective.
Those who are autonomous have less of a team effort mindset but don’t tend to get in the way of each other’s goals. It’s more of a “we need to do this for ourselves” mentality, Dailey explains. Encouragement works better than influence, and both work better than coercion in these relationships.
Contentious cooperatives know weight loss is the goal for one or both partners, but they have different beliefs on how to reach that goal. For example, one may think exercise is most important while the other thinks eating is. This can lead to relationship strain. Although encouragement works here, of the four relational environments, this one finds coercion most effective and influence least effective. “Coercion isn’t negative; they have more volatility in their relationship overall and like to banter back and forth,” Dailey says.
Lastly, lone battlers have no team effort, talk less with their partners about weight loss and tend to have opposing views on what a healthy lifestyle is. They only like encouragement. “My guess is if you are a lone battler, you don’t feel your partner is on the same page in terms of weight loss, and you might feel influence is nagging,” Dailey says.
HOW TO GET THE WEIGHT-LOSS SUPPORT THAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU
Although people in synchronized environments self-reported the most weight loss, people in the other three groups reported similar weight loss — and not significantly less than the synchronized folks. “There is no one ideal relational environment,” Dailey says.
What matters is feeling like your partner is on the same page as you and has your best interest at heart, she says. This requires a conversation, ideally before you begin your weight-loss journey.
“Don’t expect the people in your life to be mind readers. Let each person know that you wish them to be helpful and how you’d like them to support and help you,” says Patrick O’Neil, PhD, director of the Medical University of South Carolina Weight Management Center. But before you talk, “make sure you are straight with yourself about how you will react if your partner does what you request they do.”
Encouragement works across the board, so ask them to start there, Dailey suggests. “We assume our partner wants to and can support us. But how willing is your partner to provide support? And are they able to?” Dailey says. “Maybe they don’t know how. So say, ‘Here is what I want’ or ‘Let’s try this.’”
Once you have this initial chat, regularly have check-in conversations to talk about what’s working and what’s not. Thank them when they give you the support you requested. And be mindful to see if you are giving mixed messages. You may say, tell me not to eat ice cream, but do you yell when they do this? “Be appreciative when get the support you asked for,” Dailey says, and use those check-ins to talk about any adjustments.
A couple resolved to lose weight in 2016 — and have lost more than 390 pounds since
- Lexi and Danny Reed resolved to live a healthier lifestyle together in 2016.
- Since making their resolution, the couple lost more than 394 combined pounds.
- Lexi told INSIDER that their relationship and health have both changed for the better.
Lexi Reed and her husband Danny made a resolution in January of 2016 to get healthy and lose weight — and they have succeeded. In almost two years, the couple has lost a combined total of 394 pounds.
Lexi runs the Instagram account FatGirlFedUp, where she documents her weight loss journey with photos of food, workouts, and sweaty selfies. She also shares side-by-side pictures of her and her husband to show their physical transformations.
In a recent side-by-side, the first picture shows Danny proposing to Lexi before their weight loss. The second image shows the duo recreating the proposal after losing the weight.
“Love doesn’t have a size or weight limit,” Lexi wrote in the caption of the post. “He saw the person I was on the inside and supported me while I made that person on the side match my outside.”
Reed told INSIDER in an e-mail that losing weight together has brought the couple “closer together than ever before.”
“Danny never asked me to change or made me feel like he loved me any less due to my size,” she said. “I knew, however, I wanted to be a mom one day and live a longer healthier life with him.”
She said that before sticking to their weight loss goals, they would come home from work and immediately binge-watch TV. They weren’t able to do many things other couples enjoy because of their health and size, including going on romantic walks, sitting in movie theater seats, and riding roller coasters.
Working out with your partner has been shown to improve both your relationship and your fitness, so it makes sense that once the Reed’s started replacing TV time with workout time things changed.
“Previously, we were going through the motions of life, and as we lost weight we gained a whole new life together and evolved together instead of apart,” she said. “We are more in love than we’ve ever been and the sky is now the limit.”
Reed has more than 490,000 followers that look to her posts for inspiration and advice. She hopes they take away that it’s OK not to be perfect.
“I post pictures of myself covered in sweat, makeup running down my face, rocking my husband’s t-shirts, and every single day I put myself in a place to be vulnerable,” she said. “I put it all out there because if I can help one person that’s what I want to do.”
Her advice for people who have similar new year’s goals is to start taking small steps now such as walking more or swapping high-calorie drinks for water. She also wants people to know that her weight loss journey has nothing to do with fitting in with societies standards.
“It’s not about the weight you lose, but the life you gain. My goal was never to be ‘skinny’ but to be healthy,” she said. “I loved myself at 485 lbs the same way I loved myself at 179 lbs. If you don’t love yourself before losing weight won’t change that.”
Although everyone’s weight loss journey is different, the Reeds show that both online and in-person support could help you reach your goals.
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the couple lost over 700 lbs, they collectively lost over 390 lbs.
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I love a good friendly competition. As a pretty competitive person, it brings out a fun side of me. Being in a competition always drives me and makes me push my limits and try that much harder to reach my goals.
Let’s face it, as humans; we hate to lose. That’s why a friendly competition is a very effective way to stay on track when you want to lose weight.
Hence the reason I created this fun couples fitness challenge!
I know this says “couples” challenge – but really you only need two people to compete – so if you cannot get your significant other on board – ask a friend, sibling, parent, co-worker – really anybody you feel you want to take on in this fun little challenge! – Make sure it is someone that will hold you accountable if you lose!
And since it is not based on “weight loss” – you’re not going to lose, based on the fact that your husband stopped eating ice cream for a week and lost 10 pounds – really ladies it’s not even fair 😉
This Couples Fitness Challenge is based on a points system; you receive the following points for healthy actions that you can take daily to a healthier and happier you, you can also lose points for some less than stellar health choices! I put those in for me for extra motivation not to cave to drinking soda, and eating out!!
- Working Out For 30 Minutes – 5 points
- Drinking 8 oz of Water – 1 pt for every 8 oz drank
- Abstain From Processed Sugar – 5 points
- Run/Walk – 1 pt for every mile
- Drink Soda – lose 5 points
- Eat Fast Food -lose 5 points
- Complete 4 Rounds of 20 Repetitions of Ab Exercises -5 points
- Met or below caloric goal for the day – 5 points
- Bonus – Extra 20 minutes of after dinner activity – walk, bike ride, dance party… – 10 points
Use the Free downloadable tracker to track your points and claim a winner for the week!!
At our house, we like to put a little extra skin in the game and make friendly wagers. Make the bets interesting! Hate to fold laundry, make the loser do it! Or a nice massage for the winner! Have fun with it and be creative! I had one reader report they but some sexual favors on the line -Mr. Thueson would LOVE that bet! 😉
So if you want to up your fitness game – a challenge is where it’s at!! It will bring out that inner competitor and really push you when you feel like giving in or giving up – just knowing that I could not have to fold the laundry for one week is motivation for me!!
As Mary Poppins so eloquently stated so many years ago:
In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and – SNAP – the job’s a game.
The more we can make our weight loss journey fun and interesting the more likely we will be to stick with it!! So take this challenge – grab your man, friend, sibling, parent, co-worker and have some fun!!
For More Fun Challenges Check These Out:
- 30 Days of Fitness Challenge
- 50 Ways To Get In 10,000 Steps
- Step 2 It Challenge
- Reasons Why Working Out With Your Significant other is BEST!
Looking To Up The Romance in your Relationship?? Check These Posts out!
- 10 Ways To Turn Up The Romance
- 14 Fun Days Of Love For Your Man
Couples who shape up together…stay together? Perhaps. These seven twosomes decided it was finally time to get healthy and made some serious changes. Bonus: Their relationships improved, too!
Josh, 36, and Terri, 44, from Fishers, IN
Weight Lost: Josh, over 100 pounds; Terri, 100 pounds
How We Did It: We began with the Weight Watchers Starter Kit, which helped us slowly change our eating habits, and committed to walking just 15 minutes per night. Now, we regularly jog 5Ks.
Top Tip: Shop together! We go to the grocery store with our Points tracker books (or use the Weight Watchers mobile app) to evaluate the labels and look for new foods to try. Right now we’re trying different vegetarian foods such as the fake meats you can find in the freezer section, because they’re high in protein but low in fat.
Relationship Bonus: This way of life has opened up a whole new world for us. For instance, we now love going to the mall to walk and shop; previously, we shied away from it because clothes shopping was too depressing. We’re closer than ever because of our weight loss.
Timothy, 43, and Eileen, 45, from Chicago
Weight Lost: Timothy, 36 pounds; Eileen, 18 pounds
How We Did It: We started working out at CrossFit Chicago, a total-body fitness program that focuses on functional movements (i.e., moves you would do in everyday life, such as squats or lifting heavy objects) performed at a high intensity (as quickly as possible). Then, we cut out all processed food and ate only “real food.” We felt so energetic right away and that made us want to continue exercising and eating right.
Top Tip: Make the commitment to yourself and your spouse that you will do at least one activity—such as exercise or eating healthy—together. Your spouse can give you that extra support you need to make sure you continue.
Relationship Bonus: When you feel good and look good, you absolutely reap the benefits of a better sex life!
Zach, 37, and Brecca, 31, from Wichita, KS
Weight Lost: Zach, 107 pounds; Brecca, 60 pounds
How We Did It: We lost weight by changing our eating habits (no more dining out all the time and portion control) and exercising at our local YMCA.
Top Tip: Be your partner’s cheerleader, not his or her policeman.
Relationship Bonus: “I can’t help but look at Zach the way I did when we met 11 years ago. To sum it up: Life is spicier!” Brecca says.
Jim, 49, and Pam, 41, from Orange Park, FL
Weight Lost: Jim, 85 pounds; Pam, 45 pounds
How We Did It: We started attending Weight Watchers meetings for support. The face-to-face meetings are really what kept us accountable as we learned to phase processed foods out of our diet. For exercise, we started walking each day. Now, we love to hike and ride bikes.
Top Tip: Make it fun! We love trying new low-calorie foods such as lentils and couscous, and searching the Web for recipes. Sometimes the recipes work, sometimes they don’t—we’ll never forget the cake made out of chickpeas!
Relationship Bonus: When snacks were removed as a way of demonstrating our love for each other, it became necessary to get more creative. Now we use words or acts of kindness to express how we are feeling.
Tony, 36, and Sheila, 30, from Andover, CT
Weight Lost: Tony, 225 pounds; Sheila, 74 pounds
How We Did It: We started small and built on that. Tony started riding a stationary bike 15 minutes daily and walking for just 5 minutes at a time. Now, he does 45 to 60 minutes of cardio five to six times per week as well as riding a stationary bike at home. I joined the gym and swim in a nearby lake during warmer months. We also quit fast food, and now, most of what we eat is cooked at home.
Top Tip: Branch out. Having support from someone you love pushes you harder when the going gets tough, but we are also active members of SparkPeople.com, a community-based health and fitness website. Tony also gets support to stay on track through his blog, ZeusMeatball.Blogspot.com.
Relationship Bonus: We now do everything together and every aspect of our relationship is better since the weight came off. “I feel like I got my boyfriend, not just my husband, back, because Tony was active when we first met,” Sheila says.
Jason, 39, and Deborah, 38, from Tonawanda, NY
Weight Lost: Jason, 63 pounds; Deborah, 36 pounds
How We Did It: After viewing pictures of ourselves from a vacation to the Dominican Republic, we decided enough was enough. We both had prior experience with the South Beach Diet and knew it could work. So we bought The South Beach Diet Supercharged book as well as the cookbook version, and an online subscription to SouthBeachDiet.com.
Top Tip: Prepare your home. Once we made the commitment to South Beach, we cleaned out all of our cabinets to get rid of unhealthy temptations.
Relationship Bonus: Even the little things improve. For example, we like to lay on the couch together and snuggle, but we couldn’t do that when we were overweight because we didn’t fit. It’s easier to be closer now—literally!
Kevin, 50, and Tracy, 44, from Mount Vernon, IL
Weight Lost: Kevin, 124 pounds; Tracy, 35 pounds
How We Did It: We joined a local TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) chapter after chatting with a woman at a health fair who lost a ton of weight with the program. Through the weekly meetings, we learned how to make better eating choices and started to exercise as well. We started out with basic cardio, and now, Kevin recently completed his first marathon!
Top Tip: Remember this mantra: “If you bite it, you must write it.” Hokey, but true! By writing down every morsel we put in our mouth, we always knew how many calories we were consuming, which kept us aware and on track.
Relationship Bonus: We are excited to take walks and do outdoor activities together. “I will never forget the first time our small dog realized that her human could chase and catch her when she ran away! I don’t know who was more surprised—the dog or Kevin,” says Tracy. Just knowing that we are doing all we can to extend our lives as a team makes the weight-loss struggles worth it.
Abigail L. Cuffey Abigail Cuffey is the Executive Editor of Women’s Health.