Recently I got myself into an unhealthy rut. Not surprisingly, so did my husband. Studies have shown that married people are more likely than their single peers to pack on the pounds. And just like healthy habits, unhealthy habits can be contagious. So when our schedules got busy, we blew off our health by skipping our regularly scheduled workouts and by eating takeout instead of making nutritious meals at home. With my husband off the healthy living wagon, upholding my own habits was much more difficult.
Even though I found my Feel Great Weight through my own dedication and hard work, I didn't achieve my goal alone. I had the support of my husband to lose the weight—and then to keep it off. When one of us falls off the health wagon, both of our jeans start to feel a bit tighter. So here are five simple strategies for inspiring you and your partner to slim down—and stay that way.
Assert your influence
When it comes to healthy living, I typically have quite a bit of influence over my husband's habits. For instance, while we share the job of grocery shopping, I do most of the meal planning and cooking. Good thing my husband is pretty easy to please! Because I have more say over what we eat as a couple, I tend to incorporate fresher, healthier foods into our diet. I never force my husband to try anything that he doesn't want to, but setting a good example has encouraged many of his own healthy choices. He's actually become a huge fan of banana oatmeal—my favorite healthy breakfast—and eats it almost every day!
Make a (fitness) date
Like most people, my husband and I both have packed schedules, so when it comes to spending quality time together we like to plan dates that incorporate fitness. Our favorite activities are after-work hikes or weekend tennis matches. Exercising together has been one of the most motivating tools for keeping us both on track. And we act as “fitness buddies" for each other, making sure we both get to the gym even on nights when we'd rather veg out on the couch.
A little friendly competition doesn't hurt either. My husband said he was seriously impressed when I ran a half marathon last spring, and he gave me some training motivation when he finished a 5K in under 20 minutes.
Calories are not 50/50
My husband and I split everything in our lives 50/50—except calories. Luckily for me, he is a fairly healthy eater, but his portion sizes are much too large for what my body needs. So if we order take-out sushi, for example, we never split the rolls in half; we go 60/40 instead. Most men can eat more than women without gaining weight, so just because my appetite matches my husband's doesn’t mean my portions should too. Now I fill my plate with voluminous foods that fill me up, such as mixed greens and other fresh produce, instead of reaching for the same portion of ribs as my husband.
Because my husband and I mostly eat the same kinds of foods, I'm not usually tempted by what he eats. Sharing our cooking and meal planning duties helps keep us on a healthy diet. Cooking meals together, in particular, allows us to spend some extra quality time together. It's nice to catch up on our days while cooking and then sit down to a nice meal together. Plus, eating at the dinner table always seems like a special occasion to me, so I tend to eat slowly and savor my food.
Change your outlook
My husband can lose 5 pounds in a few days, but it takes me an entire month of hard work to see that type of change on the scale. If I gain a few pounds I want to lose them as fast as possible, of course; my husband, on the other hand, doesn't focus on quick results. He is much more concerned about his overall health and doesn't obsess about the number on the scale. Focusing my attention on the long-term benefits of eating well and exercising helps me keep in perspective what my real goals are: to be happy and healthy at my FGW!