Navigating Relationships through Weight Management

Navigating Relationships, exercise, recovery

*Image credited to the UCONN Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity Image Library. 

Managing weight can be a challenging process for relationships. Arguments can ensue, miscommunication is rampant and people can get frustrated. This is when each individual needs even more compassion for their partner — not less. Weight management is a process, and for many people it can be viewed as a big sacrifice. However, many people gain so much more in life as they travel the journey toward better weight and health.

6 Ways to Navigate Relationships through the “Ins and Outs” of Weight Management

Tip #1 – Try to See Things from Your Partner’s Perspective.

The journey with weight can be short and sweet or long and tedious. Although there is so much more to gain in terms of a higher quality of life such as increased movement, a healthier body and mind improved and overall wellness, some people get lost in “why” they are on this journey because they are frustrated with the process. Try to see things from the perspective of the person who is on the weight management journey.

  • What energy are they putting into this?
  • How might they be feeling during this time?

Looking at it from a different perspective helps you to see that it might not be all “sunshine and rainbows,” and that the other person is working very hard.

#2 – Be Kind to Each Other and Communicate Effectively.

As you change your diet and exercise habits, your mood can shift quickly. This can sometimes leave little patience or lead to frustration in general. This is why it is important to be patient, kind and understanding of the weight management process. For one person, it may seem pretty clear or easy — and for another person, it might seem like climbing up a hill with ten-ton bricks on one’s back.

Within relationships, we rely on clear communication to understand one another and flourish as partners. When someone’s mood is off, they can be snappy, short or curt. Some call this “hangry,” or a combination of hungry and angry. The food/mood connection becomes very clear here. With weight management, some people can feel deprived and become overly moody. Revisit Tip #1 to see things from your partner’s perspective.

#3 – BE THERE. Ask How You Can Help and Give Emotional Support. 

Ask. Ask. Ask. Then ask some more about how you can help. This is a journey. Your partner will likely welcome the emotional support, a workout buddy or help in the kitchen cooking healthier meals. Not all couples will work out together and that’s okay — but if you do things together, it can help the success rate. If you are someone who wants to help your partner succeed, be there for them but be careful not to push them. Nobody likes the “food police” or someone hounding them about going to the gym. Support is good; just be sure you’re not overdoing it.

If your partner doesn’t want the direct hands-on support of assisting with dinner or working out together, be understanding of that too. Instead, ask how you can support them indirectly. You might just need to be a listening ear on the more difficult days. Remember that this is a process and there will be ups and downs.

#4 – Give Encouragement. 

For each and every person, it is important that they are encouraged and recognized for the work they put in. This helps people to feel validated and not alone. It also builds intimacy as it helps the other person realize that his/her partner is paying attention and is participating in the process — if even from the sidelines.

#5 – Be Considerate of Your Partner’s Process

A client once told me that her husband wanted to help her celebrate her 50 lb weight-loss by taking her out to dinner. While she recognized his kind gesture, she realized he hadn’t understood that by celebrating with food, it could potentially sabotage her goals. They discussed this issue and he confessed that he had not even thought about it that way.

This is why being considerate and thoughtful of the other person’s journey is important. It’s also important to look at your own intentions when going out to eat. Is your partner avoiding chocolate cake? Is that a trigger food? Then why take him/her to a cake shop? Things like this help avoid disaster and support the relationship through thoughtfulness.

#6 – Celebrate Success with Your Parnter

Losing weight and feeling great should be celebrated, so why not do something together or share kind words of celebration to show your partner you care? As noted above, going out to eat may not the best choice of a celebration. However, you can do many other things that do not include food to celebrate one’s success such as words of encouragement, flowers, love notes or a shared activity.

Kristin LloydAbout the Author:

Kristin Lloyd, MS, LPC/LMHC, PhD-c has been creating outstanding results for individuals, couples and organizations for over 10 years as a highly-accomplished psychotherapist, transformational mindset mentor, college educator and consultant. She is now leading bariatric patients and candidates through massive mindset shifts to help them create lasting behavioral changes and emotional adjustments for happy and healthy lives.  You can find out more about Kristin at www.bariatricmindset.com.


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