Be the Expert: What do you say to a partner to help them lose weight?

198 Comments

5 18 4

All right, today we’re doing a VERY challenging “Be the Expert.” This is the series where you try to take my material, apply it in the real world, and usually end up miserably failing. Then I shake my head and clean house.

Here’s the scenario:

You’ve been dating your partner for 3.5 years. Man, woman, straight, gay, doesn’t matter. Your partner has gained 35lbs. You’ve noticed their energy lagging and you’re concerned about their health. You start to notice that you’re becoming less attracted to them.

Your goal is for your partner to start taking better care of themselves and lose weight. How do you do it?

Important notes:

  • You didn’t mind 5, 10, 20lbs. But at some point, you want to say something. In this scenario, that point is now.
  • You have not gained much weight since beginning the relationship with your partner.

Objections that will not be accepted: “Ramit how could you? This is simple heteronormative fat-shaming” or “Ramit, you imbecile…you can’t change anyone until they’re ready to change themselves.” Um…please leave this site. This is a hypothetical scenario. You can choose to participate because you’re concerned about your partner’s health, or becoming unattracted to them, or even for another reason. Or you can simply not participate. What you can’t do is use hackneyed excuses to shut down a hypothetical learning environment. However, if you have ideas for future Be The Experts, email me directly — I’m always open to new ideas.

How would you do it?

Hints:

  • Don’t just say, “I would encourage them to go to the gym together with me!” (Silence as 100,000 people groan, their only strategy now swept away from them.) Play it out: What happens if they say no? Or they go once, then stop going? Really map out the likely scenarios. If A, then B. If C, then D. Take it to the logical conclusion.
  • Use EXACT words. When you say, “I would just tell them to ___” you are glossing over the critical part, the words you use to communicate. Use the actual words, not a glossed-over version.
  • Be sensitive. This is an incredibly sensitive topic, so if you say, “YOU JUST NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT” not only will you be mercilessly mocked on this site, I feel sorry for your partner. Hint: You may want to read this and this first.

Leave your comments below.

5 18 4

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198 Comments

5 18 4
 
  1. If he has gained 15 kg I would assume that
    1. He knows he has gained weight and that this might not be great, (for his heath, for physical attraction etc.), because that’s already an amount you can really see and feel (clothes etc.)
    2. He knows what he should do in theory to lose weight (because most of us do)

    Therefore there is no need to tell him what I have observed or what I feel he should do. Instead I would first try to find out, why he has gained the weight.

    Is it the environment that I can change (eating out, evenings on the couch, my delicious baked goods.. ;-) )? In this case I would start to change these issues and start to encourage him to do something else: Hey darling, I would really love to go to the zoo and take some pictures together with you this afternoon (if he loves to take pictures) / Or: Darling, you would make me really happy if we could go for a walk in the park this evening and play together with the small model boat (if he is fond of those boats) / Just find out what he really loves and try to combine it with an activity. Keep the focus on myself – most people would like to make their partner happy. I could also make healthier desserts/meals etc. If he would not like to do something together with me and watch TV instead I would try to focus on a compromise: Ok, I understand that you love those TV shows. But let’s try to make one evening exactly what you like an another one exactly what I like to do. Like this we can still spend a lot of time together.

    In the end – if he does not want to spend time together with me, the weight is not our main problem.

    It is more difficult if he has gained weight because he is eating a lot at work / snacking at work / beer with friends – simply things in an environment that I can’t change directly. In this case I would still try to change our home/evening environment. Slowly, don’t force him to replace chips directly with cucumbers. And the more active and healthy he is in his spare time with me (especially with activities he loves and healthy food that is so good he is just not able to resist) the more active he will also become during the rest of the time – because he will start to enjoy this kind of lifestyle.

    A second option would be to make a challenge out of it: “Hey darling, I know that you love challenges. I bet you would not be able to run more km than I in a week” – especially if he loves challenges and I am not extremely more fit than him.

    • Ariana, I love your whole response, especially this bit:

      “In the end — if he does not want to spend time together with me, the weight is not our main problem.”

      Excellent insight. There may be much more going on underneath the surface than just a few pounds.

    • Excellent reflection.
      What if his weight is related to a lack of self esteem? Then eating better or going out to do activities might not work. You have to want to feel better to actually do.
      You ask an excellent question, why is it a problem. I just feel we need to go deeper than tactics to help him. Find out the issues that makes him want to feel worse than better (this is of course assuming that statement is accurate) and work on changing that. Once a person works on his/her issues, and wants to feel better, then the tactics would work wonders.

  2. I send my wife pictures of cross-fit chicks from Tumblr and remind her to plank everyday. She’s ripped city.

    • Well. Isn’t your wife lucky.

    • awesome … works?

    • Wow I bet she’s super excited that you’re hoping she looks like all these other “hot” women, I bet her self esteem rocks… – classy (hoping you are getting the incredibly sarcastic vibe I’m sending)

    • That’s spousal abuse.

    • I don’t know why everyone is so quick to judge. You don’t know their relationship. Just because that may be condescending in yours does not mean it is in theirs.

    • I’m seconding Marc here. My wife actually prefers I tell her she’s getting fat and likes when I send her photos of ripped chicks.

      I know because she specifically asked me to tell her when she is getting fat and not “sugar coat” it.

      Marc, spot on. You don’t know the relationship, so don’t hate.

      When I gained 15 lbs. my wife looked at me and looked at herself and said. We need to diet.
      Brutal, yes, honest, yes. Guess who’s kicking ass and happier for it? Both of us.

      Don’t hate on honesty. It will get you farther than you can imagine….we could all use more of it. With ourselves and others.

  3. I know for a fact that simply cooking healthier meals for the other partner won’t necessarily work, depending on the person. A friend of mine was roommates with a couple where the woman was desperately trying to get her husband to eat healthy by only buying healthy food and preparing healthy lunches and dinners for him everyday. He would proceed to eat all the premade food in the mornings before work (while she was gone) and eat out (presumably crap food) for lunch and dinner. She bought him a treadmill, he never used it… or pretended to use it.

    The biggest thing I notice in getting other people to do something is to let them think it was their idea. No, you can’t totally change people’s behavior if they don’t want to. But you can gradually push or guide them in a certain direction (probably does not work for everything, but definitely certain, habitual things) … and letting them think it was 100% their idea all along. The more they think you are pressuring, nagging, or trying to change them, the more they resist and think “you aren’t accepting them for who they are.”

    My solution would be a mix of peer pressure and positive reinforcement. I would focus on changing my behavior and getting more fit myself (even if I am already in good shape). I would bring healthier food and prepare only healthy food. It is my SO’s choice to eat it or not, but if he wants to eat something else it’s on him. I would join a fitness class or a running group 3-4 times a week, and make that my main social group. I would then ask my SO “Are you interested in joining me today?” each time I go. If they refused I wouldn’t keep pushing it, I would just ask once each time or so. However, my hope would be that after a few months, my friends and I are in better shape than before and he will see that. I know that for many people peer pressure is enough to get them moving. Everytime they *did* do something positive towards weight loss, I would dish out the praise, react more positively towards their improvements, etc. If they continued to do nothing, they wouldn’t get anything out of it. Think Pavlov’s dog. This probably isn’t 100% complete, but that’s the general pattern I would take.

    I realize that all of the above is not fail-proof or it may take a while to actually work. For one thing, if I can’t even change my own behavior enough myself, then all of that breaks down because I’m being hypocritical and he knows it. Secondly, if I do manage to implement better habits and our lives become drastically different because he refuses to change I would either have to just keeping doing what I do and accept it, or move on. Some people just aren’t going to react. I don’t believe constant nagging and direct pressuring works, the best I can do is change the environment and hope he bites.

  4. Specific words? Well, I might have to try different approaches to see what sticks, but to start, perhaps something along the lines of “I’ve been reading up a lot on how high-fructose corn syrup is really bad for us. Can you help me figure out which of our stuff has that and if there is something else (brand/substitute) we can buy instead?” Something small, easy to change and s/he can brainstorm ways to ‘fix’ with you. Finding that first thing, though, is hard.

  5. Well I have been through a similar situation except that the crazy weight gain hasn’t happen just yet but the “couch potato” and crazy junk eating was getting to me. Funny enough I was the one that put on 35lb and reversed it last year :D
    I have been doing a few things that have helped…First I use his need for convenience to my advantage. I have to pack my lunch so I pack his as well that way he doesn’t go to McDonalds on his lunch break.

    I cook for like 5 people at dinner so there are home-made leftovers and he doesn’t have to take the emergency frozen pizza out.

    I failed at trying to get him to come to the gym or run with me. I realized he is not a fan of exercising for the sake of exercising so I took him with me to pick up a basketball. The fact that he picked the one he bought made him more likely to say yes when I say “let’s go an shoot around a bit.” He likes to play tennis too so I have been able to go do that. The thing is that I have to sort of “plan” it sometimes and say on Tuesday “hey wanna go to play tennis on Friday?” and then on Thursday..”we are still playing tomorrow right?” otherwise he will be “too tired” to go if I bring it up spontaneously.
    My next idea is to have him come with me when I go to the track so he can “time” my sprints…I know if he comes he would like to show off how much faster he is (or thinks he is) or how much higher he can jump, etc…go ahead show off that will be mission accomplished ;)

    Other thing that has helped is that I don’t give him guilt trips for me having to organize the house BUT he has to do the yard work, mopping and vacuuming…he usually doesn’t mind because he doesn’t have to do chores he hates…plus mopping and vacuuming are a physical activity too :)

    We only get oreos, sodas and chips once in a while (we use to do it all the time!) and take out is a treat rather than a regular thing. I keep the fridge stocked with vegetables, fruits, healthy snacks, etc for the late night fridge trips.

    I am careful with what I say since he never made me feel like crap when I “chunkinized”..but I have said that the reason why I work out so much now its because as as soon as I hit 30 (in two years) I know muscle mass gets harder to keep and no matter how good your genetics are (his case) is much better to get the habits changed now that when it becomes more complicated to do so..I think he gets the point.

  6. Step 1) Buy a scale, preferably one that measures to the tenth of a pound, so it’s easier to see progress or backsliding.

    Step 2) Track your partner’s weight daily: write it down on a calendar each day. Make sure you do it at the same time each day, perhaps when you wake up in the morning or before bed at night.

    That’s what my boyfriend has done with me–and I’m down 10 pounds after a month. Slow and steady.

    • Hate to say it, but daily weight ins are a really bad thing. Its much too easy to vary your weight, even in the same day (7-10lbs in one day isn’t out of the norm for me during the summer months). I’ve tracked my weight at least weekly for going on 9 years now, and I can see variations even weekly just from differences in what I eat.
      Saltly dinner, yeh expect to “gain” lots of weight the next day.
      Huge workout, expect to “lose” lots of weight.
      Once you know the signs, you can work with them to keep losing weight towards a goal.

      Basically my point is yes use it as a tool, but when the water weight stops coming off, don’t be deterred and stop.

    • Daily weight ins can make it a habit which some people find easier to sustain.

      If you have daily weigh ins you can easily see longer term patterns especially if you plot it or take a moving average.

    • That could be taken as incredibly offensive, plus don’t know about men but ladies can fluxuate up to 4 lbs in a day. Pretty sure I’d slap my BF if he suggested such a thing to me

  7. If my partner simply told me that he’s noticed I gained weight I would just say something like, “yeah, I know. Thanks for pointing it out”. (read sarcasm).

    I’d rather he say something like, “how about we go for a walk after dinner? We can get moving and spend time together at the same time.” My response is more likely to be “I need the exercise anyway and spending time together….sounds like a plan.” Or if he did the cooking he could cook healthier meals for me.

    I guess I prefer the subtler but active approach.

  8. I didn’t say anything. I simply started my own workout plan. I get up in the mornings and work out on my own. I also cook our dinner’s so I can control what we eat for dinner. I also grocery shop so if he wants to eat bad, he has to eat out. My fiancé is a competitive guy. I knew if I could run faster than him, he wouldn’t let that last long as a runner himself. He has started working out again on a pretty regular basis. The only things I talked to him about were how I felt better working out with more energy. Then when he does work out, I make sure to ask him how it went and tell him what a great job he did. He has lost 5 pounds.

    • What a great approach! There is nothing you can say or do that will motivate someone to do something. Motivation is an internal switch and the only one who can turn it on is you.
      Telling people what they already know is like poking an angry bee.
      Showing them pictures of fit and beautiful women is demoralizing. If something like that is working it’s being done out of fear.
      The only way to create change is to change yourself. The only one you have control over is you. That is why I liked this response.
      If, in the long run, the only one who gets fit and healthy is you, then so be it. Then most definitely there needs to be a conversation about “What do you think is the cause of the weight gain?” Even then you can’t make them want to discuss it.
      I can’t tell you how many people want to hire me to coach their: child, spouse, friend or parent to change [fill in the blank]. I tell them to give my contact information to that person they are interested in helping. If they call me, they want to change. If they don’t then nothing they say to their loved one will make a change happen. Having someone ‘held captive’ in a coaching session, instigated by a loved one….doesn’t accomplish anything.

  9. I just compliment her whenever she is in her workout clothes, tell her how much I like her when she is sweaty. I just make her feel good about working out.

  10. I think we need to change the rhetoric that we are using. “Weight loss” sucks. It means diet and pointless exercise. If you go into trying to change yourself with that mindset, it’s nonstop negative reinforcement. You’ll fail big time and then you’ll want to hate-eat a bucket of fried chicken. I’ve been there.

    We focus too much on how our body looks and not what our body can do. That’s the better motivation. How much can I lift? How fast can I run? How long can I swim? How many pushups can I do without stopping? When you have a performance-based focus, you quit “exercising” or “dieting.” You’re TRAINING. Richard Simmons takes the stairs and eats lean cuisine and checks the scale every day. Odin the Viking Warrior bench presses cars and runs 10 miles uphill (presumably). He doesn’t even own a scale. Which would you rather be?

    So first — you need to focus on the lifestyle. Not the weight loss, but being active and eating healthy (real food, not stupid diet food either). If you’re having a healthy lifestyle then your partner will invariably have a certain degree of a healthy lifestyle too, and if they don’t, maybe this is a relationship issue and not a weight loss issue.

    Then, focus on performance. Do 5ks together. Build up to longer races. Set personal records. Spot your partner at the gym. Help them become stronger and faster. TRAIN like a warrior! If you’re lifting more weight and running faster, you’ll inevitably lose weight. You don’t even have to bring up the topic of weight loss at all. And frankly, giving some credit to the argument that body image is a variable quality, man or woman, it doesn’t matter how much you weigh if you can run a 7 minute mile and deadlift until the bar bends. You’re in shape.

    (Speaking from a former fat ass authority here. 2 years ago I couldn’t run a mile without being winded. 20 lbs of white-castle-fat and a lot of hours in the gym later I can squat 2x as much as before and I’m looking to set a PR at my second olympic-distance triathlon this Sunday.)

    • Love this. And this is the only way that has ever worked for me. Struggling for months so as to look *less fat*? Wow, how motivating. Working out every day and feeling more energetic instantly, and exponentially better in short amounts of time? Now we’re talking. Google Neghar Fonooni (recommended by Ramit’s personal trainer friends).

  11. I’d probably try to encourage one small actionable change to get the ball rolling, rather than a wholesale change. So suggest she gets off the bus one stop early, or changing from white rice to brown rice. Try and make that a habit, then move onto the next one.

    I did, however, just watch a BJ Fogg video yesterday :)

  12. “I don’t know about you but I have noticed we could both stand to do a better job of taking care of our health as of late. We owe it to ourselves and our creator to be of healthy body and sound mind. We need to do a better job encouraging each other to make smart food choices and to be more active. After all, if we look good, we’ll feel good, and we’ll play good!”

  13. I disagree with the notion that any one thing will or won’t work because every person responds to feedback, input, whatever in a unique way.

    Daily weigh-ins worked wonders for me in loosing 35lbs.

    But, I was also educated in knowing that weight fluctuates constantly depending on time of day, activity and food intake.

  14. Weight is always gained incrementally, and lost incrementally as well. Knowing that, I wouldn’t have waiting until the 35 pounds (!!) but since that is the scenario, I would do the following: 1) Set up a specific weight loss scenario for me, including menu plans, grocery shopping lists, calorie counting chart, and weight loss chart. 2) I would then have a sit-down dinner with my partner with one of my amazing new menu items, tell them, “Since we have both gained weight and want to be the best we can be for ourselves and for each other, I’ve decided I’m starting a healthy weight loss plan. I made two copies so we can each have one, and I want you to track me very carefully on this, ok? Don’t hold anything back, and be sure to call me on it when I mess up! I will do the same for you, I promise! What do you think?” Then wait for their response. 3) Then I will go forward with my weight loss plan, and every couple of days I would invite them to dinner where we will compare notes. We weigh-in weekly, and share our respective charts. 4) Invite my partner to do a daily exercise together (combine cardio w/strength training) – they get to pick between something at our home(s) or joining a gym. 5) Make a monthly date for new clothes shopping since we won’t be able to wear our fatty clothes and make it fun!

  15. Hey sweetie, I’m sorry if I’m being a dick by saying this, if it hurts your feelings just tell me ok ?

    These days I feel like I’m less attracted to you. I still love you and I think we’re doing great as a couple, don’t get me wrong. Anyway, I’m not exactly sure why, but I think flat stomach is something I really liked when we met, I really liked that about your body.

    Anyway, what do you think ? Do you feel like you’ve let yourself go lately ? Do you think we can work something out together ?

    • nice try, sig other then replies, “oh so all you care about is my looks?” a bit condescending as well, saying I’m less attracted to you is like a kick in the teeth/gut man/lady parts just fyi

  16. Lead by example! Nothing you say is going to be well received. It must be their choice, not yours.

    I’ve actually been in this place. Over many years I tried everything from subtle hints to down-right asking.

    In the end, the *only* thing that worked is me simply working out religiously. It took about 3 years until finally she decided she wanted to start working out. Not because I was or because of how much weight I lost…. but because I was able to eat pretty much anything I wanted and stay in my 29″ pants.

    Now, we both way less than when we got married and we have family and friends asking for advice on how to lose weight. :)

  17. Well, that is a toughie… I would of course agonize over the right words (which are less important than the message received) for a while. Ultimately I think it’s about saying what *I* think and feel, because I can’t control (or don’t necessarily want to control) what my wife thinks/feels, but I of course want to be as compassionate as possible. Looking at one of the links above, it also appears I can’t “educate,” which I’d agree with. For me, the challenge is to let my wife know that I care about her and am concerned. But the actual solution is not in my hands (all I can do is support). So here’s what I came up with on short notice:

    Me: I feel anxious bringing this up, but I think it’s best for us and our relationship if I do. I REALLY hope you know that I love you for who you are inside, and that has not changed a bit.

    With that in mind, I want us to spend a long and happy life together doing fun stuff, and supposedly that’s most likely if we [damn, this is hard…] if we stay healthy [no need to say “weight” right now]. We’re getting older so that’s not as easy as it used to be, so I wonder if we can find a time so sit down and talk about ways to keep ourselves in decent shape. [Doesn’t need to be right now, I’m just putting Partner on notice that this is an agenda item for me]

    Wife: So you think I’m fat? You’re going to leave me for some skinny girl if I don’t get it together?

    Me: Hey, so you’ve put on a few pounds over the years… that happens. I’m on that path myself. It doesn’t change the fact that I love you. I’m just concerned. I want you to keep kicking for a while, and I want us to keep doing all the cool outdoorsy stuff we did (and continue to do) while we were getting to know each other [definitely no need to mention my waning attraction at this point. Maybe someday, but not in the initial discussion]. What do you think about all that?

    [This goes on for a while…]

    Me: I’d like to help in whatever way I can, but of course you have to do whatever feels right for you. I’d wake up early and go to the park if you want, or we can try taking a walk after dinner… whatever. So and so did a “boot camp” a while ago and they said it was a lot of fun. We could also go to the farmer’s market and try cooking some nice stuff. If you want to do something on your own, that’s fine too – whatever works. Why don’t we think of some ideas and sit down and talk about it on Tuesday?

    [Let’s say there’s no “success” for whatever reason]

    That’s where it gets tricky, not surprisingly. I’d really be worried about deeper problems (although I would have had that concern all along) and assume that it’s not about eating too much and exercising too little. At that point, the words might be: Unfortunately this is still nagging at me and I don’t know what to do. I would probably feel better if we (or I) had some kind of expert to talk to and get some help on this.

    So there’s a start anyway…

    • Lots of the comments about specific plans are great… but ultimately with my husband and I we always have to have a conversation too.

      This conversation feels the most real to me. (Especially since my husband-then-boyfriend did something similar to me ~2 years ago.) It went about like this — including me wondering if he would be attracted to someone else and want to leave me, even though he emphasized my health. So you have to follow this up with lots and lots of compliments! Even so, I feel it is important to be honest in a relationship and it is a conversation worth having.

  18. Im in almost this exact situation right now, but I need to lose some weight too! My fiance was overweight when we started dating (and has been the majority of his life). He’s also diabetic but has an almost uncontrolable sweet tooth. What I’m finding is working to get both of us motivated to exercise and change our habits is having a sport that we both participate in and enjoy. I’ve played Roller Derby for the past 2 years, and after going to Rollercon in Vegas with me this year, hes decided to become a ref. The problem is he doesnt know how to skate. We’ve worked into our week time to teach him how to skate and he has been helping me with my skills as well. Having a small bet going on is also a great motivator for people who are money minded. “If I dont do X (work out 3 times a week, drink 8 glasses of water, eat Paleo, etc) than I’ll pay you Y (monetary value, favor)”. Its important to be held accountable, even if you have to post your workouts on FB or start a blog about it. I’ve started to make my changes, and Im hoping that being an example will keep him motivated as well.

  19. Well, I would have to address this like I do everything else. Be REAL. For me, I am personally more attracted to a mind than I am to a body (not to say I don’t like attractive features). I like a man who is driven, SMART, and in charge. I have dated men who were not the picture of perfection, but who had something in their attitude that was very attractive to me. That being said, I’m not the sort who would ever say, “cut out all that crap and you won’t be so fat.” Well, actually, I would, but I would say it sarcastically and with a laugh. Anyway, if you are trying to help someone make a good decision, you have to truly care about them. My first question would be something along the lines of, why have you been gaining weight? Are you feeling stressed? (Most likely) Are there underlying health issues? It seems to me that when someone is gaining weight it would be related to stress or depression if not an underlying physical health issue. They may not be getting enough down time to do things they enjoy. Or their job might not be a good fit for their personality which can cause a lot of stress. Too many life changes over a short period can cause stress and lead to depression. I would just get the person talking and thinking by asking questions that would help them think about what has changed in their life since the weight gain started. Then you start working through ways to work on the underlying causes. The weight is a symptom, not the real problem. Overall, truly care of about the person’s well being and want what is good for them and then support them in their health. it’s not about weight, it is about a balanced life.

  20. People need to be validated first of all and you need to own how it’s affecting you. The conversation needs to be one that respects both parties and gets to what really matters, something along the lines of this:
    “Dear, I love you and I want you to be around for a long time. Your health is important to me and I’ve noticed over time that you haven’t been taking as good of care of yourself and your weight is at an unhealthy level. I imagine this isn’t what you want for yourself and it isn’t what I want for you or our relationship either. I want to be part of the solution and wonder how you feel about it. Whatever I can do to support you I will but you have to decide that you want to look and feel better first”

  21. I’m not overweight but my partner is, very similar to the senario in the question. I’ve found the most successful weeks to be the ones where I participate. If I’m suggesting we work out, or planning healthly meals, or pre-prepping healthy snack he does a lot better with his goals. This gets exhausting because they are his goals, not necessarily mine, and my motivation fades when he does take the initiative on these goals because I’m only doing these things to help him.

    After reading your links I think we will sit down and do an exercise on passive barriers where I ask him what he would do everyday if he was perfect and try to identify some of the passive barriers that affect why he doesn’t do them.

    I don’t mind being the organizer/planner, but I find myself resentful when I’m doing all the work and nagging him to participate. Maybe if I could identify some of his passive barriers he would be more onboard, or at least less resistant.

  22. The weight issue is something both my partner and I have been facing, however she is much more blunt than I will ever be.

    What I did:
    -stocked the fridge with fruits and veggies
    -planned activities with friends (so we couldn’t back out) that forced us to be more active like taking the dogs to the park, walking around the farmer’s market, swimming, etc. (basically anything to keep us off the couch)

    My plan was to automate certain aspects of our lives so that some weight would come off naturally and then I could make a comment once she was already being successful like “wow– you look great! I think you’ve lost weight!”. I figured she would be encouraged to continue a healthier life and make more healthy changes if she was already experiencing success.

    on the other hand

    What she did:
    -took my picture and …. well… it was really unflattering. All of the “you’re so cute” comments in the world couldn’t make me feel better about it
    - said these simple words: “if you don’t make a change, how can you expect there to be a change?”

    So, now I go to weight watchers (and whenever I’m super busy and miss my meeting or don’t feel like going she says “make a change to see a change”). We have plans set out for the week in ways to move more, be healthier, etc. Like we now regularly walk home (over 70 Manhattan blocks) and stop at fruit carts and farmer’s markets along the way to restock our healthy snacks at home.

  23. “First things first: I love you and I’m really glad you’re my partner. I also love the life we have together. That’s why I’m worried about some changes I’ve noticed recently.

    “You’ve been really low on energy. For example, we usually go for a walk after dinner, but we’ve only done it once in the last three weeks. I look forward to those walks all day, and I miss walking with you. Can we talk about some ways to get your energy levels back to where they used to be?”

    [YES]

    “That’s awesome! I can’t wait to get my high-energy guy back. But we’re both busy – it has to be low-effort and high-impact.”

    [At this point we generate a list of specific changes, ideally habits that we can put into place using triggers, or else changes on our life context. The first one should be achievable, setting him up for future victories! So he chooses one: for example, he's going to eat a piece of fruit every morning. We also define a metric for global success, like "has enough energy to walk 3x a week after dinner."]

    “I think your choice is great, and I’m really excited about our Sunday morning farmer’s market date! How about we go put a bowl of fruit by the front door right now, so it’s easy for you to grab something on your way out to work?”

    [NO]

    “It’s okay if you’re not ready to deal with this now. I just wanted you to know that this affects my life, too. That said, maybe there’s a way to get our walks back even though you’re tired after dinner. How about I meet you at work tomorrow and we walk home together?”

    [YES]

    [Meet him, walk home, ensure he has a good time, invite him to do it again in the next few days.]

    [NO]

    “Sure! How about we revisit this in a couple of weeks? Who knows – maybe we’ll get back to walking by then in a different way. I still love you, and I’m glad you were willing to talk about this with me.”

  24. I just hope we find out what works soon so that I can e-mail it to my partner and she can start the process on me. LOL. I’ve got 20 stubborn lbs to lose and I would love some support.

  25. For long term fitness and health, you’ve got to automate it just as Ramit recommends automating finances. I suggest looking at taking care of yourself as the smart savings plan so that you can splurge on what you want: hot sex–in our case!
    My boyfriend and I don’t live together and between us we have four children, so when we find rare times to be together alone, we want to make it count. The effort we put into taking care of ourselves in the meantime-running, yoga, weights, good diet, watch the alcohol–is akin to the hard work of earning and stashing away money so that when we are together we can have the kind of experience we want to have with each other.
    You have to know what you value and be willing to put effort into achieving it. When I first met my boyfriend, he was out of shape. We traded a lot of texts in the beginning and I told him about Tantric sex. I think I pointed out that endurance would be a powerful component to an awesome tantric experience together. After that he started running daily and I knew he was into me enough to make a commitment to himself. Very attractive! And that’s in part how I see myself–I can offer my vitality, energy, and happiness as a gift for him to share.

  26. Before you can fix the problem, you need to know the underlying causes of the weight gain. It could be a physical condition, emotional stress, poor eating habits, lack of sleep, loss of interest in the current exercise routine, low self esteem, etc. Once you can pinpoint the underlying issue(s), you can create a plan to address the issues and the side effects (such as the weight gain). So I might start out with something like, “I notice that you have gained weight over . I’m concerned about you. What’s going on in your life?” And then I’d shut up and just let the person talk, even through many minutes of silence.

  27. I’d start paying more attention to hotter slimmer guys and even play flirt all directly under my partner’s nose. Even though I have no intentions of leaving him for another person, it is exactly the psychology that would make me feel conpelled to lose that weight if he did the same trick. Like it or not, fear/love/jealousy are strong emotions makes people react strongly. Just my Two cents.

  28. Coming from a woman’s perspective, we are usually aware when we’ve gained that much weight. And a lot of times, it’s technically the relationships fault, as most forms of hormonal birth control cause that kind of weight gain. A woman could feel resentful about the weight gain, since she adopted her birth control so she wouldn’t have to worry about her partner getting her pregnant, so the partner worrying about her weight gain (and becoming less attracted to her!!!) is a huge cost for her sacrifice and quite unfair. But, if she hasn’t brought it up it’s to not involve him in any of her personal health issues, which make lots of men uncomfortable. So the best way he should approach her would be to simply ask “Honey, how are you feeling these days?”. This gives her an opportunity to open up and mention it on her own. Open ended questions are ideal in this situation, giving her the chance to say it out loud first. Chances are, she’s already worrying a lot about it.

  29. “Your goal is for your partner to start taking better care of themselves and lose weight. How do you do it?”

    To be specific, the goal of this exercise is the above two statements and the rest seems irrelevant. How would I get my partner to take better care of themselves and make them lose weight? That’s the important part.

    The answer has to be establishing an emotional need for them to do these actions. How do we create an emotional need? We have to first understand ourselves the emotional reason why they got to where they are in the first place. Usually, physical malaise is stress based. In other words, they are feeling overwhelmed. So they just give up. Emotional support is the first step. Being there, being understanding. Second is to provide an achievable goal and a method to get there. “How about starting tomorrow we both adjust our schedules and eat dinner together, I will prepare the food – it will be our daily us time” See if talking and eating better at night changes things. We may have to do a course correction in 6 weeks.

    Possible outcomes: They could say “no, I have _________”.
    Answer: “ok, when does ________ happen & when were you planning
    on eating dinner? I could adjust my schedule to match and come out
    to wherever you were going to eat and I will bring the food”

    Possible outcome: “No, I am having dinner with _______”
    Answer: “ok, not everyday right, how about we plan our
    dinner together 4 days in a week and then Friday or Saturday could
    be our date night – I will supply food and entertainment (outing, whatever)”

    Or alternative answer”How about two days of the week we spend an evening together – I supply the food and entertainment plan”

    If the problem is that they are out of town a lot, then we need to go to them.
    “How about I fly out to where your business trip is on Friday nights and we have dinner and downtime together? I could use some time away myself”

    Somehow at some point, I would have to get that time with them in and it has to be food based. Given any objection, I would have to work out to get my foot into their door at some level and move from there. At some level I have to get the emotional need or satisfaction going. There has to be some excitement and I have to do the work to ignite that spark and keep changing strategy until I get that response. There has to be a way to reach everybody at some level. I just have to keep suggesting venues until I hit it.

    Like any strategy, we have to regroup and reload and replan based on results.

  30. My current boyfriend has seen me take off over 100 pounds over time and keep it off. As we’ve been dating, he eats like I eat, clean meals of lean protein, carbs mainly from vegetables and lower sugar fruit, vegan shakes, a little dairy, and of course, we go out and still apply the principles. He’s lost over 25 pounds in a month so he convinced himself. I now ask him midday if we’ll walk in the evening before he works and I come home from work and he holds me to it. He said he was just going to find someone that was a chubby chaser until he realized there was a better way that wasn’t so hard and a partner who cared about his health. He’s got teenagers to help raise from a previous marriage and that motivates him to be around as well. He also doesn’t want to be left behind. I met with a doctor before taking off the weight for something I just thought was non-related which was swelling in my ankle after a fall. The doctor asked me what I liked to do and it was travel, it was the reason I came to him to make sure it would be ok and not embolism city. As he gently turned my ankle to check it and wrap it, he asked me to think about NOT letting my current weight and health affect what I loved to do the most in life. Along with taking an interest in what was in my food, how it was raised, grown, etc. it flipped the switch for me. I didn’t want my health or any conditions or medicines dictating what I could or couldn’t enjoy in life. Having to take meds for the rest of my life would impact that greatly and I found out that food can heal and nourish not stuff.

  31. Nothing was worse for my motivation than my girlfriend telling me that I was too skinny and needed to change. That just made me want to forget about my shortcoming even more. What finally motivated me to bulk up was another girlfriend telling me that I was ALREADY big and strong. (She was tiny, I was tall.) That made me feel empowered to make a change in my life.

    What helped me actually MAKE the change though was setting up an accountability system while my motivation was high. Throughout my transformation I’d spend my moments of high motivation making things easier for “future-Shane”, who I knew would struggle.

    My action step was meeting my calorie goals each day (which was much more than I wanted to eat). I would find myself at midnight feeling tired and lazy … and didn’t want to cook and eat another 1500 healthy calories before going to bed. That scenario becomes a lot easier when you’ve got a blender, all the food you need already in the fridge, a tub of whey protein in the cupboard and it’d cost me $1000 not to do it.

    To encourage other people to change I wait for a similar moment of high motivation, whether negative or positive: “oh man I should stop drinking all this soda” or “hey my pants feel a bit lose today!” or “I’m so tired all the time” – whatever it is – and then ask them if they really do want to change.

    And then, while their motivation is still high, you load ‘em up with accountability. Get ‘em to write you a cheque for $1000 that you can cash unless they take a few very EASY steps. Not going over a certain number of calories would be the most physiologically effective, but perhaps too difficult. So maybe that means, say, cutting out liquid calories (e.g. switching to diet soda). Make it easy enough that they agree to it, but meaningful enough that they get results from it. (If this is your partner of many years you should know them well enough to know what will be easy for them.)

    And then encourage them. Be really positive about their compliance with whatever they agreed to. It’s tough – they deserve that support. When the results start to show things become even easier.

    When that single action step becomes a total habit, you can swap it out for another one.

    Worst case scenario … you’ve got $1000 to hire a lift coach to help you plan attempt #2 ;)

  32. I’ve read through a lot of the comments. There is definitely a different tactic needed when talking about chronic weight gain (someone who has always had this struggle) and an episode of weight gain that is unusual for a person. Most here seem to be addressing chronic weight gain. Also, for women approaching menopause it would be a completely different tactic and may not be within her control at all.

  33. If you don’t lose some fat I will stop fucking you.

  34. This is such a tough one. My husband gained over 50 lbs within 3 years of being married with me. He needed to take a terrible medicine which slapped the weight on him in a few months. It was devastating and we’re still recovering.

    Here are a few things I’ve said that worked well:

    When we visit McDonalds/eat poorly, I said things like:
    a.) I don’t feel good about us eating here. (stress the us)
    b.) Would you like to eat somewhere else? Let’s try something new.
    c.) Let’s visit Whole Foods/Sprouts and get some veggies for the week.
    d.) I am very concerned for your health. You don’t seem to be happy right now. How can I help?

    (we no longer visit McDonalds, EVER)

    Exercise:
    a.) Let’s go for a short walk!
    1. Both of us are idea people, so it is fun to walk and chat together about business ideas.
    b.) I’d like to go to the gym with you for a half hour.

    The low initial commitment is key, and doing workouts/habits together is key. I bought hubs a $450 rowing machine, and it now gathers dust and dries laundry. Boy I learned a tough one there. New machine does not equal instant motivation.

    Those scripts above have worked well, he has lost 10 pounds and has quit smoking (a miracle!). That said, I’ve said a lot of things that went totally wrong, and I’ve let my fear drive a lot of my decisions. (fear of my husband’s unhappiness, fear of him dying early before we get to enjoy all of life together).

    I hope these help someone.

  35. I am over weight and always have been. My husband on the other hand is very skinny and in shape. But here’s the deal I try to eat healthy and cook healthy. I never eat sweets or drink pop. He on the other hand eats something sweet after every meal. He drinks pop and energy drinks. He comes home after work and sits on his butt. The only chore he does is feed and trash. I do everything else… cook, clean, garden, flowers, canning, take care of three kids. I feel I don’t have time to work out. I have even asked him to cook two nights a week just so I can walk. In my opinon I feel he knows I need to lose weight but he don’t care because helping me would take from him.
    The best way to help someone is by offering some help and stick to it. That gives that person needing the help support and incouragement to continue to improve. It helps keep you accountable just like working out with someone.
    If this was easy we wouldn’t have a weight issue in the US. Everyone has excuses. I even bought a WII fit game so I could play with the kids and get exercise but he won’t even let us use it because he is watching TV.

    If it was the other way around I would make sure he had time to himself to exercise. I would offer to help with some of the chores to be able to do things together. Another thing I would do is encourge them tell them they look better or that it will pay off in the long run. I want us to be healthy so that we can grow old together and be able to enjoy life.

    My kids are very skinny kids also. I still try and teach them what foods are bad for them. I never buy pop. I don’t make them do with out but I try to limit the junk food, pop, and candy. I want them to learn before it is to late. I was never taught these things and that is part of the reason I am over weight. My mother never cooked for us. So we ate alot of junk food and prossesed foods. I was always taught to clean your plate and get extra helpings. I never make my kids clean there plate. Our rule is two bites of everything.
    I also include them in exercise when I go walking or riding bikes.

    • Some guys like their spouse heavy so she isn’t attractive to someone else. That way they don’t have to invest anything into maintaining the relationship.

    • Kendra may I suggest that you have your doctor look into possible health reasons for your weight? With your healthy habits it sounds like there may be an underlying reason for you to hold on to that weight.
      PCOS, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, low vitamin D, all good possibilities. Please get it checked out with your physician, and good for you teaching healthy habits to your kids!

  36. I lost 100 lbs after my husband left 4 years ago. I chalked it up (in a nutshell) to not having to listen to him bitch about my weight every goddamned day. It isn’t that I didn’t try to be thin — it’s that my weight was a symptom instead of a problem.

    My ex never asked me what the problem was .. he just brought home a stack of Muscular Development magazines, lamented his missed opportunity to marry Jenna Jameson, and told me to suck it up and try harder.

    I agree with Ariana. Someone who has gained 35 lbs likely knows they’re not as trim as they once were and doesn’t need that pointed out. Getting to the “why” of it is a better strategy, in my opinion. Often, there are environmental factors that can be changed or considered (snacking at work, catered lunches, etc), but there are plenty of scripts around weight, too (a trainer asking a potential client if he’s interested in training for health reasons or for aesthetics, for example).

    Additionally, I’d say that as important as achieving your goal of having your partner take better care of themselves is, it’s equally important to examine why you have a goal like that in the first place. I’m NOT saying “You can’t change anyone until they’re ready to to change themselves”. I’m suggesting taking an in-depth look into your own motivations and perceptions surrounding weight gain and health/aesthetics. It might be that your partner does lose the weight and you’re STILL unhappy with them. What then?

    What do you really want out of your partner? And what does “Take better care of yourself” actually mean? To me, in my marriage (and especially after it ended), it meant that I look after my mental health and give my body a break after being up all night tending infants and busy all day changing diapers and nursing and cooking and doing housekeeping.

    When my workload was diminished (ex left so I could cook whatever I wanted and I had only half the mess to clean), my body slowly became rested enough to begin to exercise and eat healthy again. Result: I lost 100 lbs. But only after I redefined my notion of “taking better care of myself” to include my own mental health and adrenal fatigue, something my partner never considered as legitimate causes for stress and weight gain. In retrospect, there was considerable transference when the words themselves were not examined. My husband and I never thought to sit down and hash out what “Take better care of yourself” meant. We especially never considered that it might mean something different to each of us.

    So in addition to examining what environmental factors could change (“How about I make your favorite cake with applesauce instead of oil this time?”), I suggest a candid conversation about why your partner has gained weight, why you feel they should take better care of themselves, and what the language surrounding weight has done/is doing to both of your perspectives.

    This is indeed a loaded topic. As such, I believe unpacking the language and perceptions behind it in detail is a good place to begin.

    The trigger sentence that started me on a road to permanent weight loss: “Renee, you are just fine the way you are now.” Counterintuitive, perhaps, but it worked, so I’m not going to argue with results.

  37. A doctor who says, “you gained weight, dear”, cares about you. A husband who says “you gained weight, dear”, is making fun of you. Bastard.

  38. I don’t understand why everyone is so sensitive about letting people know when they are fat. If someone smokes, it is perfectly acceptable to tell them how disgusting it is and how they need to quit. But if a person is overweight and someone makes a comment about it everyone freaks out.

  39. I would sit and explain that we need to talk. I want to know why you are losing energy with our everyday life. I would listen completely with my head and my heart because of my concern for your welfare in this relationship. I am a part of this too. We both should have a physical done to see what we both can do about it. I am very concerned about our health in this relationship. The weight gain my not just be fat (I am in the medical industry) but an underlying issue that we in a partnership must attend to and address. What do you suggest we do since I have listed a few items?

  40. Sarah Williams Link to this comment

    My husband and I have actually had this type of conversation before.

    I would look for ways to automate exercise and better nutrition. Our home is very bike friendly, so I’d suggest we start doing a bike ride together in the evening. I think he’d go for this, because our son, Josh, loves bike rides, and it’d be fun, but I’m pretty sure we’d fall off fairly shortly, so I want to connect it to something we do regularly. We take Josh to the library every Tuesday so I’d suggest biking to the library. We also semi regularly take Josh to the farmers market, and it’s a pain to park. I’d suggest biking to that. That’s a short ride once a week, and a longer one every other week, but more importantly that gets us back into exercise connected to fun. It sets a base of exercise, and makes it more likely that more will occur.

    For food I’d look up some new and flavorful recipes that are healthy. We tend to get into ruts of these are our regular stand by meals, there routine and comfortable. We like other foods when we have them, so inserting a new recipe should help. I’d also look at healthier tweaks to our regular recipes.

  41. I would start buying tickets for three people wherever we go. I might even make comments like “I would like just you and me to go out, I am tired of buying tickets for three!”

    I might say “come back when you are alone.”

  42. Sweetie, you know I love you and always will. We’ve been through so much together and worked hard to be where we are now. But now I am concerned about your health. I notice you seem tired all the time and you don’t seem to care as much as you used to about being more active or having healthier meals. I just wanted to know if this is a reflection of something that’s affecting you (A) or us or if you’re feeling fine (B)

    if A) I am here for you and will support you in whatever way you need.
    ***In the process making healthier meals and finding yummy places to dine and have lunch with excellent health options. Plan simple outings that involve open air and encourage activity. Reading and share about the benefits of eating and combining certain foods.

    if B) I am concerned about the choices you are making in your health and know that if you don’t start taking care of yourself now, you will regret it later. Wouldn’t you rather wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day instead of feeling sluggish and bloated? A healthy diet can do that for you, I have been in your position and I know how important it is to give your body what it needs. I don’t care how you look, I just want you to be healthy and be the more energized version of yourself that I met.

    if B fails then C) I would like you to do this for the benefits it will bring to you but if you do not care about yourself enough then I am not OK with what you’re doing and think we are not on the same boat. I do not want to be with someone who would rather stay inside and watch TV stuffing themselves with garbage instead of going out for a hike every other weekend and enjoying it because it doesn’t require as much effort when one is healthy. I will take care of you as long as you care enough to take care of yourself.

  43. I would first start by trying to set some goal we can attain together. For instance, signing up for a 5k or a mud run so that will give us both an excuse to train.

    I am such an advocate of leading by example. If your committed to your fitness, you’re partner will eventually jump on the bus as well.

    Conversation:
    A) Babe, I’m signing up for a 5k to raise money for cancer research do you want to sign up too?

    If Yes B if no C

    B) Cool, I was thinking of starting to go walking 3 times a week and maybe doing a juice cleanse to get us started on the right foot

    C) OK, but if I’m gonna do this right I need the house to be clean of junk food, so for the next few weeks can we agree to stop buying junk and eventually fade out what we have left?

  44. “I’ve noticed you’ve gained a little weight. How do you feel about it?”

    You are not making a judgment, just an observation. They most likely have also already made this observation too and have an opinion about it. If they are ready to change, this approach will allow them space to open up about it and seek encouragement/motivation from you…if they want it. Judgements and badgering are not effective.

  45. Well, I sent a groupon to my husband for the same gym that I go to, and committed to losing about 30lb this summer, he joined in and we are working on it together, healthy meals, smoothies, all that. He’s looking hot too ;-)

  46. After reading through these, I have a few thoughts, plus some to add.
    - If my husband said some of these passive-aggressive comments to me, I would be pissed off. They sound manipulative to me. Even if he started with “honey” or “sweetie”. Blech.
    - It’s interesting to me that it’s mostly (only?) women who commented about weight being out of their control. I’ve had 4 kids, an adrenal/thyroid issue and I still know that my weight is completely in my control. These are excuses, not reasons.
    - Exercise is great for the mind and body. I do it every day in some form because it gives me energy, makes me strong, keeps me healthy and makes me feel good. However, weight is controlled primarily by diet, and losing a good amount of weight or getting very lean can only be achieved by a super clean diet.
    - Never over-estimate your power to change others, never under-estimate your power to change yourself. People have different likes/dislikes and reasons for exercising. My workouts are my time to myself, I like to zone out, sometimes meditate and see how hard I can push myself. My husband needs a social aspect and someone else to push him. Cross-fit works for him, I lift weights and run. If I signed up for his gym (like he keeps trying to get me to) I would dread it (read: I wouldn’t go). I look forward to my runs and can’t wait until I can go. People have to do what they love or they won’t do it.

  47. I don’t think there is one perfect approach that will work for all partners.

    What worked for me happened maybe coincidentally. I started my own health and fitness efforts several years ago and talked about what changes I was making and why and what I was learning along the way. I ended up making meals that both of us could eat and my partner could supplement with additional foods that made the meal more complete for him that I was not eating (example fajitas – I could eat more salad, veggies and meat and less cheese, tortillas, etc. but he could add more that to his meal and we’d both be happy – I was eating mostly paleo at the time). I do better eating healthier foods and doing CrossFit.

    Fast forward a few years – He decided to go to the doctor after having not gone in about 15 years for a cold or something that he had. Doc saw the weight and took measurements and had him at high risk of stroke in the future if he didn’t change and he got put on high blood pressure medication. He doesn’t like taking pills. Doc gave him numbers and said he could eat what he wanted as long as it was no more than a specific number of calories per day. That for whatever reason has worked for my husband so he doesn’t feel like he’s deprived or on a diet as long as he budgets/plans for what he wants to eat. Net result a year later is that he’s down about 90 pounds and has slowly evolved to more healthier food choices to get better bang for his calorie buck over time as well.

    Still working toward where we want to be over time, but talking about what works and what doesn’t for each of us helps a LOT and giving the other person time to make it be something they want to do vs. something their partner wants them to do goes a long way.

  48. Stop using the word Diet! Rescramble the letters and it becomes edit! Just edit what you eat.

  49. *NOTE: I would also like to preference everything I’m about to say with this — growing up, I was a chubby kid. Then I got athletic lost weight. Injuries, gained weight. I yo-yoed my whole life. I got teased for being fat when I was young. I STILL remember that, left a HUGE impression on my psyche until this day. Then, I went to college, was in a miserable relationship and the weight more than crept on. After that relationship, I went on to lose 55 lbs at my lowest weight. I now maintain at around a 50 lb loss for 6 + years now. So I’m NOT someone that has always been in shape. I KNOW the struggles of being overweight. I KNOW the struggles of losing weight. The moment I finally dropped the weight for good, was the moment I started being REAL about my weight, and what I ate, etc. I can’t tell you how many friends have come to me for advice about weight loss and ask what I did, and I say “first step, food journal. I’m talking EVERY SINGLE MORSEL that goes in your mouth for a month. From that tsp of mustard to that tablespoon of ketchup.” They reply “I’ve done that!” No, you haven’t. I reviewed a few food journals of friends when they did this and I was like, “Well, what about that splash of half and half you didn’t add?” The ones who got defensive, well, those were the ones that never dropped a lb. The ones that were like, “Man, you’re right!” And went on to do EVERY morsel logged for a month, to create awareness of what you’re ACTUALLY eating, were the ones that went on to drop weight and keep it off. I don’t advocate food journaling for ever once you’re on a roll, but I think to create initial TRUE awareness it’s key. The difference between these two groups: One group, wants to happily live in in their state of not being real. The other group is ready to get REAL and do what it takes.* Which is the heart of what I’m going to get at as it plays into relationships. And now without further adieu..

    My husband did something interesting, and, some might say he’s a “jerk” for this, but I don’t think so at all. When we were first dating, maybe only for a few months, the subject of weight came up. If I remember correctly, we were at a restaurant with some friends, and a man that looked in shape for his age came in with his very overweight wife.

    My husband, who is an incredibly direct man, said “I will never have a fat wife.” My initial female reaction was to be “oh what a jerk!” But, instead, I made a comment along the lines of “Well of course I’m not gonna look like I look now when I’m 40 and blah blah blah…” defensively [I'm in good shape, but it was more about the general what I perceived as jerkiness initially]. He responded very calmly, and not to mince words, “I’m not talking about the natural changes that happen in a woman’s body as she ages. No 50 year old is going to have the body of when they were 20 due to age, having children, time, etc. It just won’t happen. I’m not delusional. But there is a HUGE difference between natural changes in someone’s body, including weight gain as time goes on, and a COMPLETE general disregard for your health, your relationship — YES, your relationship, because there’s no denying that attraction is hugely physical for men. Disregard for yourself, your children, everything. That is what obesity and being very overweight is to me. Call me a jerk, I don’t care. I will never have a fat wife.”

    That really left an impression on me. It’s not him being a jerk, but I do know, that staying *relative to my age, childbearing status, etc.* in relatively good shape all things considered, is something I will always do. Now, I will also mention, this is something we do TOGETHER. My husband works out 5x a week, I workout 4x a week. We eat very healthy, TOGETHER. Although he’s the person that’s blessed with a metabolism that he could eat McDonalds everyday or chicken and broccoli and stay within a 5 lb window, he STILL chooses to work out and eat healthy and have a healthy lifestyle. He will never be that person that gets away with his blessed metabolism and watches me work [with my weight background, it will ALWAYS be work, and I'm ok with that]. It’s something that’s important to US.

    Recently, due to crazy life stress and lack of time to work out, being on the go so much not being able to eat my usual fare, I gained about 10 lbs. Nothing crazy, but for me, it was my “Okay NO MORE time to drop the weight” point. My husband emphasized how much he loves me just the way I am, even in my best shape I have cellulite — he goes on to tell me how cellulite is normal and every woman has it. Praises my body all the time. SO trust me, my husband is realistic and not a jerk. But he knew I was unhappy with those extra 10 lbs.. so I went on to diet and hype up my workouts more, and my husband, to be supportive, is eating the EXACT same food as me [he just eats more of it], cook together, gym with me, etc. Nights when I’m super stressed and want that glass of wine — he asks me, kindly, “Do you REALLY want that glass of wine?” to help me. Some nights I say yes. And that’s the end of it and no more words from him. Other nights, I say “honey, you’re right, thank you.” 6 lbs down only a couple more to go and my husband’s support is truly helping me.

    The moral of this, and what I’m truly getting at, is I think the key for people is to a) bring up the weight talk EARLY. Before the weight gain, before anything. Create an environment it’s okay to talk about weight b) Remove the “asshole” stigma from weight GOD FORBID ever being brought up c) being REALISTIC about weight and body. To expect your wife to look like she’s 20 is not going to happen. To expect your wife to not gain 40 lbs for no reason – NOT out of line. d) always approach the subject with kindness. I would never advocate telling your partner “You’re getting fat! Lose some weight!” But if you’ve created an environment early on that it’s always OKAY to talk about weight, it’s much easier, when your partner complains about their weight, to kindly say, “Well, why don’t we crack down on what we’re eating TOGETHER, WE have been kinda slipping for awhile, and get a handle on things. I’ll do it with you.” And in turn, if that’s said to you, not look at that like your partner is a jerk – but to look at it as support! Never belittling, never cruel, always supportive. But always OPEN.

    I truly think tackling the “weight issue” BEFORE it’s ever an “issue” — creating an atmosphere to be able to be candid over time, removing the stigma of talking about it openly, is the key for people. Not just in the context of relationships, either.

    I may offend someone by that post, and some might say my husband is an asshole — when in fact I’m blessed with the most wonderful husband in the world. He really opened my eyes that to just being able to TALK about weight is NOT a bad thing. And, the fact that we CAN be open about the taboo subject of weight, is the reason I believe we’ll be a healthy couple for years to come.

    I think part of his attitude of being open about weight is cultural. His family talks very openly about weight. His brother gained weight recently, and culturally, his family has NO problem being like, “You’re getting fat.” NO lack of directness there lol. But instead of being offended, the brother was like, “Yeah, I know” and is working on it. What’s funny, is when I gained 10 lbs, I asked my family/friends, and they’re all like “Oh no you can’t even tell!” I asked my mother-in-law if she could tell, and she just goes “Yeah, you’ve gained a little.” Again, this is not being MEAN. This is being REAL. The moment people stop being real and become so concerned about not offending someone is the point where your chance of ever addressing weight goes out the window.

    Again, this is coming from someone who has been there. I’m 5’4, trust me, 55 extra lbs was not a pretty sight on me years ago. I’m not someone who has never struggled with their weight [like my husband] and sitting there saying “Just do it!” I know it’s not that simple. I know the role that being overweight for years plays mentally [even after years of being at this weight, I truly sometimes feel like a fat person trapped in an in shape person's body. It takes the mind YEARS to catch up with the body I feel like]. I know that weight loss ISN’T as simple as “calories in, calories out.” It’s not. But I also know that true weight loss success is probably about 80% mental, 20% physical. Mental: being able to talk about weight, being able to humble yourself, being able to be REAL with most importantly YOURSELF, to be able to refrain from foods you love at times, to be able to realize that there’s some people that can eat whatever they want and be fine and that’s just not you, etc.

    But weight is never talked about. It’s “off-limits.” Which then just further plays into people being overweight because “taking offense” is people’s initial gut reaction. I WAS THERE. That’s where humbling myself came in. Realizing, when I said, “I’ve already tried that! I don’t know why I can’t lose weight!” that obviously there was something I was missing there or being in denial about. That is a humbling experience. To ACTUALLY listen to my friend who had lost a lot of weight and follow her lead, and not get offended. That was the moment that it actually happened for me.

    Now I have no qualms about talking about weight, from when I was heavy, to now, to when I gain a few lbs talking about it with my husband. That’s what I truly believe is where it happens.

    My 2 cents…

    • Best comment on the page. Thanks K, for the thoughtful and REAL! response.

    • You and your husband’s dynamic is AMAZING. I enjoy the fact that he was comfortable enough to be honest and straightforward with you, without being rude. And I love how you were open and willing to hear what he said in the spirit that he intended it.

  50. I would give them a card saying “If you love me you will die”, when they questioned me about it I would be shocked and embarrassed, I’d tell them “oh no, I missed off the ‘t’, that’s not as bad dying is it?”.

    • Um, not a good idea. The reason weight loss is a sensitive topic is because discussing it feels like rejection. In using humor here, your goal should be to make your love feel loved and not-rejected. Not to display how clever you can be. Bruno’s suggestion below could work. But… “You’re fat and I wish you were dead. Ha ha, kidding kidding kidding! I don’t wish you were dead, I only wish you weren’t so fat.” Nope, not recommended.

  51. I would bet something big, like a nice holiday trip, that I could lose more weight than her. Proportionally, of course, so it would make it a big challenge for me, as I am not so far from my “ideal” weight and I’d also weigh more, despite her being fat (yeah, I said it).

    I am very competitive, so I’d encourage a little bit more designing a training program that doesn’t need a very strict schedule, just some intensity and being persistent. I would also cook for both, as I would be trying to get fitter too. Of course I would joke saying that I am putting more fat on hers. But I wouldn’t do that… if I’m winning.

    She would get me with a ripped body, feel better about herself and also make me like her a bit more.

    The bet could have 3 stages, the first month, then after 3 months and then after a year. This way I could save for the trip that I would be glad to pay but also put some short term goals that would motivate her a bit more. A nice dinner out the first month and something a bit bigger for the third one.

    If she looses, I’d spend the money in a VERY expensive guitar. That and paying her part would kill her.

    Rammit, I think I’m doing this right now, my girlfriend is not overweight at all, but she started complaining about it and I really like having someone to compete with. The only thing I have to lose is my girlfriend, but who cares if she’s fat?

  52. Wow, what a coincidence. I’ve been thinking about almost this exact same problem for months- except about my Dad, instead of a partner. I just ordered few highly recommended books on conversations and sales to get better at this. Please note, this is all hypothetical and I have not direct experience having this conversation myself.

    The first difficulty is knowing your partner is the kind of person with whom you can address this directly. Do they accept feedback? Do you have a relationship where you can talk openly about the hardest stuff in life? If so, I would say something like this: “Hey, I want to talk with you about something hard and important, is now a good time?” When the time is good, I would straight shoot it: “I’m worried about you. I’ve noticed that your energy levels have been decreasing lately, and I’m concerned about your physical health. Have you noticed that to?” I would guess that a lot couples can’t have this conversation. Personally, I’ve been working hard that last few years to be able to accept this kind of feedback from close confidants. It’s one half of the two pieces of advice that Elon Musk consistently gives (ie. ask for negative feedback and break life problems down like physics problems).

    When you can’t have that direct conversation (like I can’t with my Dad), it is so much harder. First, you have to cultivate a positive environment. Do you fight about little stuff all the time? Then the chances of having a good conversation about health are slim. Don’t nag, don’t berate, don’t insult. Instead, compliment, encourage, and all that stuff. Then, you have to approach the conversation about health from a place they care about (“speak their language,” as Ramit has said previously this year). Are they career driven, family/kids orientated, or something else? Start there.

    Here’s what I would say if approaching from career. “Hey, how has it been going working on long-term career goals? … Has your plan been to work on that after-hours at home … I can see why it’s been difficult. You know what, I’ve been noticing that you haven’t had a lot of energy lately once you get back from the office. Is something up?” Notice here, it become important to draw out the problem. BOTH OF YOU KNOW ABOUT IT ALREADY. Don’t play dumb but don’t be a jerk. Be smart and empathetic. Your partner knows they’ve gain 35 lbs. They are not stupid.

    At this point, he/she will probably admit to having mood and energy problems. Gently push the conversation: “Yeah, I’ve felt like that before. Do you think you know why that’s happening?” Here, we would hope that he/she admits to physical health struggles. If they do, then continue with, “Yeah, that’s a good guess. I was thinking the same thing. It does make me kinda concerned about your physical health. If you want to do something about it, I’ll help or just support you completely.” Bam. If you got this far, don’t push anymore. You don’t need to problem solve in the same conversation that you uncover the problem. Only do that if they want to. Just finish with a hug and a “I love you.”

    That’s my two sense.

    • Hah. I just noticed that I undercut my own authority with the last sentence of the first paragraph and the last sentence of the whole comment. Looks like I don’t believe in my own ability on this subject, even though, as I said, I’ve been looking into this for months.

  53. Over-eating is typically a symptom of the real issue(s) at-hand. Most people know they’re screwing up their diet and don’t need to be reminded of that. So, the conversation is not going to be about eating less or doing more exercise; we’re going to attempt to uncover the root cause of the over-eating.

    Me: “How’s everything going lately?”
    Fatty: “Good. Why?”
    Me: “Just asking. I’ve been pretty stressed at work lately and it made me think about you and to see how everything’s going in your world.”
    Fatty: “Oh, well yeah I’ve actually been stressed out for a while now. What’s wrong at work?”
    Me: “…anyways, what has you stressed?”

    The most important thing to take away from that conversation is that I didn’t allow Fatty to dig deeper in my problem. I transitioned from sharing my problem right into asking about their problem. There is no pause for Q&A because this isn’t about me. My problem was bullshit from the get-go. I only shared my problem so I could connect with Fatty (because misery loves company) and to get Fatty to open up. Fatty has to make the decision to share their problem(s), not me. Once Fatty starts sharing what is eating away at their soul you must play the part of the therapist and ask questions that lead them down the path of resolution. Fatty is coming up with the solution in their responses, not you.

    That conversation might have to take place multiple times depending on how many problems Fatty is dealing with and/or the complexity of the problem(s), but eventually you’ll uncover the root cause of their unhappiness and help them get on a path to resolution. By the way, over-eating will inevitably come up in one of those conversations and Fatty will devise the optimal plan for losing that weight.

    Patience is key for you in this situation. Fatty is crying for help, but help doesn’t just mean “solve all my problems for me right now”. You need to listen, understand, and ask the right questions that help Fatty figure out the solution to their problem(s). Do that, and Fatty won’t be Fatty for much longer.

    Oh, and you’ll probably be boyfriend/girlfriend/life partner of the year. You’re welcome.

  54. Over-eating is typically a symptom of the real issue(s) at-hand. Most people know they’re screwing up their diet and don’t need to be reminded of that. So, the conversation is not going to be about eating less or doing more exercise; we’re going to attempt to uncover the root cause of the over-eating.

    Me: “How’s everything going lately?”
    Fatty: “Good. Why?”
    Me: “Just asking. I’ve been pretty stressed at work lately and it made me think about you and to see how everything’s going in your world.”
    Fatty: “Oh, well yeah I’ve actually been stressed out for a while now. What’s wrong at work?”
    Me: “blah, blah, blah, work problem, moving on…anyways, what has you stressed?”

    The most important thing to take away from that conversation is that I didn’t allow Fatty to dig deeper in my problem. I transitioned from sharing my problem right into asking about their problem. There is no pause for Q&A because this isn’t about me. My problem was bullshit from the get-go. I only shared my problem so I could connect with Fatty (because misery loves company) and to get Fatty to open up. Fatty has to make the decision to share their problem(s), not me. Once Fatty starts sharing what is eating away at their soul you must play the part of the therapist and ask questions that lead them down the path of resolution. Fatty is coming up with the solution in their responses, not you.

    That conversation might have to take place multiple times depending on how many problems Fatty is dealing with and/or the complexity of the problem(s), but eventually you’ll uncover the root cause of their unhappiness and help them get on a path to resolution. By the way, over-eating will inevitably come up in one of those conversations and Fatty will devise the optimal plan for losing that weight.

    Patience is key for you in this situation. Fatty is crying for help, but help doesn’t just mean “solve all my problems for me right now”. You need to listen, understand, and ask the right questions that help Fatty figure out the solution to their problem(s). Do that, and Fatty won’t be Fatty for much longer.

    Oh, and you’ll probably be boyfriend/girlfriend/life partner of the year. You’re welcome.

  55. This is a very sensitive issue for both men and women. From personal experience, husbands don’t like to be called “overweight” no matter who says it. So I told him that “I was fat and wanted to go on a diet” and “I wanted to look good for him” and “I need your help.” And my plan of attack included eating lots of vegetables and grains, red meat sporadically, more fish and chicken, only one fruit a day, and drinking lots of water. No hard liquor, only a small glass of red wine preferably. 1 cup of 1% milk. No sugar, no diet anything. Nothing from a box. Walk a lot. We lost 80 pounds together (60 were his). And still doing it, and “thanking him for his help.”

  56. Buckley Jeppson Link to this comment

    All relationships are different. I have found that the straight-on honest approach works for us. I would tell him that we need to set a time to sit down and talk about something. At that time, I would say, “I love you very much and I want us to grow old together. Since being together we have both gained a bit of weight, but I notice that you have gained more that I, and that worries me. I hope it is because you are happy that we are together. But I realize it might also be stress or discontent. Am I out of line being concerned?”

    Then I shut up and listen.

    Those are my personal feelings, and all feelings are valid and true. I didn’t accuse him of some character flaw or tell him he needs to fix himself. I told him how I felt and then listened.

    Again, straight up honesty may not work for some. For us it allows us to cut through the crap and get to the heart of an issue without blaming, shaming, or playing games. You can’t change someone. You can only communicate.

  57. I would wait for my partner to say something to me- to identify the problem on their own.
    Regardless of how this comes up (energy, self-esteem level, etc), the next step is to empathize, and show support while validating my partners feelings. Maybe like:
    them-”I am so tired of feeling like crap lately”
    me-”Yeah, I have noticed you just don’t seem like yourself- what do you think is making you feel like that?”
    Open up the COMMUNICATION, not manipulation.
    eventually, as the dialog continues, it will naturally reach the point where a discussion of the present can move into discussion about the future of the same issue.
    “So, have you thought about what would make you feel better?”
    The partner will have already considered a lot of options, so really all they need is a push to get them started on the decisions they know are right but wont commit to. Almost any action will be a positive one, as this is fundamentally a problem of inaction- the partner didn’t proactively set out to get fat.
    As things progress, support and accountability for realistic goals would become the most important thing.
    But it will have to be delicate- I would guess that someone who would just put on 35 pounds without concern may not be the most driven person.
    People are really only able to solve their own problems, even if you have to give them all the tools. There has to be a sense of self-determination.

  58. It’s the first time I participate because your question really challenges me. How can I help someone do something?

    I don’t know! So I read your suggestions of articles. This reminded me that a few years ago I read this book by Alan Carr on how to stop smocking; not because I smoke, but because a good friend of mine stopped smocking after she read the book and was fine. Just before she read the book she told me she knew she had to quit smoking but that it felt like losing her best friend! I wanted to understand what made her change her mind and decide to stop.

    Basically the book explains how nicotine works, what it does to you and your body, and how ALL smokers worked hard to get used to it to start with. ALL smokers know smoking is not good for them and nothing like putting money used to buy cigarettes aside or showing them cancers will help them quit. Willpower doesn’t work. The author explains that they will feel a sort of hunger if they quit but that it won’t become worse than after the night and that it will disappear after 2-3 weeks. They learn to pity other smokers who did not understand nicotine and its effects.

    So my guess is that if I wanted to help my husband lose weight it will take some learning about his body, nutrition, his mind in relation to his body, a system that works for him to change habits, a coach maybe, a personal trainer who looks so sexy he wants to lose weight to conquer her (!)…

  59. Ramit, you don’t know me and have never seen me. But for most people working out is a waste of time. They’ll make a half-assed attempt at it and quit.

    Most people will never do it period!!! The people who succeed are the ones like me willing to workout hard, not easy,educate themselves and eat properly. Eating is the biggest issue, and if you don’t have that down, you’ll never succeed.

    Ask your fitness trainer friends. I know you have some fitness trainers on your list. If they tell you that working out is what you should focus on and that it’s 80% of your success, they’re either bullshitting you or don’t know what they’re talking about.

    Most people if they’ve never worked out or don’t enjoy it, should do something they like. Going for a bloody walk and stretching daily for 10 to 20 minutes will get you more physical. And doing some actual housework and making it a mini-workout will keep you active. But feeding yourself nutritious food is the main key.

    I personally don’t have a woman at the moment and I’ve always told women, and even relatives,either you’re going to workout and take care of yourself, or you’re headed down a path where when you get to be 40 to 50 your health will deteriorate fast. Don’t wait. because I’m not going to wait with you. I want the quality of my health and life to be incredible!

    Mark in Canada

  60. Be thoughtful about how you introduce the issue: Use compassionate language to avoid feelings of attack or accusation, but be honest and direct
    -”So I know that you’ve been really busy with work, stressed out about school, feeling confused about your next steps” (Acknowledge whatever you think a root cause might be to show you aren’t on the attack)
    -”I’ve noticed it’s really taken a toll on your health. You have a lot less energy, you’ve gained a decent amount of weight, overall you don’t seem like yourself”, etc. (Be honest, but not brutally so. If you tell your partner they look sloppy and obese, it might just make the problem worse).
    -I know that changing a healthy lifestyle can be hard, but I’m concerned and I want to help

    If they’re receptive to the idea and don’t get defensive, then….

    Recommend a solution that isn’t overwhelming: Don’t recommend radical behavior changes overnight. It isn’t sustainable for most people, especially those resistant to weight loss, to work out 3 hrs a day 7 days a week, AND take on a whole new diet. Also, all behavior changes are not equal when it comes to weight loss. Weight gain is usually tied to these things in order of important 1. Sleep Habits 2. Diet 3. Exercise.
    -Why don’t you try to make one change each week for the next 12 weeks
    -First, why don’t you start by trying to get 7 – 8 hrs of sleep each night. (I’ll stop asking you to stay up and watch TV with me)
    -If you do that for a week, keep it up the next week, and start introducing at least one change into your diet. When you can keep up with that change more or less for a week, add another.
    -Start with small but impactful changes. Stop drinking calorie-laden drinks and sodas. Instead, drink half your body weight in oz of water each day
    -If you take your lunch to work and/or eat dinner at home, do meal prep on Sunday nights. (Offer to do it with them the first few weeks).
    -If you’re on the road or eating out with your team, give yourself parameters. 1 beer or cocktail, a lean protein, a veggie with no sauce, etc.
    -Continue above until you’re eating healthy regularly each week.

    Set up positive and negative incentives: Create a system that encourages the right behaviors not just tied to specific lbs lost each week. And FYI: positive consequences have been shown to have a stronger impact on behavior changes than negative. But try both to see what works.
    -Don’t recommend rewards that undo all of the hard work. That easily turns into frustration when you don’t see results (i.e. making it a habit to eat 4K calories of alcohol, carbs, and sugar every Saturday on “cheat day”)
    -Set up an automatic transfer from your bank account to a separate account. (Let’s say every Sunday you transfer $105 ($15/day) to this separate account.)
    -For every day you stick to your plan the money stays in the account. Stick to your eating plan for the month and at EOM, reward yourself by using that money for something important to you. Paying off extra $ on a credit card bill, buying a piece of technology you’ve been eyeing, going on a nice dinner, etc.
    -Note every day that you don’t stick to your plan and doc yourself $15 each day. Pledge to do something that you don’t really want to do with that money. Give it to your slacker younger brother each week, donate it.

    If they get defensive OR if they try for a few days and then drop off….

    Back off and reintroduce the conversation later: Nothing productive will happen if they feel attacked and feel boxed in a corner. Reintroduce the topic in a day or two when they seem calm and less emotional. And evaluate how you introduced the topic the first time. Be sure you were thoughtful and considerate of the sensitive nature of discussing phsyical appearance in a romantic relationship.
    -Stress the changes in health that you’ve noticed. This should be your first point, because it is the most caring and least threatening
    -Note that it’s also affecting you and your relationship and you really want to help because you’re concerned about the longer term affects on their health and your relationship. Note that they have less energy, they want to be less active, you’re having less sex, etc.

    If they tried for a few days or a week or two:
    -Ask why they stopped
    -Try to reintroduce the positive and negative incentives and get them to stick to it

    If they follow through….

    Be supportive: They’re putting in the work, so provide support where you can. Hang out with them while they’re doing meal prep instead of asking to go out to dinner. Or don’t be upset if they have to skip cuddling on the couch and watching TV to go to bed or head to the gym

    If they continue to resist solutions or change, and don’t do anything about it for the next few weeks…

    If this person’s health is really out of whack and you truly are less attracted to them both physically and emotionally, and you have communicated with them about it thoughtfully, maybe something bigger is at play. Are they depressed? Are they suffering from some very real stress that they aren’t managing properly? Find out what the bigger problem might be and, if there is one, help them address the core issue. Nothing will change until that is fixed, and if you care about that person you want to help.

    If there isn’t a major root issue and they’re just taking poor care of themselves and are complacent…

    Be realistic and recognize you’re the only person who is going to take action, and you have to make a decision. If this person doesn’t change anything about their sleep, diet, or exercise routine and everything stays the same (or gets worse), will you still be happy in the relationship? If the answer is yes, then just let it go and accept this new state of your partner. If the answer is no, they’ve given you no indication that they’re going to change. So you have to stop holding out unfounded hope. When it’s gotten to this point, let your partner know that you can no longer be in a relationship with someone who refuses to take care of themselves. And the change is no longer optional for you. Either they need to get healthy, or you’re going to go. And if they don’t get healthy, you actually need to go.

  61. It’s not about what you say, it’s about what you DO. Buy and cook healthy food. Keep up a regular exercise routine, and invite your partner along without judgment or attitude (“hey, I’m going for a walk — wanna come?”). Telling someone they NEED to do something is the quickest way to get them to want to do the exact opposite. Modeling the lifestyle you want your partner to adopt will work better than any words you might use.

  62. Baby,
    I wanna talk with you about something important. I work with patients at the hospital who have very bad diseases and ailments like diabetes etc. It all begins with excessive weight gain. Your energy level is dramatically less than it use to be and that is a potential warning sign. Obviously you have gained weight and we joke about it, but I am worried about your health and well being. I want you to be healthy so we can enjoy our future kids and grand kids.

    Lets lose some weight and engage in healthier living habits. I have learned some techniques to develop a system that allows us to automatically engage our lives together in a healthy way. We can use the system in place so we don’t have to rely on will power alone. How do you feel about taking this journey with me?

  63. I just went through this successfully. Here’s what happened: my husband had put on about 40lbs and wasn’t particularly motivated. He was grouchy too which wasn’t fun either. I was going to an event for entreprenuers in NYC and found out I could bring a guest. I asked him if he wanted to go, he said no. After some begging and berating over a 2 week period he finally said yes. While there, we met a really cool woman who was doing incredibly well in the weight loss realm because she too had struggled to lose weight but then found a very sensible way to do it and that is when she started her business. Between her and some of the other people there, we both came home invigorated and inspired. We looked up her website and agreed no matter what we will do it together and hold each other accountable. It worked! Since the beginning of June he has lost 27lbs! He is very happy, motivated and now driven to be even better.

  64. Samuel Doualle Link to this comment

    To achieve successful behavioral change, I would use these 3 components:
    - motivation
    - ability
    - triggers
    And turn it into an efficient system to impact my partner’s mental frameworks partner and create a common daily habit

    Of course, the first part (motivation) is the most difficult
    Here is how I would do it:

    Motivation
    I would not approach the problem by directly criticizing my partner’s behavior and appearance
    I would start by expressing my own legitimate feelings :
    “Honey, I have observed you for a while now and I must admit I am quite affected by the fact your energy seems to slow down
    I knew you in better shape, happier, and that’s why I fell in love with you.
    Now, it’s sad to say but my feelings are quite mixed right now, and I am not as physically attracted to you as I was before
    Don’t you feel that you have lost self confidence and energy recently?
    I would really appreciate we both make efforts to get back into shape, don’t you?

    If your partner is a real human being, he will agree that he has lost self esteem because of a lack of effort
    And if he really cares about you, he will be sensitive to your own feelings
    (beware of falling into the trap of emotional blackmail)

    “What would you say if we follow for the next month a slight diet (or practice running once a week, or rhythmic dance classes or whatever) together once a week to improve our shape?

    Here the goal is not to take severe actions in first but to support your partner into a new healthier routine

    Ability
    Running once a week, or slight diet or whatever it is is very easy. No need for a lot of money, or knowledge or even willpower

    Triggers
    - Be sure to do everything that make it easier to go running (put your running shoes next to the door, be reliable yourself to go running too…), or to follow the diet (print a menu for the week, get rid of or hide junk food…)
    Your partner don’t have to ask himself too much questions because of ubiquitous triggers. Do not overlook the impact of your own incentives because you are the one at the origin of the change

    Create a successful system
    To implement a long term behavioral change with success, you need to include pleasure, rewards (for example: your own compliments and warm because your partner has been sensitive to your feelings) or guilt free practice (like eating junk food or candies once a week) that may give your partner enough incentive to follow the new pace and make more progress

    To gain momentum, the next step can be harder (running twice a week, paleo carb diet…)

  65. I’d lead by example. Obviously a conversation has to be had… And that’s probably the most difficult first step. So first thing I would do is suggest going out to dinner or cooking a healthy meal together during the prep time (or when ordering drinks) i would bring up my desire for a personal lifestyle change… Wanting to eat healthier and be more active… Talk about how much better I feel when I eat healthy and ask if they notice a change in energy level when they eat healthier and are more active. Tell them about a diet you’ve been looking into (south beach or paleo or whatever you’ve been learning about) and tell them about a 30 day challenge… Just discuss and talk at first, don’t push or set up something for them.

    Then during the next week choose healthier options for your family. Do it for yourself and build up a little credibility for yourself. The next week do the same thing… Go out to dinner or make dinner together again. Talk about some of the changes you’ve noticed in you’re energy level and talk about wanting to do a 30 day challenge. Test the waters and determine their receptivity to joining you on the journey.

    If they’re still hesitant. Do it alone. Start buying healthier food. Order food that is healthy when you go out to eat. Spend 20-30 minutes going for a walk or a run.

    If they decide to join you, great. If they still don’t care after a month of leading by example, then it’s time to involve their friendship circle. Tell their friends what you’re doing and how you’d love it if your significant other would join you but you just don’t know how to get them motivated. See what they have to say.

    Big lifestyle changes don’t happen during a single conversation. They happen over the course of many little conversations and consistency. Dont be discouraged if it takes a while to get them on board.

  66. I would choose a private, comfortable time and say something direct, but non-judgmental like “I know you like my cooking, seems like you’ve put on some weight in the past few years.”

    I would wait for their response. To gauge how they feel about the gain and my mentioning it. I’d want to find out if they truly desired to lose it or not. I do not want the person to say they do just for my benefit, because it would never happen and lead to resentment.

    If they do want to lose it, I’d ask how I could be most supportive as well as share observations about behavior patterns that impact the goal. I’d help them come up with an action plan and then check in regularly.

    If they aren’t interested in losing weight, I wouldn’t push it. Each person has the right to make decisions about his or her own body. I would share my feelings and concerns and reaffirm my support of their bodily autonomy. I would check in on my own feelings regularly in order to determine whether the relationship is working for me and what I need going forward. I would consider wnding the relationship if my feelings about the issue strongly impacted my happiness.

  67. “Babe, you want me to design you a program? Do you know what ketosis is? Once you start looking at food like “that’ll spike my cortisol” or “this help reduce inflammation” then the intolerable hunger will disappear and you’ll have beautiful, flowing energy. ”
    Where do we begin? She says.

    We need all the tools! Healthy fats, ketosis plan, proper food protocol…

    “I’m too busy” she replies.

    Once you complete this fasting process and detoxification, your mental energy and attentive abilities will skyrocket! It really is as simple as getting the best fats possible, forcing your liver to spit out all its glycogen, and reducing brain and stomach inflammation as much as possible
    welcome

  68. My wife said the following on a regular basis:
    “Well one of us weighs the same as on our wedding day” :)

    Totally worked on me after ~1yr of hearing this over and over. I lost the 20+ lbs. . .

  69. Don’t have the conversation, slowly change the diet by shopping for better foods. Lead by example with the diet without nagging them. Cut down on your own drinking. Start tricking them into getting more active with you be it walks sport gardening sex whatever. Make it automatic and unnoticeable over time.

  70. There is no one-size-fits-all (pardon the pun) answer for this scenario. There are guidelines, but no clear path to the desired outcome. There is no script for this, as badly as many people would want one.

    You can’t bring it up. You have to wait for them to bring it up. How they bring it up determines your response. At which time you would say things like “What are your ideas? What do you think would work for you? How can I help you?” Asking these questions encourages them to take control. They have to initiate the conversation because it makes them feel like they’re in control of the situation and they have taken the initiative. They need to feel motivated from within, not motivated out of fear that their significant other isn’t attracted to them and/or doesn’t love them as much.

    Of course, until they bring it up in conversation, all you can do is practice what you would like to (but shouldn’t) preach to them, and hope it’s the icebreaker you need.

  71. “I’d like to spend more time with you, and I’m also trying to get more exercise. Would you be willing to go on a light hike or brisk walk with me every morning? It would really help me out and it would be nice to spend time with you away from all other distractions.”

  72. I lost 40 pounds, my husband of 28 years gained 30. We have been married far to long and I am too direct to play games. I told him that I love him, but he is making himself sick. He is eating unhealthy food and immense portions. I made sure that he is aware of what he eats and I try to make sure that he has any tools available that may help him. I bought him a Fitbit and we challenge each other by watching the stats. He has not lost much weight, but he is at least aware and from here all I can do is encourage his progress. He is an adult and his choices are his own.

  73. “My Dear, Ive noticed some changes in your weight in the last year or two. Are you okay? Is there something that you need to talk about?” Then Listen Listen Listen. Perhaps therapy or a retreat or hikes.

    Then “Would you like to workout together a couple of times per week? I’m so turned on by you when you’re all sweaty..then we can go home and play in the shower after.” Sexy eyes.
    Watch the documentary FatHead together, cook and plan Paleo/Nourishing Traditions meals together, attend cross fit or similar, have more sex to burn calories (even if I dont feel like it), and personally also set a weight body goal/5K/fitness event for me so we’re in it together

  74. Currently in this situation, although we have been together 10 years instead of 3. Here are the things that 3-7 years in to the relationship, did NOT work:

    1) Got a personal trainer, was super motivated, lost some weight, but gained it all back when his trainer (also a good friend) moved away.
    2) Dieted several times. Lost some weight, but then started feeling awesome about loosing the weight and went back to old habits. Gained weight back.
    3) I had him do weekly weigh-ins because he kept saying “everyone says I look thinner” when he really wasn’t. Result, he realized he was not getting any thinner and was unmotivated.
    4) “I would be more motivated to have sex if you lost weight.” Definitely did not work.
    5) “Isn’t it weird that you can loose weight, but then gain it back in, like, 5 days? That’s not normal. Maybe you should see a specialist.” Result, saw a specialist, determined that his weight had generated insulin intolerance, started to see a nutritionist, but lost motivation when I did not support his interest in getting gastric bypass surgery.

    The second specialist he saw about the gastric bypass, said surgery was overkill and insisted that success with weight loss came from a 3-part program: physiologist to uncover the reasons for over-eating and lack of exercise, nutritionist to adjust and monitor the foods, and physical therapist or physical trainer to kick-start the exercise. All three were monitored by the same doctor. Result, had mild weight loss with a nutritionist and physical therapist who helped him with knee recovery (part of the reason no exercise), but never saw the physiologist.

    Three years later, here is what I said which actually seems to be working:

    “Honey, I know you have struggled with your weight over the years, but it is time to take your weight loss seriously and get to the bottom of WHY you over eat and change your lifestyle to keep the weight off. It is not about aesthetics, although I see how good you feel when you do loose weight. It is about your health. You are a father of 2 children and it is totally possible that you will have a heart attack and die, leaving your young children without a father. It is your responsibility to take your health seriously so you can be a supportive father and active partner for the long run. If you are not willing to take this seriously and make change, then I see our relationship going in the wrong direction. I will support you every step of the way, even if it means surgery (hoping the reverse psychology would work). Why don’t you go back to Dr. Second-specialist and follow his 3-part program. You never got to the heart of WHY you over eat and the psychologist will help with that. Besides, you liked that doctor, right?”

    Result: Starting the doctor’s 3-part program, first with physiologist and nutritionist (who both say he doesn’t need surgery!). Doing a slew of health tests to determine a final weight loss GOAL and a plan to meet this goal. Unlike last time, I continue to be very positive and supportive, but have been firm about how his health implications affect our family and relationship.

    Ultimately, it was a mixture of the rhetoric about loosing his family and dying young, and the clear warning that without this lifestyle change, our relationship was going in the wrong direction, which seems to have struck a chord. He also seems to be motivated when I say things like, “I don’t know, I’m going to have to lock you up once you reach your weight loss goal, because you’re going to be so hot that all the ladies will want you!”

    • You are ON IT, girl! Getting to the bottom of why he’s eating is the most important thing you can do. Kudos to you for noticing that and helping him out by being loving, firm, and compassionate!

  75. This is a really great question, one I’ve been on both sides of. My partner was not very supportive of my slow yet steady weight-loss process and now he is in the position of overeating.

    Having been an emotional eater and having been overweight, I know that the weight isn’t just about eating too much or being lazy. It’s about some underlying emotional issue.

    Here is how I would approach it (and am approaching it) with my partner:

    “Hey honey. Can we talk? You know I love you to pieces and want the best for you. I’m noticing that you’ve gained weight, and I’m wondering what’s going on for you. Are you OK?”

    “Yeah. I’m fine.”

    “Are you sure, sweetie? I know things have been stressful for you lately and you haven’t had much energy. That’s really unusual for you. I’m available to talk and really to support you in our shared goal of being and feeling healthy.”

    “OK. I’m just having a hard time accessing my emotions. I just feel like crap all the time and I don’t know why.”

    “Well, let’s see how we can get you in touch with your emotions. It sounds like you’re in your head a lot. Is that right?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Ok. So let’s try some yoga to help you get back into your body. That’s a good first step.”

    And this conversation will go on and on. We use a variety of a different tools: The Option Process Dialogue, The Work of Byron Katie, emotional healing techniques, coaching. Anything that’s beyond the scope of what I can deliver as a partner and coach, I help him to find within our community, whether that’s a mentor, a good friend, or a therapist.

    Relationships are great for motivation, but aren’t necessarily the best places to work out these really deep issues. Hopefully this kind of processing work would happen outside of most relationships and within the context of some kind of coaching or therapeutic process.

    The most important thing is to be loving, compassionate, and open. I’m not here to fix my partner; I’m here to love and accept him unconditionally. I’m here to let him know that I notice that something’s off and that I want to help him figure out what it is and how he can get the help that he needs. I’m not here to blame him for gaining weight or for not dealing with his emotions.

  76. Not in a relationship so I can’t really think of things I would say specifically. In general, there are two different issues that I think need to be dealt with here.

    The first issue is the cause of the weight gain. Weight gain could have come from the loss of a positive pressure (I need to stay thin because the wedding is coming up) or an increase in negative pressure (Things aren’t going well at work and I can’t seem to figure out why. It would take several conversations to try to get them to open up about what the cause is behind their weight gain and whether or not there are underlying problems that need to be addressed.

    The second issue is how to get rid of the extra weight. If they are interested in going to the gym and dieting, the solution is as simple as developing a lifestyle around a better diet and more exercise. If going to the gym is boring, then getting involved in sports/martial arts/interactive athletic activities is probably the way to go. In either case, the goal should not be to “lose weight” but to transition into a more healthy and active lifestyle.

    I’ve been fat and sedentary my whole life due to high social anxiety and low self-esteem and I’m finally addressing my problems. In my opinion one of the hardest things to do is to deal with people who care because there’s a lot of advice thrown at you rather than actual solutions. Creating an exercise regimen and dieting are the types of things that are born and die in the same hour. Cultivating an interest in cooking for myself and a desire to be able to compete athletically have pushed me to improve my life more than anything else I can remember.

  77. He knew he’d gained weight when he went to the doctor and got weighed. Eventually I bought a scale. When I told him he said, somewhat joking, “Now I have to know how fat I am!” I told him it was for me and just left it in the bathroom. I didn’t say anything else. Some time later he mentioned, on his own, that his weight hadn’t changed since his doctor weigh-in. (He was glad it wasn’t continuing to go up.) Just the other day he said he was down five pounds.

    YMMV.

    • And today he actually called me into the bathroom to show he was down another pound. I swear I did nothing but buy a scale.

    • A scale makes a big difference; it’s instant accountability. Even if you avoid stepping on it, that in itself is a poke in the ribs. Unfortunately I can’t keep mine in the bathroom (no room + kids would shower it daily) but thanks for the reminder, I will find another good place to keep it.

  78. Some night Ill say: Baby, I love your belly! And she/he would say: are you calling me fat! Then I answer: No! just saying that I love your belly! And she/he would say/think : I have to go to gym… And Ill say: ye me too, lets go “belly baby! ” and then you repeat it when you need it ;) just for motivation!

  79. The first thing I would do is change what kinds of foods she is exposed to/has easy access to. So I would volunteer to cook and do the grocery shopping. That way, she sees it as a plus (I’m doing stuff for her), and I gain control over what kinds of foods are available in the house.

    As for exercise, I would try and find out an activity that she enjoys doing, but also requires some physical activity. Some sort of action where her first thought is “fun”, instead of “exercise”. For me, that is racquetball, but whatever works for her. That way, it isn’t such a drain on her willpower, and it doesn’t contain that negative emotion that most people feel when they hear the word “exercise”

  80. I’d probably start the conversation by pointing to something like this post. I’d ask my husband (who, btw is fit and doesn’t need to change a thing!) how he’d approach the topic.

    Starting in generalities first to get the topic out there, and then bringing it down to the individual level might be the most non-confrontational approach.

    If it were me with the weight issue, hmm. I think I’d want my husband to say something like, “I love you, and you’re still as beautiful as the day we got married. I want us to have a long and healthy life together, and I’m concerned about your health. Have you been thinking about different aspects of your health lately? Is there anything we can do together to improve?”

    I can’t guarantee that would go well. I’d likely be a bit defensive, but perhaps it would get me thinking and be open to further conversations.

  81. Being someone who has recently lost 65+ lbs, I’d suggest the following (assuming you live with your partner) -
    1. Start doing the grocery shopping (if you don’t already) and become more conscious of what is bought – looking for healthy alternatives to what you already eat. Don’t make drastic changes.
    2. Do the cooking and provide portion control of what is made – if it isn’t on the table then it can’t be eaten.
    3. Pack them a lunch for work. No sense giving them an excuse to go out for lunch.
    4. Ask them to join you on evening walks – take different routes and progressively pick longer ones, but keep it to about 30 mins max for a while. Get a dog if that’ll help justify the need to walk.
    5. Plan weekend activities which are active. Visit parks, hike trails, bike rides, festivals, water activities (canoeing, kayaking, etc). Do it with friends.
    6. Projects are also great activities with end results and usually physical. Building a deck, cleaning out the attic, rearranging the garage, paint rooms, etc.
    7. Turn off the television/computer in the evening most days of the week.
    Those are the things I believe work and can be introduced without saying your partner needs to lose weight. Gradual changes will yield pleasant results. As the changes become routine, the results will become permanent (meaning the weight will stay off).

  82. “Come here sexy, you know Ive liked you since day one, the only thing that would make you sexier would be some abs”

    dont over think it.

  83. I’m watching my parents go through this right now, and while I strongly agree with the folks suggesting that the concerned party take responsibility for shopping and cooking, I also think it’s really important to help your partner cope with emotional/psychological issues that may underlie the weight gain. In my parents’ case, my Dad has been working way too hard and has become very run-down, so my mother’s insistence that he stop working Saturdays has made a huge difference. They are also incentivizing exercise with a planned hiking trip in Peru — he’ll have to be in better shape to enjoy exploring the Inca Trail. As with saving vs. saving for a down payment, having a specific goal to work toward provides much-needed motivation.

  84. I would suggest they keep a food diary for a week of their normal eating. I would then tell them to take a look at the items that were “worst” and try and come up for healthy alternatives. E.g if they don’t want to give up their French fries, suggest they do baked ones or baked sweet potato fries. I would also suggest that they do 30 minutes of movement for one day a week and incrementally increase it.

  85. Ramit,

    I would not know what to say because I cannot even motivate myself consistently.

  86. I would ask him if something is wrong. To gain 35 lbs over 3.5 years may mean your partner is depressed….probably about the relationship. You may have to go for counseling. Find the source of the depression and maybe the weight problem may take care of itself.

  87. I lost 120 lb’s I found out the problem was my eating not my lack of exercise.
    My fat melted off after I ate regular balanced meals and more water less junk.
    I did not exercise to loose all that fat, not once.

    Concerning my partner gaining 35 pounds I would:

    1. Analyze the source of the problem. Mostly it is a bad eating habit. Maybe it is the problem is the both of us except my metabolism is better, since we eat together mostly. Find a compromise between the both of us and eat healthier foods together and find out that one food target it and eventually the fat will melt back off.

    2. If 1 dont work I would find if the problem is emotional, depression. Is it our relationship is it something else. Talk about it and try to get my partner to overcome that depression high emotional binge eating.

    3. Maybe it is a lack of exercise. I would take a class together for a month see the results.

    4. If non of the above fails, I would just take my partner to go see a doctor. That is if my partner is doing everything to loose the weight and there is 0 results.

  88. 35 lbs is enough that it’s probably an emotional issue. And losing extra weight like that is relatively easy: you just have to walk a few times a week, drink water instead of coke, and generally care about taking care of yourself.

    I say the answer is always unconditional love. If you stop saying anything judgmental about them and start showing more affection for them in your eyes and actual physical affection, it will be a lot easier to convince them to go on a romantic nighttime stroll (aka 40 minutes of walking) with you.

    Also, your affection has to be genuine. Just remember how much you adored them when you initially met them.

    Eventually, their mood will rise and they’ll do stuff on their own, and might even discuss the new things they want to get into, such as pickup soccer leagues, or something like that.

  89. Over the last three years I have lost 35kilos. It was Boxing Day and I went to try and buy some clothes. The choice in the large size dept was so awful and I did not fit into anything that was my style. That mirror was showing me how awful I looked. The weight had crept on over the past 15 or so years, just a few kilos each year. My then husband would badger me constantly about it but almost as a negative reaction I would take no notice of him. I knew that the weight was a constant thing on my mind and every night I would think that tomorrow would be the day to start my new approach but it never happened.
    I knew what I should be doing but I just could not get myself to start. The routine of eating that I was in and my very unhappy marriage and other stresses always came first automatically.
    But that Boxing Day something snapped! I would not go another minute in this vicious cycle.
    I knew that chemically I had a sugar and high GI carb addiction. I work in health for gods sake. So I made the decision and planned my withdrawal programme. Over the next month I planned and took note of everything that went into my mouth with the goal of being able to regulate myself so that the cycle of spiking my blood sugar did not happen. I pulled out of my cupboard a dress that I could not fit into and tried to put it on,feeling the way it felt. Then I hung that dress up so that I could see it and try it on again and again over the months to come.
    As I progressed there were days where I was so pleased with myself as the dress started to fit easier and then one day it did. Then I got a smaller one to do the same thing for the next level of reduction. This was all a private journey for me. I did not talk about it…..I just made the decision and did it.
    I followed a healthy low GI plan, took my supplements and started to feel better and healthier.
    No amount of telling me from any other party would have made me do it. In fact it made it worse.
    My lovely new man is going through the same gradual weight gain after being very slim for most of his life. I can see what he is doing and so understand it. It will have to be a decision that he makes when he is ready too to lose the excess weight.
    In the meantime he knows that I still work on myself everyday. I talk about my goals for myself and he knows that I get such a thrill in being able to wear the clothes that are easy to buy now. Whenever he is ready to start he can join me.
    But I love him anyway.

  90. In the beginning, I nagged my boyfriend to change his eating habits and drink more water as well as work out more because I had gained weight since we started dating due to eating with him and spending time with him that was mostly sedentary, but all he did was continue his life as if I never said anything. It caused more fights than I can count.

    What has helped us the most is that I eventually stopped hassling him about any of it and worked on myself by myself. I wanted to live healthier and eat better so I did those things on my own. Eventually, it seems that whatever I’ve done has inspired him to want to get in shape as well so he now joins me to workout, helps me meal prep and even creates mathematical spreadsheets for our carb/fat/protein ratios needed to get our BF percentages where we want them.

    So, in summation, I didn’t do anything to him because bugging him about it didn’t work. Instead, I just lived by example and it has either inspired him to change on his own because he saw the results I was getting : weight loss, more energy, stronger, etc. or because he didn’t want to be left out.

    Since doing my own thing and living by example, I’ve managed to inspire my cousin, boyfriend’s sister, and even their mom to change their lifestyles and try to live healthier which is surprising since my original approach (talking to them about living healthier) had never worked.

  91. From previous posts and personal info I’m thinking you have to make it automatic, easy and sexy. How do you talk about such a thing for weight loss without seeming like an ass? And reading all the responses we’re all apparently experts on this ;)

    I’ll give it a go, maybe say this, “Honey what sports or games did you play when you were a kid? I’ve been wanting to get out of the house and do something fun let’s do that” and then put in on the schedule once or twice a week, maybe the fun and joy will spark a new desire.
    As far as food, unsure but maybe get a meal delivery service with healthy food? If you can’t afford that just stock the house with healthy food, they have to want to do it for themselves and I don’t want to be the motivator all the time nor cook for them all the time. You can’t do it for them but you can make it easier for them to do it for themselves.
    Rough question this is hard lol.

  92. Some of these people are insane and others are thoughtful and gentle enough to help their partners take off some of the weight.

    Speaking as someone who has been on the other side of this issue (my ex-boyfriend constantly criticizing anything anytime that I ate ever), I’ll warn you that telling a girlfriend that she can’t eat multi-grain cereal (and then feeding me pie) or telling her that she’s killing helpless little animals (vegetarian) is not a way to a loving relationship.

    If I were seriously concerned with someone else’s weight gain (which I certainly have been), I would only bring it up if that person was genuinely concerned about it before I said anything and wanted my input. Weight is an incredibly delicate subject. I’d set them up with an account on stickK and be their accountability person.

    It’s really not easy to convince someone else to lose weight. I’m just waiting for the day when my ex-boyfriend’s metabolism shifts and he recognizes what weight gain is actually like. He seems to treat the idea of more weight as an intellectual exercise (or an interesting thought experiment), as he is extremely bony and at this point in his life unlikely to gain any significant amount of weight. Guys’ metabolisms peak at 27. And he would still be thin if he gained 35 pounds.

  93. Weight is pretty high on the drama scale in relationships, and talking to people about their weight is explosive in nature. I like the big story approach to work on increasing their activity level around a goal such as a 100mile bike ride or a tri or a 10k. Its not easy to simply start training for a 10k, so it requires a gradual walking partnership to kick start the process.

  94. Ramit, you are getting to me. Now I don’t answer without doing my research…

    I did my research: I looked up and listened to the BJ Fogg interview (http://earn1k.com/privatelist/bj-fogg-webcast) to see what you are getting at.

    From my notes on the interview, there are important “don’t do” principles, and important “to do” principles. These have been tested, so it is just a matter of applying them smartly.

    Summarized, don’t try to persuade using outside pressure, demanding big steps, criticizing:
    “Don’t do” principles:
    1) Don’t persuade through attitude or motivation adjustment (behavior change drives motivation not the other way around)
    2) Don’t persuade through education and information alone (information is just noise unless a connection is already made)
    3) Don’t persuade through direct instruction or demand something in one big chunk (no one likes being told what to do especially in overwhelming terms)

    So, you wouldn’t nag, educate about the dangers of obesity or any of that. These are negative factors that drive people to shut you out. If people are going to change, you can help by establishing the conditions for change from the inside out rather than the outside in.

    “To do” principles:
    1) Positive reinforcement (getting a growing feeling of success: “Success leads to success”)
    2) Baby steps in changing behavior
    3) Praise
    4) “Help people do what they already want to do.”
    5) Support the person, make is possible for them, without doing the work for them (that’s my insight).
    6) Empathize, form a connection that shows you are on the same team.
    7) Use health triggers

    My scenario:

    “Hey Jack/Jill, I’ve been noticing you’ve been making a lot of comments lately that you’d like to lose weight and get to where you are looking lighter and feeling better (summarizing what they already want to do, so it’s their decision). Looks like you’ve been so busy at work lately and getting the kids to school (empathize) making it difficult for you to get out and have some time to exercise, not to mention spending some good “me” time. As your mate, I’m wondering how I can help (support). We could free up a little time, if I get up early and get the kids’ lunches together, while you go out for a walk around the neighborhood block (baby steps, increasing this over time, and transitioning into jogging and running). (When your mate finishes with the walk/run…) “Wow, you look sexy with all that sweat, come over here…” (good hug, leering oo-la-la look, praise, positive reinforcement).

    The same technique could work in the far more important category of diet (from a weight loss perspective), in empathizing with your mate’s lack of sleep, fast food lunches, etc. that are putting on the pounds. Here you might agree to help cooking healthy meals, get healthy lunches ready to go BEFORE taking off to work (triggers). Then begin to expand the enterprise by getting into reading labels in grocery stores, trying new healthy cookbooks, trying new natural foods restaurants, not keeping a bunch of snack food lying around (negative triggers), etc. This is when education becomes helpful: after behavior and connecting positively with your mate. THEN motivation starts to pick up and feed on itself. So the basic successful persuasion formula is exactly backward from many of the experts behavior –> education –> motivation.

    Best regards, Zeus

    • Will you marry me?

    • Also forgot to mention two important environmental variables and two triggers. Environment: 1) setting time for sleep with reading or other non electronic stimulation before bed, 2) running with a social group or partner once you have worked your way up. Triggers: 1) small plates and utensils will absolutely fool your mind into thinking you are eating more than you are because we psychologically gauge amount through comparison and proportion NOT absolute amounts, 2) ten minute back rub or foot rub for your partner before bed (and then work your way up)!

  95. Of course diet and exercise should be monitored and evaluated with weight gain, but a 35 pound weight gain over a relatively short time is almost always the result of a change in mental health status. Either a new mental health issue has surfaced or something in my partner’s environment is causing her excessive levels of stress, anxiety or depression. The key is to determine the trigger for this and it is not always obvious or clear. It is crucial to get them to a mental health professional for treatment and I would consider getting her involved in at least one volunteer activity involved with providing help to people, especially if she is isolating herself from others.

    The most important thing is to provide unconditional love and support for your partner and encourage her If her weight gain makes

  96. (cont’d) If her weight gain makes you think about whether or not you still find her attractive and has ANY effect on your feelings for her, then you should not be with her…..She deserves someone with more class and sophistication than you!!

  97. Margaret Schneider Link to this comment

    Give a reward for good results. In my case I was the fat one. My now ex tortured me daily about my weight. I decided I needed a divorce. I didn’t want to be single and fat so I started exercising. The verbal abuse I received from him only crystallized my resolve. I have kept the weight off. My reward keeps paying off every day.

  98. My dear Partner, it pains me to bring up this sensitive topic, but I love you so much that I’m going to risk it. Are you happy about your weight? [I won't be surprised if I must explain my concerns and assuage my partner's sensitivity and defensive reaction. But I expect that my partner will actually share my concerns.]

    I don’t want you to go on a diet, and I’m not pushing for you to join a gym. And no matter what, it won’t change how much I love you. If you were to lose extra pounds, though, I would feel a little relief regarding your health, and I might find you to be even sexier than you are now.

    Knowing as we do that humans are loss averse, let’s get some skin in the game. We’ll both kick in say, $20, to a reward fund, which we will keep in this envelope. If you meet a goal of losing 5 pounds in the next 30 days, we use our fund to celebrate. If you don’t, your $20 will disappear–I’ll donate it to something you don’t enthusiastically support.

    Do you want to cut back on snacking? Reducing ability is one of the keys. Except for what you want, we’ll just keep them out of the house.

    I’m going to get a nice new set of dishes, smaller ones, so we can pile up our plates, but actually serve ourselves less. Do you have a favorite color you want the plates?

    Now, don’t groan, but I want you to pick a physical activity you like, such as sit-ups or walking. Push-ups, you say? Fine. How does a goal of one push-up sound? Easy, huh? And as a reward for meeting the goal, I’ll give you a big kiss, or you can just pump your fist in the air and say “yahoo! met my pushup goal!” Let’s plan a time for your push-up, say right after Jeopardy. That will be the trigger, since you always watch it, and it will become a habit.

    Here’s my $20, and yours. Don’t lose it, now! I want to celebrate! And I can’t wait for you to do your push-up so I get a nice kiss!

  99. I’m a recovering compulsive eater and work with other compulsive eaters as part of my job. Weight is a super sensitive issue for a lot of people and as some have mentioned, they already know they’ve gained the weight, they’re not happy about it and they know what they need to change. It’s easier for me to talk about with clients because it’s a lot less loaded than it would be with a significant other. Still, what I’ve noticed is that the way I work with clients is so much more effective. I meet them where they’re at and help them verbalize their own answers. I don’t feel a sense of urgency for them to change or try to tell them how to go about it. I emphasize their strengths and ask them what they’re ready & willing to change–one thing at a time. Success seems to build on itself and once they start experiencing improvement, they get a positive snowball effect.

    So, if I were in this situation with a significant other, I think I would say “Sweetie, I love you so much. You are smart, supportive, super-funny and have a big heart. I love you so much that it’s been hard watching you not taking good care of yourself. You have stopped working out and don’t seem to care about what you’re putting in your body…and you seem a lot more stressed and less energetic as a result. I miss doing active things together and that’s an important part of my life that I want to share with you. I’m not sure what’s going on, but just wanted to let you know that I am not ignoring what’s going on with you and I am here to support you in whatever way you feel like you need support. I am happy to listen if you’re stressed, to help out more around the house if you need time to work out or to cook healthy meals together. That said, I love you no matter what and don’t want to pressure you–just wanted to put this out there.”

    At that point, if he expressed the desire to make some healthy changes, I might ask “Ok, what is the #1 change you think would help you most?” Then I’d ask “What feels like the biggest obstacle with that?” and “Is there any way I can support you?”

  100. I’m currently in this situation.
    My boyfriend and I talk about it quite openly. We started small by consistently reading food labels and selecting items with lower sodium content. The second step we took was reading ingredients and selecting foods that have items we recognize and seem to have the higher quality ingredients listed first. I found that these two steps have already made us consciously want to eat whole foods and less processed stuff. My next step, which is quite large to me, is trimming down on the amount of wheat foods we eat. This is the hardest for me because I love bread, pasta, and pastries. FYI, my mouth is watering just thinking about fresh baked bread.
    In short, I’ve found that it has been a lifestyle change that we need to adapt together since it would be harder on one of us if the other didn’t take part. Setting small goals for ourselves has made the bigger picture less intimidating.
    Okay, I understand I may not have answered your question directly by stating how we would have this conversation but I hope I’ve given a good example of execution.

  101. I’d purchase sessions with a personal trainer for the partner and give it as a gift.

  102. Are you reading my mind? Because this is exactly what me and my partner are going through right now. I’ve gained 20 lbs and I think he has gained about 30 in the almost 3 years we’ve been together. We both noticed at the same time I guess because we were feeling tired all the time and buying bigger pants.

    We work together, but have not made any solid strides in losing weight, and I think he has actually gained weight. We have a problem with sticking to a program. We both have gym memberships and never go, and finally he came out and said “I just don’t like to exercise in public”, so we’re cancelling those.

    We’re not making our health a priority, but we work together to find an easy way to make ourselves do healthy things. I’ve offered to lead us in a yoga routine, but so far we haven’t done it. He takes supplements and tries to research and recommend some for me. He made a weekly menu, and now that I don’t work I try to stick to it (we allow 2 fast food/restaurant meals per week, and we have only eaten out 3 times this week, so I’m super proud that we almost did it, progress not perfection). We constantly do research, but rarely apply it. We know it’s a change in lifestyle, and it’s difficult, but at least we’re trying.

    I think, to answer your question, I would recommend exercise and eating changes that will fit our lifestyle. It has to be as easy as possible to transition to. That is what we have been looking for anyway.

  103. Before I even broach this subject with my partner, I will look at three things:

    a) **I will set my own expectations about my partner right.** What do I mean by that? If they are 35lbs overweight, I will not expect them to lose this weight in 1 year, leave alone a few months. I will see this as a minimum of a two-year plan. And, it will be our plan not just his issue.

    Once my expectations are clarified, I will not be the force that acts as external pressure on them to “achieve targets”. Also, this way, any impatience I may feel with them or the idea of them losing weight will not come through in my speech or body language.
    It will teach me to respect their journey and not feel that we/they have lost—and consequently give up—if things don’t go as planned. There will always be tomorrow.

    b) **I will recognize the psychological realities of their situation.** What do I mean by that? If you notice, right from birth, humans are taught to associate food with comfort and feelings of security. Even when the problem is something else, parents and caregivers use food as a solution. For example, if a baby is crying, they would rather stuff his/her mouth with candy and teach the child to distract him/herself than try to find out exactly what is bothering him or her.

    This is a rather difficult conditioning to overcome. Maybe all these years they were thin because of social pressures and not because they knew how to. So, I will factor this in that they may not have an innate sense of what **thin** is and may in fact be liberating themselves from social repression around body-image issues.

    I will look at the **food culture** my partner is from. For all I know, they might be regressing to childhood issues, or maybe they could be feeling so secure in this relationship that they are putting on weight out of happiness!

    c) **I will recognize that all of us have some self-satisfaction meter inside us.** I think this is the psychological point that people define as **comfort zone**. Once a certain level has been set, people do not allow themselves to leave that range. So, even if the full 35lbs don’t go, I will not see that as a reason to feel unhappy about my partner. I will continue to love and respect them regardless of their weight. (Idealistic much?? I felt differently when I was in a relationship.)

    About bringing this up with them:

    I will choose a private moment when both of us are sitting together peacefully and I am hugging them. I don’t want them to feel that when I bring up the subject, my suggestions are a sign of me rejecting them, so I want to be physically hugging them. They will see that at least one form of security is there even if they believe that their other security (eating) is coming under attack. (I read somewhere that the brain perceives criticism as a sign of rejection.)

    First, at some point in our conversation, I will gently poke their belly and joke about it. And then, find out from them, softly, how they are planning to lose it. From there, I will say just one or two sentences (not more) on how I worry about them losing their health to fat. And, that I want them to be around for as long as they can.

    All through the discussion, I will recall the happy moments we have spent together (not just the happy moments when they were thin). I will do that so that in their mind, as in mine, they de-link love from weight, otherwise, they might end up feeling that they are lovable only in certain circumstances (such as when they are thin).

    I expect their initial reaction will be to dismiss the whole thing as just a joke, but at least we would have gotten started on the topic.

    I am a conversationalist who watches how others react to information and change my tone and words accordingly (even though the message stays the same). Also, I know that discussing the same matter on a different day will make it understood differently.
    So, it is difficult for me to put in exact words how I expect the next leg of the conversation to go. There are just way too many conversation algorithms that offer themselves as options!

  104. I tell him, that I seems to put on some weights lately, no energy, etc. I want to lose some weights and learn to eat healthy. But “I can’t do it myself, would you please help me?”
    How you can help me is being supportive. Being supportive?
    That means, be my partner. Eat with me.Walk with me either in the morning or at nite, so we can spend quality times together.
    Then I slowly trade-in the unhealthy food for the healthy food in the pantry. Cook dinner for us, pack lunches.
    Ask him to walk around the block with me 2, 3 times a week “spending quality times together”.
    Once we started, we both will have more energy, look good. As we see results, we’re excited. Next step is to join the gym, or taking some kind of exercise classes.
    I believe this takes times. Its took how many months to put these pounds on? Therefore we need to give it sometime for the pound to comes off.

  105. what I would do is start doing healthy things in a secret way.
    1. Start going to stores that makes you have to do alot of walking..
    2. Volunteer to cook more, but when you cook you add healthy things to the meals, healthy seasonings etc.
    3. I would start watching healthy shows that show people doing energetic things.. also would start leaving motivational books and literature around the house,

    with these and other sneaky things, she would then find motivation and bring up losing weight.. then I would really kick it to a new level..

  106. This actually happened to me. In paraphrase, what worked was: “Honey, I’ve decided to give up sugary soft drinks. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on them and I think they’re really bad for me. Could you support me doing this by not getting any in the house grocery shop?”.

    He agreed, and because he was helping me out, he started making other small changes as well. He gave up sugar soft drinks entirely, and started losing weight with a week. Eventually, he began to think of himself as someone who ‘eats healthy’, and started paying attention to calories in his food, portion sizes etc. He started getting off the train a few stops earlier and walking into work. Basically, by adding in a small change over a long period of time and maintaining these habits, he’s dropped about 20 kilos of fat and gained some muscle.

    Sadly, he is now fitter and weighs less then I do.

  107. Because I’m perceptive and kind, our conversation – and the weight gain – won’t be some bizarre-o Surprise!

    We would listen. We would talk. Contemplation would occur.

    The convo would naturally progress into a strategy planning session, because I’m weird and they do. We’d both have read the new ‘Habits’ blockbuster, either directly or through some other miscellaneous source of geekdom. And our powers combined would produce the most fantastical gradual, systematic, and highly individualized] plan for sustainable weight loss.

    Then we’d get oily and I’d giggle their big ol’ booty. We’d watch ‘John Carter of Mars’ and laugh our assets off. ;-)

  108. First understand the dynamics of this conversation. It is very personal. It has deep ramifications for your loved one as well as your relationship so proceed with only love and no judgement. Make sure that when you approach this subject it’s not when they are distracted or will feel attacked.
    1) Honey, I was wondering if we could talk about something. Is everything okay? I have been noticing, and it causing me to become concerned, that you have been making some choices that are putting your health at risk. Ensuing conversation…
    2) How can I help? e.g. Make a doctor’s appointment. Stop buying junk. Cook healthier. Be more supportive of you? Do more things together? Take a walk/workout together? Watch the kids so you can work out? You get my point.
    3) You can’t change a person so it is up to them to make that next step. If they do nothing then you will have to decide if this a deal breaker or not.

  109. Such amazing and thoughtful responses (for the most part) so far. :)

    As someone who’s struggled with my own weight (more like 10-15 lbs) and is a Marriage & Family Therapist, I’ll only say that one solution does not fit all people.

    I’d talk to him about it and ask what he needs to feel supported. I’d say that I love him and that it’s important to me that we want similar lifestyles and activity levels. Health and healthy choices are an effort in our world, and we both know food is designed to make us fat and addicted…AND THEN I’d shut the heck up and just listen to his thoughts.

    Listening to what matters to him and what he needs (and leaving our agenda aside) is sometimes the hardest part for us ladies… :) (ok, men too)

  110. Paul Weinberger Link to this comment

    “Hey, I want to eat more greens, especially a salad every couple of days. But I can’t use a whole by myself without the extra lettuce getting rotten. Could we make salads 3x per week as part of dinner. I can choose some things to add in like black olives and you can pick a couple things. We also save some time by making the same dinner food for us both.” (floss one tooth technique and making it about me, not the partner).

  111. I might broach the subject in a way that would allow us both to consider ourselves and out roles in the relationship. I would say something like, “Do you remember that spark we had when we first start started dating? All that excitement and we just couldn’t keep our hands off one another? I know that part of our relationship is over, but what if we tried to bring it back? What could we do to revive it? What would that look like?” That opens the door for all kinds of discussion about heating the relationship back up, rediscovering who it was we fell in love with, and it’s a safe environment that’s not blaming or shaming for anything that’s happened.

  112. Without going into too much detail, it would be beneficial to assess where my partner is by using the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change. If your partner is on the Pre-contemplation stage of this change, the only thin you can do is drop non-judge mental hints of behavior change tactics. If you show a genuine interest in improving your partner’s health, they will usually understand the intention behind your inquiry. If he or she receives this message we, there may be ways to help your partner move into the Contemplation stage of behavioral change. Ultimately, remember that it is not what you say to I fluency your partner, but HOW you say it. It is all about influence and intention. There are no tricks or magic words here. I hope this helps.
    -Raffaele

  113. Just a thought, not sure how the word “partner” become the word Americans use for the person they Love, but as we move into corporate de-humaization globalization, I really suggest a more loving term for the person we are with…..and “significant other” is about the absolute worst term some human unit came up with….. so with this new loving perspective, its much easier to encourage your love to become more healthy and lose weight:-) just a thought

  114. For me, as difficult a subject as this is, it can be reduced to three phases.

    (1) First, I would determine, in as tactful a way as possible, if they are actually interested in improving their health or body image. Overweight people who are willfully blind to any issues regarding their weight would only take any offers of help as negative. There has to be some awareness of the problem in the first place; otherwise they’ll see any mention of the subject as motivated from selfish desires and dissatisfactions on my part, even if my motive is for their own health.

    To determine this, asking is only one of many possibilities. If they have already been trying some things (diets, occasional running, posting things about health or body image on social media, whatever), that makes it a lot easier for me to broach the subject with them. Or if I can talk to someone else who’s close to them and determine that they do consider it a legitimate concern, that would be valuable as well. But in order to solve this problem, I have to be able to take it for a given that they may see some value in improving.

    (2) Next, in raising the subject, I would make myself the subject for improvement as much as them, in all sincerity. I would bring up the subject of self-improvement and talk about setting goals for my own health and fitness.

    One can always find something to improve. For example, in my own personal case, I’d like to be bigger and stronger. Nobody’s perfect, so there’s always something.

    (3) Once I know they want to improve and I bring up that I’d like to improve, I’d see if we can look at it as a journey together. Even though weight loss isn’t my issue, I’d lay out my own goals alongside theirs. Then we could find a way to make the journey bring us closer together. (For some people, a competition might work, though that isn’t for everyone, as it could lead to bitterness and giving up).

    To reach those goals, of course, we’d want to crack open Tim Ferriss’s “4-Hour Body” together. It’s an easy, downhill ride once the steps above are satisfied.

  115. I would ask them what they thought of my recent goals and ask them to share what they are working on and why. I would give my full attention and ask them what was going well, what was stuck and what they needed to do better.
    Then I would ask them what I could do to help them get to the next check point in the process. I would tell them if I could do all they requested then I would ask if I could suggest something if they said yes then, I would reference Dr. John Ratey’s work that shows that exercise prior to a creative period helps us with focus. I would suggest they incorporate a walk just before periods of work on their goal. If they did not want the advice, I would model it until they asked me about the behavior and then I would share the idea.

  116. I’m an all or nothing kind of person. I don’t think small changes add up to big changes. I think it wastes people’s time and they lose momentum before any big achievements have happened – which makes it easier to lose motivation.

    I think I would say,

    I love you, I’m worried about you, and I’m concerned about our relationship. I’ve noticed you haven’t seemed like yourself for quite some time, and I need you to know that I want to help. I understand the struggle of being ruled by cravings. I believe people struggle with gaining weight because our bodies become imbalanced through improper fueling. They stop metabolizing or working correctly, which leads to weight gain. By the time we want to do something about it, we struggle with hormonal imbalances, adrenal fatigue, excess cortisol, inflammation, anemia, food intolerances, insulin resistance, inadequate sleep, etc.- and soon, weight becomes unmanageable. I see you struggling, and I want to help you. Let’s go to the doctor, get some bloodwork so we can see where we are starting from and how we can support you medically and naturally with appropriate care and/or supplements.

    In the meantime, let’s tackle your food intake and fitness. I really believe we can set you up for success by removing the ability to fail. Certain foods are known to be a trigger for overeating, cause inflammation or act as endocrine disruptors – all of which leads to fat gaining and fatigue. If you can trust me for the next 30 days, I promise that you will be on the path to achieving health and wellness. I promise that you will feel better and have far more energy for the fun things we want to do together.

    I think we need to go big. Let’s cut the poison out of your diet. No more soda, no more wheat or grains, no more sugar. You deserve a body that if fueled by real food and as unmodified as possible.

    So what will you eat? Fresh foods. Vegetables, nuts, eggs, meat and fruit with some occasional dairy. Oh, how boring you say. WRONG, my love! I will show you how good real food can taste. We will still eat mexican food, we will still eat pizza. But it will be both delicious and healthy for you all at once.

    How will you change your diet? I am here to do it with you. We are in this together. We will find both in-person and online support systems. We will shop and only buy food that is in line with our goals. When you’re hungry, only healthy options will be available. I will show you the wealth of recipes available for those who desire wellness, energy and health.

    When you change your diet so significantly, the weight is going to start dropping off. And when you are no longer burdened by the fatigue that gluten and sugar and fake crap can cause, you will have energy to burn! And we will use that energy to move our bodies and improve our fitness level, which will in turn help impact the overall balance of our health.

    But, first you have to trust me. Give me thirty days to help you. Give me thirty days to change your tastes and get back your energy. I promise that a life free of cravings and full of delicious food awaits. You will never be hungry. You can eat your fill of healthy, yummy food.

    • My problem with that is that it sounds extremely condescending from start to finish.

      You’re working from the assumption that the other person doesn’t know anything and is completely incapable of taking care of themself, so you have to control them. You aren’t working WITH them, you’re doing everything TO them. And if you argue, “they obviously don’t know what they’re doing if they’re gaining weight”, I would contend that just because they don’t have all the answers doesn’t mean you do.

      If you want to convey concern and respect, you have to show genuine humility.

  117. I would ask if we could sit down and talk at specific time (choosing the right time is important)

    Then I would affirm 1 or 2 specific good/ qualities about that person, but ask “WHY are you gaining weight? What’s going on?”

    May be a little jarring, or may sound offensive, but weight gain is a coping mechanism and a root usually exists.

    • I agree with Carmen. Gaining weight is not about the weight. I would talk about what is going on in their life and try to pinpoint when the weight gain began to see if there is a correlation.

  118. Yevhen Brzhesskyy Link to this comment

    Ramit, there cannot be a universal answer that would be both applicable to men AND women. Let me explain: women and men perceive each other’s attractiveness differently: men dig beauty; females dig powerful men.

    As far as my answer for a hetero male:
    “If you respect and want to make me happy – you need to lose excess weight otherwise I do not see us together long-term.”

    • That is crazy talk. There are plenty of big people in intimate relationships. You can’t threaten to quit over a challenge. That’s certainly not a strong/powerful man. Real life is not how it is depicted on television.

    • I’m with Sara here… You’re missing the whole question. It’s about how to bring up the issue in an effective way, not how to end the relationship because the other person doesn’t “make you happy”. That’s horrible.

      Everyone, check out Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends and Influence People” for some ideas. It’s one of the most important classics in the self-improvement literature (and one of the earliest), and it addresses exactly this issue, though you have to apply the principles uniquely per situation.

  119. I think it’s important to check yourself first! A lot of people would like to lose weight but someone in the house is always bringing home soda, cookies, bread, and encouraging skipping meals. They think healthy eating means withholding from everyone.

    I go through this with my Dad because he’ll skip meals and doesn’t like to drink water. Also, sometimes people who need to loose weight have to eat more so it looks like they’re spending even more on food. A lot of bigger people won’t eat all day and then they’ll binge on a HUGE meal. If I had a partner who I wanted to loose weight I’d take control of their being enough healthy salads, bottles of water, and recreation in our schedule. Do it together.

  120. The first step is researching some weight loss techniques that seem promising. I’ve struggled with weight before, so I know a few things: 1, all calories are not created equal. 2, certain foods will give you endless cravings for empty calories later in the day. 3, neither diet nor exercise works very well on its own, but when combining the two, there are “disproportionate results”.
    4, if you can identify the foods from #2, willpower does work, at least in short bursts. 5, Losing 30 pounds over a period of 4 weeks works better in keeping the weight off than trying to lose 5 pounds per month for half a year. 6, If you get a daily exercise routine set, eventually you just end up feeling stupid for not eating right too. At least, these are the conclusions I’ve been able to draw with my efforts in going from obese to merely overweight.
    I guess the second step would be to find out how he feels about his weight. This is part observation (how does he react when yet another of his shirts doesn’t fit? Does he throw it away, keep all of them stashed, get angry, show signs of resignation to the situation/having given up, and so on) and part just asking about it. If we’re at the stage where I would try to work on this with him, rather than moving on to a new partner after figuring out this guy just stopped taking care of himself, I would hopefully know him well enough that I can segue from another topic into “I *thought* you’ve gained a bit of weight.” and go into a conversation about his plans regarding weight loss.
    Regardless of if he wants to or not, the next steps are the same, though for different reasons. If he doesn’t want to, there just aren’t a lot of options. I can go back to the research, and drop some tips at times, using a modified version of the spousal money discussion script from your book. “So this indian guy says if you exercise every day, it makes you feel so much better throughout the day.” I also like BJ Fogg’s flossing advice, though personally I’ve applied it to working out. I started with doing 2 pushups (I struggled to do more than 3 back then) every day when I get up. after about a month, I’m up to 10, though oversleeping & being late for work is the only thing that stops me from doing 15 or more. The important part is getting him started doing something. anything, (like we do a couple pushups together each morning) as long as it’s not too difficult so it’s easier to just do it to appease me rather than pretending to do it. Once he starts getting into it we can start doing more. (Also, if he’s not open to any of my attempts to get him started taking action to take care of himself, I’ll keep trying different approaches but eventually the attraction will fade to the point where we each have to go our separate ways. I don’t want to end up letting myself go too because I spend too much time with someone who let themselves go)
    If he is into it from the start, the script changes to something more like “So this indian guy says if you exercise every day, it’ll help you lose weight.” Either way, this is a couple days after the initial conversation regarding his opinion on the subject.

    So once he’s used to the idea of putting effort in to lose weight, the next thing is an elimination diet. We stop eating out for a week, and instead do stuff together that doesn’t involve junk food. Trying things together that neither of us has done before is always exciting so there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of options what to do and it’s not that hard to narrow them down based on criteria such as avoiding junk food (so no ball parks) and whatever other scheduling and financial (or other) considerations we might have.
    Slowly, we reintroduce foods until we figure out which ones give him cravings for more calories later in the day. these are the ones he’ll hopefully understand he can’t eat any more. As before, the approach is to make it an inconvenience to consume those foods whenever possible. We’d work together to set up barriers for him (and me) to both avoid those foods, and instead focus on things that he can eat without needing to eat a ton of snacks later in the day to keep his energy up. We should know within a week or 2 if it’s working because if it is, he’ll have a much higher energy level, and have started losing a few pounds already. If it’s not working, this is the point to try a different approach. there are tens of different approaches you can easily find online that have worked for different people, and since we’ve already overcome the most important part, which is “doing something,” changing the approach and trying something else is ok. Even if the change seems like a minutia, it might yield results and it doesn’t take long to figure out if it works or not.
    After that, it’s just a matter of motivating him to keep at it. I’m sure I have his help at this point, since he wants to keep at it just as much as I want him to once he’s this far so we can identify together what it takes to keep him motivated. Maybe it’s making sure he always gets something accomplished each day (so he doesn’t eat out of depression/frustration). maybe it’s making sure his friends understand the diet he’s on so when they go out they go somewhere that doesn’t force him to skip the diet or watch his friends eat cus he can’t have any of the food there.
    I also believe every diet should have a set end date. That way he always knows where the end of the proverbial tunnel is and he knows when he can take a break from feeling starved(which will hopefully not happen often but will probably happen at least occasionally) as long as he doesn’t start gaining weight again we can do the diet again after a bit of time has passed, and get him all the way down to where we want his weight to be. (if he does start gaining again, this is the time to do the ‘lose 5 lbs a month’ type diet/lifestyle change I mentioned before as being ineffective for lasting weight loss. This sort of one he’ll need to stay on permanently so it’s better for maintenance which is what we want at this point.)

  121. Wow, this was a big wall of text I wrote. What’s interesting is I was able to draw much of what I wrote from things I learned from your site, as well as experiences gained in trying to apply it in real life situations. For example, I had an interview about a week ago, and by the second question I was able to impress the guy with what I’d learned from maybe 30 minutes of researching the position online (by which I mean not technically even researching, just googling the company). He spent the rest of the interview explaining to me in detail what my job would entail and giving me a tour of the offices.

    I guess all it took was a token demonstration that I was serious and the position was mine. It’s not technically a dream job, but it offers many opportunities for learning new things (in effect becoming smarter) and I expect the pay is going to be a step up from what I’ve been dealing with so far as well.

  122. I also think that after 35lbs of weight gain I don’t need to tell explicitly to my girlfriend to lose weight. She already knows that & she must be trying herself to lose weight also.

    First I would just get rid of all junk food from the house. I believe 80% of fat loss is what you put in body so I would not focus on exercise.

    Second I will ask her for her favorite food & just automate healthy food delivery for both of us.

    Third to see if we are getting our money’s worth we would check our weight daily.

    • It doesn’t sound like you’re actually facing a situation where you or your girlfriend wants/needs to lose weight, but if you ever do, I would recommend against checking your weight daily. That way lies madness. Weight fluctuates daily based on what you ate the day before, etc.

      If you are going to try to track your weight, it’s better to check it at MOST once a week, first thing in the morning. And the best thing to do is check it once a month.

  123. This is actually not a hypothetical situation in my life. I’ve been with my partner for 10.5 years. We’ve been married for 4 of those. In that time, he’s gained 40 lbs. I don’t find him less attractive, but I am worried about his long-term health. I’ve tried many different solutions over the years (although I’ve never said “OMG, you just need to lose weight!!!”), bur nothing I’ve done to encourage my husband to get healthier has worked. I have maintained a healthy weight during this time.

    My suggestions over the years have run the gamut:

    I’ve suggested we work out together.
    I’ve dragged him out on walks with me (we actually do this regularly, but it’s not enough).
    I’ve suggested he join a class, like Krav Maga or some other martial art, because he loves MMA and the like.
    We got him a gym membership (despite the fact that I balked at the thought of the monthly charge if it went unused), because I thought ready access to a gym on his way home from work might encourage him to use it.
    I’ve asked him if he needs help creating a plan, or figuring out what to do, and he always says, “Yeah, maybe,” but he has never asked for help beyond that.

    I’ve even looked into different ways to eat healthier, because one of my favorite fitness blogs says, “You can’t outrun your fork,” and I do most of the cooking, so I figured I would help him that way. But eating healthier at home doesn’t stop him from picking up fast food or making other unhealthy choices when he’s not home.

    He knows that being healthier is a good idea, and he says he wants to be healthier, but he hasn’t yet chosen to act on his knowledge and desire.

    Two years ago, I started doing Pilates regularly, and it was amazing what a difference it made. About three months ago, I plateau’d with my weight-loss/strength-gain through Pilates and decided that strength training was the way for me to continue working on getting healthy. I’ve also maintained my healthy diet, eliminating fast food and soda, etc. Through it all, I shared with my husband the things I was doing to get healthy and how I felt it was going.

    He was out of town for two months, right when I first started strength training. When he came home again, he looked at me and said, “Wow, you look great!’ Ever since then, he’s made an obvious effort to start exercising and eat better.

    I asked him a few days ago what had changed. He told me that seeing how healthy and happy I looked and how hard I was working to get and stay healthy was really encouraging, and he realized that he wanted the same thing enough to actually do something about it.

    All of which is to say, I think the best way to encourage your partner–or anyone else in your life–to want to be healthier, is to lead by example. I don’t think there’s any good way to make them do it. Obviously, if/when they get started, it’s important to be encouraging and supportive, even if they don’t do it as regularly as you might like at first. But anything’s better than nothing, and if they have your love and support, they’re more likely to continue with it, despite a few false starts.

  124. Don’t talk about it, do it. Sneak in tiny habits, e.g., do active things when you’re together – rave about how much you enjoy doing (active things) with Q; when you’re eating together, prepare or obtain tasty, satisfying, low energy-density food – rave how much you enjoy sharing this food with Q. When Q starts having more energy and/or firming up. Rave about how about how nice Q looks (truthful though and NO mention about previous condition) or how healthy/energetic Q is. Subtle, small, consistent – like water carving rocks. Not sure this would work with your personality, though. Q might think you are being too nice and get suspicious. Of course, if there is a real Q, they probably read the blog and know.

  125. Scenario: MY partner is 40 pounds overweight, does not like general exercise, does like to eat healthy but loves junk food too, and does not feel sexy at all.

    A: I would sit my partner down and ask one simple question: Are you completely happy? If not what do YOU want to change and how do you want to do it? How can I help you do it?
    I would not want to set goals, I think losing weight is a lifestyle change not a goal. If they said YES, they were happy with how things were, then so be it.
    If they wanted to workout but found it boring then I would ask what activities would they like to do, and when? I would not set a schedule, only for them to do it when they FELT like doing it. If they liked bike riding, I would suggest we ride somewhere secluded and peaceful.
    I wouldn’t change their diet, just introduce them to new foods not necessarily healthy, just different. I would praise them for losing weight, and praise them for gaining weight…As long as they are happy doing it….all you can do is support someone, give them choices based on the information they give you.

  126. I’m not sure I agree with all the subtleness. Changing enviroments, small encouragements. It’s like there’s an elephant in the room and no one wants to talk about it. Couples should learn to talk about the hard things too. All this avoidance is not going to work, in my oppionen.

    I would go for a more direct approach. It has to be said with a smile, positive voice and with genuine care: “Baby, you are getting big and lazy.It’s not that attractive and it’s not who you are. It’s time we do something about it. Are you up for that?”

    Reasons for this: partner needs a wakeup call, avoidance makes it easier to ignore, to keep the hidden eating etc. “it’s not that attractive” should be a motivation to change as most are willing to do something for their partner. “it’s not who you are” should communicate that the fat is temporary and that I still love my partner´. “it’s time we do something about it” should be an invitation for a joint effort – to say the partner isn’t in it alone.

    Then if the partner accepts I would change and go for the less confronting style. Ask for small changes that can be made on a daily basis, ask the partner for ideas, prefererences. Also ask for reason behind it etc. This part would be more coaching style.

    If the partner does not accept I would ask into that. Does the partner see it as a problem, what are the reasons behind etc. What is the outlook and long term consequences. And I would make it clear that it hurts me to see my partner getting in worse and worse shape. If there is no willingness to change, there is another more serious problem. If this goes on long term, I would actually consider if this relationship was the right one.

  127. Sir/Madam,
    To, the richest people in the world. Sub: prayer for help money for your fund. I beg most respectfully state that. I am Md. Khursed alom from Bangladesh. I come from a very poor family. My mother is so sick. His both kidney are damage due to 26 year’s. His treatment so expensive. My self from a middle class family, I need $50,000 dollars. Hope I get some help. Wish to get settled a see the best future and give the best to family. Help me, there after u finish up with the poor once, and at the last what ever u can do the best for me. I do a Pvt. Service but my income is so close. I am married person; so I cannot bear my mother treatment & other expense’s. So I want your help in your fund as a poor international human. Please helps me send some money as your like best. If you provide to help me. Your’s some money help my mother long life. I need $50,000 dollars. O you, who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. … Pledge you had given your mother yet here I am, unmindful of the word I have given to the Almighty, A poor man, the father of a family, in his distress once prayed to God, Poor man helps this Poor man. Your donate now my address:

    Faithfully your’s
    Md.Khursed Alom.

    My Bank A/C Number helps me my Mother-
    Md. Khursed alom.
    Dutch-Bangla Bank Limited
    Plus Point Computer & Multimedia Center
    A/C Number-1721105199
    Dinajpur Branch, Bangladesh.

    Or,

    Md. Khursed alom.
    Prime Bank Limited
    Plus Point Computer & Multimedia Center
    A/C Number-16911080005536
    Dinajpur Branch, Bangladesh.

    Dear,
    I am Md. Khursed alom. My need $3000 dollars. Why Allah Tests Us by Problems. There are many different angelic beings that can help bring you wealth of all kinds. … I am a world renowned clairvoyant whose life long gift has helped thousands of…. Help you make difficult decisions if you are at some kind of crossroads in your life. As you consider where to donate your Zakat and Fitra this year, we humbly ask that … work on behalf of underprivileged and orphaned children in Bangladesh.’ Don’t surrender your possessions to him.’…. Do not turn away a poor man even if all you can give is half a date. Your some help my long life $3000 dollars. O you, who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. … Pledge you had given your mother yet here I am, unmindful of the word I have given to the Almighty, A poor man, the father of a family, in his distress once prayed to God, Poor man helps this Poor man. Your donate now my address:

    Faithfully your’s
    Md.Khursed Alom.

    My Personal Bank A/C Number :

    Md. Khursed Alom
    Sonali Bank, Cout Billding Branch, Dinajpur, Bangladesh.
    A/C Number: 002065207

    Or,

    Md. Khursed alom.
    Prime Bank Limited
    Plus Point Computer & Multimedia Center
    A/C Number-16911080005536
    Dinajpur Branch, Bangladesh.

    Sir/Madam,
    To, the richest people in the world. Sub: prayer for help money for your fund. I beg most respectfully state that. I am Md. Khursed alom from Bangladesh. I come from a very poor family. My mother is so sick. His both kidney are damage due to 26 year’s. His treatment so expensive. My self from a middle class family, I need $5,000 dollars. Hope I get some help. Wish to get settled a see the best future and give the best to family. Help me, there after u finish up with the poor once, and at the last what ever u can do the best for me. I do a Pvt. Service but my income is so close. I am married person; so I cannot bear my mother treatment & other expense’s. So I want your help in your fund as a poor international human. Please helps me send some money as your like best. If you provide to help me. Your’s some money help my mother long life. I need $5,000 dollars. O you, who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. … Pledge you had given your mother yet here I am, unmindful of the word I have given to the Almighty, A poor man, the father of a family, in his distress once prayed to God, Poor man helps this Poor man. Your donate now my address:

    Faithfully your’s
    Md.Khursed Alom.

    My Bank A/C Number helps me my Mother-
    Md. Khursed alom.
    Dutch-Bangla Bank Limited
    Plus Point Computer & Multimedia Center
    A/C Number-1721105199
    Dinajpur Branch, Bangladesh.

    Or,

    Md. Khursed alom.
    Prime Bank Limited
    Plus Point Computer & Multimedia Center
    A/C Number-16911080005536
    Dinajpur Branch, Bangladesh.

    Dear,
    I am Md. Khursed alom. My need $3000 dollars. Why Allah Tests Us by Problems. There are many different angelic beings that can help bring you wealth of all kinds. … I am a world renowned clairvoyant whose life long gift has helped thousands of…. Help you make difficult decisions if you are at some kind of crossroads in your life. As you consider where to donate your Zakat and Fitra this year, we humbly ask that … work on behalf of underprivileged and orphaned children in Bangladesh.’ Don’t surrender your possessions to him.’…. Do not turn away a poor man even if all you can give is half a date. Your some help my long life $3000 dollars. O you, who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. … Pledge you had given your mother yet here I am, unmindful of the word I have given to the Almighty, A poor man, the father of a family, in his distress once prayed to God, Poor man helps this Poor man. Your donate now my address:

    Faithfully your’s
    Md.Khursed Alom.

    My Personal Bank A/C Number :

    Md. Khursed Alom
    Sonali Bank, Cout Billding Branch, Dinajpur, Bangladesh.
    A/C Number: 002065207

    Or,

    Md. Khursed alom.
    Prime Bank Limited
    Plus Point Computer & Multimedia Center
    A/C Number-16911080005536
    Dinajpur Branch, Bangladesh.

    Sir/Madam,
    To, the richest people in the world. Sub: prayer for help money for your fund. I beg most respectfully state that. I am Khursed alom from Bangladesh. I come from a very poor family. My mother is so sick. His both kidney are damage due to 26 year’s. His treatment so expensive. My self from a middle class family, I need $20,000 dollars. Hope I get some help. Wish to get settled a see the best future and give the best to family. Help me, there after u finish up with the poor once, and at the last what ever u can do the best for me. I do a Pvt. Service but my income is so close. I am married person; so I cannot bear my mother treatment & other expense’s. So I want your help in your fund as a poor international human. Please help me send some money as your like best this Bank Account. If you provide to help me. Your’s some money help my mother long life. I need $20,000 dollars. O you, who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. … Pledge you had given your mother yet here I am, unmindful of the word I have given to the Almighty, A poor man, the father of a family, in his distress once prayed to God, Poor man helps this Poor man. Your donate now my Bank Account address:

    Faithfully your’s
    Khursed Alom.

    My Bank A/C Number helps me my Mother-
    Md. Khursed alom.
    Dutch-Bangla Bank Limited
    Plus Point Computer & Multimedia Center
    A/C Number-1721105199
    Dinajpur Branch, Bangladesh.

    Or,

    Md. Khursed alom.
    Prime Bank Limited
    Plus Point Computer & Multimedia Center
    A/C Number-16911080005536
    Dinajpur Branch, Bangladesh.

    Dear,
    I am Md. Khursed alom. My need $10,000 dollars. Why Allah Tests Us by Problems. There are many different angelic beings that can help bring you wealth of all kinds. … I am a world renowned clairvoyant whose life long gift has helped thousands of…. Help you make difficult decisions if you are at some kind of crossroads in your life. As you consider where to donate your Zakat and Fitra this year, we humbly ask that … work on behalf of underprivileged and orphaned children in Bangladesh.’ Don’t surrender your possessions to him.’…. Do not turn away a poor man even if all you can give is half a date. Your some help my long life $10,000 dollars. O you, who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. … Pledge you had given your mother yet here I am, unmindful of the word I have given to the Almighty, A poor man, the father of a family, in his distress once prayed to God, Poor man helps this Poor man. Your donate now my address:

    Faithfully your’s
    Khursed Alom.

    My Personal Bank A/C Number :

    Md. Khursed Alom
    Sonali Bank, Cout Billding Branch, Dinajpur, Bangladesh.
    A/C Number: 002065207

    Or,

    Md. Khursed alom.
    Prime Bank Limited
    Plus Point Computer & Multimedia Center
    A/C Number-16911080005536
    Dinajpur Branch, Bangladesh.

  128. Good timing: my boyfriend and I just had a similar talk, started by me. He is not in fact overweight what-so-ever – seriously, if I posted his picture, I would guess 9/10 people would say he looks fine and maybe the other 1/10 would say he could put on more muscle. My concern was that he’s slowly moving into a sedentary lifestyle.

    I like to think we have an open, honest relationship (doesn’t everyone say that? ;) So the way I brought it up was with his comments about his fitness level. One of the things he has been saying lately was, “I feel like I’m starting to get subtle neck and shoulder pains.. I think it might be from my computer bag and/or sitting too much.” So I picked a few comments like that that he himself had said in the past, and in a non-confrontational way, just asked him about it, like, “so you mentioned… [A], you said you thought it might be due to sitting still too long. Would you consider joining the gym again like you had last year?” and took the conversation from there.

    My boyfriend did not get defensive or throw out excuses like, “I need to figure it out.” Instead, we talked about his overall physical activity and I expressed concern that I perceive his daily exercise to be going from sitting all day at work to sitting most of the evening at home, and my concern was precisely wanting him to feel his best – not about wanting/needing him to run a 6 minute mile and do 100 push-ups.

    In the next few weeks, he would do a short routine at home: some push ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups in the evening. I don’t think he’s doing it for me – just that he sees how to make minor changes in his own behavior. It reminds me of the example Ramit posts about the woman who didn’t want to go running 1 day a week but wanted to go running 3x a week. I don’t really care that my boyfriend didn’t jump into a 4x/week crossfit class – I am very impressed that he took the steps to do a short work-out routine every other night at home.

    The way I would approach this again, in the future, would be to see what this person perceives as the issue (if they see an issue/problem at all) and then, much like the “ideal person” example – ask them what they think they could do, particularly focusing on the small changes to make – the B.J. Fogg “baby steps” – after I turn off my laptop at night, I will 10 sit-ups (or something).

  129. I use a subtle approach that works really well for me. Its based on the idea that your partner ultimately wants to be desired sexually by you. I’ve found that women actually crave it, and long for it.
    For example,
    Have you ever told a girl she looks great in a certain hairstyle and you start noticing she’s always wearing it. Same goes for a particular dress or outfit but get this!… I’ve even been able to use it to change other behaviors like cooking more, cleaning more etc.

    Basically I’ll say something along the lines of “Babe, your hair looks gorgeous when you do it up like that!” or “Your tortilla soup is sofa king awesome!”
    For something like doing my laundry, i would say “Girl my socks are perfect, I like the way you lay them out on the bed in pairs, I know I snagged a super sexy woman when I see that =)”

    Its all about rewarding the behaviors you like and ignoring the ones you dont.
    Most people think that the opposite of love is hate…its not. The opposite of love is indifference. So its a cold dark place for behaviors you ignore.

    Most people try to change the person by focusing on the negative and telling them not to do that, or nagging. My way is better. I show appreciation.
    You dont want to overdo it but pepper your conversations with it and you’ll see great results. And dont forget! Its gotta be genuine! If its fake it comes across instantly as manipulation.

    If I have to be negative I’ll phrase it / frame it in a sexual way instead of saying i dont like it. For eg: ” Lazy girls are such a turnoff for me” or “It just puts me right off when people trash talk their friends”

    So…for weight loss I would go a little more indirect and say something like

    “Its so fantastic the way people are taking better care of their health now with the internet and so much info available”
    or
    “Its weird but I get super turned on when you/girls come back from the gym all sweaty and nasty”

    The trick is to keep it light and smile when you say it.
    If its a lack of activity I’d say
    “Its so much fun… hanging out with you in the mountains / going on XYZ trips with you”

    A buddy of mine taught it to me like this:
    Desire is amazingly powerful for women, it can be like a drug for them. Its the reason why they send naked pictures of themselves and get jealous. If relationships are devoid of it cheating and other crappy stuff can happen.

    I really saw this in vivid detail when he explained a situation to watch for that I later saw for myself happen. An older less attractive woman was walking through a crowd of young hot girls on the strip near my apartment, and because she had a man on her arm her status among them was higher, her gait changed the nose went in the air and she snuffed them as they all stopped their conversation and looked on. That was a real epiphany moment for me. All because in that mini interaction she was the only one desired by a man. Amazing!

    So I Hope someone finds this useful, like i did,

    thats all I got. Not sure if it works on guys for all you ladies but I think it would =)

    Cheers,
    Dan

  130. 1. Acknowledege the awkwardness: “So I’m going to feel really uncomfortable talking about this, and you may feel uncomfortable hearing what I have to say, but after thinking it over, I’d rather have you be upset with me for being honest, rather than me keeping my mouth shut”
    2. Dive In: “I’ve noticed that you’ve gained wait over the past year or so and I’m genuinely concerned about your health, not to mention your state of mind about the weight gain…What are your thoughts?”
    3. Establish whether the person is ready to change: “Is this something you think you want to start exploring options on correcting? As your partner, I want to be able to support you and take steps towards setting some attainable goals and how we can best approach solving this problem.”
    4. Action Step: “What can we commit to right here and now?”

  131. Take a picture of her before she start training (she did it for me) and put it on the fridge
    and take a new pic every week or month and check the progress. (always leave the initial pic on the fridge)
    Pack healthy food for lunch, most of the time he will eat it.
    Take danse class or something we both need to work together.
    Danse is great because we need to train outside of the course to get actual progress.
    So when one of us want to train the other usally do it even if he don’t want to.
    One thing my wife do is to go running right when she come back from work,
    she usally bring me with her, when I arrive at home around the same time she does.

  132. This is happening to me right now. I basically avoided the conversation and went to action. To teach my wife how to lead a healthier lifestyle I wanted her to learn 1 better eating habits and 2 to workout from time to time. I started by consistantly providing all kinds of healthy food requests for dinner mixed into some unhealthy foods that we regualry eat. I then started making full meals with stuff she liked to eat. Working out was a bit harder. Basically I started to work out a lot and said that I had so much more energy to play with our children. This was an immediate call to action to her. She started to lift weights during TV commercials. After about a month of that she started turning off the TV and actually excercising. She has lost 20lbs so it has been working well for me. I doubt this works for everyone but this strategy worked for us.

  133. My 2 prong approach:

    1) I would make their problem my problem then ask for their help help solve that problem. The hope is by analysing your problem, they might find steps in their own habits that seem manageable.

    “Hey Honey, I ate like a pig this weekend can you help me get back on track? Let’s walk to the farmers market so I can make a vegetarian lasagna”

    “Do these pants make me look fat, I need to lose 4 pounds, can you help me with that?”

    2) I would use one of their interest and find an exercise version of that. Make it a game.

    Loves outdoors – take a local hike
    Loves Hip hop – Find a Hip-hop dance studio
    Likes to meditate – Yoga
    Likes the feel of speed – Go cycling
    Likes Problem solving and danger – Rock climbing gym
    Loves the Beach – Volleyball
    Loves the ocean – Swimming
    Loves Competition – Best Abs You vs. Them; BMI Challenge.

  134. Ironically, I just went through this situation with my husband in reverse. That is, I was the one who had gained weight, and it was a lot more than 35 lbs. Having been there, I can share what worked for me.

    First of all I can tell you – all of the suggestions to change the diet and work out did nothing – even when he framed it in terms of wanting to do it for himself. I was tired, and felt horrible, and his comments about getting himself healthy just made me feel worse.

    What did work was his loving suggestion that I take a trip to my doctor. After all – I hadn’t been quite myself since my pregnancy with my twins. After having them I developed insomnia, had increasingly less energy (and less libido) and an increasing appetite and food cravings. I figured it was just the product of having four children to care for, two of whom were infants. I was exhausted all the time, but accepted it as a fact of motherhood life. When one of the twins then developed autism, and continued to have sleep problems for years (yes, my twins are FIVE now and I’d still been going on like this until just a few months ago), I figured it was just a product of the stress, etc.

    Turns out, I was suffering from a severe case of hypothroidism, combined with a serious case of depression and some anemia to boot. No wonder I felt horrible! My husband’s loving suggestion that I visit with my doctor (an appointment which he attended with me) and HONESTLY discuss ALL of my symptoms led to me getting treatment for my medical issues and I’ve since lost 12 of those extra pounds. It comes off slowly, but at least now I have the energy and motivation to work on getting the rest off!

    The point is that often there is a deeper underlying issue at hand when both partners eat basically the same diet and have the same activity level, yet one is gaining weight. Sometimes a loving suggestion is the right answer.

  135. Shelley Meyerhoff Link to this comment

    Have you tried taking your SO to coffee more? Coffee and grapefruit juice suppress appetite and cause their consumers to eat less throughout the day than they otherwise would. Whatever your esteemed man or lady friend is going through, adding more coffee to his/her diet might calm nerves while stifling those comfort-food-cravings.

    In addition to that, our bodies tell us that we are hungry when we are lacking in some kind of nutrient. Encouraging your significant other to eat vitamins or vitamin rich foods might be another fool-proof way to help them nip and tuck.

    My last item of advice is water. As my significant other always says, “Water is the Elixir of Life” When we drink water, we naturally reduce our blood pressure, which automatically adds calm. We also experience reduced hunger and reduced stress from the flushing of toxins from our whole body.

  136. If my girlfriend had gained 35lbs:

    -She would at the very least be aware that she had put on weight.
    -She would more than likely verbalize it in some way shape or form. “I should go to the gym/eat better/be more active.

    The key is waiting for one of those moments and instead of “educating” her and making her feel judged and uncomfortable.

    I’d simply tell her the story of someone else I knew in a similar situation, how they were skeptical (voicing *her* objections) what they did, and how it helped them lose 30+lbs.

    Storytelling is a powerful method to use while trying to get messages across to other people. It’s a fantastic way to bypass people’s initial objections.

    And while I’m telling the story, she will put herself in the shoes of this other person, and say “If she can do it, so can I!”

    Then, I’s suggest the smallest, easiest step to get started now. (30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking)

    Bing. Bang. Boom.

    #behaviorcon

    :-)

    -Jeff

  137. I read through some of these responses, and I would like to point out – I didn’t see anyone suggest there may be an underlying medical condition. People tend to assume weight gain or loss has to do with lifestyle, but sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it is genetics. Sometimes it’s a medical condition such as hypothyroidism.

    Maybe just tell your partner you’re concerned about them. Especially if they’ve gained the weight rapidly.

  138. Simplest way to get somebody to lose weight is to lock them up away from the food. That doesn’t work for all sorts of reasons, and, depending on the circumstances, would be a felony.
    So, we have to rely on persuasion and example. First thing I’d do is look at myself and figure out whether or not I was doing something that contributed to the problem. If I’m doing to cooking that is causing my partner to get fat, I need to change my behavior in the kitchen. If I’m the one deciding on the restaurant when we go out, I should start making different choices. (Panera instead of McDonald’s, for instance)
    Ultimately, you can’t make anybody do anything that they really don’t want to do. Nobody goes to bed on Thursday weighing 110 lbs and then wakes up on Friday weighing 145. It’s a gradual process, and if my partner is putting on that kind of weight over some period of time, my guess is that I’d be doing some chunking up of my own. That being the case, my inclination is to announce, “I’m getting too fat and I mean to do something about it.” If my partner’s weight gain has caused me to gain weight, and I think it is entirely probable that it has, my determination to lose that weight will at least be an example to follow.

  139. SHOWER THEM WITH PRAISES. When I first met my husband I was 15lbs heavier than I had ever been my stick figure life. But it was all he knew of me and he loved me as I was. He hated whenever I was self critical so I kept it to myself and used it as motivation to lose the weight, as if to say “oh yeah? You like ths? Wait till you see what I reeeeally look like!”

    3yrs later baby #1 pops out. 4 more years later comes baby #2- actually that was just 2 months ago. And currently I’ve shed 16lbs with my goal for another 15lb more. And my motivation? The fact that my husband makes it a point to say everyday how beautiful I look. He’s very specific- “I love the way your neck and breasts look in the sun right now” or he’ll carefully and gently caress my belly- where it used to be flat, but now has a bunch of extra skin, all while staring into my eyes and saying how much he loved me.

    It kills me that I will never look the same again, even if I do lose all the weight. But it makes me incredibly grateful to have someone who loves me truly as I am- not because I look a certain way. He encourages me to exercise only when I bring it up, not as a way to get me to do it. He supports MY decision to eat healthier, not because he has a secret agenda but is just being respectful to what I want for myself. With that kind of love, you WANT to be the best person you can be as a gift back to them, which is so much more empowering than doing it out of guilt.

    This is something I also see with my oldest son, who has sensory processing disorder. The more we criticized his actions and punished him for them, the more out of hand he got, and guilt ridden abut himself. He became insecure and anxious- and worse, he got angry. Then we learned about his SPD and treatment. We showered him with praises and stopped criticizing. We accepted him and, while it got frustrating at times, focused on positive reinforcement rather than punishment. And you know what? He started making drastic improvements. He sometimes tells us things now that let me know he is doing this because he knows that HE can do it- not because he feels like he needs to or knows he should. It’s because he believes in himself.

    • Beautiful. I agree with Sara and Renee. Only a person who feels worthy and accepted will be ready to make big changes.
      I liked this lady’s way of putting it:
      If I glance at myself in the mirror, do I say, “Wow, look at that healthy, strong body that helps me meet my responsibilities”? Do I say, “Wow, look at that body that is the temple of the Holy Spirit”? Do I say, “Wow, look at that body that has been blessed to have given birth to several children”? (click my name for the link to the blog, not mine.)

  140. Most relationships offer plenty of opportunities that can be leveraged into a desired conversation, but if you just can’t wait, tactful maneuvering works too… People go through phases in accepting change. Pick your favorite model (denial, resistance, curiosity, acceptance). The trick is to quickly get them to acceptance. It won’t work if it seems threatening.

    APPROACH 1: OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS
    - They say, “I need some new clothes.”
    - You reply, “Yeah, some of my favorite clothes just don’t feel comfortable anymore. I was thinking of taking on a new activity like hiking or scuba. Something that helps me get fit while having fun. Of course, it would be a lot more fun if it was both of us…”

    They tentatively accept: you dig in
    - They say, “I’m in, but prefer something else like cycling.”
    - You reply, “Cycling sounds fun. I hope you mean easy touring and not racing… I mean, I don’t mind losing some weight and working on endurance, but I have limits. I want this to be fun.”
    - They say, “No, not racing!”
    - You reply, “Good. I saw some cool tours in New Hampshire where you ride during the day then stay at a B&B and have a gourmet meal each night. Sound good?”
    - They say, “Oh, I would like that.”
    - Victory!

    They reject: remember that you are not in control
    - They say, “I was just thinking about getting a new wardrobe.”
    - You reply, “Want me to join you to help with the shopping?”
    - If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…

    APPROACH 2: BAIT AND SWITCH
    - You say, “Feels like I’m wearing the same thing every day. Will you go and help me pick some new clothes? I’ll return the favor.”
    - They reply, “Sure I’ll go”

    They accept: switch
    - You say, “I want new clothes, but I also want to get a little more healthy and fit. I was thinking we could take up something outdoorsy together like hiking. You interested?”
    - They reply, “You know I’m interested in hiking…”
    - You say, “There are lots of nice trails around here. If that sounds good maybe we should look at hiking gear today and get a new wardrobe after we get in shape?”

    They reject: remember that you are not in control
    - If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…

  141. This is how I would set up a weight loss program

    Long ago, food was in short supply and it took a lot of energy to hunt and gather food. Our earliest ancestors barely survived, but they did, and we inherited their brain – the limbic system. Eventually we humans developed a conscious part of the brain, but all of us normal humans have something in common – our ancient limbic system tells all of us to eat, eat, eat even though food is now readily available. Worse, the limbic says eat sugar and fat – less work and more calories means survival! The limbic trifecta is that the limbic is subtle: it says eat when we are hungry, or thirsty, or tired. EAT, EAT, EAT.

    We all have the impulse to eat, eat, eat, but the great news is WE CAN MANGE OUR REACTIONS.

    More relevant news. The food industry figured out what the limbic does to our behavior, so they started adding sweeteners and fat too every food possible to take advantage of our limbic generated impulses. If they can’t put sweeteners and fat in the food, then they put it on the food… Still, YOU CAN MANGE IT.

    For most folks personal motivation is key to overcoming the clever and subtle limbic system. In addition to motivation, we need the right psychology, some information, methods and support.

    Right psychology:
    - YOU CAN TAKE CONTROL: this is about personal behavior change
    - KEEP IT SIMPLE: this is about eating, exercising, and rest
    - START SMALL: reduce calories some, drink a little more water, do a more little exercise, get a little more rest
    - NO RUSH: it took years to gain this weight, take years to get rid of it
    - WEIGHT VARIES: you will have small fluctuations up and down, and that is normal!
    - IMPERFECTION WINS: a few slip ups ARE NOT defeat
    - DO SOMETHING: it is better to make a minor change than do nothing
    - SUCCESS: focus on changing behavior, the weight loss will come

    Information:
    - BALANCE: it is important to balance diet, rest, hydration and exercise
    - BEST ACTION: changing diet is much more effective than doing more exercise
    - CONDITION: it is important to know what is out of balance (self assessment tool)
    - CAUSE: it is important to know what you are doing that leads to imbalance (self assessment tool)

    Method:
    - TAKE IT EASY: walking a mile burns as many calories as running a mile
    - JUST DO: it is better to cut some calories than none
    - MENU: every restaurant has something you can eat, and you can just get tea or coffee
    - LET GO: cleaning your plate was for your great grandparents…
    - WEIGH: weigh daily, but compare results to the same day 2 weeks ago
    - FRIENDS: hang out with thin people more (you will start doing the things they do)

    Support:
    - NICE WORDS: ask friends if they can see a difference
    - REFLECT: recognize the changes you have made
    - COMPLIMENT: compliment others on their changes

  142. My sweetie struggles with his weight on an ongoing basis due to a combination of physical, psychological, and emotional issues. He frequently carries about an extra 35 pounds.

    His weight does not bother me, but I want him to be happy and fit enough to do the things that are important to him.

    FWIW: Here’s what what I have learned over 15+ years of being together:

    Small wins matter – giving up “cokes” put an initial dent in his weight and even a smaller one in mine.

    Deal with physical issues – get a check up. encourage and support regular doctor visits. I am lucky, my husband knows he needs to go to the doctor regularly to manage his overall health. Doctor tells him that he is overweight and that he needs to loose some. I don’t have to do that. I get to be the good guy. Doctor does support him holistically and that helps. He even recommended a “reduced carb” diet – so avoid the extreme of no carbs and the other extreme that would not work – he can eat as much as he wants of allowed foods. He goes off the diet during holidays and tailgate season and when we travel but his overall set of food choices is much improved.

    Deal with barriers – he has the weirdest feet ever. I hate going shoe shopping with him. Workout shoes are too structured and makes his feet hurt which prevents him from exercise. Thank God for “5 Fingers” It took a long time to find something that worked

    Also – I hate the sound of rustling bags while watching tv – so did get him to switch to putting chips in a bowl. We keep small bowls handy. Now I can buy chips without them being eaten in 1 or 2 sittings.

    Finally – he was having a couple other issues and noticed things like pizza really bothered him. He decided to go gluten free and felt a lot better. He’s not sure if it gluten per se or the gmos in a lot of wheat products but he does not care. He does not like how he feel after eating certain foods and is in the process of finding substitutes and adjusting to his new lifestyle.

  143. I’ve found that different people respond to different stimulus. While one person might react well to being told that the progress they’ve already made is very visible, another might prefer to be told nothing at all. Personally, I work hardest when people call me fat :)

  144. I’d say that my boyfriend is kind of being the expert on this already – I’m about 20lbs heavier now than i like to be, and about 10-15lbs heavier than I was when we first met – and I’m not digging it. I’ve been seeing my energy lag and getting sad about myself in pictures, the whole nine.
    His response has been helpful and not condescending/teachery – he’s said things like ‘You’ve been talking about not liking the way you look – you’re not unhealthy and these pictures aren’t bad.’ Even if he is feeling less attracted to me, that’s not the point, helping my confidence (the real root of sexiness) is his point. ‘If you want to change something and to get healthier, I’m down for changing (eg: what we eat together and exercising together) if that’s something you want to try.”
    Granted, he’s kind of a supportive rock star. But the thing here isn’t just that he noticed the change in my body – he noticed how that change was effecting me, and how it was changing the person he was in a relationship with. it’s not phrased as “you should” or “let’s do” it’s more of a “I see what you’re going through, and if you have ideas on creating change so you’re happier, I’m there for you, because i want you to be happy.” It’s frank, and honest, and caring.
    I dig that – I imagine others would too.

  145. It’s funny to see this particular topic now, because I happened to flip past an episode of King of Queens recently where the wife was broaching this exact issue with the husband (no idea their names) and as expected, feelings were hurt, it backfired in like 10 different ways, but it’s a sitcom so we all laughed along.

    The first thing that popped into my head when you posed the question is one of the aspects of successful networking that you often mention; namely that when you are ‘cold-calling’ or ‘cold-emailing’ someone in hopes of networking with them, you have a very brief window in which to grab their attention before you lose them, and one of the best ways is to toss in a line like “wanted to pick your brain about XYZ” because you remind them that they are in the desirable position of being to impart their all-holy precious knowledge on you, without sounding like you’ll be begging for a job.

    So my idea here while potentially corny in how I frame it, is to do a similar thing with your partner. Hell, even reference that you saw a similar scenario on TV. Something like [while watching tv on the couch or whatever] “Hey honey, you know I caught a few minutes of King of Queens the other day, where they ended up talking about things they’d like to change about the other person and it got me thinking … is there anything you’d change about how I am now, if you could? Like some way that I’ve changed from how I was when we met or something you’ve always wondered if it could be different. I’m serious, be brutally honest, lay it on me.”

    It comes across as incredibly cheesy in writing but I think you could definitely pull it off, the point being (hopefully not too transparently) that you’re getting them to feel similarly in a “position of power” as your networking target, by starting things off by asking them what THEY would change about YOU. And be open about it too! It’s not just some ploy so you can get them to spend time on the treadmill. Maybe you could learn something from it.

    And anyway, I would think it would be easy to steer the conversation in a way that they’ll naturally have their interest piqued and come back at you with “so, uh, well, how about me?”. At which point, I think how you phrase it is much less important than if you’d just opened with your concerns, because psychologically their guard has been let down already; you’ve gotten them to open up about their constructive criticisms for you, so they are naturally in a state of being more receptive to criticism (that’s the idea anyway, and it “feels” true).

    So it shouldn’t be out of the question to lay it straight (or even resort to the “I’ll join you” tactic) like “Well, I’ll be honest that physically, we’re both far from where we were when we first met. I’d love for the two of us to start being more active and eating better for that matter – and like they say, it’s always easier with a partner. How about we split the work — you come up with an exercise routine you think we’d both enjoy, and I will handle the food front. I’ll get some nice recipes, put together a grocery list, take the lead on cooking — and you can wear the hat of lead trainer. Look up some fun routines online, we can go shop for a cool pair of running shoes together. How about that?”

    That kind of shaped itself organically as I wrote it, since I got the idea that while you banned “just suggest you’d do it with them”, I think my wrinkle of suggesting two aspects of getting in shape, and proposing that you two split the work, to both assure them that the burden is not entirely on them, that you’re sharing the load, while also “building them up” by talking up how they get to be in charge of their part.

    Anyway, to recap the main characteristics of my approach:

    1) Flip it – ask THEM first how they’d suggest you improve / change. Get them psychologically into that mindset of giving / taking criticism, so that they are subconsciously more receptive to your suggestion later

    2) Suggest a few ways of “getting healthy physically” and explicitly divide up the work between the two of you. This has the 2-part benefit of not making them feel overwhelmed by having to undertake this all on their own, while making them feel good about being “the boss” of their part.

    • Not bad. I like the ‘flip it’ concept IF done honestly. If you are truly ready to hear that there may be some difficult changes *you* should be making, that will help give you the humility to pull this off without being too hurtful.

  146. Be honest about how you feel but be tactful. You’re concerned because of health but ask them what they think has changed. They may be stressed and emotionally eating.

    You could be adding to the problem if your preparing the meals. Seriously. I know I use to put way too much food on my husbands plate. And he told me that. So either he makes it himself or I usually put about half of what I normally would.

    He also would joke that when he has to do PT qualifications for work he is going to be cursing my name because of the 10 pounds I “gave” him by making the portions to large. That was enough for me to change that aspect of our relationship. He needs to pass those physicals and I don’t want him cursing my name for anything so I had to adjust.

    Or you could be sneaky, throw out the junk food, start buying better food, cutting portions and hoping they don’t notice too much.

  147. Hi All!

    I just tell her why I love her, I just tell her every single reason why I love her, I just tell her every good moment we have together, I just tell her my most special dreams with her, after that, I tell her all the plans and dreams I want we both share.

    Best!

    Jesús

  148. It seems many of the responses are focused on an action that they can get their partner to take.

    While a plan is necessary, perhaps the fact that you have to find a way to motivate change is being ignored. There is a reason this is happening and not reversing if you have to chat with them.

    I echo my response to Ryan above, why not just be honest. “Honey, you’ve gained some weight. I love you, but I find you less attractive, and am noticing that you are feeling less energy than normal. I know you’ve been under a lot of pressure lately, but I’d like to make a lifestyle change and it would mean a lot to me if you would do that with me.”

    Then make an action plan.

    Before anybody hates on me, I’ll say that I had to have this conversation before and I had it with myself years ago when I was over 100lbs overweight.

    Honesty means a lot.

  149. I would be concerned. Many people overeat because of stress or emotional issues. I would find out out if there were things going on that were stressing him out. Work? Money? Us? Something he has been wanting to ignore or avoid? Something he’s afraid to talk about??

    If everything was fine and he was happy how he is, then not being attracted anymore was really just my problem to deal with. I would focus on the aspects I am attracted to or figure out how to be still be attracted and passionate.

  150. I so agree with Lu. I couldnt even go through all the responses because everyone is so focused on the other person instead of themselves. just because you try to say something nicely doesnt make it the thing to do. youre not telling that person anything they dont already know. maybe there is something wrong in the relationship that YOU should be doing, or not doing, as well. Showing someone pictures of perfect people you admire is setting them up for failure, and that careless attitude could be the very thing to cause a doubt in your partner,- leading your partner to feel theyre not good enough. how cruel…maybe you planted a seed earlier?

    try concentrating on something other than the superficial. weight gain is often because of sexual abuse. If you were abused and your partner did that to you, dont you see the damage you cause? putting good food in front of someone and expecting them to eat less is remarkably short-sighted, as are so many of these responses. you

  151. my other half is very wise. he sees me getting too plump and he says “i want to start eating differently.”
    a few weeks later, i’d catch a glance at myself in the mirror and i’d get the picture. Literally.
    he can’t tell me what to do and i can’t tell him what tto do.
    that’s probably why we’ve been together so long.
    but if he sets his mind on making a change i
    ll follow along. or if i’m the one who takes the lead, he’ll eat what i eat on my food plan and we talk to each other constantly about exercise.
    after a while, the exercise starts showing up.
    if it lasts long enough, we both turn up slimmer and feeling better. (looking pretty good, too)
    we’re on the third go ’round right about now.

  152. Both my husband and I have lost weight this last year. I sat him down and told him we were going to watch a documentary by Michael Mosley ‘Eat, Fast and Live Longer’. Lining up the facts and showing the results in a way that he could work into his lifestyle has resulted in about 10kg and I’m hoping much, much better health. Leading by example and positive reinforcement didn’t hurt either.

  153. One big thing nobody seems to have mentioned, except Kendra… Barriers. As others hhve stated, anyone who’s put on thirty five pounds likely knows it. Losing weight is a long and tiring struggle — so expect new barriers practically every DAY. A supportive wife/hub/etc can help take down those barriers, exactly the way Kendra’s husband, if he actually wanted a wife who was attractive, happy and healthy, would gladly watch the kids for an hour so she could walk/run. If he was as wise slash awesome as some commenters here, he’d then find her immediately gorgeous. And if he were as smart as my husband, he’d give the kids lunch or pjs while she was out — creating yet another side benefit. So it’s two things after all — barriers and rewards.

  154. This is certainly a toughie. I’ve tried being tactful. I’ve tried cooking better meals. I’ve tried the “let’s do this together” thing. People won’t change until they’re good and ready, so the key would be convincing the other party that they’re ready… and hypnosis is not my forte.

  155. It’s simple!

    You get down and do the workouts with her =)

  156. People can be really shallow.