No one warns you how relationships will change when you start losing weight. The assumption is: you lose weight and relationships will improve, friendships will blossom and you will look as good as Jennifer Aniston. Friends ask, “How are you doing it?” or “What do you eat?” while watching what I order or put on my plate. My sister recently said, “I used to be the skinny sister.” As though my identity as the big-boned sister somehow disappeared and now her identity has changed. Husbands often struggle with changes in a household not only due to menu changes, but because their partner is doing what they know they should—eating healthier. Sometimes the people we expect to support us the most are least likely to stand by us and may even sabotage our efforts. Especially when they are afraid of how change will affect them for the better or worse.
My challenge has been learning to handle the offense people express when you decline a piece of birthday cake or a boozy drink. It’s a slippery slope when I have to deal with other people peer pressuring me to eat or drink to make them feel better about their own choices. I’ve had to make it clear with friends and family my goals or how far I’ve come in order to gather their support. Including them in the journey whether that be meal or party planning makes them less critical of food and lifestyle changes that affect them also.
My husband and I had to make a lot of changes. Without realizing it, our relationship revolved around food. We love to socialize and he’s Polish, so culturally, food is significant to holidays and entertaining. Date nights consisted of indulging and drinks out. We were eating and drinking buddies! As I started the program, I realized our emphasis on food contributed to my unhappiness in my size. We’ve worked hard to find solutions meal planning for our family, it hasn’t always been easy but we are learning together to make better choices.
Here is how I have tried to make the program a family affair:
Include Partners & Family in Meal Planning
Take your favorite meals and learn how to modify them with your clinic staff. Simple swaps can be delicious and healthy and your family may never know the difference. Now we get frozen yogurt instead of ice cream and my kids still get the thrill of a cold treat. My clinic recommended a tasty low-fat frozen yogurt from our fro-yo shop so we can still all go out together.
Focus on Activities not Eating Out
When I started the program, I knew I needed to exercise, so I signed up my husband and I for a 5k run. Changing our date nights to activities still gives us the time together but takes the emphasis off food. Bowling, walks, or a concert – make time out with friends and family about activities instead of eating.
We still go to our favorite Italian restaurant but I don’t order the delicious penne I used to. Instead I order a salad and an appetizer for my meal—steak tips with mushrooms. I feel satisfied and my husband doesn’t feel deprived of his favorite meal. I plan ahead by looking at menus online and determining what I will order before we arrive, it takes the guesswork and temptation out of ordering.
Ask For Help
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It requires some creativity and I’m never afraid to ask at the clinic what can I eat if we have plans out. They always give me the ammunition to still live my life and stay on track whether I'm at a holiday party, girls’ night out or a potluck at work.
At the end of the day, your weight loss isn’t just about you. Your family, co-workers and children are impacted as well. Including those around you makes everyone your cheerleader instead of your critic. If you don’t have a strong support network, dig deep to stay motivated and show up every week at the clinic where you are guaranteed to find cheerleaders.
How have your relationships changed since starting your journey?