(In response to “Your Secret Saboteur”)
“My husband has been working hard to lose weight and exercise. I find myself being that saboteur often and not realizing it. I brought home a candy bar for him yesterday. I supported him buying wine last week (though he was the one who wanted it). I’m trying to lose weight too, but I am more resistant. I’m sabotaging him while sabotaging myself. He’s doing really well at holding fast most of the time and supporting me in a lifestyle change. Eventually, my habits will hopefully change and I’ll stop that.” -@R in Wisconsin
Thanks for sharing your story. It’s good to recognize when we are the ones who can slow our partner’s progress in lifestyle change–even if we’re working on that same change ourselves! Here’s three things that I want you to bear in mind as you both work on your weight loss journey:
1) What’s the real reason that you’re sabotaging progress for both of you?
My guess is that it’s the homeostasis thing I talked about in the blog. That inner thermostat kicks in when you’re starting to make changes, and so your habits want things to stay the same. Habits are habitual for a reason: they won’t change unless you change them. Identify the “why” here, then tell yourself: “I’m making new habits for myself. Instead of (buying that candy bar), I’m going to (snuggle my husband for 5 extra minutes a day).” Replace sabotaging habits with new ones that serve you better.
2) Partner up with your husband in strength.
I don’t mean a gym face-off to see who even lifts, bro. Make a pact: when one is weak and feeling tempted, the other is strong. If he wants wine, kindly remind him of your shared goals for a healthier life. If you buy your husband that candy bar, he needs to encourage both of you to go workout instead of eating it. We don’t always do things well for ourselves–many clients I’ve worked with are proof of this–yet we can do better for those we love most. Commit to the process.
3) Reward yourselves with experiences, not food.
Food is often used as a way to treat ourselves for a job well done. Ironically, this holds true in lifestyle change, as well. Replace these “treat yo’self” moments with other experiences as rewards. Use these rewards as reminders to delay gratification: “Honey, instead of eating a whole pizza tonight, how about we watch your favorite movie in 3 days?” This keeps food in its rightful place–as food.