FOR BETTER OR WORSE: Marriage, Weight, and Sane Eating

People in relationships, and married people especially, gain much more weight over time than singles.  The reasons for this are many and complicated.  I’ve written about some of these issues during the past two weeks at my Psychology Today blog, “Thin From Within” (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/thin-within).   The other side of this phenomenon, though, paints a more positive picture for those with mates.  And that is that people do tend to reach their goals more effectively with the support of others.

 You can find more specifics about the benefits of having a helper on the Eat Sanely site (click on “Coaching”, above, and then on “Research Confirms Coaching Works”).   In sum:  the right kind of help and support can mean the difference between continued frustration in your diet efforts and success in changing habits for good.

How can a mate be an effective supporter?  The answer to this question will vary from person to person.   Discussing what would help you with your partner will start the process.  How does your mate feel about your introducing a different type of cooking into your lives?  About taking walks together?  About eating out less often?  These types of questions can help.

Asking your partner honestly how he or she feels about your changing your habits and your body shape should also enter the discussion.  These issues trigger more feelings than you may realize.  They may need attention, in fact, before you can succeed with long-term change efforts.

 Often it makes sense for partners to work together to stay healthy or to try to eat more sanely.  While this can potentially make the whole process easier, it gets complicated if one person’s motivation flags and the other’s stays strong.  Or if one person simply has a much easier time than the other.   Thinking of your goals as long-term and worthy, know ahead of time that discussion and problem-solving must happen all along the way.

Whether your mate supports your efforts or actually joins you in making important changes, a lifetime commitment to keeping healthy matters most of all.  The “upward weight creep” that happens in many marriages runs counter to this.   Ask your mate whether the two of you need to focus on caring for yourselves more effectively when it comes to food and weight.

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