I don’t consider myself a huge authority on relationships, but I have been married and divorced. I have also been every weight you can imagine (high, low and everything in between) and I know it sucks to be the fat, out-of-shape girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband/significant other who is slowly gaining weight and becoming more and more self-conscious about it.
Men, you have a tough job. Us ladies are sensitive, and our feelings get hurt easily. Ladies, you also have a challenge. Men don’t like to be told they are out of shape or unattractive. (Who does??!) And nobody wants to be shallow about it, but physical attractiveness (not to mention personal health and wellbeing) is an important part of the dynamic of a sexual relationship.
So is there a way to deal with your significant other getting fat without being a total asshole about it? I think so.
So, Your Boyfriend/Girlfriend is Getting Fatter…
Let me start by telling you that I have been both:
1. The chubby girl who was body shamed by my significant other, and
2. The fit girl who belittled her beer belly-possessing boyfriend.
Both of these roles suck. Neither of them work. Neither of them feel good.
Relationships evolve. You might not have those early-stage butterflies forever, which is fine! Having a life long companion and someone you are comfortable with and who makes you laugh is of way more importance than that “new and exciting” stuff (which is fun, don’t get me wrong.)
Weight gain in relationships is common, preventable and reversible.
10 Ways Not to be Shallow and Mean About It
1. Get over it. It’s a body. It has some fat on it. The person is still the same. Don’t put so much importance on physical beauty that you forget completely why you fell in love with this person.
2. Take a step back. Before you say something which might completely destroy your significant other, ask yourself: “How would it feel if they said that to me” ?
3. Make it part of both of your lifestyles. Don’t just tell your significant other, “You need to go to the gym.” And don’t be mean about it, (“Are you sure you wanna eat that??”) Go to the gym TOGETHER. Eat well TOGETHER. Even if you’re thin and they’re a little heavy, be supportive.
4. Err on the side of playful. My boyfriend and I often play games together or make challenges that we do together. For example, “I really feel like I need to get serious about eating healthy, starting this week. You wanna do it with me?” I’ll sometimes make a chart, hang it on the fridge and we both fill it out together every day. Or we make challenges with prizes (loser buys dinner or an iPod or something).
5. Find opportunities to be active together. Getting fit doesn’t only happen in the gym. Go for a hike, a bike ride, swim in the ocean, go kayaking or just take a walk – whatever their pace is, start there. Don’t take your slightly heavy wife to the gym and expect her to have fun deadlifting 100lbs. The key is to enjoy it. It’s human nature to continue doing things we enjoy – not things we constantly lose at.
6. Help them. When your significant other does come to the gym with you, help them. Frankly, it can be terrifying going to the gym for the first time – especially when you’re not feeling very fit. Don’t be mean. (“That’s all you can do?!”) Be encouraging. (“Exactly! That’s perfect. It’s hard at first but it gets easier.”)
7. Don’t hover. If your significant other wants to eat a freaking cookie or skip the gym, let them. We’re all adults here. He/she is ultimately in charge of his/her own body. Don’t be a big black cloud of oppressed anger pacing around the person. Don’t let them stress over small mistakes. Tomorrow is a new day.
8. DO encourage. DON’T belittle. We all make mistakes, but the power of reinforcing positive choices and good progress is hugely important. Ignore the little slip-ups, and focus on the positive. DO: “Wow, you found time to hit the gym this week? That’s awesome.” DON’T: “Are those pants a little tight on you these days?”
9. Notice changes and give compliments. There is nothing more gratifying than hearing your hard work is paying off. If your significant other has been trying here and there to be healthier, compliment that! Change doesn’t happen overnight, but if you notice little things – say something! “Wow honey, you’re lookin’ really good…!”
10. Try new things together. Sometimes it’s nice to just have a friend in a new place, and new fitness trends are always emerging which are worth checking out (i.e.: Barre fitness, CrossFit, hot yoga, spinning, etc.)
Physical fitness is not only about aesthetics. Sure, it would be nice if all men had 12-pack abs and all women were graced with perfect booties. Getting fit is about having more energy, feeling happier, more confident and being overall more healthy. If fitness is solely about aesthetics for you and your partner disagrees, then you might need to figure out where you stand in the relationship.
Lead by example. If you lead a healthy life and sincerely ENJOY it, your significant other will join you because it makes you both happy.