My spouse is overweight. What do I do?

Tips for motivating your partner to lose weight and get healthy.

"My spouse is overweight. The pantry’s full of Chips Ahoy. The car can almost drive itself to McDonalds. And the treadmill in the TV room has six months of dust on it." What to do?! Here are 8 top tips for helping your partner lose weight and live healthier. For starters, don’t nag.

How to Help An Overweight Spouse

The transition to a healthier, more purposeful state of being is delicate work. It takes commitment, but it’s so important. In this article you'll learn how to encourage your spouse to lose weight and live healthier without being a nag.

How to motivate your partner to live healthier

  • He has high blood pressure but can’t seem to shake his daily fix of French fries. He even pours more salt on his fries.
  • She’s 45 pounds overweight but refuses to get out of the bed in the morning to exercise.
  • He has ridiculously high cholesterol but can’t imagine life without a bag of Keeblers in his lap while watching evening TV.
My Overweight Husband

Even the biggest cookie monster can dust off the crumbs, lose weight and get healthy. Here is how you can help.

What do you do? First off, here’s what you don’t do. Don’t nag. Don’t use scare tactics. Don’t play the cop.

Teamwork

“What’s far more effective is adopting a ‘we’re-on-the-same-team’ approach,” advises Dr. Coral Arvon, Director of Behavioral Health and Wellness at the Pritikin Longevity Center.

User-Friendly

Secondly, make the Pritikin Program as user-friendly as you can, recommends psychotherapist Dr. Arvon, who helps couples enrich their lives together through relationship counseling at Pritikin.

Here are eight more tips for motivating your partner to live long and well.

Tip #1 | Help Your Partner Lose Weight & Get Healthy

Buy what your spouse likes. Forget the rest.

If your partner tells you, “I can’t stand broccoli,” simply reply, “Don’t eat it.” It’s that simple. There are plenty of other green vegetables that are powerhouses of nutrition.

Focus on the healthy foods your spouse does like, and forget the rest (at least for now).

Tip #2

Never say, “Never again.”

Don’t put the big black “X” on everything he or she loves, from meatloaf to cookies. Instead, find creative, healthier approaches. For his beloved meatloaf, for example, try ground turkey breast instead of hamburger meat. Jazz it up with your usual spices and tomatoes, and little by little, whittle down the salt and replace it with other seasonings like red chili pepper flakes, fresh herbs, garlic, and/or Pritikin All-Purpose Seasoning. Who knows? He may like it as much as his old favorite.

For cookies, remove the store-bought stuff from the house (which is mediocre in flavor anyway), but carve out a cookie date every weekend at her favorite bakery. Cookie eating will stop being a mindless noshing of sugar and fat every night. Instead, it will become a special (and far more pleasurable) treat. For weekday nights, fill the fridge with nature’s candy – fresh, succulent fruits. Don’t balk at the price of raspberries and other treasures in the produce aisle. Chances are, they’re still cheaper than bags of Oreos and Chips Ahoy.

Tip #3 | Help Your Partner Lose Weight & Get Healthy

Steer clear of Pavlovian pitfalls.

If some foods for your partner are inextricably linked with artery-busters (for example, a baked potato isn’t a baked potato without sour cream and butter), branch out. Find other side dishes that are delicious but baggage-free, such as baby red potatoes roasted with onions, fresh herbs, and a hint of oil, or delightfully sweet and rich yams.

Tip #4 | Help Your Partner Lose Weight & Get Healthy

Stop being a drill sergeant.

Tired of coaxing her out of bed every morning for exercise? Who wouldn’t be? She’s peeved, you’re frustrated, the dog’s upset – what a lousy way to start the day.

Find out if there’s a good personal trainer in town – someone who would work well with your partner, and purchase a gift certificate for several sessions. If all goes well, you’re off the hook as coach, she’s in a fitness routine, and mornings are pleasant again.

Tip #5 | Help Your Partner Lose Weight & Get Healthy

Focus on what’s most urgent.

With a reluctant partner, don’t start out 100% Pritikin or you might get 100% failure. Focus instead on those parts of the Pritikin Program that have the greatest promise of benefiting what’s most critical.

If, for instance, he really wants to lose 50 pounds, and his blood pressure is normal, lighten up on the salt guidelines if doing so helps him hang in there with low-calorie-dense, waist-trimming foods like bean soups and stir-fry vegetables. Then, when he’s well on his way, feeling good about both his weight and daily diet, start cutting back (slowly) on salt.

Tip #6 | Help Your Partner Lose Weight & Get Healthy

Talk.

Nobody likes a big brother or sister forever nagging, forever calling the shots. Instead of dictating your partner’s health – the restaurants he goes to, the appetizers she orders, how much he exercises – have conversations. Involve your partner in the decisions. Ask, “Is there something I can do to make it easier for you to make healthy choices?” In doing so, explains Dr. Arvon, “you’re letting him know that you’re partners, and that, rather than policing him, you simply want to support him.”

Tip #7 | Help Your Partner Lose Weight & Get Healthy

Come in through the back door.

Weight Loss Vacation

Talk up the vacation aspects of Pritikin, then sit back and let us start the transformation.

The best way to motivate a partner to live well is to book time for each other at the Pritikin Longevity Center. If in the past you’ve tried – and failed – to arrange a visit, try again, but with a new back door approach. Pritikin is now in a beautiful resort with five championship golf courses and a spectacular new spa. So talk up the golf – the exciting Blue Monster, home of the PGA tour for 45 years. Talk up the new state-of-the art spa – aqua-thermal bathing experiences, outdoor solariums, the bliss of daily massages.

Yes, talk vacation, not Pritikin. When your partner does arrive, let the world of Pritikin take over – Chef’s Anthony’s delicious food, invigorating education, the excitement in the gym, renewed energy, renewed life. Your only job is sitting back and letting the magic happen.

Tip #8 | Help Your Partner Lose Weight & Get Healthy

Learn to help each other grow.

This is no small task, but it’s vital. Too many of us are locked in the externally driven values of the first half of our lives – accumulating wealth, raising a family, securing the country club membership, buying the retirement home. But then, when it’s all accomplished, we look at each other and say, “What now?” We’re lost. We find ourselves asking, like that old Peggy Lee song, “Is this all there is?”

In relationship counseling at Pritikin, Dr. Arvon works with couples to develop not just new habits, but new values. “It can be so exciting,” she says, “when a couple suddenly breaks through to those ‘Ah ha’ moments that bring happiness, purpose, and love.”

Improve Your Relationship and Lose Weight

During your stay at Pritikin, you and your partner will have an opportunity to work directly with Dr. Coral Arvon to improve your relationship and achieve your health and weight loss goals.

The technique employed is Imago Relationship Therapy, which is different from most therapies. Instead of talking to the therapist or letting the therapist be the referee, couples talk to each other in new ways that bring more pleasure into their partnership. They also develop a passion for life that comes, not from external forces, but from internal enlightenment.

“Couples discover what they really want,” explains Dr. Arvon, “and, of course, it goes far beyond food and drink. The good news is, once you know what you’re trying to achieve, you’re on your way. You can connect that goal, often with very little effort, to the lifestyle choices you make. With your passion renewed, change is easy. Healthy living is easy.”

The transition to a healthier, more purposeful state of being is delicate work. It takes commitment, “but it’s so important,” urges Dr. Arvon. “It can take you out of the ordinary, the daily rut of sub-par foods and sub-par attitudes, and help you discover the riches within.”

Health Resort

Take life to the next level, and be all that you can be. That's what a vacation at Pritikin is all about. Live better. Look better. Best of all, feel better.

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