How to Help Your Spouse: Romantic Relationships and Weight Loss

Dr. Christopher McGowan
May 16, 2023

The most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicates that over 70% of Americans are either overweight or obese (equivalent to a BMI ≥ 25). Yet even though many people attempt to lose weight through various diet and exercise plans, their weight loss efforts often end in vain. Weight loss programs are often discussed in a way that focuses on the individual experience, but that sidesteps a factor that often plays a major role in whether the program will be successful: the influence of a spouse or significant other.  

Spouses and Weight Loss Goals 

One of the reasons the popular diet Weight Watchers can be successful for some people is the emphasis on a social support system. Weight loss is hard, the thinking goes, so having loved ones to share the journey with and offer support is crucial in overcoming some of the physical and mental health-related obstacles that tend to come up. And while some couples do choose to walk this path together, many more find themselves in a situation where one partner is eagerly trying to find a healthy weight while the other isn’t.   

Romantic relationships are built on interdependence; in other words, each individual’s goals, daily routines, and eating habits are strongly influenced or shaped by the significant other. And since a weight loss journey necessarily involves decisions like switching to healthier food choices when grocery shopping or making time for new forms of physical activity, it can affect the other partner in a variety of ways. Depending on the dynamic of the relationship, this can lead to them either helping the overweight partner find success or get in the way of that success.  

How Spouses Can Make it Harder 

Relationships are complex and sometimes they just don’t work out over the long run. But even in relationships that are considered healthy, there are many ways that conflict or miscommunication can interfere with a weight loss plan. Below are some of the ways a significant other can make weight loss harder: 

  • Planning for healthy eating: Regardless of whether one or both partners are attempting to lose weight, it can still be complicated to plan meals together. Coordinating grocery store shopping and agreeing on spending limits is even more challenging when one person decides to start incorporating healthy foods into their diet. If the non-dieting partner isn’t on board with the plan, that can lead to arguments and stress. Moreover, the other partner may not feel the need to adopt a new diet and may insist on keeping unhealthy foods in the house.  
  • Finding time to exercise: Regular physical activity can be beneficial for weight loss, but it’s also really important for overall good health and an ongoing sense of wellbeing. But in households where exercise isn’t regularly practiced, it can be difficult to suddenly attempt to insert it into your daily life. This can create a situation where the one trying to lose weight is putting time and energy into exercise but the other partner is disinterested or even threatened by the change. And even if that other partner is nominally supportive of the effort, they may not be willing to provide the kind of encouragement and logistical support that can help their significant other succeed; for instance, perhaps they aren’t willing to take on household duties or watch the kids in order to facilitate an exercise session.    
  • Not offering encouragement: When one person in a romantic relationship decides to lose weight, their partner might react in different ways; they may be supportive of, indifferent to, or against the idea depending on the nature of the relationship. Some significant others may simply withhold needed encouragement, but there are situations where they may actively work against the weight loss effort by ignoring their partner’s progress, making hurtful comments, or by saddling them with unwanted pressure. In this regard, a significant other can substantially undermine the person’s attempt to lose weight. 

How Spouses Can Make it Easier

A spouse may not intend to make a weight loss journey harder, but sometimes the challenges inherent in the process can trigger certain insecurities that make it even more difficult. An example of this is the way that weight gain can have an impact on physical attraction. The good news is, though, that spouses can also help facilitate the kinds of healthy choices that eventually lead to weight loss. Below are some of the ways spouses can make the process easier:  

  • Support healthy habits: Just as not being supportive can be harmful, a spouse who actively supports their partner’s efforts can make a huge difference. This could mean cooking healthier meals, agreeing to avoid junk food, or creating more space and time for exercise. The spouse can also help by being on the lookout for unhealthy behaviors that might hinder progress; this kind of accountability can make a major difference.   
  • Take part in the journey: Some spouses decide to be supportive by actually going on the journey with their partner. Rather than helping from the outside, they become a fellow participant in the process and share all the ups and downs that are known to accompany a weight loss journey.   
  • Be a cheerleader: Even if the spouse doesn’t want to fully participate, simply being a supportive cheerleader can make the process easier. By fostering a spirit of positivity and being a voice of encouragement, there is an even greater chance that their partner will find sustainable success.  

Why Lose Weight?          

A lot of people want to lose weight for aesthetic reasons—either to appeal to their partner physically or to feel better about themselves. The unfortunate truth is, however, that being overweight is a key factor in a variety of health conditions. In fact, obesity is known to lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and insulin problems. Obesity is also strongly linked to a generally higher chance of early death as well as an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart disease, and some types of cancer.  

Expert Help for Your Weight Loss Journey 

Whether it comes from your spouse or an internal force, the pressure to lose weight can feel overwhelming. Everyone is different, and not everyone has the kind of support system you need to make the behavior changes that can lead to weight loss. But even if your significant other isn’t able to provide the support you need, it doesn’t mean you’re actually alone. At True You Weight Loss, we want to help you finally find the freedom you’ve been looking for in your weight loss journey. 
Diet and exercise are the traditional methods of losing weight, but research consistently shows that most of these efforts either don’t work or don’t last longer than a year. If you’re tired of not finding success, True You is eager to help. With non-surgical weight loss solutions like ESG or a gastric balloon, you can take a new approach to weight loss that has a strong track record of success. To learn more about how to get started with True You, please contact us today to request a consultation

Dr. Christopher McGowan
Dr. Christopher McGowan

Dr. Christopher McGowan, MD, a leader in endobariatrics, specializes in non-surgical obesity treatments and is triple-board-certified in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Obesity Medicine. Renowned for pioneering endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) with over 2,000 procedures, his global influence and research contributions define him as a top expert.

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