What can I do to help him lose weight?
March 29, 2006 9:37 PM   Subscribe

How do I empower and support my boyfriend in his goal to lose weight?

My boyfriend has been struggling with his weight for the past 6 months, and I am trying to find ways to encourage and empower him in his goal to lose weight.

He has successfully done it in the past, going on regular weights and cardio, with a healthy diet. He has tried to do it again since January, starting a workout routine again, but it's not working. We've talked about it, and the difference this time is the amount of support he has.

Before, this was an important issue for his friends. They would go to the gym together, have it be a social thing, and his friends were genuinely interested in his well being. Unfortunately, those friends have moved away, and he doesn't have the support network like he used to.

I'd like to be supportive, but at the moment there are limitations. I am a student, don't have my own car, and am on a different schedule than him. This means I can't workout with him every workout, and I can't go on the same diets as him. I've just started working out as well, but he is definitely the expert, so most of the time I'm asking him for advice on proper form/tips.

What can I do(small, big, whatever) to help him?
posted by Rowgun to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's not your job to "empower" him to lose weight. If he truly needs someone to go to the gym with him every day- where are the friends he used to work out with?
posted by fshgrl at 9:39 PM on March 29, 2006

It's not your job to "empower" him to lose weight.

And yet, it's oh-so-much easier to do it with people around who support you.

Being educated about nutrition, exercise, etc. is a good place to start. And for the rest, it's about finding something that works. For me, it's all about scheduling. When I had circuit weights & running classes, I worked out (and loved it). Now that the semester's over, I'm having a hard time.

For him, sounds like the association of exercise with friends and socializing is probably important. Finding friends takes time and there's no quick-fix, but in the meantime, you can definitely be supportive by encouraging the healthy eating, (making good choices when you two do eat together, eating healthy food yourself), and really working hard to make time to exercise together. If it's a priority for both of you, you can find a way to make it work.

Good luck.

(Also, I don't want to sound like I'm selling anything, but Weight Watchers works well for me. I'd been wanting to lose 10 pounds for the last 6 months - didn't do it until I joined a social network of supportive people.)
posted by eleyna at 9:53 PM on March 29, 2006

Response by poster: His friends have moved to other cities. The friends we hang out with now don't see it as a big deal, even though it concerns him greatly. I know it's not my job, but this is something that's important to him, and I want to do whatever I can to help.

The only thing I don't want to do is nag him or criticise. That definitely won't be a long term solution.
posted by Rowgun at 9:53 PM on March 29, 2006

Support him, listen to him, talk to him, tell him when you can tell it is working. Do NOT nag him. If he's anything like me, nothing makes me more frustrated than when people who know I am working on losing weight say things like "Are you allowed that?" and so on.

So no, it isn't your job, but it will help him a lot if you just encourage him, and try to accomodate anything that reasonably be accomodated (ie don't insist on hitting up McDonalds for a quick lunch).
posted by synecdoche at 10:21 PM on March 29, 2006

Honestly, the best thing you can do is commit to having no bad stuff in the house. It's surprisingly easy to lose weight when you can only snack on cottage cheese and carrot sticks.
posted by lemur at 10:37 PM on March 29, 2006

I don't know, a little nagging might not be that bad of an idea. I mean I'm not your boyfriend, but am trying to lose weight (after losing a lot I sort of tapered off and want to lose another 20 pounds or so). I would appreciate being reminded of my diet if I'm thinking of eating food, because if I am I'm already conflicted. Another voice telling me not to do it would help

On the other hand, I can imagine it getting old too.

You can try rewarding him with extra sex.
posted by delmoi at 10:41 PM on March 29, 2006

How about non-gym workout stuff you could do together? Is there a park nearby where you could run/jog, that has exercise stations (pull-up bars, sit-up/step-up benches)?

If he's within a reasonable distance of your home, you could motivate him by saying that if he runs over to your place, you'll reward him with a cool-down massage.

Is there a sport he's interested in where he could join a team or league and meet new workout friends that way? Or a martial arts class?
posted by essexjan at 10:51 PM on March 29, 2006

Can you try doing free weight and/or balance ball workouts when you're together? Failing that, you might try doing them separately in your own homes, and then commiserating later. Half the benefit of having a workout buddy is having someone you're accountable to, and it might feel little less like nagging if when you ask him about his workout, your calves are burning, too.
posted by stefanie at 11:04 PM on March 29, 2006

I have seen advertisements on craigslist from people who are looking for workout partners. Maybe he could put an ad in saying that he is interested in meeting someone who works out at the same gym or who might want to go running with him, etc.
posted by gt2 at 11:07 PM on March 29, 2006

Yes, you have to control the eating environment.

Have no bad food in the house. No ice cream, no sweets, no chips, no sweet cereal, no prepackaged munchies of any sort. Hide the salt shaker. Toss the butter. Sell the frying pan.

Counter that stuff with plenty of stuff you can eat lots of without completely messing up a diet. A constant heap of fresh fruit washed and ready to eat. A constant heap of carrot sticks in a bowl.

Because you can't be there, put a big chart on the kitchen wall (it has to be in the food room) that tracks his weight day by day for six months or a year or forever. Make it so you can add sheets as you go, maybe just a series of 8.5x11 sheets, but a long line of them, empty at first (to make him think long-term), but all of them eventually to be filled. The chart should have a baseline of his ideal or target weight, but he should keep charting his weight even after he's down to his target weight. The trick, of course, is staying on target. You could even stick photos on the chart at certain points to record what he looks like at certain weights. If you run out of room, you can take down the earlier sheets and store them in a scrapbook.

Match (or combine) the weight charts with a checklist of exercises to be done each day at the gym. Maybe the top of the sheet would be a weight chart and the bottom would list the sets he intends to do every day during the period defined by the sheet. Make it so he just has to check whether he did the planned number of reps or not.

Then for five minutes a day, he has weigh himself, chart it, and go down the checklist to indicate which minimum exercise sets he has matched or exceeded.

And everyone who comes to visit will get to admire his industry and progress. They will all be his encouraging friends.
posted by pracowity at 11:08 PM on March 29, 2006

How about online support? If you look at the discussion forums at places like Men's Health you'll see lots of folks discussing fitness, nutrition, etc. and they all seem to support one another i.e. cheering each other on when hitting goals, keeping up motivation, etc. I'm sure there are loads of other fitness forums as well.
posted by gfrobe at 11:19 PM on March 29, 2006

How about an ad on Craig's List for workout partners? It sounds like that's what he really needs, and he may end up with some new friends out of the deal.

Or, maybe his gym can hook him up with other people who are looking to form a support network and work-out together.
posted by willnot at 11:29 PM on March 29, 2006

How about suggesting he start working out with a personal trainer? That way he would have not only someone to show him how to be doing everything properly (and therefore getting to his goals faster, and perhaps safer) but it would also have the effect of giving him someone to workout with, adding the social element that likes. If he doesn't know where to start looking for one the folks who work at his gym might be able to suggest some qualified people.
posted by RoseovSharon at 11:43 PM on March 29, 2006

how about he keeps a blog of his workouts, then the out of town friends can post and give him positive feedback on how he is doing.

one of my friends needs a lot of motivation to work out, working different shifts meant i couldnt go with him so he started a blog. definately worked for him
posted by moochoo at 4:27 AM on March 30, 2006

I like the blog idea. Positive reinforcement in general helps too, though... ie: after a week of going to the gym, mention that he's looking a bit slimmer, even if you don't really notice it.
posted by antifuse at 5:03 AM on March 30, 2006

I will also endorse craigslist. I used craigslist to find people to bike with this summer and it was a great experience, I am sure you can find workout partners there. If there is not craigslist in your area, can he put up a flier or two in the gym?

What about a class at the gym? A friend of mine does a master swim class. The instructor dictates the workout, and my friend has met others that want to improve their swimming.

Since you stated that you are also working out (are you trying to lose weight too) - what if you made a bet with your boyfriend? Who can lose the most inches or pounds in a month? If you are not trying to lose weight, you can bet him - can he lose a certain amount of pounds or use up so many calories in a month.

What if you find events tied to his certain workouts as a later incentive? A friend of mine signs up for marathons, so he has to work out by jogging. I signed up for a multi day bike trip this summer, so I also have to start biking. Maybe you can find an activity you both want to do, sign up for it, and there is the incentive to work out

Good luck.
posted by Wolfster at 5:07 AM on March 30, 2006

Perhaps you could encourage him to participate in some sort of team sport-- volleyball, hockey, or something like that? He would meet other athletic men who he could then start going to the gym with. In my city there are quite a few leagues for adults.
posted by miss tea at 5:08 AM on March 30, 2006

Blog is good, spreadsheet is good too. It allows him to credit himself for the good stuff he has done already. Get a schedule for the times that you are able to work out with him and be there every time, even if you don't feel good about it. It will help him stay involved.

Also, cut back on eating out.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:13 AM on March 30, 2006

My fiancee has been extremely supportive in my attempts to lose weight. The most important thing that he does is constantly encourages me and lets me know that I am looking better all the time, regardless of what the scale says. He also packs me lunch every day - which is incredibly helpful since I have a tendency to abandon my healthy eating plans and pick up french fries for lunch.
Pack him a pre-workout snack with a note telling him how much you love him. He'll feel encouraged and loved, even though you can't make it to work out with him.
posted by elvissa at 6:32 AM on March 30, 2006

"Incentives." You know what I'm talking about.
posted by electroboy at 6:52 AM on March 30, 2006

I signed up to do a triathlon for charity, and it has done wonders for getting my ass in shape. No matter what his current weight/fitness ability may be, there is a charity athletic event that he could do. It has motivated me way more than any independant fitness plan would have. First of all, you are raising money for whatever your cause is, so that is a nice side benefit. Next, you have to tell everyone about it in the course of your fundraising, so you are on the hook. If you don't do it, or don't finish, everyone will know. The organizing group provides training help and structure. You train with other people who are participating in the same event. If you are not used to exercising regularly by yourself, it is much easier to motivate if you have a goal to work towards. There is time commitment involved, but most of that time is exercise.

There are plenty of options like the AIDS ride or Team in Training. Suggest he participate in one. He'll get in shape, meet new people and probably have a great time.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 7:18 AM on March 30, 2006

Live his ideal lifestyle with him. Don't ask him out to dinner, ask him to hike. Don't make food the center of your joint activities, make exercise... talking... etc.
posted by ewkpates at 10:37 AM on March 30, 2006

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