The following is a guest post by Sonia Devine. Sonia is a clinical hypnotherapist who runs her own practice in Melbourne, Australia. She is also a University lecturer training people in Hypnotherapy at Melbourne University.
Embarking on a weight loss journey and making progress is an amazing feeling. This is even more so when you have been large for a better part of your life. Hard work and a dedication to living a healthy lifestyle are building blocks for a lasting health régime. There are drawbacks to consider, if you are in a relationship and your partner still has poor eating habits. Sometimes in this case your régime can become difficult to maintain.
Several of my patients express a fear of what will happen to the dynamics of their relationship when one partner or house mate makes a change for the positive, while the others remain in their current cycles of unhealthy living. Relationships are a big part of a persons life; fear of changing those relationships is the most common form of sabotage dieters face. Fear of losing someone you love is the easiest way to convince yourself that you don’t “need” to lose weight, or that your lifestyle doesn’t need changing.
When one person in a relationship loses weight, the dynamics can be affected in a number of ways. Take one couple I had in recently for example. Both partners were seriously overweight and one of them decided they were sick and tired of being unhealthy. One of them decided to change their sedentary lifestyle and of course changed their habits to accommodate their new goals. The other partner wasn’t ready to commit to the change and grew to feel resentful of being left alone all the time.
Small changes can add up. It may start with simply eating at different intervals and move on to whole schedules. When you are ready to get up and head to the gym, your partner may still be sitting on the couch with a plate of unhealthy food. The partner that changes their lifestyle will often find a new group of friends and activities that don’t include their partner; this can cause feelings of resentment to fester which can also result in emotional alienation.
As one partner improves their health, outer appearance and motivation the remaining partner can easily feel lonely and insecure. Being overweight can already make a person feel powerless, depressed and unmotivated. Seeing their partner make a positive change can make those feelings worse despite their conscious feelings of support. One of my clients mentioned to me that as she shaped up, her husband’s attitude took a turn for the worse. After a few sessions and some soul searching, he admitted that he was disgruntled about the type of attention she was receiving from other men due to her improved figure.
As she started to look healthier and her self-esteem improved, he worried that she would lose interest in him since he had not been ready to commit to changing his lifestyle. Of course, marriages are based on more than looks; she was patient and with a bit of gentle prodding convinced him to start coming to the gym with her. Thanks to our sessions, she understood his reactions to her success. Instead of mimicking those feelings, she used the opposite to make their marriage stronger and bring him to a healthier lifestyle.
Are you in a position where your change in lifestyle may have an undesired effect on the people surrounding you? If you are considering not making the change, stop and reevaluate immediately. To head off feelings of despair, consider enticing your partner in ways that will attract them to your cause. Talk about the cost benefits of living healthier; make an effort to prepare meals that are healthy, but fully flavored. Make going to the gym fun instead of a chore; this will do wonders for your relationship and your health.
Another of my clients had another sort of relationship problem. He loved his wife immensely and she was a culinary master. She would prepare well thought out lavish meals that satiated him every night. Though her heart was in the right place, the meals started to affect his body weight. When he decided to adopt a healthier lifestyle, he stopped eating so much of her amazing meals.
Unfortunately, this had a devastating effect on her emotions as she thought that he no longer needed her to take care of him. Preparing lavish dinners and lunches were the main way she would show her affection.
In their case, a gentle suggestion of having them take a class for healthy cooking-together, was a great way to allow his wife to keep up her role while allowing him to support his health. Since the suggestion, both of them have started losing an amazing amount of weight while growing ever closer in their marital relationship.
Communication is the foundation of any good relationship, be it between partners, children or housemates. Talk those around you about your goals will allow them to feel included. Many times, they will be delighted to join you in the lifestyle changes.
Editor’s note: Runninginthefamily.com advocates improving health and fitness through healthy choices and exercising together. While we do not necessarily promote hypnotherapy, we are publishing this guest post because it makes some very important points about considering the impact of your fitness choices on the rest of your family. Anytime you undertake lifestyle changes, it is vitally important that you do so as a family. All the best wishes to you and your family on your fitness journey — together.
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