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How to Navigate an Unsupportive Partner

 

How to Navigate an Unsupportive Partner

 
The first thing to keep in mind when navigating the following situations is that your partner has been your partner in crime sometimes for many years. You may have binged together, fallen off the wagon together, and now all that is about to shatter with this new way of eating. Ways you have bonded over food in the past are precarious rituals that neither partner may want to lose.
 
Full Disclosure
 
To start everything off on the right foot it is advisable to create some time for you and your partner to meet to discuss what your new relationship with food will look like. Full Disclosure.
 
Now, this needs to be done in a loving way. If you approach your partner and say, I am doing this with or without you.” They may get triggered and say, “Screw You” and become your faithful saboteur in the weeks to come.
 
Remember that your partner is directly impacted by any change you make, so this can be a very scary thing for them. Most people don’t do well with change, so when you are ready for lasting change, it is highly advisable to bring them into the conversation and let them know that they have a say and you would like to co-create a new way of eating with them. Two scenarios will unfold. They will either be onboard, or they will rebel.
 
Lets go through each of these scenarios:
 
They Are Onboard! Yay! Co-Create a New Way of Eating With Them.
 
Through your honesty, vulnerability, and kind way of asking for support and a better quality of life, your partner gets on board and decides to go on this journey with you. When this happens, you two can begin to craft the way of eating that appeals to you both. Here is an example of what one Good Decisioner created with her partner:
 
A Co-Created Eating Plan and Rules of Engagement With Food.
 
The decision was made to follow the Good Decisions Lifestyle Recommendations to make Good Decisions…Most of the Time. This meant healthy eating the majority of the time, and allowing themselves one reward meal per week.
 
Flexibility: They wanted structure and flexibility to enjoy Sunday brunch with family, and at the same time, wanted a date night to splurge together. They agreed that they could eat healthy on date night if they wanted to indulge in Sunday brunch. They found sushi, steak, and Thai were their favorites anyway. Italian pasta and red wine was the one indulgence they really looked forward to. They agreed to be flexible with their reward meal.
 
Special Occasions: If they were invited to dinner to others homes, they could either use their splurge meal, or let the hostess know that they are committed to a new way of eating. They agreed that most of their friends would understand and support them. If not, they could eat before they went and focus on asking about new events in their friend’s life. This took the focus off of them and any discomfort that was present.
 
Commitment: They also agreed that if they had already used their reward meal, they would not use two no matter what. They would no go down that slippery slope.
 
Holidays: When Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years came around they would plan out the days of the month that they would use as reward days, Thanksgiving, Christmas eve, Christmas day and holiday parties were reward days. All other days would be back to business as usual.
 
Room for Imperfections: They agreed that if one or the other fell off the wagon, they would not use it as an excuse to go into a pit of poor eating for weeks or months. Instead, they agreed to call it an “Oops” and hop back on the new way of eating without any guilt, shame, or making the other person feel bad.
 
Shared Responsibility: She committed to cooking 3 days a week and he to 1 day so they could still enjoy their favorite restaurants.
 

This is their weekly plan:

 
Sunday: Prep Day: A roasted whole chicken, turkey breast, or pot roast so we don’t have to cook on Monday.
 
Monday: Sunday leftovers
 
Tuesday: Seafood night: white fish, cod, shrimp, salmon or other seafood with salad or veggies
 
Wednesday: The Man Meal: He cooks! BBQ’s ribs, pork, flank steak or chicken. If he doesn’t feel like cooking he brings home healthy Thai, Japanese, Indian, or some pre-roasted chicken from the grocery store. This is his day to be responsible for dinner.
 
Thursday: A big pot of soup, chili, or Instant Pot meal so we have leftovers Friday
 
Friday: Leftovers, or if one of us feel like cooking we cook.
 
Saturday: Date night. This is the day we hold out for! We get to go anywhere we want and eat anything we want for dinner. All other meals during the week nourish our desire for health and longevity.
 
Breakfasts: Oatmeal, fruit, eggs, bacon, sausage, and smoothies for breakfasts when they felt hungry. Although neither of them felt hungry for breakfast so they transitioned to bulletproof coffee with coconut oil to jump start their brains and limited it to one cup per day.
 
Lunch: They ate out for lunch a lot and enjoyed this, so agreed to find restaurants that had healthy soups, salads, animal proteins and veggies.
 
Alcohol: They agreed to limit alcohol to social occasions and splurge meals
 
Rules of the Game
 
No bringing food home not on the agreed upon list to temp your partner.
No using a bad day as an excuse to eat crappy
No Sabotaging each other. Period.
 
This co-creative process not only reinforced that they are a team, it stirred up a camaraderie that they are in this together. Knowing that they have a splurge day helps them “Hold out” during the week.
 

What if Your Partner Is Not Onboard?

 
Don’t Give Up.
 
If your partner resists any new change and acts put out by your idea, know that underneath his lack of support is just a little wad of insecurity, with a bit of fear mixed in. Partners sometimes experience a feeling that if you get skinny you might leave them. It doesn’t make sense, but it is a very real thing. Telling your partner you love them, that you are taking a stand for your health and longevity and it doesn’t mean you two won’t have fun or enjoy life anymore, it will just be in different ways.
 
Have the Hard Conversation
 
Often having an open, loving, heartfelt, honest conversation with your partner can resolve any conflict. Sometimes partners who feel their other half would resist a new way of eating find that it was all a story in their own head and their partner really does want to support them. If you don’t have the conversation, you will never know. Some individuals are more afraid of having the conversation than the new way of eating. So have the conversation and ask for what you need in a kind and loving way.
 
Be Vulnerable
 
Talk about your own fears. Be completely open and transparent. This will create the space for open communications. If you can, try to understand your partner’s emotions and soothe those. Listen to your partner and validate their concerns. If they see this change as something that could bring you closer, it might be more appealing.
 
Reassure Them
 
When couples bond together over food and it is taken away, it can be hard for the other person. Reassure them that you love them and will not leave them when you are thin and sexy. Reassure your partner that this is not an all or none approach. You will still be able to binge together one meal per week. Maybe having something to look forward to will help ease the transition.
 
Make it Fun
 
In the beginning make it fun, delicious and enjoyable. If your partner sees that it can be fun and tasty they may change their minds.
 
Find New Ways to Connect
 
See if you can find other ways you two could connect outside of food. A dance class, an art class, and evening walk, reading the same book together, a healthy cooking class, a meditation class. Discover new things you two can do together to connect.
 
Put You First
 
The most important thing is to choose to love yourself regardless of any pushback you get from your partner. Choose to live a healthy, vibrant, active life regardless of who and what is around you. Draw upon your inner strength and know that your worth is not dependent on anyone’s actions or opinions. Your worth, your strength, your reserves are within you and when you tap into that, your partner won’t help but be inspired.
 
Most of the time, partners are inspired and the relationship elevates. One of you has to lead this elevation. Put yourself first, and show him or her how it is done.
 

If All Else Fails, Go it Alone

 
If they don’t support you, this makes the journey more difficult, but not impossible.
 
Practice Self-Governing
 
The only thing you have control over is you. You can remove items form your house and give your partner a cupboard all their own that you never have to go into. When your partner brings something out of the cupboard use this an opportunity to practice Self-Governing around food. This can be tough in the beginning while you practice walking on your Self-Governing Bambi legs, but stick with it. Even if you fall, get back up, brush it off, and keep practicing. Eventually your ability to Self-Govern will strengthen and your partner may choose the path of least resistance in the end.
 
If You Cook
 
If you are in charge of the cooking your partner won’t have a choice over what you cook. If you make this new way of eating tasty and delicious, your partner might not even know what’s going on. I mean let’s face it; what partner would snub steak and a salad, chicken and roast vegetables, homemade stew, chili, pot roast, meatloaf, and a cornucopia of healthy options?
 
If Your Partner Cooks
 
If your partner cooks and cooks something not on your list, hold your boundaries, don’t get angry at them for not supporting you, it is their life and they have the prerogative to eat however they desire. Give them a kiss and tell them straight, “Thank you so much for cooking, but I don’t eat that …Most of the Time anymore. I am just going to have a can of soup and some pre-washed salad greens. Then cook your own meal. Eventually they will get it that you are serious and may come around, especially if you don’t make a big deal out of it or get angry or blame them.
 
Remember that change is only uncomfortable in the beginning. Eventually, within a month or two, your partner will adapt and understand that this is just a part of who you are today. You just have to get through the adaptation period and be strong at Self-Governing with temptation around your house.
 
Be Loving
 
Be loving toward them; reassure them that when you are skinny and fit you won’t leave them. Tease them, play with them and make this new lifestyle appealing. You may find they hop on your wagon eventually and life gets magical.
 
You may also find that they don’t climb on board and when the bonding over negative habits aspect of the relationship ends, so may the relationship.
 
I am going to be blunt here, it really comes down to a choice; You can choose to love yourself, care for yourself and live a healthy vibrant active life regardless of who and what is around you. Or you can choose to sacrifice your desires, health, and vitality for the status quo. Either way, you must ask the question, “What do I really want?”
 
Keep Practicing Self-Governing
 
Regardless of what happens, when your partner brings out the junk food: Consider it an opportunity to practice your new art of Self-Governing around food. Take some deep breaths; create a mantra you can use when you need it. Something like, “I’ve had you before, I will have you again, I am just not going to have you right now.” Or “I don’t eat that anymore.” Or being healthy feels better than any junk food tastes.” Or my favorite, I have all I need within me I am safe to live life the way I choose”
 
This begins your Journey of Self-Governing around food.
 

Special Situations and How to Navigate

 
My Partner Comes Home Late and I Wait to Eat with Them
 
When you wait for your partner you may be ignoring your own hunger signal. When you wait, you get ravenous, which can lead to overeating when your partner gets home, or worse, you eat, then eat again when they get home. What you are doing is sacrificing your wellbeing, your eating patterns, and ignoring your inner guidance for them. This is not a healthy relationship.
 
If your partner comes home late, eat when your hunger signal tells you to, then set aside a plate for them. You could sit with them, while they eat sipping on a warm comforting cup of herbal tea. At first this may seem rude or selfish. It is not. It is self-care at it’s best. In the beginning this may be uncomfortable, but over time you and your partner will adapt and you will see the result you desire.
 
You may also snack lightly when you are hungry, and use that time to do something other than watch TV or eating. You could use this as “Me time” to go to the gym, take a walk, call friends and family, take a class etc.
 
My Partner Shows Love by Giving Me Food Gifts
 
If you and your partner are both overweight and they like to give you food gifts to unconsciously keep you overweight with them, you will have to break this pattern. Tell them you love them and appreciate their thoughtfulness. Then firmly tell them you will no longer accept food gifts. Create a list of gift alternatives that are not related to food, such as facials, massages, a gift certificate for a manicure or pedicure, flowers, movie tickets, etc. If he or she insists on buying food gifts, ask for specialty nut mixes, fruit baskets, olives, etc.
 
How to Navigate Dinner Parties with Friends and Family
 
When company comes, prepare a healthy delicious meal everyone can enjoy. There is nothing more delicious than a roasted whole chicken with root vegetables and a salad. Fruit makes a lovely dessert and if you like to cook a roasted pear or stuffed apple with nuts and cinnamon will impress.
 
If you are going to someone else’s place for dinner, practice Self-Governing. Call your friends, parents or in-laws in advance and explain that you’re trying to eat healthier and you would like to bring some of your own foods.
 
You don’t feel comfortable losing weight on your own and need support from your entire family.
 
Get over it. If you are the cook, take control of the food in your home. If you’re not a great cook, try taking healthy cooking classes. And if you know there will be resistance, for God’s sake don’t tell them what you are doing! The whole house doesn’t need to know you are putting them on a diet. Slowly begin to incorporate more healthy meals that your family will enjoy. Make it fun. Healthy eating and vibrant living can be contagious.
 
If you are not in control of the cooking, keep saying no kindly and gracefully and stock up the house with foods you can eat. Soups, stews, chili, precooked meals from your local market, healthy take out, or find a couple of meals you can cook.
 
You don’t always have to eat the same foods as your partner, meal after meal. Try to cook separately. For instance, you could both have chicken, one grilled and the other fried. When getting takeout, there is no rule that says you have to order from the same place. And finally, when it comes to dining out, you could take turns choosing the restaurant.
 
The most important thing is to know that you really don’t need the support of your family to live the life that you want. You have everything you need within you. Tap into that knowing and let your family fend for themselves if they are not onboard. Whatever you do, don’t enable them, or support them in harming themselves, or worse yet, continue to go down that rabbit hole with them. Continue to be kind and love on them. Be playful and firm.
 

Nothing Works Diet Saboteurs

 
When you decide to turn over a new nutritional leaf you may look around and find yourself in an unhealthy or even toxic nutritional environment. When you consider how you got there, it makes sense. Dieters love to connect with each other and commiserate with each other over food. When you stop, they lose that connection and consciously or unconsciously may try to throw you off course.
 
In these situations it is most important to focus on your own food habits than what your partner or anyone else puts on their plate. Instead of telling your partner what they should eat or not to eat, concentrate on your own eating habits. Put your energy into taking care of yourself.
 
If your partner, friends or family flaunts unhealthy foods, step out of the room or have plenty of your own snacks you can enjoy. Feeling left out is normal. It will pass. What you are really feeling left out of is: heart disease, diabetes, lethargy, and potential early death.
 
Be Patient
 
What your partner is experiencing is somewhat understandable when you consider many of our major activities involve food. Romantic brunch, dinners, popcorn at the movies, socializing at restaurants, dinner parties with friends. Your partner may feel that all the fun in life is being put to an end. This can bring up a lot of emotions and create resentment.
 
If your partner and friends try to sabotage you in the beginning, be patient with them and know that as you stay firm in your ability to Self-Govern they will adapt or find other people to indulge in unhealthy eating patterns with.
 
Recognize Your Saboteurs
 
The first step in dealing with saboteurs is to recognize it. Your saboteur may want to guard the status quo, keep you under control, or prevent you from leaving to find a new partner with your new body.
 
What You May Hear
 
"You're going to far with this" "it's taking too much of your time"
 
"Honey you're doing great, you’ve earned it, you can have one little piece."
 
“C'mon, honey, I like a little meat on my women."
 
"What's the matter, you’re are wasting away.” Or “Are you sure you aren't losing too much too fast?"
 
“I’m not on a diet! Why do you care if I eat this in front of you?”
 
"You don't like my cheesecake all of a sudden?” Or “So, you're too good for my dessert?”
 
"You don't come to dinner, you don't love me anymore."
 
“Who are you trying to impress?”
 
"There’s one doughnut left, want it?"
 
"It's your birthday, one piece of cake won't hurt!"
 

Why People Sabotage

 
In short, people who feel threatened or insecure fight back.
 
I have had many clients who lost a lot of weight and their partners tried to get them to put it back on. One woman lost more than 80 pounds, and her husband kept bringing candy into the house. He wanted the old version of her back and was trying everything to sabotage her efforts.
 
Sometimes a partner may feel anxiety. A man may think if his wife stays overweight she won't be flirting or attracting notice. If the person gets thin, they may find someone else. “My wife is getting so sexy, she may dump me." None of this makes sense, but the internal voice never does.
 
Partners who are overweight themselves may feel threatened. "If I am overweight and you go on a diet, you put me in the uncomfortable position of feeling bad about my own weight” They may not be ready to do anything about it and try to talk you out of it.
 

How to Deal With Saboteurs

 
If your partner, friends, co-workers, or family try to sabotage your efforts here are a few tactics to move through their resistance:
 
Be Compassionate and Reassure Them
 
Try to see what is really going on beneath these statements. See the fear, the insecurity, and the vulnerability and reassure them. Say right out: "Honey, I love you. We have been together 15 years. I am not going anywhere. You are my best friend and I love you.”
 
Speak Plainly and Carry a Big Graceful Stick
 
It’s ok to speak plainly. 'No, I am not drinking wine every day anymore.'"
 
Talk about the elephant in the room
"Dad, I know I am overweight but that doesn't make me a bad person. It hurts my feelings when you poke me about it and leave cookies all over the house.”
 
Say, “No Thank you”
You don’t need a reason to say “No.” Try saying, “No thank you.” And letting it just hang there in the air. Chances are they will walk away or change the subject. If someone persists in offering food, say, "I’m not hungry for that, it just doesn’t sound good.”
 
Pre-meditate Your Responses
 
When friends want to get together and eat, go with them. It is a wonderful opportunity to practice Self-Governing around food. Having a premeditated response to anything that may come up is like having an angel in your back pocket. Good ones are:
 
"You're going to far with this" "it's taking too much of your time"
“This is very important to me, and I am hearing you. Let’s schedule some us time.”
 
"Honey you're doing great, you’ve earned it, you can have one little piece."
“Thanks love, I appreciate that, but it really doesn’t sound good.”
 
"C'mon, honey, I like a little meat on my women."
“I am so glad you do. I can’t wait for you try out the thinner version of me!”
 
"What's the matter, you’re are wasting away.”
“I know! This is what healthy looks like! Crazy huh!”
 
“I’m not on a diet! Why do you care if I eat this in front of you?”
“Your support would be nice, but you know what, you do have the right to eat whatever you desire. I have nailed the ability to Self-Govern anyway!” “I got this!”
 
“Are you sure you aren't losing too much too fast?"
“No baby, this is normal. I am so glad you noticed!” Muwaa! (Big kiss)
 
"You don't like my cheesecake all of a sudden?
“Oh no, I love your cheesecake! Can I take a piece home for my splurge day?”
 
"You don't come to dinner, you don't love me anymore."
“I love spending time with you, I am just making my health a priority. Why don’t we connect with each other over a walk or a healthy meal?
 
“Who are you trying to impress?”
“Me!”
 
"You can't eat lunch with us because of your diet. We’ll see you when we get back.”
“Ok, sounds great.”
 
"It's your birthday, one piece of cake won't hurt!"
I know! I saved my splurge day for today and I am going to have a very big piece with ice cream!
 
Know that you really don’t need to have a reason. “No thank you.” Is all you need to say. Get comfortable repeating this over and over until it feels good and your ability to Self-Govern and hold boundary will strengthen.
 
Create Empowering Alternatives
 
The urge to hide away while we lose weight is strong, but not a good idea. It prevents us from practicing and coming up with alternative things we can do with family and friends.
 
Come up with a list of things you enjoy. Think of things you enjoyed when you were younger that you would like to start again.
 
1.
2.
3.
4.
 
Make connecting with people your primary focus, not the food.
 
I love fasting and going to friends homes when I can’t eat. There is nothing to distract me from giving my friends my full attention. I ask so many questions, and my sincere interest in them takes any focus on me away. I disappear into them and forget about me completely.
 

What If You Are Sabotaging Yourself?

 
It is easy to talk yourself out of a new way of eating. The mind will come up with all kinds of reasons and excuses not to do it, not to continue, not to achieve the goal. This is your inner voice trying to keep you safe and protected.
 
The first step in dealing with self-sabotage is to recognize it.
 
Then, when you see it, be grateful to that voice, don’t fight it or struggle. Instead, Thank it for protecting you. Then gently tell it that it is ok. You are safe.
 
The unknown is always scary. But you can handle it
 
The voice in your head may tell you that you don't deserve to be thin. You do. You deserve to be thin and vibrant and alive like you never dreamed of.
 
In order to shed the cloak of fat that keeps others from seeing you or wanting you, make peace with the idea that you are not broken, you are not unworthy, in fact, you were born to shine.
 
Tap into your innermost being, that deepest part of you that knows, no matter what, without a doubt, everything will be ok.” Know that, “You Got This”
 
When you rely on your inner resources, your inner knowing, you can drop the need for outer resources, and sugar and food becomes something we enjoy because we want to, not because we have to.
 
 
 

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