Trying to support your partner when they’re trying to lose weight can seem like a minefield, and it’s all too easy to- appear pushy or critical. However, if your partner has said to you that they’re keen to slim down and get healthy, you’re the ideal person to provide support and encouragement.
There are plenty of articles with titles like ‘How to Get Your Wife to Lose Weight’ on the internet, but the truth is that both men and women sometimes worry about their partners’ weight. Additionally, many people are scared to say anything at all on the subject for fear of appearing unkind or making their loved one feel bad about themself.
The best strategy in this circumstance is to focus on building a healthy lifestyle together instead of nagging your partner because you find them more attractive when they look slim. Maintaining a healthy BMI has numerous benefits, including reducing the risk of physical and mental health problems such as cancer and heart disease. Even if you yourself have a healthy body weight, improving your diet and exercise routine alongside your spouse can help you look and feel better.
So, whether your wife needs to lose weight or you have a husband that’s struggling to shift some extra pounds, there are plenty of supportive things you can do to make it easier for them while making yourself healthier. In this article, we’ll explain the best ways to help your partner slim down kindly and respectfully.
Is it OK to Ask Your Partner to Lose Weight?
If your partner has gained a lot of weight since you met, you may find yourself wishing that they still looked as slim and healthy as when you got together. However, you may be wondering whether it is acceptable to ask your partner to lose weight. You may even feel worried that your request could be seen as abusive or make them feel bad about themselves.
Many people, including multiple experts, will tell you that asking your partner to lose weight is always wrong. However, in a long, devoted relationship, this issue is often complicated.
If your partner is healthy and happy with their weight, it’s not fair to ask them to lose weight only because it would make you feel more attracted to them. For example, if your girlfriend or husband has a healthy BMI, but you prefer the look of someone who is ultra-thin, it’s totally unreasonable to ask them to make changes to their body to suit your preferences.
Unfortunately, various modern factors such as a harsh media spotlight on thinness have altered some people’s perceptions of healthy bodies and led them to have unrealistic expectations. This pressure can have a devastating effect on health. You only need to google ‘size zero’ to see how many people, especially women, have become seriously unwell pursuing an unhealthy beauty ideal. Before proceeding any further, ask yourself whether your partner’s weight is objectively healthy. If it is, you shouldn’t pass comments and potentially make them feel shame about their healthy, normal body.
However, there are some situations where your partner’s weight gain may be affecting your relationship. For example, if they are overweight and obese, they may not be able to participate in some of the pastimes you used to enjoy together. You may also find yourself worrying about their health and wellbeing, especially if you already see signs of obesity-related health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and depression.
In this type of situation, it may be beneficial to your relationship and your partner’s wellbeing to bring up the topic of their weight sensitively. However, as we’ll explore further in the article, this needs to be approached with genuine respect, care, and kindness. Focusing on health is a much better approach than making your partner feel shamed for their weight.
Ultimately, if your partner is happy with their body or doesn’t want to make any changes, this is their choice. Nagging and pressuring your partner to lose weight when they’ve said no, even if you don’t understand their reasoning, is unacceptable.
Strategies for Supporting Your Partner to Lose Weight
If your partner has said that they want to lose weight and get healthy, evidence suggests that the best way to support them is respect their autonomy- their right to set their own goals and choose how they get there. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything to help. The following ideas are some of the best ways to support your partner to lose weight while nurturing your relationship and their self-esteem.
1. Offer Positive Encouragement
Encouragement is essential when we’re trying to achieve a big goal like trying to lose weight. Self-motivation is a crucial part of losing weight successfully, but all too often, motivation can tank if the person trying to slim down is tired or finds dieting and exercising a struggle. When this happens, you can step in to help give them a much-needed boost.
When you are thinking about the words you use to encourage your spouse, try not to focus on what would work for you. Your spouse is their own person with particular things that motivate (and discourage) them. Consider your partner’s personality and sensitivities when deciding how to express your encouragement. However, most people appreciate their spouses letting them know that they believe in their abilities and that they have confidence they will succeed.
So, if you clicked on this article hoping to find out how to tell your wife to lose weight- you can’t. Your wife or husband has to want to lose weight and have the drive to succeed. Otherwise, all your words will do is cause hurt and reduce their confidence. However, you can certainly help and encourage your partner to lose weight by giving them positive affirmations and stating your belief in them.
2. Avoid Criticism
Weight is a sensitive subject for many people, and being overly critical if your partner skips the gym or breaks their diet is likely to do the opposite of what you intended. Instead of making them resolve to do better, it could make them feel demotivated and unsupported. Furthermore, this is a person that you love- it’s never acceptable to bully and pick at them, no matter how much you wish they were a few sizes smaller.
Criticizing your partner’s appearance is also never how to get your girlfriend to lose weight or encourage your man to hit the gym. Not only is it cruel, but it will damage your partner’s self-esteem when they need you to help build it up. What your mother told you is true- if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.
When you feel tempted to criticize or get frustrated, take a moment to consider how you could make your point more respectfully and in a way that offers support. Let’s take an example:
David wants to help his wife lose weight. She signed up for a gym membership, but she’s skipped her workout for the second time this week. David gets frustrated and wants to say, ‘no wonder you’re overweight if you’re too lazy to go to the gym.’
Telling his wife that he thinks she is lazy is no way to motivate her to get fit and active. Instead, David could try saying something like, ‘I know that you’re really keen to get more active, but I can see you’re finding it hard. Can I help you in any way?’ Framing his thoughts in this way could actually help solve the problem- perhaps his wife is too worn out to go to the gym because she is swamped with her family responsibilities. David and his wife can now work together to make it easier for her to meet her goals.
So, what’s the takeaway? It’s understandable to get frustrated when you see your partner behaving in ways that appear to you to be lazy or self-destructive. However, rephrasing your criticism to make it supportive and helpful is far more likely to lead to positive change. Plus, it’s far better for your spouse’s emotional wellbeing and the health of your relationship as a whole.
3. Offer Practical Support
Everyone is unique, and what motivates one person may not work for another. Some people love hearing lots of vocal encouragement from their spouse, while others prefer not to have attention drawn to their weight loss efforts. For some, practical support is equally or more valuable to them than emotional cheerleading.
If your spouse is struggling to find the time to hit the gym or resorting to comfort eating, it’s worth taking a little time to figure out why that might be. Suppose your partner is overloaded with work, family responsibilities, or a combination of both. In that case, they may need you to relieve them of some of their load to give them the time they need to attend to their physical wellbeing.
Exhaustion can also be a contributing factor to weight gain, and it’s known that a lack of sleep can make it harder to lose weight and make comfort eating more likely. If your partner has been working late into the night to support your family or up at all hours with a crying baby, it’s worth thinking about how you can help them practically to improve the situation and make it easier to lose weight.
4. Make Healthy Choices Yourself
Many couples get into unhealthy habits as part of their relationship. For example, maybe you enjoy drinking a few beers together when watching football on the television or going to your favorite Italian restaurant a couple of times a week. While these activities can be bonding, and you may not wish to give them up, they could be scuppering your partner’s weight loss efforts.
However, the positive news is that you don’t need to give up enjoyable couple time to avoid overeating. A great way to support your spouse to lose weight is to suggest healthier alternatives to your usual rituals. For example, if you love a drink in front of a big game, suggest experimenting with some low-calorie options to find something you both enjoy. Instead of giving out your romantic meals out altogether, see if there’s a local restaurant that serves plenty of healthy and reduced-calorie options to check out together.
Many people who want to know how to motivate their wife to lose weight or encourage their husband to slim down want to know whether they have to give up unhealthy foods themselves. After all, if you’re not the one with the weight problem, why should you give up your favorite treats?
Ultimately, only you can determine whether this is a sacrifice you’re willing to make. However, scientific evidence shows that being able to see unhealthy foods in your home environment is more likely to lead to having a high BMI than having healthy foods like fruit out on the counter. So, if your husband is trying to slim down, you can help him by keeping unhealthy foods out of sight as much as possible and replacing them with healthy alternatives.
You don’t need to give up your favorites altogether. However, it’s helpful and supportive to keep them out of sight and refrain from eating them too often in front of your spouse, especially if they’re missing comfort foods.
If your spouse finds it challenging to get active, exercising together can be helpful. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to accompany them to the gym. Any activity that raises your heart rate helps you lose weight, so enjoying a hike or city walk after work and at the weekends is an excellent way to support your spouse without breaking too much of a sweat. If you have kids, starting this habit as a family can set them up to value and enjoy exercise throughout their lives.
If all this sounds like too much effort, consider this: everyone can benefit from improving their diet and exercise habits, even if they don’t have a high BMI. It’s possible to be at an increased risk for diseases related to overweight and obesity, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes if you have a less-than-ideal diet or you’re relatively sedentary, even if you’re a healthy weight for your height. Suppose you’re already a healthy eater and exercise regularly, then great. If not, you may find that supporting your partner with their weight loss can work wonders for your own wellbeing.
5. Ask What They Need from You
Even the most caring and well-meaning spouse can end up putting their foot in it when they’re trying to figure out how to help their wife lose weight or their husband trim down. It’s understandable to do and say what you think you would want in their shoes, but your spouse may prefer a different approach to what you would like.
Furthermore, some people feel too afraid to encourage their spouse to lose weight in case they say or do the incorrect thing and cause offense. If this sounds like you, it’s a beautiful thing that you are so considerate of your partner’s feelings.
However, as long as your husband or wife has said that they want to lose weight, there’s no reason to worry about offering your help. If you’re not sure how best to support your partner or your attempts have been met with upset or anger in the past- ask what they need.
For example, perhaps you have been reminding your partner to visit the gym, but they feel like you are nagging them. If you ask them what they need from you, they may explain that what would actually help would be to take the kids for a few hours at the weekend so they can work out or assist them with preparing some healthy meals.
There’s nothing wrong with making some suggestions of your own for what might help your partner. You may have some great ideas about what will make weight loss easier for them that they haven’t thought of. For example, maybe you think it would be a great idea to check out the new healthy restaurant in town or buy bikes to exercise with the kids at the weekend. However, don’t forget to ask what they want and need and listen carefully to their answers.
6. Build in Rewards
It’s common knowledge that the carrot is usually better than the stick when it comes to motivating people to achieve goals. It’s a well-known principle that rewarding positive behaviors is an effective way to reinforce them and encourage repetition. Some studies have even proven that financial incentives are an effective way of motivating people to lose weight.
Now, we’re not recommending for a second that you pay your spouse to lose weight or that you ‘train’ them in some way. However, reinforcing your spouse’s successful efforts by treating them every now and then can be a supportive and helpful way to boost their confidence and encourage them to continue.
We recommend approaching the idea of ‘rewarding’ your spouse with caution, as you do not want to come across as coercive or treating them like a child. However, there’s nothing wrong with saying, ‘honey, I’m so proud of you for working so hard on your health. Would you like to do something special together to celebrate?’
When you’re thinking about ways to show your partner how much you appreciate and admire their efforts, make sure you think about what they would like instead of what you would like. If you’re trying to figure out how to encourage your wife to lose weight or supporting your husband with his weight loss goals, consider what is most meaningful to them. Some people may be thrilled to be treated to an expensive new outfit, while others may prefer some quality time spent as a family.
You can do plenty of fun things to recognize your partner’s efforts that don’t involve calorific food or alcohol. Some ideas include:
- Going on a shopping trip to buy clothes in their new size
- Splashing out on a fun exercise class or piece of fitness equipment like a new bike
- Going for a special meal at a healthy restaurant
- Tickets for an event or show
- Treating your spouse to a massage, spa day, or beauty treatment
7. Show Understanding and Empathy
Losing weight is challenging for many people. If it weren’t, there would be very few overweight or obese people. If you’ve never experienced your own weight struggle, it can be challenging to understand why your partner finds it so tough. While it’s tempting to be judgemental, it can help both of you if you try to understand the reasons why they may struggle to lose weight.
There’s a common misconception that people who are overweight or obese are simply lazy and greedy. While it’s true that you’ll gain weight if you overeat and don’t exercise, this is a simplistic way of viewing a very complex issue.
Some people are more genetically predisposed to being overweight or obese than other people. It can also be hereditary, and having an overweight or obese parent or close relative increases the risk of being overweight yourself. While it’s still possible to lose weight in this situation, the insight that your partner may be naturally prone to being heavier can help you empathize with their position a little more.
Apart from genes, overweight and obesity have various potential causes. Not developing healthy habits during childhood, stress, depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems can all play a role. There are also certain physical illnesses that make people more likely to store fat. If you are concerned that your partner’s weight problem may be down to a physical or mental illness, you may wish to consider gently suggesting that they visit their doctor.
Often, people who struggle with weight loss can’t pinpoint why they find it so challenging. However, feeling that others around them are judging them can make the problem worse. An evidence review in 2017 found that people who felt stigmatized and shamed about their weight were more likely to gain weight. Furthermore, they were more likely to develop some of the health problems associated with obesity than those who didn’t feel stigmatized, including diabetes, depression, and high levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
8. Concentrate on Health Instead of Appearance
Read any of the ‘how to tell your girlfriend to lose weight’ articles or threads online, and it won’t be long before someone mentions physical attractiveness. It’s perfectly understandable if you find your partner more attractive when they are slimmer, and wishing that they would lose weight doesn’t make you a bad person.
However, saying to your partner ‘I would find you more attractive if you were thinner’ isn’t a good way to support them to lose weight. Sure, it may be the truth, but being told this is likely to shame and embarrass your partner. As we learned earlier, shame and stigma are a recipe for weight gain, not weight loss.
Instead, try framing your concerns around health. While you may find your partner sexier when they’re slender, focusing on good health and wellbeing is far less threatening than hearing that your partner doesn’t like the way you look. Being told that your partner wants to enjoy a long, healthy life together is far more positive and motivating than being told that they wish you looked more attractive.
Q: Is it OK to tell your girlfriend to lose weight?
A: No matter how honest and open your relationship, you cannot tell your girlfriend to lose weight. Your girlfriend is her own person with the right to make her own choices about how her body looks, including what she weighs. However, if your girlfriend is overweight or obese and you are worried about her health, you may wish to express this to her respectfully. You should approach this topic sensitively and avoid shaming her by focusing on her appearance and attractiveness.
Q: I want to know how to get your girlfriend to lose weight. Is it acceptable to ask?
A: If you want your girlfriend to lose weight, you need to figure out what your motivations are. If she is a healthy weight and you want her to be skinnier because you find thin women more attractive or think it will give you status, then that is not her problem. It’s not OK to ask someone to change their body to meet your personal standards of physical beauty. However, if you’re worried about her health or her weight is affecting your relationship (perhaps because she is no longer able to do activities you used to enjoy together), you could consider broaching the subject with her from a health perspective. It’s best to focus on health than make the conversation about how attractive you find her.
Q: How do I encourage my partner to exercise?
A: The best way to encourage your partner to exercise is to lead by example and get fit and active yourself. If your partner says that they want to get active, but they have a lot of work and family responsibilities, taking some tasks off their hands could make it easier for them to take time for their health and fitness. You could also suggest taking part in fun physical activities together like going for a family hike on the weekend.
Q: How do you tell your girlfriend she’s gaining weight?
A: If you want to tell your girlfriend she’s gaining weight, you need to approach the subject with sensitivity and focus on health, not appearance or attractiveness. However, it would be best to consider whether there is the need to say anything at all. If she is healthy and happy and has simply gained a little weight, there’s no need to raise it. It’s normal for women’s weight to fluctuate a little around their monthly cycle. If your girlfriend is pregnant, it’s normal and healthy for her to gain some body fat to support the growing baby.
Q: I want to know how to make your girlfriend lose weight. Do you have any tips?
A: You can’t make your girlfriend make any changes to her body, and it is cruel and counterproductive to pressure or shame her. If you’re worried about her health and wellbeing, you could try gently raising this with her. If your girlfriend has already told you that she wants to lose weight, you can do things to support her. This article has plenty of tips that will help you provide respectful support without nagging her or harming your relationship. Developing healthy diet and exercise habits yourself is an excellent way to make your partner feel supported.
Q: How can I get my husband to lose belly fat?
A: If your husband has said that he wants to lose belly fat, you can support him by offering encouragement and engaging in healthy behaviors yourself, like eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. Some couples find it helps to exercise and prepare healthy meals together.
The Bottom Line
When you want your partner to lose weight, it’s essential to approach the issue lovingly and respectfully. Focusing on their health and wellbeing is far more supportive than making them feel embarrassed or ashamed about their appearance. If your partner says that they want to lose weight, but they’re finding it hard, there are plenty of things you can do to support them. Providing positive encouragement, making healthy lifestyle changes yourself, and asking them what kind of help they need are all great tips that won’t offend.
However, it’s important to make sure that your motivations for wanting your partner to lose weight are in their best interests. If your partner is overweight enough to cause health problems or you know that weight worries are causing their mental health to suffer, these are good reasons to open up a conversation. On the other hand, if your partner is healthy and happy and the only reason you want them to lose weight is to meet your personal ideals of what is attractive, the onus is on you to examine your thoughts and beliefs instead of expecting your partner to change their body to match your desires.