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Best ways to motivate my wife?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 13, 2012 at 4:49 PM

My wife is trying to lose weight gained from pregnancy. Our daughter is now 6 months old, so she is totally clear to exercise.

I've been training her since January 1, mostly kettle bell work and also some bodyweight(sit-ups, pushups, squats, tabata jumping jacks)

She is trying to stick with paleo as well, but unlike myself she doesn't understand the theory behind it and isn't interested. She just wants to eat things that are delicious. For her these includes, bagels, cup cakes, etc. But she has reached a point where she REALLY wants to lose weight, so her dedication is rising SLOWLY.

I'm going down the road of positive reinforcement with her, but I wanted to ask the crowd if there were any other approaches that might work or any tips for this type of situation.

Thanks!

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

And massages when she's sore from all that exercise 8)

C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on January 14, 2012
at 12:14 AM

When does she have the lemonade, cupcakes etc? is it a daily thing? Maybe in the beginning she can limit them to 1-2 times per week?

35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on January 13, 2012
at 10:14 PM

I totally get it. This sounds similar to where we are (although our 3 year old gets plenty of sleep). Maybe if she could pick one issue and look for solutions on her own to that one issue... perhaps snacks or breakfast. It may be a good way for her to take ownership of the rest of her day bit-by-bit.

2c66c70d033e7ec05327026121d2ceb4

(200)

on January 13, 2012
at 10:03 PM

Thanks for the suggestion, as I've said to others, she specifically wants me to train her and spend time together exercising.

2c66c70d033e7ec05327026121d2ceb4

(200)

on January 13, 2012
at 10:02 PM

3) We eat great paleo dinners almost every single night. The problems for her are the choices she makes to eat BESIDES our dinner/meals. Drinking lemonade, eating bagels and cookies and cupcakes.

2c66c70d033e7ec05327026121d2ceb4

(200)

on January 13, 2012
at 10:01 PM

1) Her stress and sleep are what you would expect for a couple with their first child. Some nights we get great sleep and other nights the baby wakes us up a few times. I'm trying to very gentle and positive when we work out together. 2) We can do and discuss things. She definitely WANTS to exercise and she wants us to exercise TOGETHER. I know a lot of the answers to this question have suggested that I don't train her and that she would be better off with another trainer. I don't argue with this approach, but she specifically wants us to do this together. It's something that she enjoys

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on January 13, 2012
at 08:51 PM

I totally agree with this. My boyfriend is a pescatarian (though when I met him he was more "tarian" than "pesca"). We made a tacit "don't mess with each other's diet" agreement and went out for suhsi a lot. But as I've been cooking for us more he has really begun to see the benefits of more protein in his diet and makes an effort to have more protein when he cooks for himself. And when I gave up gluten (which I never expected him to, since it's a pain in the arse) he actually said that he notices he feels better with less gluten in his diet as well. So try letting her go at her own pace.

Bad3a78e228c67a7513c28f17c36b3cf

(1387)

on January 13, 2012
at 05:54 PM

I completely agree with this. In golf, for example, spouses are well advised not to try and teach each other. Generally, nothing good comes of it no matter how well intentioned the spouse or how excellent the advice, training, etc is. On the other hand, advice or instruction from a the right professional can be the spark to motivation.

2c66c70d033e7ec05327026121d2ceb4

(200)

on January 13, 2012
at 05:45 PM

The working out at home is actually her preference. I brought her to the Crossfit gym I used to go to for their free Saturday class, and she didn't seem to enjoy working out with other people. Her time is also limited, since I take care of the baby in the morning while she sleeps, then she takes over when I go to work, we work out together in the evening when I get home, and then it's time to put the baby to bed. There really isn't any time for her to go to the gym even if she wanted to.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on January 13, 2012
at 05:42 PM

I can identify with this. Joining Crossfit and having a paid coach + community whose expectations I should meet about performance and responsibly fueling my workouts is significantly more motivating than my always-naturally-slim husband's gentle and well-intentioned suggestions about diet and exercise.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on January 13, 2012
at 05:20 PM

I find that flowers and a bottle of wine work well.

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12 Answers

best answer

3
1b85b7649707eb07f26bb0fb0dc874c1

(125)

on January 13, 2012
at 07:37 PM

I think it will come over time. I started Paleo 2 years ago and tried to motivate my husband to join along. He was very resistant and thought he'd starve if he didn't have bread in each meal it 'fill him up'. I ended up just letting him do his own thing and refusing to join him or eat those treat foods. He saw me make progress, where his stalled or he gained weight.

I chuckled to myself when I came home last night to a perfect Paleo meal that he cooked for us. This would have NEVER happened before I made the switch and was a process for him (slowly weaning out non-paleo foods).

Your wife will see your food choices and will make her choice to cross over when she is ready. All you can really do until then is to encourage her when she needs it and/or brings it up. She probably already 'knows' that cupcake isn't going to help her lose weight... pointing it out may or may not help. My suggestion is the next time she talks about losing weight - ask her what you can do to help her on her journey. My bet is she will tell you exactly what she wants and needs.

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on January 13, 2012
at 08:51 PM

I totally agree with this. My boyfriend is a pescatarian (though when I met him he was more "tarian" than "pesca"). We made a tacit "don't mess with each other's diet" agreement and went out for suhsi a lot. But as I've been cooking for us more he has really begun to see the benefits of more protein in his diet and makes an effort to have more protein when he cooks for himself. And when I gave up gluten (which I never expected him to, since it's a pain in the arse) he actually said that he notices he feels better with less gluten in his diet as well. So try letting her go at her own pace.

best answer

4
35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on January 13, 2012
at 09:56 PM

  1. How's her stress and her sleep? Is she overwhelmed by the baby (or by a baby that's suddenly mobile or teething)? Does your daughter sleep well, or is she up several times a night awaking your wife? If she's significantly stressed out, under-rested or having issues with post-partum depression, be gentle and kind and reassure her if she's frustrated by losing slowly. No matter how dialed in her diet and exercise are, those issues can interfere with weight loss. If she's still breastfeeding that may be a factor too, some women (like me) just hold onto a few extra pounds of fluid until their children wean.

  2. Is your relationship the kind of marriage where you can talk about these things? My husband & I can, you guys might be able to, but I know other couples where maybe they should butt out of each other's business and hire a professional or work with a friend rather than causing each other a bunch of stress and fighting.

  3. All that being said, my husband is in the same boat. He wants to lose weight, he doesn't want to have to learn things or change his convenience food habits. Over the years I've made that worse because if he wants to lose weight, I take over the cooking for him, he loses a few pounds and then gains them back. We've both realized that I do more harm than good by doing it for him. He's slowly taking over learning things for himself and doing a better job of managing his eating, but it's taken me BUTTING OUT for that to happen. I make occasional low key suggestions and I put a good, high quality dinner on the table every night, but beyond that... you can't do everything for your spouse, no matter how much you love them.

35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on January 13, 2012
at 10:14 PM

I totally get it. This sounds similar to where we are (although our 3 year old gets plenty of sleep). Maybe if she could pick one issue and look for solutions on her own to that one issue... perhaps snacks or breakfast. It may be a good way for her to take ownership of the rest of her day bit-by-bit.

2c66c70d033e7ec05327026121d2ceb4

(200)

on January 13, 2012
at 10:02 PM

3) We eat great paleo dinners almost every single night. The problems for her are the choices she makes to eat BESIDES our dinner/meals. Drinking lemonade, eating bagels and cookies and cupcakes.

2c66c70d033e7ec05327026121d2ceb4

(200)

on January 13, 2012
at 10:01 PM

1) Her stress and sleep are what you would expect for a couple with their first child. Some nights we get great sleep and other nights the baby wakes us up a few times. I'm trying to very gentle and positive when we work out together. 2) We can do and discuss things. She definitely WANTS to exercise and she wants us to exercise TOGETHER. I know a lot of the answers to this question have suggested that I don't train her and that she would be better off with another trainer. I don't argue with this approach, but she specifically wants us to do this together. It's something that she enjoys

C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on January 14, 2012
at 12:14 AM

When does she have the lemonade, cupcakes etc? is it a daily thing? Maybe in the beginning she can limit them to 1-2 times per week?

6
D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on January 13, 2012
at 05:09 PM

I know it seems silly to waste a resource if it's free, but have you considered that maybe you being the trainer is more of a hurdle than a help? Sometimes we're defensive with the folks whose opinions we most value, when we feel like we're not living up to our potential. And sometimes we don't want to admit that Mom/Dad/Hubby/Wife is right about something. And could her home time with you be feeling a bit "loaded" to her, for example, when she's cooking or snacking? I know I take body mechanics advice gracefully from my pilates instructor, but it's always chapped my hide when my (athletic, wise) mother has offered the same advice.

I'm just throwing that out there. It might be more productive to have part of her coaching come from an enthusiastic buddy, or perhaps another woman who has been through the kids thing. Good luck!

2c66c70d033e7ec05327026121d2ceb4

(200)

on January 13, 2012
at 05:45 PM

The working out at home is actually her preference. I brought her to the Crossfit gym I used to go to for their free Saturday class, and she didn't seem to enjoy working out with other people. Her time is also limited, since I take care of the baby in the morning while she sleeps, then she takes over when I go to work, we work out together in the evening when I get home, and then it's time to put the baby to bed. There really isn't any time for her to go to the gym even if she wanted to.

Bad3a78e228c67a7513c28f17c36b3cf

(1387)

on January 13, 2012
at 05:54 PM

I completely agree with this. In golf, for example, spouses are well advised not to try and teach each other. Generally, nothing good comes of it no matter how well intentioned the spouse or how excellent the advice, training, etc is. On the other hand, advice or instruction from a the right professional can be the spark to motivation.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on January 13, 2012
at 05:42 PM

I can identify with this. Joining Crossfit and having a paid coach + community whose expectations I should meet about performance and responsibly fueling my workouts is significantly more motivating than my always-naturally-slim husband's gentle and well-intentioned suggestions about diet and exercise.

5
C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

on January 13, 2012
at 09:46 PM

I was joking at school the other day that any time the kids, or other teachers, are flaunting cupcakes, I momentarily feel sorry for myself but then think "I can have BACON!" and it makes me feel better.

Does she want to lose the weight through exercise? Was she a big exerciser before? I was never very active, hated PE as a kid, was clumsy, the whole shebang. Add to that, I didn't have the energy to exercise when I just had my second (I was 5'6 and 218 right before delivery!), and even now, almost 2 year later, I'm more about "keeping active" than I am about prescribed exercise. Maybe she'd be happier with a more play-oriented addition of activity in her life.

I think if you start cooking amazing paleo food with LOTS OF FAT (especially if she's still nursing), you can convince her to eat this way. Bread, and cookies, and doughnuts are CRACK and it's hard to get over the addiction, but it can be done especially with lots of fat and savory foods to offset it. I like the idea that you can do pretty much anything for 30 days. Ask her if she'll do the Whole 30 for a month with just walking for exercise and see how she feels. There are a lot of really inspiring women out there doing paleo and keeping excellent blogs (hello, familygrokumentarian!), so maybe she'd be motivated by reading them.

It's really hard when you've had a baby. You feel really powerful but also really drained and oddly passive about your own life, because you're so much about the child. I know that there have been many times where I've been very conflicted about my husband since having children--I look to him for support and want his help, but sometimes I'm like an emotional open wound and anything he does to try to help just doesn't work. I don't know the answer to this, except to say that sometimes, women need women. Encourage her to reach out to other young mamas, especially ones who are trying to get active and back into shape. (You could also get a copy of the new book Why Women Need Fat, which really talks about how women's bodies are supposed to be both before and after childbearing. I have a pretty good deal of body acceptance, but I still feel like I became more realistic about myself after reading it.)

4
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on January 13, 2012
at 07:09 PM

Drop training her. The diet is more important anyway, and the exercise is likely going to make her hungry. Let her procede at her own pace, but be a little insistent that you don't want junk in the house because you don't want to cheat yourself. As to her motivation- the more attention you get, the more motivation she'll get. Take care of yourself, take the trouble to dress a little better than the average, and suddenly the cute check-out girl at the grocery store will give your wife the nudge she needs. (Okay, so this plan also implies you actually go out in public together, but not that you flirt with anyone.)

2c66c70d033e7ec05327026121d2ceb4

(200)

on January 13, 2012
at 10:03 PM

Thanks for the suggestion, as I've said to others, she specifically wants me to train her and spend time together exercising.

2
F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 13, 2012
at 09:00 PM

I don't really know your wife so it would be hard to say - all people are different. However, I have some suggestions for you:

  1. Try not to push things on her. "Diet" is a part of a lifestyle and it is almost like a religion for some people. If you try to "convert" her, it might backfire and she might be completely turned off by it. I agree with another person's advice about leading by silent example. If she sees it is working for you, that would be a great motivator.

  2. Help her out around the house as much as possible. Considering the fact that you have a 6 month old daughter, your wife is probably exhausted from her domestic duties. Even if you think she is not, just volunteering to wash dishes, cleaning up and babysitting your daughter will score major points in your favor. And, in return, she will try to be more receptive of your ideas.

  3. Be ready that she won't accept Paleo. Be patient. Be a loving, understanding and supportive husband. Tell her that it is not about the way she looks, but you just want her to be healthy and live for a long time so you can spend the rest of your life with her. Show her that you care about her.

Good luck!

2
6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on January 13, 2012
at 08:09 PM

Lead by silent example.

Also, take charge of the cooking and food prep in your house. Learn to cook her favorite meats and vegetables using ghee, coconut oil, or tallow and seasoning the food with her favorite spices.

Don't buy any junk food, find suitable snacks like cheese, dark chocolate, and macadamia nuts instead.

2
7cbdd4e8eedba06368d4766e6c0ef015

(320)

on January 13, 2012
at 05:20 PM

Just make your own choices for yourself and show your wife a lot of compassion. (Not saying you haven't showed her compassion, but we humans respond to it well.) She's feeling her own motivation rising and she'll make her own decisions for herself. If you nag or herd her toward Paleo, she's going to be resistant.

Paleo isn't the only way to lose weight. I haven't lost an ounce eating Paleo. But I feel pretty incredible because of it and that gave me the motivation to do more (like actually cut calories and have the energy to exercise more). When we get all the right nutrition, we feel great and then we aren't so inclined to make poor food choices.

She may still be affected by postpartum issues as well. Not depression necessarily, but she's gotta be tired and a bit overwhelmed at times with the new baby. And that's not a moment when we humans make reasoned choices about our eating plan.

2
15480ad0efe9168bc518967b9a2e240d

on January 13, 2012
at 04:54 PM

Ask her to do a specific program with you and outline some meal plans. My boyfriend is not really interested in the paleo stuff, but since I do the grocery shopping and cooking, I control what he eats most of the time, unless he is out of town for work. If you provide her with food options, and clean the house of non-paleo foods, she is less likely to slip (hopefully).

I also asked my bf to do a 12-week weight training program with me because its really important for me to have that support. He is actually getting more and more excited about it after the first 2 weeks. He is now telling me lets go work out where it was the other way around before.

Also, last option, if she really wants those treats, make them over to be more "paleo-friendly" by using substitutions like coconut milk, coconut oil, almond flour, coconut flour, etc...

I have been using this technique since my bf has a sweet tooth and he seems happy with whatever I bake.

1
Bebca5be026bf2633648452db9641859

(225)

on January 13, 2012
at 07:08 PM

What about doing a 'cleanse'- no processed foods for say, 2 weeks or so. That means meat, fruits and veggies. She will prob drop a few pounds quickly cutting the refined carbs and that may inspire her to keep going. A short term goal may be an easier way to start than the idea of never eating a bagel again. Check out elanaspantry.com for really delicious paleo-friendly and paleo-esque baked goods recipes to ease her in to the lifestyle.

1
F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on January 13, 2012
at 05:01 PM

Start taking the baby with you to work out and she will have no excuse but to come along. There is a family in my neighborhood that the wife rollerblade's while pushing a stroller and the husband jogs while pushing another stroller and the even bring their dog!

Also you could leave some paleo books around the house. When she is stuck with a sleeping baby on top of her and the only thing she can reach is a paleo book -then she is bound to read it.

I agree with the other posts regarding food.

1
F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on January 13, 2012
at 04:59 PM

Paleo foods can absolutely be delicious. If you make some meals and snacks for her, and she tastes how good they are (and how she doesn't feel crappy after eating them), she might be less interested in eating junk.

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