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7 Tricks for Helping Your Partner Lose Weight When He Majorly Needs To

Bonus: No nagging required.

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Give a gentle nudge

He probably didn’t wake up with extra belly fat or with a suit that’s suddenly too tight. “Often, people are legitimately surprised when they see a picture of themselves and had no idea they had gained weight,” says Susan Albers, PsyD, psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic and author of EatQ. It may be up to you to tell him. But—as you know—weight talk can be a pretty touchy subject. “When a person isn’t ready to address an issue or they feel overwhelmed, the mind is very skilled at putting up roadblocks,” she says. So be gentle and nonjudgmental. Try expressing that he seems so tired or uncomfortable; then ask why he thinks that is, slowly leading him toward his own light bulb moment. People who feel like they are on a weight loss journey because they choose to be are generally more successful over the long term, research suggests.

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Change up your vocab

Sure, seeing the scale drop is the end goal, but that doesn’t often serve as enough motivation. “Shedding weight can feel like pressure and criticism,” says Albers. Turn weight talk into health talk and help your partner focus on being the healthiest he can be. Albers suggests using the words “healthy” rather than “dieting” and say “in training” instead of “losing weight.” The language you use can be the difference between motivating someone and discouraging someone, says Albers. Here’s how you can jump-start weight loss even before you begin a new diet.

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Make it a bonding experience

It’s time to become your partner’s biggest cheerleader. (And that’s the exact opposite of criticizing them for their food choices or desire to sit on the couch.) “Research shows people who lose the most weight are those who have consistent support,” says Albers. “If your partner slips up, reassure them that they’re human and encourage them to move on. Help them to let it go and get back on track,” she advises. Send him a text saying how proud of him you are or how great he looked before he left for work. Brag about him on social media. Consider these exercise motivation tips from a cardiologist who uses them with his patients.

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Plan a Sunday prep day

Take an hour of your time and prep a bunch of nutritious foods that you can throw together and reheat for good-for-you-both meals throughout the week. Hard boil eggs, grill up chicken breasts, roast veggies, and boil some brown rice. When you make something a routine with your partner, it takes out some of the emotions in decisions, which can improve success, says Albers. (Adopt some of these 50 habits of naturally skinny people.)

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Be a healthy role model

Maybe you don’t need to lose weight, but that doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from healthy dinners and active dates with your partner. “The most successful couples I’ve seen look to their partner as a role model,” says Albers. “Sometimes they just mimic their healthy behavior without even realizing it,” she says. In fact, one study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that people are more likely to adopt healthier habits if their partner goes along for the ride—particularly if they, too, weren’t all that healthy to begin with. Make a breakfast of oatmeal or eggs together on Sundays rather than heading to brunch or sign up for a 5K together and start training. Consider these surprising ways your spouse’s health can affect your own.

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Kick “can’t” out of your vocabulary

Make your mantra, all positivity all the time. Rather than focusing on all the things he “shouldn’t” eat, think about how he can add healthy foods or healthy habits, suggests Albers. For example, “you shouldn’t have ice cream” might be “let’s have some frozen berries with a dollop of whipped cream.” See how one of those options sounds way more fun than the other? You can even leave some of these positive quotes on the fridge or around the house.

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Learn how to bust stress

We all need our go-to stress reduction techniques for when the time gets tough and all you want to do is eat cookie dough ice cream straight from the container. When you identify strategies that help you relax—whether that’s taking yoga together or trying out a boxing class—you can naturally cut down on stress eating and develop the skills needed to deal with tough emotions, says Albers. These are clues you could be way more stressed than you think.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Jessica Migala
Jessica Migala is a freelance health and fitness writer with more than a decade experience reporting on wellness trends and research. She's contributed to Health, Men's Health, Family Circle, Woman's Day, and O, The Oprah Magazine, among other publications. Jessica lives with her husband and two young sons in the Chicago suburbs.