Losing weight definitely has its benefits. It can make you feel more confident, healthier, happier and even excited about day to day activities, like getting dressed in the morning. But if you’re in a relationship, those feelings aren’t always shared by your partner. Sure, in many cases a newly svelte figure can boost your love life and reignite that spark. But it seems the pendulum swings both ways. What makes one partner happy could also leave another partner feeling less than stellar about the changes.
For example, singer/actress Jennifer Hudson has been serving as the face (and body) of Weight Watchers. Since joining the program last year, the former American Idol contestant has shed a whopping 80 pounds! She looks amazing and seems happy, but a recent interview with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show caught my attention.
When Leno asked Hudson how her fiancé, David Otunga, felt about her new figure, she made an interesting comment by saying, “He’s getting adjusted to it. He’s not really into change that much. So he fusses at me like, ‘Why do you have to get all dressed up to go out? Why you can’t go out like you used to?’”
Makes sense, considering Hudson was 80 pounds heavier when she met her future hubby and he seemed to love her just fine the way she was. So what’s the deal here? Can weight loss actually hurt your relationship?
Jessica Setnick is an eating disorder specialist and author of The ADA Pocket Guide to Eating Disorders. She says problems usually arise when one partner’s weight loss starts affecting the couple’s mutual routine, which in turn starts cutting into activities you used to enjoy as a couple.
She gave examples like, “We can’t sleep in on Sunday because my trainer is coming; we can’t go to our favorite restaurant anymore because nothing there fits in your diet; we can’t go to the movies because that’s when I go to spin class, etc.”
This can also cause issues with eating at home. Ladies, have you ever noticed how hard it can be to keep a healthy diet when your man doesn’t have to worry about a thing? Have you ever tried to eat a salad while your guy enjoys lasagna, garlic bread and an ice cold beer? It’s pure hell!! It can make you upset that he’s basically teasing you. It can make him upset because he now feels like he needs to change his diet just to make you happy.
But even if you could work out your meals and “together time,” there’s another little issue to worry about: insecurity. A new body often comes with a new sense of self esteem. That can be threatening to someone who’s suddenly seeing their spouse buying new clothes, wanting to go out more, and making new friends.
Setnick say the best thing you can do is try to get to the root of the issue.
“If the spouse is saying ‘I am having trouble adjusting to your weight loss’ or ‘I am scared that if you lose weight and I don’t, you won’t want me anymore’ and being open about it, and the person losing weight can hear that without getting defensive (as it sounds like in the Jennifer Hudson situation) that would be ideal and a sign that they can adjust together. When adjusting becomes more than the two can handle on their own, marital and/or individual counseling can help them navigate into a new normal.”
On the other hand, Setnick adds, a partner who finds passive aggressive ways to make you feel guilty was probably already looking for a reason to leave. This type of partner is someone who, “… has an affair, threatens to leave, becomes excessively jealous, doesn’t own their own feelings and instead blames the other person, eg ‘Now that you’ve lost weight, you think you’re too good for me.”
Ajay Rochester is a health and wellness expert who had her fair share of run-ins with the passive aggressive types in both her romantic and social relationships.
“Having been over 300 pounds and then losing over half my body weight, I found many interesting scenarios. From men who were friends suddenly not allowed to be my friend (their girlfriends thought I was a threat) to having boyfriends definitely want to fatten me up. Statistics show that men are more secure and faithful to girlfriends who have a few pounds on them versus the skinny gals.”
Rochester adds that she even lost a few girlfriends when her weight dropped. She believes it was, “because they couldn’t stand not being the hottest girl any more…”
After that experience, Rochester decided to help other women who may be in a situation similar to hers. She now runs the Healthy Body Club, a free online community where women can find support and resources help each other through their weight loss journeys.
In the end I suppose it’s all about surrounding yourself with the people who are willing to help you embrace your healthier lifestyle, not hold you back. The trick is being able to weed out the good apples from the bad ones.