ASK A TRAINER: 'My Boyfriend Wants Me To Lose Weight'
Hello everyone. One might think that this particualr question would be better directed at Dr. Phil than at yours truly. But since, Dr. Phil has tried to enter the health and fitness arena with those horrible meal bars, I thought I'd take a stab at trying something that falls under his jurisdiction.
"When I first met my boyfriend I was in the best shape of my life. I was dancing in a Broadway show eight times a week and hitting the gym three to four times a week on top of that. The show closed and then I had to have surgery on my foot and I ended up gaining like 15 pounds. Now my foot has healed and I want to start exercising again. I can tell my boyfriend really wants me to lose the weight. He doesn't come right out and say it but he makes little jokes about it and I can tell that he means it at least on some level. He takes really good care of himself and I feel like I'm letting him down. I want to get back to where I was when we started dating. I don't want to sound conceited but I was pretty hot. What do you think I should tell him in the meantime?"- C., New York, NY
What should you tell him? Tell him he's being a jerk. Sorry. That was my visceral reaction when I first read this email. Unfortunately, this situation isn't exactly an anomoly. I have witnessed it firsthand. I have a male friend that was an athlete in high school and college. He married his college sweetheart, a lovely woman that loves him deeply and really does want what is best for him. My friend runs his own business and he and his wife have twins. His life is busy and as such he isn't in the kind of shape he was in when we were in college together.
His wife is constantly referencing his gut in front of me. She'll do it "playfully." She'll tap it, she'll compare his stomach to mine, ask him when he's going to start training with me. It's all done under the guise of kidding around but I know my friend's current physical state legitimately bothers her and she would like her teasing to result in my friend getting back into a workout program. But that isn't what happens when she starts teasing my buddy. It just becomes uncomfortable for anyone in the room, it makes her look bad, and as of yet it has not inspired my friend to get back to the gym. In fact, the more she prods the less likely he will be to ever set foot in a gym again. On some level, it's his own little act of rebellion against her "joking."
So I have a context and reference point that makes it impossible to just come out and call your boyfriend a jerk. I'm sure he's a great guy and that 99% of the time he's a supportive, nurturing and sensitive partner. I'm even willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in assuming that he is teasing you because he has your best interests at heart; that he's only concerned with your health and well being. Be that as it may, as it pertains to this particular subject your otherwise dreamy boyfriend, is coming off as kind of a jerk. Whether he's kidding or not, your body is your business. I would argue that if you begin an exercise program solely to please him, you will not stick to it. Much like with my buddy, you will rebel and will cease exercising as an act of defiance against your boyfriend.
If you want to get back into "hot" shape for your own peace of mind and to feel better, you have to do it for you. At the end of the day, if you have fitness goals you want to meet, they will be met through YOUR hard work, discipline and dilligence. When you do achieve those goals, it will be YOUR achievement, not his. As you progress through your program, you will start to regain some of the confidence he has (hopefully, inadvertently) done such a great job of diminishing. Tell him if he doesn't cut it out with the snarky comments about your body, that he won't be around to enjoy your body after you've gotten back to where YOU want it to be.
Feeling out of shape is a vulnerable place to be and the last thing in the world anyone wants is a significant other pouncing on that vulnerability. I see it all the time with my clients. Often a new client comes to me because they feel out of shape. The only way they are going to get the results they want is if they work really hard, do a number of things that, although beneficial to their health and physique, are physically uncomfortable. I can't do the heavy lifting for them (literally). All I can do is facilitate that. In order to truly push them, I need to be supportive and empathetic and instill them with the confidence they will need to push outside of their comfort zone. When goals are reached, I make sure that I praise my client, that I recognize and celebrate their victory. That's all anyone can do with a significant other when it comes to health and fitness; healthy does of support, empathy and recognition.
If you have a question for me, you can email it to email@example.com or Tweet @buckleybodyguru. I am getting through these questions as quickly as I can. Until I get to yours, I appreciate your patience. Have great workouts until then.