Mandy Brasher admits she’d made some mistakes over the years in regards to her husband and his weight. She’s here to share what she’s learned in hopes you don’t make the same.
What attracted me to my husband over a decade ago were his tall, muscular build and the way he made me laugh. Both of those qualities, along with a laundry list of others, are what keep us happily married after two kids, a few job changes and expanding waistlines. Although his muscular build has softened a bit, I still get butterflies when I see him step out of his truck and smile in my direction. Like many people who are only a few holidays away from 40, my husband has packed on some extra pounds and every couple of months he insists that he’s ready to take control of his weight. He promises that he will work out and eat better and stop with the fast food, but it’s tough to make such drastic changes and it rarely lasts longer than a couple of weeks. Last month he turned to me as we stood next to each other in front of our bathroom vanity and he said “Sometimes I think I have beer goggles on when I look at myself. I know I’m heavier and I know my clothes don’t fit the same, but I see the guy I was at 20 instead of a guy who’s almost 40.” I completely understand because I see myself the way I was in high school as well, except I was 25 pounds overweight and terribly awkward. My husband and I have traveled different weight paths, but it has led us to the same place; an unfamiliar person in the mirror and an unfamiliar number on the scale.
For years I have tried to be supportive, at times even pushy, when it came to my husband losing weight. It’s not a vanity thing … quite the opposite. My husband is diabetic, he has a family history of heart disease, and his dad has been through a triple bypass as well as weight loss surgery. My husband isn’t 23 anymore and while he hasn’t had any major health issues, the years are speeding past and he isn’t far from the age his father was when he had his first heart attack.
That’s the part that scares me.
Here’s the thing, it’s not my job to make him lose weight and in all reality, I can’t make him. It’s my job to love him and support him and do what I can to live a healthy life for me. I’ve made some mistakes along the way in regards to my husband and his weight. I’m here to admit to them in hopes that I never make them again. And that maybe you won’t either.
1. Don’t invest in a gym membership for the two of you.
We had a three year gym membership that included child care, studio classes, and use of all the facilities. The plan was to work out together, but our schedules were completely opposite and my husband wasn’t that interested in exercise…at all. He used the pass about ten times during that three year period and I felt so guilty about the cash we had spent that I packed in three workouts a week during the final 12 months. We never worked out together and I’m almost certain that we lost money on that deal. The moral of the story: You can’t make someone want to work out, they either will or they won’t. An expensive gym membership won’t change that.
2. Don’t expect your spouse to enjoy your healthy meals.
My husband is a study in unhealthy eating. He refuses to eat onions, celery, peppers and just about any vegetable that isn’t covered in butter or slathered in creamy sauce. Processed food, take-out and anything fried in oil make up his list of gourmet eats, so my healthy attempts at dinner aren’t always well received. I recently made spinach lasagna and watched as my 38-year-old husband tediously picked out and piled the spinach on one side of his plate. The moral of the story: People are going to eat what they want to eat until they decide they no longer want to eat it. No amount of spinach will change that.
3. Don’t get your spouse a personal trainer for Valentine’s Day.
This felt like a solid plan right up until the point that it didn’t. My husband had expressed vague interest in seeing a personal trainer and I was out of gift ideas he would love or ever actually use. The sweater from Christmas and the watch from his birthday were still in boxes in our closet. He began working out two times a week with the trainer, had more energy and even gave up diet soda. After three months, the personal training sessions ended and my husband hadn’t lost any weight. It was a huge disappointment for him. He was also mortified when he found out how much I had spent on that little gifty, so the personal trainer gig went bye-bye. The moral of this story: Gifts of healthy living should be purchased only for yourself and never for anyone else. Unless they say directly to your face and in no uncertain terms “I really want you to buy me that elliptical for Christmas.” This also includes but is not limited to; a treadmill, yoga DVD’s, running shoes, weights, and juicers.
4. Don’t lose faith in your spouse’s ability to change.
Through all the crazy workout plans, diet pills, pant sizes and scary conversations, one thing remains the same … I love my husband. And I have faith that if and when he is ready to take on some serious life changes, he will do it and he will kick ass. It won’t be because I mention some fad diet or make carrot juice or drag him to a Pilates class, it will be because he wants to make lifelong changes. The moral of this story: I’m never going to lose faith in his ability to make healthier lifestyle choices. And if he chooses not to, I will love him all the same. Even when he picks the spinach out of my lasagna.