I'm looking for some advice to help my boyfriend navigate the wide world of diets/lifestyle changes. We've been both trying to get healthy since moving in together about a month ago and it's been really difficult for him to stick with a plan or get motivated. When I sat down and told him that I wouldn't be mad if he just wasn't ready to make the change with me, he just got down on himself. I want to motivate him but it's clear that the attitudes and changes that work great for me don't have the same effect for him.
One of the biggest problems comes in the form of his almost complete aversion to veggies and fruits. We're on a multivitamin to tackle the lack of nutrients in his diet, but because he won't eat much besides corn, some spinach, and a few berries it's been tough for him to stay full and satisfied. I'm hoping to get him to try some fruits or veggies but he's quite resistant and has a problem with their textures.
A secondary issue that I find is that he has a problem with every plan we've come across. He doesn't want to do meal replacement, he doesn't want to cut out carbs, etc. I suggested calorie counting for him and put him on the equivalent of what I'm doing which should yield about a 1 lb loss per week before factoring in any exercise. This gave him 2200 calories a day to work with (I'm on 1800), but because of his food choices and aversion to veggies he never got too far with 2200 a day. He also drinks at least 6 glasses of skim milk a day, a habit he's had since he was a boy, which turned his 2200 calories into 1700 for actual solid food.
I'm frustrated because he insists on trying to lose weight with me yet he just won't put in the effort like changing his attitude or finding substitutes & swaps that work for him. I'm at the point now where I have no more suggestions or tips for him. Sorry for the long post, but I just wanted to make sure that I detailed his dieting quirks just in case anyone has had a similar experience. Any suggestions would help appreciated!
Let's support each other on CalorieCount - I'm WasabiSushiSama there.
Michi: I'm not a guy, but reading your post I had one quick thought. Can you/he take the berries he likes and his skim milk and do smoothies? I make them often in the evenings, as they're a good way for me to get more fiber, dairy and protein into my day. A smoothie is actually very filling, especially if you make it with raspberries and blackberries, which contain a lot of fiber. I typically make my smoothies with a mix of frozen and fresh strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, the specific fruits depending on what I have on hand, and the ratio of fresh to frozen dependant upon how thick I want my smoothie. In a food processor I combine the fruit, a couple ounces of skim milk, a couple ounces of plain greek yogurt (he might not even notice if you sneak some in, though you can definitely do milk-only smoothies), about a tsp of vanilla extract, and either sugar or a sugar substitute. Blend until smooth. One thing I haven't tried, but would like to, is adding whey protein powder to the smoothies to up the protein content and make them even more filling.
Anyway, I know that doesn't get at your core problem, and I wish I could be of more help with that. I definitely sympathize, as getting my husband to make changes to his eating style has been a struggle as well. I wish you both luck!!
Began weight loss ~ January 18, 2011 at 280 lbs
Met original goal ~ Normal BMI (147 lbs) on March 8, 2012 Goal story and photos
Met revised goal ~ 135 lbs on May 12, 2012
Pregnancy May 2012 - January 2013
Post-preg weight loss ~ January 2013 - July 2014
Now maintaining < 135 lbs
The smoothie suggestion is a great one. For someone who likes berries and milk, it's a natural progression--and he can sneak in some fruits and vegetables that he maybe doesn't find so palatable otherwise.
In fact, sneaking in vegetables is a good way to add bulk without adding calories in your cooking or his own. Meatballs with spinach and finely shredded carrots, meat loaf with crushed tomatoes, pureed squash in the mashed potatoes--these additions don't significantly affect taste, but will let him eat a little extra and still meet his calorie goals.
I agree with you that calorie-counting is probably going to be the easiest for him if he doesn't want to cut down or cut out entire food groups (I can empathize with that, because as soon as I've ever gone on a low-carb or low-fat plan in the past, I've craved the very thing I couldn't have).
Ultimately, though, there's only so much you can do for him. Some of it he just has to do himself, and there is no diet plan that involves absolutely no change to comfortable routines. Those comfortable routines are what packed the pounds on in the first place for many of us, so of course they have to change. They don't have to be miserable--I'm as happy as a gopher in soft dirt with my plan--but they do have to change.
Skim milk is good stuff, but maybe he could swap it out for water and eat those calories instead, drinking only a couple of glasses of it a day instead of six. If textures and tastes of vegetables are a problem, he can try preparing the food so it has a different taste or texture. Roasted squash or eggplant or Brussels sprouts are vastly different from boiled versions of those foods (I consider the boiled versions inedible but eat these things roasted as snacks to look forward to). If the pulp in tomatoes is oogy, remove the seeds and just chop up the firm bits into a salad or atop a sandwich. Swap out some whole eggs for egg whites; he can eat a HUGE omelet made from one egg plus a bunch of whites.
My breakfast today was gargantuan: a three-egg omelet (one whole, two whites) loaded with peppers, onions, and tomato; an English muffin with butter on one half and jelly on the other; and a cup of yogurt. I went swimming and was famished when I got home. It added up to 400 calories, tasted great, and was very satisfying. If he's having trouble staying within 1700 calories--more, if he gives up his skim milk habit--he's just making a lot of calorie-dense choices that he can change without sacrificing taste.
If he is absolutely unwilling to make any changes whatsoever to his food choices, portion sizes, or dietary bad habits (and as good as all that calcium is, that many liquid calories are a bad habit), then he is unwilling to lose weight. We've all had to get used to some initial discomfort with changes, but discomfort doesn't have to mean deprivation and misery. Maybe he just needs to see that he can eat tasty, substantial portions on 2200 calories a day to make the changes he needs to make. Maybe he can start at a different calorie deficit; if he's generally eating 3000 calories a day, even cutting that to 2500 is going to be a help.
I wish you both luck. It's impossible to diet for someone else, but I admire you for wanting to lend him some advice and encouragement to make it easier for him to do it himself.
Congrats on those 12 pounds you've lost already. Whatever you're doing, it seems to be working.
It's tough to motivate someone else, and particularlly tough to motivate someone you love. You might find your best role is helping him to find a plan/system/group where he can get to his own motivation for changing his eating plan and exercise plan. There are groups that lead you to list the reasons for losing weight and getting healthy, and to review these every single day to help train the brain to see them as important.
And there are plans that teach strategies to make a plan for eating and exercise for tomorrow and to follow it tomorrow, NO MATTER WHAT. It can be done. But my observation is that it can't be done while clinging to exactly what's been hapening before; changes are required - some can be made more desireable than the previous vehavior, some will feel worse. But changes must happen.
For veggies, on approach is to be aware that most of us were raised with veggies overcooked in unpalatable ways. Get out to a local Vegetarian Restaurant and sample a wide variety of things. Some omnivores are dumbstuck when they learn that well prepared veggies aren't what they despised as a kid, and that they would like to try the new stuff at home.
There's a bunch of guys on 3FC; perhaps he'd consider joining one of the discussion groups here. It's easier being among folks also trying to change their lifestyle.
I'm sympathric to the skim milk - I drink 3 glasses every day and a fourth on the three days a week that I make a protein shake before going to the gym. It's good stuff.
And good luck to you in being supportive to him while keeping your own eating plan in place and while working on all the other parts of your developing relaltionship.
New Journey: 10 years
In maintenance phase: 8 years and 6 months
Following Dr. Judith Beck via 3FC's Beck Diet Solution Forum: 8 years
Wow! Just some amazing suggestions and advice so far.
Instead of echoing what has already been said (as I completely agree with it), I figured I'd just add a little support.
You're doing the right thing. You can give suggestions, offer a few possible solutions to the problems he's facing, but at some point he's an adult and he'll chose.
As your own quote says "Nothing happens until something moves." And somewhere down the line he'll come to recognize that in order to make change, we have to actually change. You just keep being there for him, keep up your healthy habits, and when he does figure out what he needs to change, you'll be there and more than willing to support!
Thanks to everyone who responded! The support was nice and I think the main thing I'm taking away from this thread is to just keep trying and working on new ways to make veggies or incorporate them in meals.
I actually think he's considering joining 3FC, or at least lurking as I told him it was really helpful to get me started on the right track.
Let's support each other on CalorieCount - I'm WasabiSushiSama there.
Tell him to lurk! My husband does--or rather, he doesn't read the site, but regularly asks about things I've picked up here. (I should add that thanks to his habit of lurking-by-proxy and getting good advice from everyone here, he's shed 35 pounds and is now in maintenance, so he can vouch for good results!)
You can't make someone change when they're not ready to make the effort, and while he may feel awful about being overweight, he's clearly not there yet. I've known too many people in a similar position. They aren't happy with where they are, they will complain about it a lot, there's usually quite a bit of self-loathing involved, but they won't change, whether this be by losing weight, gaining weight, engaging in safer sexual practices, or getting out of a pattern of abusive relationships. I lost a close friend who was like this.
You should probably stop talking about it with him. You've given him the information, now let him think it over in his own good time. I'm guessing that he's secretly hoping for something miraculous, the sort of fake instant weight loss plans you see advertised, and it will take a while for it to sink in that no, he is going to have to work at this. Meanwhile, you can be cooking healthier meals for the pair of you and showing by example how weight loss really works, and something that might work is to take up a form of exercise together.
Congratulations on moving in together! It's lovely, but even if you've half-lived together before, it's quite a bit of adjustment, I found.
@Nola - he actually does ask from time or time what I'm reading or commenting on, or he looks over my shoulder occasionally. We'll see how it turns out.
@Esofia - You're right - I'm sure he just needs to get his own motivation in due time. I guess I just have a low tolerance when I hear friends complaining about a situation that they could do something about. Not to say that losing weight is easy, I know that, but it just bugs me when he doesn't even TRY >_< and you're right, when we half-lived together some of his habits didn't really bug me (and vice versa) but now it's much different. An adjustment indeed!
Let's support each other on CalorieCount - I'm WasabiSushiSama there.
I agree with what one poster said about "cant make someone change, they have to do it themselves". Maybe when he sees and realises your effort it will spur him on. I guess we have all at one stage put weight loss off and say I will start tomorrow, the next day etc... So maybe this is him doing it.
There are also some dishes you could cook than encorporate veggies, but adding a sauce almost masks the flavour of the veggies. I like veggies, but can say that if you make something like spaghetti bolognese or a chicken curry and add peppers mushrooms etc he may well enjoy it, once he gets over the mindset of, ohh theres veggies in this I wont like it. The good thing is the longer you let them cook the more the vegetables break down so they wont stand out as much either. I have often left a batch of curry in the oven for a few hours, no problem.
A very key part of developing a sustainable plan, is guiding the diet to match the habits of the person. IE, if somebody is detail and facts oriented, he/she may like deliving into calories/carbs/vitamins/fiber/protien etc. If somebody is a procrastinator who tends to say "That sounds too complicated to bother with..." then establishing a routine that can be repeated without thinking, may be the answer. Somebody that gets bored easily may need to explore a wide variety of foods and spices.
Identify his personality and attitude towards things, it could clue you toward what kind of diet can work for him.
40 pounds lost that WILL NOT come back!
Michi - it bugs me when people are like that too! For us, one of the big things we had to learn once we moved in together was to let the other person make their own mistakes and not get too worked up because they were doing something we'd do an entirely different way. Neither of us likes to be nagged, after all. You do adjust, don't worry. We've been together five years and living together four, and by now I honestly can't imagine living without him.
The blunt of it is if a person truely doesnt want to lose weight they won't. Weight loss is about sacrifice and change. If you are unwilling to do either there it wont matter. If you arent willing to put down the bag of chips and pick up the apple instead its going to be impossible. If your boyfriend won't do any of the things needed then its not so much that he doesnt like them its that he doesnt dislike having extra weight more. Untill that thing clicks in his brain that says "I WANT to change" he wont.
Also I am not judging, I am completely the same as your boyfriend. The only difference is maybe Ive come to understand it and try to fight it now.