Ladies, have you ever partnered up on a weight-loss program with a member of the opposite sex? It could be a friend, co-worker or sibling, but for the sake of this article, we’ll say it’s your partner or spouse.
The two of you set the same goals, follow the same eating program and invest an equal time working out. After three weeks of diligent effort, you have lost two pounds, while your beloved is 10 pounds lighter and down one pants size.
Or … you both endeavor to lose weight but in different fashions: You work out like a madwoman while cutting calories, eating clean and restricting alcohol. You are the picture of restraint and drop a respectable 1.5 pounds in two weeks. Meanwhile, your husband makes no change other than cutting out his daily mocha, and loses 4 pounds in seven days.
In either situation, your own achievements have been thoroughly marred by his results. But of course, you are ecstatic for him and briefly consider celebrating his grand success by shoving him down a flight of stairs.
Now, now, don’t whack him just yet. It’s not his fault, it’s simply how he’s built.
Many men carry more muscle mass, height and body weight than women, and so have a higher metabolism. They build muscle faster than females, and muscle chews up calories. Meanwhile, we lucky females are genetically predispositioned to cling to fat for childbirth (God bless estrogen). The result: Pounds fly off his body while they cling to yours.
Now that we understand this, here’s how to partner up in weight loss with the love of your life without growing to despise his skinny rear end.
Unless you are craving marital strife and discord, do not aspire to lose the same amount of weight in the same amount of time. This is a recipe for disaster. Set a realistic goal based on your age, gender, height and current size, and let him do the same. This is not a competition to see who loses weight the fastest. On the contrary, you are much more likely to keep the weight off if you lose it slowly.
Don’t compare your success with his via the scale. Instead, take body measurements, a far more accurate way to track fat loss. He will likely lose more inches in the waist, while you enjoy a greater reduction through the hips and thighs. You both win. Be aware that seeing a reduction in measurements takes time. Remain patient and measure no more than once a month.
If you and your sweetheart enjoy working out together, wonderful. If you find yourself getting competitive or feeling frustrated with his seemingly superior strength or stamina (or perhaps it is he who feels inferior to you), consider working out on your own.
My husband and I might go to the gym together, but we part ways to work our own program, then reconvene afterwards.
Hit the weights, ladies. Building muscle may take longer for you than it does your man, but that doesn’t make strength training any less worthwhile. I recommend pumping iron three to four times per week. To build muscle quickly, focus on compound lifts — ones that use multiple muscles at the same time.
Don’t punish your guy for losing weight faster than you do. Copping an attitude or withdrawing love is unfair and destructive.
Likewise, don’t even think of sabotaging his success. Encouraging him to blow off his workouts or gorge on a Quadruple Bypass Burger is not cool. One woman I used to work with boasted about sneaking a quarter stick of butter into her husband’s low-fat bisque in an attempt to foil his weight loss program. Unacceptable and downright mean.
Still sour about your sweetie’s success? Take heart: Men’s larger bodies carry more water than women’s, and water weight can account for a considerable portion of initial weight loss. Studies show men lose weight faster than women in the beginning, then the weight-loss rate evens out after six months.
Work your program, give it time, and your weight loss will likely catch up to his.
Until then, be supportive of your man, applaud his efforts and high-five him on the 10 pounds of water he’s dropped.
Catherine Bongiorno, firstname.lastname@example.org, is a Mukilteo personal trainer and nutritional therapist who owns Lift To Lose Fitness &Nutrition, www.lifttolose.com.