When a man comes to me to ask for help to lose weight he almost always starts the conversation off with a wry smile and the claim that “I wouldn’t normally trouble you doc, but the wife said I should do something about my weight”. Passing the blame to an unwitting wife or partner is often just a bloke’s way of deflecting onto someone else his embarrassment of needing to ask for help. Men like to be in control. We see ourselves as problem solvers, providers. And when we need to ask for help, we often view it as a sign of weakness. Unlike women who will often talk to others and share their feelings to solve their problems, a typical male way of solving problems is to take themselves off to their “cave” and lock themselves away until they have come up with a solution, and proudly re-emerge triumphant. Men and women do think in different ways, sometimes so different that you’d think we came from different planets, leading the author John Gray to write the book “Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus.
When it comes to weight management it’s largely the same. My male patients told me that they wanted to lose weight in private, in their own time, and that they had to make all the decisions. So, what can a worried wife or partner do to help? Steering him towards a better understanding of the importance of his lifestyle, but not pushing him into doing something about it can be really effective Sowing the seeds of concern about your loved one’s health, their diet, physical activity, and their weight can take time, but can produce results. But allow them to reach their own decision. In other words, wait patiently for the seeds to grow, let them think they thought of it first, and that it was their idea. And then be as supportive as possible.
Start doing activities together. Make a point of eating with each other, at the table. Encourage one another. Go for brisk walks together. Tell him he’s doing well, let him know you’re pleased with what he’s doing, and achieving. And when things are difficult keep emphasising the positive, keep looking ahead. Losing weight is a long term plan. Far better, far easier to do it with the support, and encouragement from someone close to you.