The only thing harder than being on a weight loss journey, is being on one alone. It’s incredibly difficult to stay on track and say “no” to unhealthy food choices when you have no one to help keep you strong in your weak moments.
My hubby wasn’t always on board the health train. When we first got together I had lost 100 pounds and was striving to lose another 100! But he was confident in who he was, and was focused on powering through earning three college degrees and plowing through his career. He didn’t have much thought to care about his fitness and nutrition.
I remember while we were dating, I asked him, “babe… You’re meeting me in the middle of a weight loss journey. How will you feel if I never lose another pound? I mean, I want to lose more weight, but what if I don’t?”
He gave the shining star answer of all possible answers. He said “Um. I wouldn’t care at all. I think you’re beautiful and I love you for who you are. If you want to lose weight, you do it for you, because it makes no difference to me.”
Um, HELLO FUTURE HUSBAND! Ha!
He has never cared what size I am, and I’m so glad, because it takes the pressure off of me. I put enough pressure on myself. Added pressure from the person I love the absolute most in he entire world would just make things harder.
And guess what. It’s the same deal when the script is flipped.
I have never put pressure on my hubby to lose weight, or to join in my health journey. Even when he didn’t care at all, I never made him feel bad or guilty about it. I simply focused on my own plan, whatever it was at the moment, and allowed him to jump in when he felt compelled to do so.
Today I decided to let my sweet hubby share from his perspective. He has lost over 140 pounds!! His transformation is incredible.
Just this morning he woke up at 4:30 a.m. and hit the gym for two hours before the sun even decided to make its first appearance of the day. He is driven, and pulls from his own motivation to workout and eat right.
But remember, he wasn’t always like this. So I’ve asked him to answer a few questions about what made him transition from not caring at all about health, to making an overall change into someone who is now self-motivated.
HERE ARE HIS ANSWERS:
Hi, babe! Thanks for writing on my blog today! Tell us what life was like growing up overweight.
Growing up overweight is hard. It’s really unfortunate. Inside, I was the same as everyone else. I had hopes, dreams, interests, passions—but a lot of that gets clouded by what your body looks like. I was bullied pretty relentlessly. You would be amazed at what other kids—and ADULTS—will say to you when you’re an overweight kid. My most negative experiences as an overweight kid had nothing to do with the extra weight itself—but it had everything to do with how others treated me. And as tough as it was, overweight girls and women have it so much worse.
How much did you weigh when you first started your weight loss journey? What were your eating habits like?
The heaviest I ever remember being was just around 370 pounds (369 point something). I couldn’t believe it. I had always known I was big but I didn’t know I was that big. At that point, I realized that I was closer to 400 pounds than 300. A lot of guys can pull off being big. I’m 6’4” so I can carry a little extra and not look big. But seeing that number made me realize this was about so much more than looks (which honestly have never really mattered that much to me).
My eating habits were bad. I grew up around food. And, to this day, I LOVE food. My grandfather owned a restaurant and I started working there as a child (don’t tell the child labor folks). I grew up in a Pennsylvania Dutch/German family so meat, potatoes and starches were a staple. In Dutch and German cooking culture, there’s a propensity to have rich flavors and that has typically meant a lot of fat (butter, cheese, milk, sugar). Those habits bled over into my adult life. I could eat a LOT and did. I also drank a LOT of soda. I remember in our early married life buying 6 12-packs of soda in a week.
Can you pinpoint a specific moment that was a turning point for you? What was the most prominent thing that made you decide to start focusing on your health?
I’ll never forget the day I stood on the scale and saw that number. I remember everything about the day—where I was, what I wore to work, what the weather was like. It hit me because I didn’t think I was that heavy. And it wasn’t just the number. Around that time, Kennedy (our oldest daughter) was still a pretty young newborn (around 3 months old). That number made me realize that my quality of life with her and even the length of life I had to enjoy her was in jeopardy. I knew I had to get serious. I had done a LOT of yoyo dieting and exercise throughout my life. I have really always loved being physically active so that part wasn’t hard. But the food control—that was my biggest struggle. But when I looked in Kennedy’s eyes, I knew that I had to do something. This wasn’t about vanity or looks—this was about living and living my best life.
What was it like meeting the girl of your dreams and finding out she was a powerhouse—oh, I mean… In what ways did having a partner who was health-driven, partner contribute to your weight loss journey?
I honestly used to roll my eyes at you! Ha! I got so annoyed at how perfectly on point you could be. And, honestly, to this day…I still roll my eyes at you! Ha! I am inspired daily by how driven you can be. You can look right at the yummiest meal and just say no. For me, that’s so much harder. Honestly, I work out so hard so that I can eat a little on the fun side.
But you really are a powerhouse and I’m not just saying that to float your ego. You have consistently worked at your health for as long as I’ve known you. I know the things that no one else does. I know how deep the scars of your former self run. I know the whys behind this journey. You letting yourself be vulnerable and being so public with your journey has been so inspiring. You don’t just show the good, you put it all out there. I’ve learned a lot from you. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be perfect; that I don’t have to look like an Abercrombie and Fitch bag. And I’ve learned a lot of healthy tips and tricks along the way.
I believe in giving credit where credit is due and I’ll be the first to admit that I would NEVER be this fit if it wasn’t for you. Quite honestly—I wouldn’t care about it. I care now but that didn’t happen overnight. It has happened through years and years (and years and years) of careful and deliberate change. I appreciate that you never judged me and you never pressured me into doing something I didn’t want to. You’d ask if I wanted to be involved (and I love you and so the answer is almost always yes because we’re such a team) and if I said no, you never made me feel bad. But I think there’s something that guys can learn from this—even if it isn’t your thing or you aren’t interested OR even if you “don’t need it”—support your partner! If this is meaningful to them, make it meaningful to you! I think our marriage is so much stronger because we’ve (literally and physically) gotten stronger and fitter together. But I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for you. Thanks for asking me to be involved. ❤
What drives you to wake up before dawn and workout? You don’t care about perfect bodies, you have a great body image yourself, and there’s no pressure from your partner. What makes you do it?
My whole identity has changed over the past few years. Quite simply, I LOVE to workout. If my body could handle it and I had the time, I would literally be at the gym for hours and hours each day. I love all types of working out. As a (still pretty big) guy, I’ve really enjoyed trying out many different types of programs and classes. I—a burly 6’4” 230 pound guy—LOVE to take step classes. Yes, those Jane Fonda 1980s inspired classes that typically draw crowds of 50 and 60 year old women. I’ve also taken a lot of dance-based classes over the past year and enjoy the science of movement and motion—even if I look ridiculous and uncoordinated along the way.
But I have to be honest—what really drives me are the voices from my past. I’ve had some of the most hurtful comments thrown my way because of my weight; many which were not meant as hurtful but hurt nonetheless. For instance, right before I began my journey into fitness, I flew out of town to interview for a PhD program. On my flight there, the gentleman beside struck up a (very nice) conversation that quickly changed directions. He started talking about his kids and asked me if I had any—I told him we were getting ready to give birth to our daughter. Without even a hesitation—and in a well-intended way—he told me that he hoped I could get my weight “under control so I could live long enough to see her go to college.” Can you imagine? Someone I had never met felt comfortable enough to be so invasive on a public flight. The only thing he saw when he looked at me was my weight—not the fact that I was flying to interview for a full PhD scholarship (which I got), not my past successes—just my weight.
To this day, I think about that conversation and many others like it that happened throughout my life. Even this morning when I got up to do two intense back-to-back workouts, I remembered that conversation. Perhaps it’s the masculine competitive nature in me, but I wish I knew that guy’s name. I’d call him up and invite him to square off one-on-one in the gym. Pretty sure I could beat him in a burpee challenge! But I don’t work out for him—I work out for me. It’s a way to be excellent. I strive for excellence in all areas of my life. Taking care of my body is one of those areas.
Honestly—I don’t care about the way my body looks. I have lost a LOT of weight and I still carry around a lot of extra skin. But you know what—I live in Florida and IT. IS. HOT. I strip my shirt off at the beach and the pool just like those guys who do look like an Abercrombie and Fitch bag. I’m confident because I am the best me I can be.
What advice can you give to someone who is trying to focus on achieving their best health, but can’t seem to get their partner on board?
Ask them to get involved. In fact, I would say that even if you haven’t thought about getting them on board, ask them to get involved. I think part of the reason we are so close is that we have shared this journey together. Share your vulnerabilities. If you haven’t opened up about your motivations for fitness, share them. Ask your partner to share theirs. What does it mean to you? Why is this important? What would it mean to you if they got involved? And then also think about compromise. For instance, would they do one or two workouts with you a week? You don’t need to be exactly on the same page…just reading the same book! 😉
You being you is another great way to accomplish this. I eventually realized that whether I engaged in fitness and health initiatives or not, Jennifer always would. This was one of her top priorities in life and it had become such a major part of her story. It was exciting for me to think about how I could also be a part of that story—and how we could grow closer together by aligning ourselves in this area. But one of the reasons I started is because I just love Jen so much and what she’s interested in, I’m interested in.
I would say don’t push AND push at the same time. Remember, I didn’t enter into this process right away. It happened over time and it happened through small changes. First it was a diet plan, then I tried to exercise like Jen. Key word here: tried. Ha! She had been working out (like working out working out) for years. I had done a lot of physical activity but not like her. It was painful at first. Like, literally painful for me (I started running at 370—that’s a lot of weight on the knees!) and painful to watch! I was so uncoordinated and messed up; but Jen never pushed me to get started. She DID push me in all the right ways. When I started to show interest, she pushed me to get better, faster, stronger. So it’s a careful balance. Just like you want your partner to show an interest in pursuing health and fitness, so, too, should you show an interest in where they are. Listen to each other; feel it out with each other.
Anything else you want to share?
I research bodies and body image and I think it is very important to acknowledge that although it often gets framed in terms of “health” and “wellness,” most people don’t ACTUALLY strive to lose weight and get fit for those reasons. Most people are striving to look different. They want to slim down to feel more comfortable, to wear a smaller size, and to look at certain way. I am SO thankful that we’ve gone through this together and had many open and honest conversations along the way. It’s important to never think of your partner as “better” when they’re skinny. I would even caution against expectations of greater sex appeal or attraction once they/you reach a certain goal. This is a process and it isn’t always a glamorous one. Jen and I have a LOT of extra skin. We’ve gone UP and DOWN so many times. These are very real parts of the weight loss and fitness process. We’ve also had friends that have gone through life-transforming weight journeys and gain it all back, lose their marriage, or have some other life obstacle come up. Your “fitness” is not your sole identity; don’t bank on life just being better when you’re thin. And know that you are never fully “there.” You’ll never hit your goal because your goal is an ever-moving target. As fulfilling as it can be to lose weight, it can also be a daily struggle. This is why I recommend going at it together. This is an opportunity to provide support to each other and to contribute to a meaningful life development. Its an opportunity to grow closer together. And really, what do you have to lose? Eating healthier is going to help you in so many other areas—focus, mental clarity, gut health, cardiovascular health, mental health, and more. Exercise provides those same benefits and, if you’re willing to be vulnerable and try new things, can be a GREAT stress reliever and community of support (some of Jen and I’s best friends in the entire world are those we work out with in the 15 or so classes we do every week). Don’t see this as “losing weight together”—see this as hanging out together and, in the process, building a better you—both an individual you and a better “you” as a couple.
Well there you have it, folks! -and very well spoken, Phil!! 😉
Just relax, focus on your own health, share about your health journey with your partner each day just like you would share about anything else going on in your life, and let your life speak volumes of silent motivation.
You’ve got this!!
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