DEAR FORMER FAT GIRL: I lost 20 lbs in January of this year (going from 206 lbs. to 186 lbs.) just by changing my diet. Then I met my boyfriend. He’s the type that eats whatever he wants and never gains weight; he works out for a couple days and is suddenly super-muscular again. Since we’ve been dating (and now live together), I haven’t gained my weight back, but I’ve definitely not lost anymore. I’ve gone back to eating junk. Most of the problem is that he is a picky eater, and since I’m the one who buys groceries and cooks, I want to make things he likes (without having to cook two meals). I just don’t know what to do. I want to make healthy choices and go back to eating better, but I don’t want to make food that he won’t eat. Help! –Beth
DEAR BETH: Men. Let’s just take a few minutes out to bemoan the fact that it is easier for the average guy to drop pounds than it is for us girls. Because guys have more muscle—which burns calories—than fat—which, um, just sits there—their metabolisms tend to run higher. To lose weight for any extended period, studies show that women have to both change their diets and exercise, but that men can do one or the other and sustain weight loss. Argh. Damn them.
But here’s the thing—you can’t compare yourself to him, or to any other person when it comes to eating and weight and exercise. You are you. You have the body you have. You need to focus on what you can do to get healthier. It really does you no good to compare yourself to him. I know that’s not the heart of your question, but it’s an important point that I can’t pass up. All that “why can’t I binge on Doritos and beer all weekend and work it off with a few sessions at the gym” stuff isn’t going to help you. It’s just going to make you feel frustrated and bad about yourself. Believe me, I know.
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So. You live with him and you’re not losing. He’s a picky eater. He knows you are trying to lose, I assume. Does he know how important this is to you? Have you told him? This is what I would do: Sit him down and have a serious conversation about your desire to take care of yourself and your health. Tell him it is a real challenge for you to live with junk foods in the house—that right now, you are having trouble resisting them. You never know—he may be OK with your not buying chips and ice cream and chicken wings—see what he says. Then, tell him you are going to start cooking healthy dinners 3 nights a week, and you need his support. You are in a relationship, dear. And it sounds like you’re doing all the compromising—maybe because you are assuming he won’t. Do not assume. Talk it out!
On the days when you’re cooking “his” meal, make sure you eat a healthy breakfast and lunch. Those will be, in a sense, your “splurge” meals, so you should be careful at other times to eat healthy. As for snacks, try coming up with a list of “junk” HE likes, but you don’t. Are there things you can have in the house that you can resist? Talk this over with your guy—work on the list together.
The other thing is exercise. If you know anything about me, you know that I completely believe in the power of exercise to transform not just your body, but your head. It will not only help you burn off those splurge meals, but build up your willpower, so resisting those goodies will be easier. Find a way to make exercise a part of your life—start small, with a 30-minute walk 3-5 days a week. This will make a huge difference in your life.
BTW, if your guy isn’t receptive to compromising so that you can achieve your health goals, seriously think about whether this is the kind of relationship you want to be in long-term.
Best wishes on your journey!
Lisa Delaney is editor of Spry magazine and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl. To submit a question, visit spryliving.com/experts.