Yes, you, too. I don’t care if you have or not. For the purposes of this conversation, you have. You’ve told me she is sensitive about her weight, as are most people, so it is doubly important that she does not feel attacked or blamed.
Add: “I am concerned about our health … ” Pause. Did you catch that? “Our health” — not just hers. And the emphasis is on “health” — not appearance. Trust me, it goes over much better. I’ve been on the other side of this conversation with someone who took the “appearance” route.
It devastated me. I didn’t eat much for a week, worked out constantly and lost the weight — 5 pounds. But I was so self-conscious about him judging me after that, I refused to get undressed in front of him or have sex with him. I actually broke up with him about a month later because honestly, I wasn’t that attracted to his weight, either.
I’d overlooked it since the beginning because he had other qualities that I liked and I was trying not to be shallow. Further, I hadn’t figured out a way to tell him what I was thinking that wouldn’t hurt his feelings. Plus, did I have a right to say anything, if I met him that way? I would rather have dealt with whatever I was feeling than hurt him. I left because I wanted someone who cared enough to do the same, or at least be kind about it.
Let’s continue with your soliloquy: “And I want us to begin working out more and eating healthier.” Yes, you: If you are not currently, you are going to have to work out, too, and start bringing her with you to exercise. Her weight loss is a team effort, and since it’s a “workout,” not an “ease-out,” she will need your on-hand support.
Next, you ask her, “What do you think about that?” This is a very important step because it includes her in the conversation instead of you dictating what needs to happen. Her answer might reveal some stumbling blocks or challenges she’s having in managing her weight — like stress or time management — that both of you can address.
Finally, create a detailed action plan for your new lifestyle. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you can plot what changes you would like to implement, including where you both will be working out, when you will start and what new healthier activity will be going on in your kitchen.
Be forewarned: This will not be easy; nor will her weight fall off overnight. But as a woman whose ex wasn’t so nice, I beg you to be patient and kind. Being both, even when you don’t feel like it, is one popular definition of love.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.