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Dieters Find Success With A Spouse

Marriage: Medicine for Weight Loss
  -- By Mike Kramer, Staff Writer

The secret to weight loss may be closer than you think. In fact, it may be sleeping in bed with you.

In a recent poll of SparkPeople.com members, we found out that a number of couples are dieting together. In fact, 14% are going through their weight loss programs with a spouse.

Many couples suggest that they're finding a kind of accountability and support that they couldn't get anywhere else. Perfect examples of how this can work in action are Matt Tausig and his wife Denise. They see their joint weight loss program as a way to accomplish something as a couple. Each has lost more than 25 pounds since January.

"It's one of the best things we've ever done together," says Matt. "If I slack off, I'd feel even worse for letting her down than for letting myself down."

Holly Little, SparkPeople personal fitness coach, hopes more couples follow this trend because "losing weight with a spouse works." She cites a recent Indiana University study in which couples going through a fitness program together were 5 times more likely to stick with it than if they tried it alone. Researchers believed that the results held for unmarried couples as well.

The Tausigs had tried dieting alone before and it never worked. "One person in the household dieting doesn’t last long," says Matt. Since starting SparkPeople, they go grocery shopping together, enter their food in the nutrition tracker at the same time and talk about things they’ve learned on the site. This is quite a change for Denise, who was never confident enough before to even tell Matt what she weighed.

"This wouldn’t have had the same effect for me if I was doing it by myself," says Matt. "We push each other and cheer each other on. It’s really collaborative and we won’t let each other off the hook."

"Most people cringe at the idea of dieting along with a spouse. A lot of self-esteem and vulnerability are in play," says Holly. "But online dieting is a different dynamic. Weight loss can be a positive experience and bring people closer together. With objective people online waiting to help out, there's not as much pressure to bear the brunt of frustration along with being the sole source of motivation."

Vicki and Chris Michaelson agree. Chris volunteered to help and support Vicki when she signed on with SparkPeople. He does most of the cooking and is very careful to make sure of serving sizes and measurements.

"He used to fix plates that a linebacker could eat," jokes Vicki. Simply by paying extra attention to those serving sizes, they’ve seen a lot of success. Chris has lost 25-30 pounds since January and Vicki has gone down a pants size, though hampered by a sprained ankle.

"My favorite part is knowing if I fell off the wagon, he’d gently and lovingly remind me of my accomplishments and what I can do," says Vicki.

This care is key to their dieting relationship. They’re very careful to be supportive and not competitive. She explains: "Nobody else knows your flaws like your spouse, and some partners can use that knowledge as a weapon." Matt Tausig’s advice to keep this from happening: "Just focus on making the other person happy and it’ll work."