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Motivation Articles  ›  Picking Yourself Back Up

Is Weight-Loss Hurting Your Relationship?

The Real Issues and How to Address Them

-- By Jennipher Walters, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor
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Weight loss is tricky business, especially when you're in a relationship. After all, many people fall in love because they share common interests, such as watching the same sitcoms every Thursday night, going out for rich Italian food or playing video games together. However, what happens when one person in the relationship swaps his or her Thursday night TV-watching for group cycling? Or decides that ordering roasted chicken and steamed veggies is a better option than creamy fettuccine alfredo? Or that the Wii Fit is actually more fun than Super Mario Brothers? I smell relationship trouble a-brewin'.

Losing weight and adapting to a healthy lifestyle requires a lot of change—change that your partner may not be ready for. In fact, according to some recent SparkPeople polls, 34 percent of respondents said that their spouse, partner or significant other sabotages their weight-loss efforts more than anyone else in their lives, and 43 percent said they their significant other negatively influences their eating habits. On the flip side, 24 percent say that they would be bothered if their partner gained weight, and 55 percent said they might be bothered, depending on how much weight he or she gained. Overall, it's easy to see that weight can play a heavy role in your relationship

If you feel like your relationship may be under strain because of your weight-loss efforts, there are some general warning signs to look for. Typically, these types of actions are rooted in something larger than the direct issues, so it's important to understand them fully to know where your partner's or your feelings are coming from. In general, the "why" of a behavior comes from deep-seated emotion of which you or your partner may not even be aware. For just that reason, we've added an "emotional why" section to each warning sign exploring the emotion that might be behind these behaviors. Because we know how important support is to reaching your goals, we've included some action tips on how to improve whatever situation you may be facing. This way, you can find a way to maintain your healthy lifestyle without sacrificing the health of your relationship.

5 Signs Weight Loss is Hurting Your Relationship (and What to Do about It)

1. Your partner makes negative statements about you changing.
SparkPeople member SULYLE admits that weight loss has affected her marriage. At 5 feet 6 inches, she's 13 pounds from her goal weight of 140 pounds (that's a BMI of 22.6, considered a "healthy" range for her height). Still, she says that she gets comments from her husband and his family that she's "skinny" and needs to stop losing weight. She's from the Dominican Republic, where curvier women are considered beautiful, but she doesn't feel attractive at her current size. SULYLE's story isn't that unusual. Your significant other may make other negative comments about your own weight loss or changing body because it signals change. And change is scary for your other half.
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites, and A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments


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    Daniella Terry
    - 3/6/2014 3:27:55 PM
  • TERI081010
    If the significant other is not supportive of their partner wanting to lose weight and be healthier, they are not worth it, get rid of him/her! That's just ridiculous! I seen shows on the morbidly overweight people and there is always an enabler that feeds them because they are so insecure with themselves that they think someone else might look at them or want them! These people have too many issues and should be single! - 1/5/2014 8:14:30 AM
  • my losing weight has been easier because my fiance is 100% supportive of me. he worksout with me eats whatever i cook and put in front of him and gets very proud whenever i lose even a lb. he lets me get whatever i want to help in my weight loss. recently i was able to upgrade my phone and if i spent 80 dollars on accesories i only pay 5 bucks a month for my phone. and my fiance was the one who found the activity tracker that syncs to my phone and made sure i could get it because ive been saying i wanted one. he deals with the random fitness stuff all around the apartment and doesnt complain. he tells me everyday that im beautiful and he tells me even more when im sad because i gained or gained some inches. he points out everything he sees thats changing with me working out more. he notices the more muscles and the tighter my legs look. ive gained 90 lbs since the day i met him and he still tells me how beautiful i am. he works very hard to make sure i know im loved and supported. i grew up in a bad home that i almost didnt survive. my mother starved me when i was 4 because she would say i was fat. so many times i went to bed crying from hunger. then she would randomly feed me a lot because i was too skinny. or because she got tired of my crying. i dont know. there was a lot worse but because of that my metabolism is screwed up and i am having a hard time learning how to be healthy. but my fiance makes sure i know he loves me and supports me no matter what. he lets me try different things and lets me experiment to find what works for me. i love him and he is the best thing to ever happen to me. - 12/14/2013 7:47:03 PM
  • My fiance and I feed off of each other in a different way. When we first met, we were both fairly fit though he was more fit than I was. Still though, we were both at comfortable weights, had some decent muscle definition and felt good about ourselves. And it showed. We went out a lot together, we went for walks with the dog (just to enjoy the weather) and our sex life was amazing.

    Life soon got in the way though, and as a result I began to gain weight and eventually he did too. We often argued about each others' bad habits, but did little to fix the issues. We got to our highest weight ever together (not a milestone I'm happy about), and that also showed. We ended up on completely different sleep schedules due to his insomnia. We didn't go out. We didn't feel motivated about much and we stopped having sex altogether.

    Now we have to be apart for a while, but he decided to start focusing on regaining his health so that when we can be together again we'll be able to live as we did before, when we were happy with ourselves and each other. That inspired me to start working on my health and body also. After all, I don't want to be the only chunky one in the relationship! I couldn't ask for a more supportive partner. We often talk about any successes we've had or goals we've reached, and he's always super proud of me when I share how much weight I've lost or what new goals I've set for myself. He never fails to tell me how good he thinks I look whenever I visit, which means so much and makes me feel awesome (and like everything I'm doing is totally worth it). Likewise, I am super proud of him. He could be spending this time wallowing in despair about our current situation, hating the world, being super resentful and not trusting me to be faithful while he's gone. But instead, he's focused on bettering himself and on staying positive. That's amazing and truly inspiring to me! We're both doing great with our lifestyle changes separately and can't wait to really be able to support each other when he's able to be back home.

    I'm going to b... - 11/19/2013 6:01:36 PM
  • "Leading by example" has definitely made a positive impact in my relationship with my husband. There were times that he'd be frustrated when I first began measuring out all of my food and being gone for while on the weekends for a run. But, as the months passed and he saw the positive transformation (and heard all of the compliments that I was getting), he started getting interested in SP too! I'm happy to report he is now down 50 pounds and counting! It's all possible from the knowledge and confidence that I've gained while using the SP nutrition tracker and reading numerous articles!
    If you're struggling with an non-supportive spouse - hang in there. You never know, they may end up becoming a believer and join you!! - 10/3/2013 8:36:14 AM
  • I actually started a thread a while back about this very thing. Sadly, my fiance and I did eventually split up--largely due to this issue. I went from a size 4 to a size 14 dating him; he was definitely a bad influence, always bringing home junk foods and desserts when I begged him not to, and guilt-tripping me about wasting his money if I didn't eat it. He discouraged me from doing my workouts, refused to join me for walks--basically stopped me from doing all the things that made me the healthy attractive person he proposed to. It was all insecurity: now that he had me, he didn't want anyone else looking and getting ideas. Unfortunately, the vicious cycle of insecurity and sabotage took its toll on the relationship and my weight. Now I'm here at SparkPeople getting the support I need to take my life--and my figure--back! :-) - 10/2/2013 9:30:20 PM
  • I love this article...for sure!!! It happens, even when you guys start out together but on the way one has a specific goal and the other doesn't....It can def get in the way.. - 10/2/2013 8:56:19 PM
  • This is a good article. My wife definitely appreciates the changes in my body, but I get a fair amount of negative feedback regarding my routine. I do most of my exercise at work on lunch, but she doesn't like the extra time I spend exercising outside of that... she also gets frustrated with me never being on the same dinner schedule or eating the same foods as the family.

    I still get the overall sense that she would not have things back the way they were before I started being healthy, but it has definitely taken her out of her comfort zone on some things. - 10/2/2013 1:26:52 PM
  • This actually sounds like a lot of friendships I've had. The worst situation I had was a friend wanted to workout with me and told me, many times, that she wanted to lose weight too.

    But every time I would initiate a workout, she would find some excuse to skip it. It got the point where we would have a workout scheduled and she would, out of the blue, attack me for being "a bad friend." or "picking on her".
    So we would end up spending an hour or two hashing things out and mending our friendship. Pretty quickly, I realized it was just a ploy she was using to skip the workout, so I stopped inviting her. She then got really upset with me for not inviting her.

    I finally had to call the friendship off when I realized she was a toxic person and would just drag me down. - 10/2/2013 1:05:36 PM
  • I found this article fascinating, as my relationship ended recently - and one of the biggest factors was the way my ex and I both approached our health & fitness goals. He was a life-long athlete and everything for him was push-push-push to the limits, gotta win, be the best!! Me - fitness is just something I enjoy and helps in my goals. But when he could work out for 2 hours every morning and then eat pizza every night, I'd feel like I wasn't participating in the relationship if I didn't eat the pizza or get up every morning and push-push-push, too. The sabotage in my situation was almost the reverse of some of the examples you present; but the bottom line is that a True Partner will SUPPORT you - no matter where you are in the fitness realm - and not force you to live up to THEIR expectations (but let you achieve your OWN). I've actually LOST weight since the relationship ended; now I just need to get back to the habit of exercising again. - 10/2/2013 12:15:28 PM
  • I guess I'm husband is my biggest supporter and helper. I couldn't do it without him and our relationship has gotten better because my confidence is boosted. He loved me when I was thinner, he loved me at my heaviest, and now he loves me as I'm getting healthy and active. - 10/2/2013 11:22:45 AM
  • this is a very good, thoughtful article. It doesn't cover all the "emotional whys" but the ones mentioned are certainly likely. Clearly a huge part of any solution is communication. That is (always) helped by self-awareness and honesty on the part of both partners.

    THIS IS THE KIND OF ARTICLE THAT SP DOES SO WELL. Thank you. - 10/2/2013 10:57:14 AM
  • I don't have a significant other, but my mom does a lot of these. Last night I wanted to ride my bike to Zumba because it was nice weather, and she made a comment about how I "can't stand the thought of riding with her." Which is totally ridiculous! So, I skipped the additional 7 mile bike ride I would have gotten to ride in the car with my mom. :( - 10/2/2013 10:01:53 AM
  • My weigh loss helped end my last relationship. Over the 2 years we were together he saw me change and work to improve my health and body image. He'd say when I lost weight I'd leave him, he was very insecure about it. One day I came home from work and he had moved out. For the better though everyone, I think the weight loss was the excuse to use to avoid hard truths. - 10/2/2013 5:58:58 AM
    My man told me that if I got too skinny for his liking, he'd try everything he could to make me gain some of the weight back - 8/28/2013 9:54:04 PM