Friday, February 6, 2009

Expectations of Support

I've been struggling with this idea for a few days now.   MyFoodDiary is a members' only site and I post a bit openly about some of the difficulties I have with my significant other.   I don't post about that much here because it is so public and he is an intensely private person and I must protect his privacy first and foremost.  So, with that caveat, I'll start today's ramble/rant:

Our partners are not the least little bit responsible for our success or failure with our weight management efforts.  Period.

My partner is a gourmet cook who, for the most part, fully embraces the use of real food in his food preparation.  He trained himself in the French method of cooking and he doesn't really believe in substitution.  Therefore, our sauces are thickened with butter or cream rather than maybe a bit of vegetable puree or arrowroot.   He didn't grow up eating whole-wheat pastas or brown rice and he doesn't want to switch.   He believes (rightfully, for the most part) the vegetables we get today are inferior and he doesn't want to waste his time or insult his palate with below par veggies.  Frozen veggies aren't much of an option for him - few freeze well.   Yep - he's a food snob.  But he's my food snob and while I need more vegetables in my diet, I accept his judgement on these things.   The result - few arguments about food in the house but a bit more stress on me to get my diet balanced.  The peace in our home is worth it.

I will also add that this man stood by me while I was on OPTIFAST and is standing by me every on step of my maintenance journey.   We argue sometimes about what steps I should take - but he's right there with me.

What are legitimate expectations of a loved one when you undertake a lifestyle change - especially one that could impact him or her?    Do you expect, just because you choose to order salad that your partner order a salad too?  Do you expect, just because you don't need or want Girl Scout Cookies, that your partner should forgo them too?   Do you expect that because you need to walk an hour a day, your partner should walk with you?   If you do, you're setting yourself up for disappointments and excuses to fall off the wagon.

That said - it is reasonable to ask your partner to not indulge in your favorite food in front of you.  It is also reasonable to ask your partner to walk with you.  But understand he/she may hate walking.  My partner thinks walking in the neighborhood is boring.  So - I asked.  He said no and I go for my walk alone.  That's OK.   

Is it reasonable to expect your partner to respect the boundaries you've set around food?  Yep.  What does that mean?  A story may illustrate better.  Last night, I was thumbing through a cook book and saw a cookie recipe I wanted to try.  I love to bake cookies and my partner loves to eat them.  However - I almost always make oatmeal raisin cookies.  He made a comment that he'd like a different kind of cookie so I've been looking at recipes.  But last night when I mentioned these cookies he said "What are you doing?  I don't really need the cookies. I appreciate that you want to make them for me, but I don't need them.  And my pants are fitting tighter."   Now, what he didn't say and I didn't even hear it silently implied was "you don't need them either."   What I heard was my partner asking me to not make cookies.  He likes them but doesn't need them and he doesn't want to have start shopping for new pants.  But I don't get to make cookies if I don't make them for him.  That's OK.  I'll show my support and respect for his boundary by not making cookies every week.   I've ordered Girl Scout cookies which will be delivered next month so I won't even think about making cookies again until April.  And when I make them in April - we'll share with the neighbors or co-workers.  He won't have to eat the whole batch.  I'm respecting a boundary he has set for himself around food.  (He normally doesn't munch on cookies just because they are available - but mine ARE that good - yeah, and I'm modest too)

It's also reasonable to expect your partner to respect the time it takes for you to work out and prepare the food you need on a daily basis.   This is a bit tricky for my partner and me.   He understands that I need to exercise.  We don't agree on how much and how often.  I win.  He grumbles.  We get over it.   He also doesn't understand my need to have food prepared for each day.  He's beginning to - he's seeing the few healthy real food options available for purchase when dining out.  I prefer to control what I eat most of the time.  He doesn't grumble that I do that - just that it takes time.  He's grumbling for a good reason - he wants me to relax or spend that time with him.

But I don't think it's reasonable to dictate what your partner eats.  Nor is it reasonable to dictate where he eats.   (Though it would be nice if he/she didn't pick fattening burger joints all the time - but point that out to him/her).   It's also not reasonable to make your partner feel bad about his/her food choices.  I was so guilty of this and my partner snapped at me "Thanks. Now I can't enjoy my lunch."  I felt so horrible that I had done that to him.

My partner and I don't have it all worked out perfectly.  But one thing that makes it easier is being honest with myself about who really owns my weight management: me.   By keeping that in mind, I am able to let my partner know how he can help me and what he does that hinders.  He knows I'm not making him responsible - just asking for his help.

And I'm very grateful to him for all his help.


  1. Thanks for this post. It is all about owning your own weight loss.

  2. Maura, I just read your post on MFD about taking a hiatus from the forums there. Whatever is going on, you have my best wishes, and I hope all is well with you.


  3. Maura - I wanted to tell you that I enjoy you immensly on the forums at MFD. You will be greatly missed! I hope that whatever is keeping you from MFD is resolved soon so that we may be blessed with your presence again, if not I wish you the best of luck in your maintainance journey, I will be checking your blog. I hope to one day be in your shoes of maintaining as well.



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