Do you find yourself gaining weight the second you're in a relationship? According to author Jenna Bergen, many women often pack on the pounds as a result of their partners' bad eating habits. She takes a look at "loveinduced pounds" and offers advice on how to combat them in her book, "Your Big Fat Boyfriend."
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One of the first steps in staying thin when you're in love, Bergen says, is to get your significant other healthy. To do this, she recommends determining what kind of guy he is. Here is a look at Bergen's "Know Your Guy" chart:
Know Your Guy
When it comes to getting your Big Fat Boyfriend healthy, the first thing you've got to know is why he's currently behaving the way he is. There are a few types of guys -- some have multiple issues, though we love them anyway, oddly enough. Here's how to deal with each.
The Used-to-be-Thin Guy:
For most of his life, he's been able to eat whatever he wants and still stay thinner than a flagpole. Without an ounce of fat sticking to his ribs, he's never felt the need to pay attention to how the junk he shovels down might be affecting his insides, like his heart. Then, his 20s hit, he got stuck behind a desk, and his roaring metabolism started to slow. Result: a few too many pounds around his middle.
What he's feeling: Lost and confused. The same burgers and fries he used to devour have turned against him. He's never even thought about ordering a salad or stir-fry when eating out.
What he needs: Nutrition 101. Start explaining -- slowly, you don't want to scare him -- the basics. Explain why he should increase his daily intake of fruits and veggies (if you start out telling him to cut out his favorite foods, you will most likely be met with resistance). Little by little, introduce him to other aspects. ("Honey, here's the nutritional info, right here on the back of the box. This is how many calories are in a serving. This is how many Cheetos are actually a serving.") Little changes can make a huge difference in his health and his belly.
The Has-Always-Been-the-Big-Guy Guy:
He's grizzly-bear size and seems OK with it. But no matter how lovable and comfy his big, burly body may be, the extra weight is doing damage to his heart and putting him at risk for obesity-related issues.
What he's feeling: If the doc hits him with a report of high cholesterol or a prescription to drop a few pounds, he probably feels angry and frustrated. Why can't he be like his friend, what's-his-name, who's never had to deal with a weight issue? Also, he may feel despondent. "I haven't been able to get the weight off before, why will it work now?"
What he needs: Your support. If you live together, start stocking the fridge with healthy alternatives to his favorite foods and making some of his go-to meals a little bit healthier. (See recipes, page 162–167 for ideas.) If you live apart, make suggestions to spend an evening in and cook a healthy dinner together (lots of room for romance!) rather than eating out and overdoing it on appetizers. Also, make dates more active to get him sweating (see page 147 for ideas).
The 'I'm Not a Meathead' Guy:
He's never stepped foot in the gym and isn't looking to start anytime soon. He hates the idea of working out alongside buff dudes who look like they funnel creatine for breakfast.
What he's feeling: Insecure and inadequate. He's afraid he doesn't measure up to the gym rats and worries he'll look stupid bench-pressing 15 pounds while they're all rocking 150.
What he needs: A push to get over his fears. Once he steps foot inside, he'll find out there are a lot more average guys trying to shed pounds than body builders flexing in front of the mirrors. So join a gym together. The buddy system always helps ease I'm-gonna-look-like-a-jerk fears. If he's open to it, schedule a time to meet a personal trainer together (lots of gyms offer two or three free visits when you join). That way, if his ego is in jeopardy of being hurt, you can shoulder the blame for signing up. If he still refuses to step inside the gym, encourage him to do pickup sports with the guys or start by doing a few pushups and crunches every day at home.
The All-Or-Nothing Guy:
His motto is "Go hard or go home." He starts an exercise program only to overdo it on the first day, injuring his back or another part of himself. Or he cuts out carbs entirely for a week and is so crabby and tired he eventually caves in to a bread binge (which, on top of all that saturated fat he's been consuming, is a killer combo). This knocks him out of commission for the next two weeks, until the cycle starts all over again.
What he's feeling: Frustration and failure. Both are things that can affect his self-esteem.
What he needs: Balance. Remind him that gaining the weight didn't happen overnight and losing it won't either. It's little steps over a long time that will get him where he wants to go. Help him get there by constantly encouraging him to focus on his overall health rather than going to extremes he'll never be able to keep.
The 'I Look Good, Why Worry?' Guy:
This type may be the hardest to convince that his habits need rehab. His body still generates muscles in his sleep, you could bounce a quarter off his abs, and yet, to watch him eat makes you cringe. No human being needs that much salt or saturated fat!
What he's feeling: Invincibility. Heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure seem like imaginary foes.
What he needs: A seed planted in his head that what he eats now could affect his life later and that you want him to be around as long as possible. Then, try to augment his intake of veggies and low-fat options whenever you can. Cajole him into tasting bites of your favorite dishes and expand his horizons on all the awesome things to eat that aren't fried in grease.
From "Your Big Fat Boyfriend" by Jenna Bergen. Copyright 2008 by Jenna Bergen. Reprinted with permission of Quirk Books.