By Alma Gill
Before I begin, let me say upfront that I love my wife. That said, in the years since we wed, she has gained considerable weight. When we eat out, she stuffs herself like a pig and never misses a chance to order desert. When I hint that she might forgo the sweets, she calls me a killjoy. On top of all of this, she refuses to do any exercise that requires her to break a sweat. Sure, I’ve gained weight, too, but no one would ever accuse me of being fat. How do I talk with my wife about this without making her feel self-conscious or unattractive? Despite the extra pounds, she’s still the apple of my eye. Friends say I’m asking for trouble.
E.P.; South Carolina
Ahhh, yea E.P., and they’re right…almost. It all depends on your delivery. Confronting a woman about her weight can be as psychologically risky as a woman talking to her man about…well, you know. Here’s my confession: I, too, gained weight over the years while my husband diligently maintained his well-groomed looks and muscular physique. What turned me around, you asked? Picture this: Dayton, Ohio 2008. We were at Aunt Prevella’s 70th birthday party and cousin Lelar was taking pictures. Long story short, she took a picture of me, a side view. While looking through the photos on her camera, like the Isley Brothers I asked, “Who’s that lady?” Her answer: “That’s you.” In the parking lot later on, she stepped to me lovingly, sister to sister, and said, “What’s going on with you, girl? You’ve got to do something; your health is at risk.” She was right and hooked me up with nutritionist Roxanne Koteles-Smith, founder of the Food Wisdom program located just outside of Asheville. The weight came off so fast my coworkers thought I had undergone gastric bypass surgery.
Trust me when I say I know how your wife is feeling. She knows she’s overweight, and this just may be the motivation she needs to do something about it. Even if you decide to broach the topic, it has to be her decision to make a lifestyle change. So let’s come up with a plan, Stan. I suggest you follow the example of cousin Lelar. Approach this subject as a health issue and not a weight-gain problem. When the moments right, let her know you’re concerned about her health and the few extra pounds she carrying. She knows what that means.
Talk about planning fun activities for the two of you, like daily walks hand in hand after dinner, making more time for whoopee (which burns calories) and maybe joining a gym. Whatever she likes that gets her moving. I personally enjoy hand-dancing. Ask her about joining a bowling team or taking tennis lessons. Be creative. You hold the power to make this an encouraging conversation. Be kind with your words. Remember, it’s about reaching new goals set for living a healthier lifestyle and getting your “Boo” back in shape. Assist her on a successful journey. It’s all lies in your delivery….
Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: email@example.com.