Today's Post: Thursday, 11-12-2009
Earlier this week a man who realized he needed to lose at least 10 pounds of fat wrote in to Dear Abby saying that he was having great trouble in doing so because his wife refused to stop buying cookies, ice cream, and other dessert treats and he found he was unable to not eat them when they were still in the house.
He was also concerned that his “preteen” kids might get into trouble with being fed this kind of food by getting too fat later in life.
He was considering splitting up even though the rest of his marriage was going well.
Dear Abby suggested he not consider ending an otherwise good marriage. (She did not in the newspaper version explain why that was sound advice or stress it much although in her private or complete response she may have done so.)
She mostly agreed that he and his wife should stop stocking up on such things and being sure they were stocking up on health supporting and not fattening foods for the good of their kids & that he should insist on this as their parent.
I think that is sound goal but might well be very unhelpful advice either for persuading his wife or his own fat loss success.
In this case with her answer in her printed column and her authority in giving advice, that might help persuade his wife.
But there ARE several things I think would have been better advice.
So, I decided to do this post.
1. First, given that they have kids he cares about and the rest of the marriage is OK, it would be really tragic mistake to end his marriage or even threaten to in a way that made that more likely.
It’s so hard on kids when their parents divorce that given a choice between them being fat or going through that, being fat is better.
Plus, divorce is so hard on the people that undergo it that unhappily married people average healthier and happier than divorced people.
BUT, there is something that can be done. The marriage and family counselors that Abby herself often recommends can fail to save a really troubled marriage. But when two people find that they can’t seem to be heard by their spouse and can’t manage to create a win, win resolution, a good marriage or family counselor CAN insure that each person really gets the reasons and concerns of the other person and can almost always help the family create a win, win resolution.
This would be a huge asset for this man to do. He would hear that his wife feels safe eating those foods and doesn’t want to be pushed into not being able to do as she likes in her own home. And she would really hear instead of dismissing it that to protect his health and the health of their kids some kind of compromise position needs to be reached.
She might even find that her assumption that eating those foods is really safe is more flawed than she initially believed. (Abby’s answer, as she gave it, might help do that part.)
2. In war and in sport, where failure is NOT an OK option, giving in to obstacles however challenging is not acceptable. In the military, it’s well to understand the reasons if you fail; but the right answer to being held accountable to overcoming them is, “No Excuses.”
So the first thing for him to do immediately is to find at least four or five things he CAN do to succeed in losing that fat even if his wife brings home MORE of that junk.
Management consultant Peter Drucker found that focusing on DOING the things you CAN already do is a key to being effective in business. It works in fat loss and other parts of your life too.
Further, if he can’t afford the family counselor or she won’t go with him, he can teach those things to his kids and simply tell them to go very easy on those foods and why.
That way he can succeed and help his kids even if his wife stays exactly the same.
So, here are some ideas.
a) Losing 10 pounds of fat CAN be done with exercise alone.
(Above 20 or 30 pounds unless you make your job or business work overlap with getting a lot of exercise, few people have enough hours in the week to lose that much with exercise alone.)
But since you CAN do it with 10 pounds, that’s something he can do right away. Does he do one or two sets or five or six of progressive strength training in a few minutes at home at least 3 days a week? Does he do at least two to four sessions of vigorous interval cardio of even 8 minutes a time each week at home? Does he go to the gym to strength train for at least half an hour twice a week?
If not, doing those things, even just the two things at home, might well lose him 10 pounds of fat although since he’ll also gain muscle the scale may only say he lost four or five.
Similarly if he can take a brisk hour walk at lunch time at his work three or four days every week or walk from where he gets off the train to work instead of taking a bus in his commute on most days, he might get in enough extra walking to lose 10 pounds. (One woman who did this wound up with two twenty minute walks each day and gradually lost 30 pounds.)
He can do such things even if nothing changes in his kitchen at home. And, he can teach his kids to do similar things.
b) If he’s like most of us, he could eat his breakfast at his desk or workplace and he likely already has taken a lunch to work many times.
So, even if nothing in his kitchen changes, he CAN make sure that his breakfast and lunch and possibly a late afternoon snack are health OK protein foods and raw nuts and organic vegetables and some organic fresh fruit.
And, if he eats enough at those meals AND eats a lot of those kinds of foods for dinner at home FIRST, he will find that he’ll lose the 10 pounds and find it much more doable to eat less of the ice cream and cookies.
c) In a recent post we described a recent study that found that people who fail at fat loss look at a sweet food and ONLY think of how good it will taste. But people who lose fat and keep it off look at a sweet food and think first of the negative consequences of eating it BEFORE they decide to eat any and how much if they do.
If he wants to lose fat and not have it return, he would do well to learn that skill and mind-set.
One way I’ve found to do that is to read the labels if the food was bought at the store. If it has high fructose corn syrup, about a third of which is likely still contaminated by mercury, or any partially hydrogenated oils or any listed transfats above zero since that stuff is like heart attack starter, I find it easy to take a pass even if I realize I’d like the food tastewise.
Or if he has his wife at least bring home higher quality treats that only have butterfat and sugar, he probably can get himself to have a serving half as large as he would have had before and a piece of whole fruit with some fiber too it instead of just eating a lot of it.
Lastly, he can see to it that their kitchen also has fresh fruit and savory foods that he actually likes but have no sugars or bad fats that he can eat when he gets hungry and wants a food that tastes good.
3. And, he can see if he or his wife’s doctor can succeed in talking his wife into getting her fasting blood sugar and HBA1C levels and her total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides tested, the doctors call that the “lipid” panel, tested every 6 months or at least once now.
That’s so useful as a disease prevention tool, many insurance plans will allow you to get those tests at no charge.
Since eating ice cream and commercially baked treats like pastries and cookies and cakes tend to send ALL those measures in the wrong direction, his wife might already find she has ample reason for bringing very little of that stuff home herself.
So, he CAN lose the fat without waiting on his wife to help him.
And there are two ways that very well might work to get her a bit more on his side and protect her and their kids too.
Divorce is NOT necessary to solve his problem.