We men are funny creatures. Tell us you’re trying to improve yourself and we get nervous. That’s our protective nature kicking in. We like the status quo.
That’s why we’re unsupportive, and sometimes even combative, when you tell us you’re going on a diet.
We may feel threatened that you’re losing weight to impress someone else. Is it that douche bag Steve from corporate sales?
Or, maybe we’re scared that your diet will affect our eating habits & social life. Will we have to give up chips & salsa? Can we still go to bars with our friends? Are you going to be a grumpy no-fun, cotton picking ninny muggins?
Trapped in this glass case of emotion is not a fun place to be.
Knowing that we’re insecure and selfish might not surprise you, but it can help you position things so that we’re more supportive.
Here’s how…from a guy’s perspective.
Approach me at the right time
Come to me after something good has happened. Preferably something that has boosted my confidence. For example:
- A job promotion
- A win for my favorite sports team
- A successful golf outing (you’ll know by my bragging)
- A good session at the gym (I’ll be flexing proudly in front of the mirror)
- A particularly laudable sexual performance (if you need to force the issue)
In these moments, I’m feeling confident and have good self-esteem. I’m more likely to view your proposed diet as non-threatening to me and my lifestyle.
Similarly, there are very bad times to talk to me about your new diet:
- My team is playing.
- My team has just lost.
- I’m eating something unhealthy or indulgent.
- I just got home from work (and wasn’t promoted).
- I’ve been entertaining a kid for more than 5 minutes by myself.
- I can’t find the freaking remote.
- I’m half asleep, drunk, or hungover.
In these situations, it’s best to wait. Once you’ve picked a good time to chat, you’ll need to explain how your diet will benefit me.
Tell me what’s in it for me
The best way to start our chat about the diet is to talk about what’s in it for me. This is Persuasion 101. You may not have considered this angle yet, but there are a lot of ways a lighter and healthier you, will benefit me.
- Our sex will be better because you’re more confident in your body.
- Our disposable income will grow because you’ll be more productive at work.
- Our kids will be less of a hassle because you’ll have more energy to entertain them.
These things excite me and get me ready to support you.
Address my fears
Now that you’ve gotten me excited about the potential benefits of your diet. It’s time to provide some reassurances against the things I’m fearing.
- I don’t HAVE to do the diet with you, I only have to support you. Let me know that you’d love if I participated, but you’re prepared to go it alone. Conveying your independence and non-neediness will actually make it MORE likely that I participate in the diet because then it’s something I CHOSE to do rather than something you forced upon me.
- We can still go to parties and restaurants. Your eating & drinking habits are changing but we can still go places, do things, and have fun. We won’t be hermits.
- There’s a proven plan in place for you to lose weight. Not only do I worry that you’ll need my help planning your diet, I worry that the diet won’t work and we’ll have to deal with the emotional fallout. It’s reassuring if you let me know you’ll be following a proven diet plan with proven results. The Mr. SkinnyPants’ 21-Day Diet should be particularly reassuring to men because the notion of only eating meat & vegetables to lose weight will intuitively make sense to most guys.
Now that you’ve made it clear how this benefits me and reassured me that I have nothing to fear, it’s time to let me know that this will only be temporary (even though it might not end up that way).
Explain that there’s a clear deadline
Even though you may intend this to be a permanent lifestyle change in your mind, it’s better to explain it to me as a short-term experiment. Let me know that we can revisit your results in 3 weeks and see how it’s going for the whole family.
I will like that there is a potential end in sight. I cope better knowing this might be short term. I will be less enthusiastic about a “lifestyle” change or something permanent. Especially if it wasn’t my suggestion.
Include me in the wins
Once your diet starts, it’s important to include me in the wins so I know things are paying off. Of course, I expect you’ll come to me when your frustrated with the strictness of your diet. I also know you’ll occasionally come home STARVING and short-tempered because you tried to survive the day on celery and deli meat. That’s all fine, as long as you also include me in the wins.
It’s important for me to know about the scale victories (I lost 2 pounds!) as well as the non-scale victories (these jeans FINALLY fit!). I like to know that my”sacrifice” is paying off.
Remind me of how supportive and how helpful I’ve been. That positive reinforcement is just as meaningful to me as is it to you.
Telling your husband you’re going on a diet must be scary. He’s bigger and and hairier than you. I can’t express complete empathy, because I don’t have a husband. But I do have a wife, and I hope this post makes it easier for her to tell me she’s going on a diet.
– Mr. SkinnyPants
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