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My hubby has gained some weight this past year working-at-home, what can/should I do?

By March 1, 2009 - 9:11pm
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My husband has been self-employed and working at home the past year. He is very successful and happy doing this, and I am proud of him.

I've noticed this past year that since he's been working at home, that he is eating a lot more than when he worked in an office setting. Some of it is just proximity to the refrigerator and pantry; some of it is not needing to fit into business attire. He munches throughout the day on everything, both healthy (carrots) and not-so-healthy (chips).

He's mentioned that he his surprised at his weight gain (he's always been on the skinny side; now he's skinny with a beer belly!), and casually mentions that he should get outside and get some exercise. I invite him on walks with me in the evenings, but it's hardly exercise...more of a slow stroll. That is the only form of physical activity that he's motivated to do. I tried to get him to join a volleyball team with one of his friends, but he wasn't interested. We both have a few nights every week to ourselves: I go workout, and he stays at home and watches TV, works or goes out to a bookstore.

It's a tough call, because if the situation were reversed, I would have a hard time hearing that he thought I needed to lose weight. What do I say to him, or what can I do? He says he's "health conscious", but there is no action behind those words. I would like to see him feel better about himself physically (he's often tired, not feeling "sexy", etc.), and I do worry about long-term health consequences. I'm trying to cook healthy meals...what else can I do?


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Free2beme, has there ever been an activity outside of work and home that he loved? Was he ever a gym-goer? Was there anything he did for his health or fitness when he worked in an office?

I admire your restraint; I don't think it's your issue to fix. People really cannot motivate other people. We can encourage and support, which you are doing, but we can't actually motivate them -- that's something they have to do for themselves. You are right when you realize that too much input from you might have the opposite effect. He clearly notices his weight and thinks about getting some exercise. That's an important first step. I bet it's only a matter of time until he takes a next step, with your encouragement.

I think one of the things that is harder about being a man is the way they get information. While any kind of information is available on the web, you do have to know what you're looking for. Women are raised with women's magazines and with girlfriends, and between the two we are more versed in what to do about a few extra pounds, or a big change in life, or changes in motivation and environment. (We may not always act on it, but I just think we get more information.) Also, we constantly question ourselves. I don't think men question themselves as much, they don't have the same level of self-doubt (we need to borrow that skill from them, don't we?) and they aren't as quick to pick on themselves (for instance, his being "surprised" at his weight gain).

Maybe a subscription to Men's Health magazine? Or something similar? He would get constant information on men's health and bodies, and it wouldn't all come from you. Is it close to time for his annual physical? Perhaps a suggestion that he talk about the weight gain with his doctor would be in order.

In the meantime, I think what you're doing is the absolute best you can do. Stay true to your own program and be a great example. Keep healthy foods in the house and enjoy your walks and workouts. Encourage, support. Offer help when he asks. And be patient. If he's used to being leaner and feeling better, I bet he will find his way back to that again.

March 3, 2009 - 9:27am

I guess I would ask him if he is eating for comfort. The fact that he is not feeling sexy as you put it, indicates an emotional cause to his eating and weight gain. Depending on his age, it sounds like he may be starting andropause, the male menopause which starts at about age 40 in males.

Any ideas what might be triggering his snacking habit? You mentioned he likes his job, but that does exclude the possibility that it may be also causing him stress.

What type of food would you say he is reaching out for? Have you considered substituting the contents in the fridge to encourage him to eat things like celery sticks, baby carrots or fruits instead? There seems to be a root cause to his behavior and would be a good idea to find out more about it.

Men's metabolism slows down as they get older too. Inactivity or spending too much sitting at the computer, munching the wrong kinds of food and feeling ackward about his body may result in other health issues down the road. I agree with you on that one!

March 2, 2009 - 10:51pm

I can totally relate to this!

I'm a marathoner, and my DH's favorite saying is that he gets his exercise watching me come back down the street from a run around the neighborhood. He used to play golf, and friends of ours often invite him (his excuse is that he lost his clubs - but our son, just a little taller - stores his beautiful set in our garage). He used to run track, and constantly reminds me that he was a high school track star - but, it's everything I can do to get him to take a little 20-minute walk with me. His excuse is always his allergies (granted, we have a particularly high allergen count where we live).

Your DH is probably still acclimating to working from home, even though it has been a year. It takes a lot of discipline to be productive, and still maintain a good level of physical activity, when the fridge and sofa are so conveniently located.

Something I learned from my DH is to dress as though I'm going into the office. Your whole attitude changes and you are less likely to slip into what Tim Gunn, of Project Runway, calls "the slobification of America" - the all-too-casual attitudes about dressing and lack of attention to our physical well-being. When he's working from home, my DH dresses much like he would for work, without the blazer. I used to get really annoyed about his "dressing up" to mow the lawn - now, that was taking things to an extreme, LOL! Well, I suppose that's better than wearing socks with shorts and sandals.

What IS your DH interested in doing? Do you have a friend/neighbor who also works from home? Who does the grocery shopping (chip control, here)? Men often take the suggestions we women try to impart as "nagging," so the concept of making it seem his idea to go out and do something together still has merit.

March 2, 2009 - 6:55pm

This is a tough one..... have you ever invited him to go workout with you?

On the one hand, it would be really hard to hear your spouse tell you that you should do something about your weight, but at the same time, it is a health issue. I'm all for open communication. I've never personally faced this issue with a loved one, but I imagine there is a loving way you can approach the topic with him. Maybe you can express some of the sentiments you wrote here to him -- that you would like to see him feel better about himself physically, etc.

March 1, 2009 - 10:11pm
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