Feb 25

What Should We Say To Our Partner About Losing Weight?

partnerThere was an article that recently ran on Health.com (and reposted on HuffPo) that has stuck with me for a few weeks now.  Cynthia Sass, who is a knowledgeable and well-educated dietician and TV personality with the full complement of alphabet soup behind her name, shared her take on the things we should not be saying to our partners about weight loss.

I’ll let you read the article to get Ms. Sass’ full take and motivation behind each, but to give you the Cliff’s Notes version, her list included the following:

  • “You’ve put on weight”
  • “You shouldn’t be eating that.”
  • “Haven’t you had enough”
  • “It’s easy, all you have to do is…”
  • “I’m just trying to help.”

While I certainly would never take Ms. Sass to task on her opinion, which I guarantee is not uniquely hers, what I will ask her and all of you is “why not?”

What is a Partner?

My issue… or… let’s just say my view on the topic… is rooted in the word and the meaning of partner.

We could go Webster… we could go Wiki… we could even go New Testament… and, in general, the definitions of a partner are the same…

“one that shares”

“one that is associated with another in action”

“one of two who play together against an opposing side”

“parties who work together toward their advance of mutual interests”

It’s about sharing.  It’s about trust.  It’s about relationship.

Your partner – whether your spouse, significant other, friend, brother, sister, even the far less formal “accountability partner” – have a responsibility in your life as you do theirs.

It’s not to tell you what makes you feel good.  It’s to tell you the truth.

I Don’t Want To Be Rude

Ms. Sass’ list and take on the subject appears to be rooted primarily in the idea of not harming the relationship or “demotivating” your partner through hurt feelings.

Fair enough.

And I certainly believe that no one, at their core, wants to be perceived as rude or even mean.  However, what I’d argue is that, in order to be a good partner, you have to be willing to take that chance.

Honesty, that is rooted in love, can only be MISINTERPRETED as rude.

Certainly the language you choose can aid significantly in that interpretation, but when rooted in love, there is nothing you shouldn’t be willing to say to your partner.

Revisionist History

Whenever I tell my story about losing 200+ pounds, the inevitable second question (after “How!??!?!”) is “what was the toughest part?”

My answer is always the same.

Forgiving the people who loved me most, for loving me SO much that they didn’t say anything to try to save me sooner.

The hardest part was accepting the fact that they loved me too much to tell me I was killing myself.

Understanding that they were trying to spare my feelings, even if they knew it might be at the sake of my health.

They did what they thought was right.

And, thankfully, with their support, I got better before it was too late.

I know now why they did it… but that doesn’t mean I’m willing to walk in those shoes.

The Double Standard

Replace everything on the list… but instead of food, make it heroin.

“Haven’t you had enough heroin?”

“You shouldn’t be having all of that heroin.”

Should we be afraid to say that to our partner?  Our friend?  Our brother?  Our child?

Yet, you’re exponentially more likely to be killed by your diet than by a heroin overdose/

You’ll quickly identify someone as a “junkie” or struggling with drugs.

Yet, we’re so over PC’d that we’re not even supposed to say “fat” anymore.

Stop smoking!

Buckle your seatbelt!

Don’t text and drive!

We’re more than willing to try to save people from themselves every day.

But…. shhhhhhhh… let’s let him figure out this one on his own.

Love Them Enough

With all due respect to Ms. Sass and her article (which I believe is rooted in the right place), I choose to go a different direction.

If you’re my partner.

I’m going to love you enough to say the hard things.

If you’re in my community.

I’m going to love you enough to piss you off.

If you’re in my life.

I’m going to love you enough to risk losing you.

But… it doesn’t end with those words.

You’ve got to love them enough to love them through it.

That’s what partners do.

That’s what relationship is.

That’s where love lives.


Permanent link to this article: http://remodelingclay.com/2014/02/saying-partner-losing-weight/


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  1. love this! my husband is teetering between overweight and obese currently. I agree with you, saying nothing is just plain mean.

      • Clay on February 25, 2014 at 1:50 pm
      • Reply

      Thanks, Brooke.

      I really, really try to see both sides of the argument… but I always come back to… as much as it would sting… I would want to hear it. And not just a weight loss/fitness thing. Relationships. Finances. Parenting. We’re partners because we’re working towards a common goal. That means loving and respecting each other enough to say what we wouldn’t say to anyone else.

  2. I think our society has lost the art of true love. Loving someone means your willing to speak truth into their lives. For years I’ve struggled with not liking who I am. Once i start sharing those doubts and fears, I often find out I’m not alone. But we all just keep our mouths shut and hope it fixes itself.

      • Clay on January 5, 2015 at 7:32 am
      • Reply

      I agree, Angela!

      We’d rather spare a feeling than save a life. We’d rather avoid a conflict than feel uncomfortable. We’d rather say nothing, than say something difficult.

      I’m a believer that there is nothing contradictory in saying, “I love you EXACTLY how you are!!! But… I also love you TOO MUCH to let you stay that way.”

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