Two people are on a diet, but no one would know it…No one is talking about it!

The elephant in the room may be our greatest strategy for a successful change in the way we eat. Let me tell you why. My wife and I just discovered that talking about our goals, successes, and immediate concerns we are able to support each other’s personal goals.

One scenario this past week; my wife prepares to sit in her office to do some work, and then she comes into the living room to share with me that in the past she would have had a small unhealthy snack before starting to work, and that she knows this would be unwise right now. She continued to determine that it would be the perfect time for her to have lunch considering we had breakfast about three hours ago.

I said, great! Let’s have lunch together, and then you can go back to work. Together we prepared our lunch from the leftovers from the previous night’s dinner; last night’s stuffed chicken and vegetables, we added oranges and walnuts. She had water. I drank coffee. Within fifteen minutes we had made our lunch and ate it.

Before going back to her office, my wife and I were well fed, in good spirits, and thanked each other for the help. I felt very successful with the choices we made, and I know she did too. That’s one for us, and zero for the elephant. TIP: Celebrate every success with each other.

Here are 4 ways you can identify an elephant.

  1. During those times when you and/or your spouse are eating something that you both know is not healthy or an appropriate serving size. There is an Elephant in the room!
  2. When you and/or your spouse is going for a seconds making the serving for that meal too much. There is an Elephant among you!
  3. When you and /or your spouse is having a particularly stress filled day and you begin to mindlessly eat comfort food. There is an Elephant in the room!
  4. When you and/or your spouse associate food with a particular event, and then mindlessly indulge, without considering if you are hungry. For example in the past my wife and I would enjoy Dunkin Donuts’ munchkins on long car rides. It actually hurts the first few times you make the choice not to have them during a trip. There is an Elephant nearby!

Here are some tips on how you can make friends with your elephants.

Say hello. Acknowledge the presence of the Elephant in the room to yourself and to your spouse. Sit down together and describe the Elephant to each other. Note; you each may have a different description of what the Elephant looks like. Schedule a time and a place to have this description session. For example, “I would like to discuss my exercise and performance goals with you and how that looks with the way I’m eating. May we talk on Thursday at 8:00 pm of this week?”

Now both of you can prepare and have a thoughtful discussion.

Build speed bumps? My wife and I give each other speed bumps. These are inconspicuous respectful phrases that give the other person the opportunity to reconsider the choice they are about to make. For example, “Will eating that right now make you run faster? Is that really what you want to eat?”

Give your spouse permission to give respectful constructive criticism. This permission is all discussed and agreed upon before the actual situation occurs.

Create an environment, preferably at home where there is no opportunity to make a wrong choice. My wife and I buy, cook and store the foods that we have determined to be successful for us. I can always throw together a balanced meal or snack in a pinch with what I find in the refrigerator.

Never, ever criticize your spouse for a poor food choice or moment of weakness. Instead, ask, “In an ideal situation what would you have chosen to eat? Is there anything I can do to make that choice easier for you next time?” It may be as simple as initiating a “speed bump” or making changes to the environment.

I will do anything to create the right environment for my wife’s success…even change my son’s poopy diaper…eewww.

Remember, the Elephant is your friend! With the right relationship he can even be an asset to your success. Maybe he is just shy, standing in the corner not saying anything. Take the initiative to speak to the Elephant in the room with no other expectation other than to understand.

See you under the bar!

–          Anthony