Set the example: Success can be contagious
By Sue Knorr
Life is good. You’ve recently started the Zone diet, or maybe you’ve been enjoying the Zone lifestyle for a little while, and you’re feeling all the benefits. You have endless energy, you’ve lost 10 pounds and those nagging aches and pains are a thing of the past. Your whole family is as thrilled with the Zone as you are, and you all ride off happily into the sunset.
Oh, but wait a minute. That last part. It doesn’t usually happen quite like that. Your partner’s reaction might range anywhere from cautious optimism to outright rejection of the whole idea. It’s very likely your husband or wife is only interested enough to deplete your stash of Zone bars and brownies two days after every auto-ship arrives, and the kids, well, I’ll talk about them in a future story.
It’s only natural to want your spouse, partner or significant other to join you in embracing your new lifestyle. Most of us are aware that we can’t make another person change, especially when it comes to what they eat. You can lead a horse to water, as they say, but for real change to take place, that horse has to want to drink. Still, it’s inevitable that the thought crosses your mind. You find yourself wondering how to get the other person into the Zone, how to get them to want to lose those extra pounds or improve their health. Even though acting on those thoughts would be an exercise in futility, make no mistake, change has already begun. All things related to food in your relationships will never be the same again. At the least, the people in your life are noticing your changes whether or not they make mention of it. The best approach is to continue taking charge of the things you have control over, namely yourself.
When I started the Zone diet, my husband and the rest of the family basically did too, more or less by default. I was the one who did the cooking, and I was not about to begin making two different meals for dinner every night. At first my husband was not what you’d call on board with our new way of eating. He wasn’t against the idea, but he wasn’t paying much attention to it either. He had a long- standing reputation for his hearty appetite. When there were leftovers at parties and family gatherings, you’d hear, “Where’s Frank?” and “Give it to Frank. He’ll eat it.” But this reputation didn’t come without a downside. He had put on quite a few extra pounds over the years, even though his over-6-foot frame did a lot to hide his ever-increasing size. From the start he liked the large Zone meals, no complaints, but as soon as we’d finish dinner, he’d be looking around for something else to eat. I viewed this as the glass being half full, a step in the right direction. At least he wasn’t opposed to the changes in our meals. Fortunately, I had already switched to stocking only healthy foods in the house. A Zone-friendly kitchen can go a long way to help even a reluctant Zoner, but that is still little consolation when a person isn’t aware of how much food they need and how much they are actually eating. I continued to put Zone meals on the table, and he continued not to pay much attention to anything I was saying about it. I bought him two Zone books on tape, and he listened to them, a small turning point. With every piece of new knowledge, you grow a bit. In reality I was proving the fact that you cannot change another person. The only Zone-balanced meals he ate continued to be the ones I served at dinner.
My husband’s choice to begin the Zone diet came many years later. I experienced a health crisis, and he found himself preparing Zone balanced meals for me as I recovered. The turning point came when he decided to support me in my recovery by joining me in the Zone. He learned how much he should be eating (more food than he thought) and how to balance his meals and snacks, even being sure to eat that important protein chaser when he felt like having a beer. He went on to become a success story in his own right. Over the following year he dropped 67 pounds, getting down to his ideal weight, also his former high school wrestling weight, as he takes pride in telling. Several years later at the age of 58 he followed in our two daughters’ footsteps by running and completing his first marathon. And he continues to eat in the Zone to this day.
When people ask me “How do I get my boyfriend (husband, wife, etc.) to do the Zone?” my advice is not to try. Lead by setting a good example. You never know what might happen. Success can be very contagious. Your accomplishments can inspire others.