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How to nag your husband to lose weight: Man who lost 4st reveals the tricks …

  • Andrew Shanahan’s wife Emma was desperate for him to lose weight 
  • She tried the nice, softly-softly approach, which he said was all wrong 
  • ‘Men like to hear it straight – don’t couch things in niceties’, he said
  • Has now shed 4 stone and had written a guide to help other wives 
  • Includes accepting that change will take time, and leading by example 

Andrew Shanahan For Man V Fat


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‘I’m not nagging you, I’m… making a suggestion that you go for a run.’

The micro-pause as my wife Emma searches for an alternative to saying nagging is excruciating. 

It all boils down to the fact that in her version of events she’s ‘proactively caring about my health’ and in my version of events she’s nagging. 

We used to have these conversations on an almost daily basis. 

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Andrew Shanahan and his wife Emma were both overweight at one point They have now both slimmed down, but he took longer to commit to the idea than her

Better half: Andrew Shanahan and his wife Emma were both overweight at one point (left). But after she slimmed down and toned up, she was keen for him to lose weight. After much persuasion, he eventually did (right) – but she went about nagging him in the wrong way, he says

In earlier, pudgier times we had been morbidly obese together, devouring slabs of Dairy Milk and carb-orgy Chinese takeaways on the sofa, while moving so little that some days the pedometers we laughingly bought each other would stay in single digits.

But as the marriage vows warn us, for richer, for poorer, for fatter, for thinner. 

Through a combination of smarter eating and running, my wife returned to the coveted BMI category of Extremely Slinky. 

She discovered a life of health and energy; while I discovered a way of separating Oreos and rebuilding them into a Super-Oreo. 

So, her campaign of suggestions continued. 

She suggested we go trainer shopping (I got comfy ones that supported my fat ankles), she suggested we join a gym (she went on the treadmill, I lazed in the jacuzzi) and gradually the cakes she baked morphed from heart-thumping chocolate Malteser cakes into seedy, joyless flapjacks.

In retrospect I appreciate the difficult position that my la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you attitude created. 

That said, I am now 60lbs lighter than I was and run a website for men who want to lose weight, so possibly I shouldn’t discount the effectiveness of Emma’s nagging. 

And surely it’s part of her wifely duties to be worried about my health, isn’t it? 

After all, if I was sat in the lounge doing lines of coke we would expect her to intervene, why should she be expected to stay quiet if I’m in danger of overdosing on pies? 

Surely we want to protect our spouses from both deviated septums and diabetes?

The fact is though that she was nagging all wrong. 

Women like to think that they’re the Jedi Knights of husbandly persuasion but the truth is that men know how to nag men best. 

The mistake women make is couching their concern in niceness and thinking that makes it all the more palatable. 

Not a bit of it. Men like to hear it straight.

Take the example of chef Jamie Brooks whose incredible 21-stone weight loss was motivated by his mates texting him on a daily basis calling him ‘a fat f***’ and telling him that he’ll ‘be dead by 40′ if he doesn’t change his ways. 

And you thought the texts about your PPI claim were annoying. 

His mates kept up that campaign for an incredible six weeks, after which time Brooks said that it finally made him face up to his weight issues. 

Mr Shanahan before he lost 4st, when he used to gorge on takeaways and chocolate He admits some days he would barely move off the sofa

Mr Shananan says: ‘My wife suggested we go trainer shopping (I got comfy ones that supported my fat ankles), she suggested we join a gym (she went on the treadmill, I lazed in the jacuzzi) and gradually the cakes she baked morphed from heart-thumping chocolate Malteser cakes into seedy, joyless flapjacks’

He has since launched his own weight loss advice site - Man V Fat He says other women need to learn the best way to nag their partners

Slimline: He eventually lost four stone and has launched his own weight loss advice website – but says other women need to learn the best way to nag their partners 

Presumably, it was either that or change his number.

That is quality man-on-man nagging. 

Compare that to the softly-softly suggestions that women prefer and you can see why the female of the species is less effective than the male. 

In no way am I saying that you should subject you other half to a four-letter text tirade – from a woman to a man, a different strategy is needed. 

If you’re looking at your husband and wondering how to make some healthy suggestions of your own that he might actually listen to then this is how you successfully nag your husband to lose weight…

Nag away, but realise that change happens in a person’s own time

Yes, it would be wonderful if everything we said to our other half was instantly understood and acted upon down to the exact letter, but then you’ve got a husband not a Tamagotchi. 

Of course you can rage, rant, blackmail and threaten but all that will do is make them wish to appease you or fight back, it will not light the fire inside them – that will happen according to their own timescale. 

That doesn’t mean that you can’t provide them with plenty of kindling, firelighters and matches though. 

In our situation, Em was at goal weight for a whole year before I finally got the message and started to get healthy. 

Although I had developed an immunity to the weight discussions, there’s no doubt that her weight loss left me questioning my own choices, which brings me neatly to…

Lead by example, don’t expect him to follow

Inspire change: There’s no point nagging your partner if you’re not doing anything healthy yourself, he says 

If you really want to change someone’s mind-set about losing weight then enjoying an exemplary healthy life is the most compelling argument of all. 

If your other half sees you grating and hating carrots and whinging about Zumba then don’t be surprised if it doesn’t tempt him to join in.

Try an anonymous tip-off

How’s this for a simple, effective and free way to bring up the subject of his health without starting an argument. 

Go to www.manvfat.com/nominate and add his email address into the form. Leave your name off if you want to go undercover and hit Submit. 

He’ll instantly get a challenge to take the three minute Health Report.

This will ask him to add various information such as his weight, height, and sleeping habits and produce a series of detailed insights into his health and suggest lots of changes he can make. Easy. 

Motivation: Another way to spur him on is to suggest he takes the three-minute Man V Fat health report, which takes into account factors such as weight, height and sleeping habits

Be honest, but avoid ultimatums

It would be unhealthy if you hid your feelings about you husband’s weight, but make sure you examine where your motivation comes from. 

Do you want to get him healthier because you want what’s best for him, or because you’re worried about him? If so, let him know. 

If it’s because you’re embarrassed about his size or hate the way he looks then consider carefully before sharing. 

Never give into the temptation to set a deadline or issue an ultimatum. It might work, but it will breed resent and when he’s got healthy and hot he might just consider his own ultimatum…

Litter the horizon with possible goals

Men love to have a goal to work towards and that focus can often be the impetus that they need to lose weight. Whether it’s a 5k race, a cycle ride or a Tough Mudder, it doesn’t matter. 

Alternatively, it could just be about finding an opportunity to re-kindle a dormant sporting passion. 

Check out www.beinspireduk.org, www.parkrun.org.uk and www.joininuk.org for inspiration.

Then drop it into conversation or suggest it to a group of his friends – no man likes to feel that they’re in danger of missing out.

Make some subtle changes

Take charge: Even simple switches like stocking the cupboards with healthier snacks and gradually reducing portion sizes at mealtimes can make a significant difference

Seventy per cent of British women in relationships are mostly responsible for the food shopping and cooking. 

That’s a pretty shocking statistic in itself but it does demonstrate how much power the average woman wields over her partner’s calorie intake. 

Even simple switches like stocking the cupboards with healthier snacks and gradually reducing portion sizes at mealtimes can make a huge difference. 

He might moan, but then that’s the perfect opportunity to allow him to level up the statistic of who does the cooking and shopping.

Andrew Shanahan is the editor of www.manvfat.com. He’s very grateful to Emma for making all those suggestions.

The MAN v FAT Weight Loss Manual is out now.


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