This guest post was written by Bob Gower, my amazing partner in life.
But MAN, I wish I’d known all this back when I helped create Super Size Me!!
I’m always amazed at how good he is at anticipating my needs and moods when I’m doing a cleanse or detox, which I realize comes from his many years of self-experiment!
Having a support person you can call on to help you through any food change, including the Cravings Cleanse, is one of the best ways to succeed – and I hope you’ll share this with anyone close to you as your begin your next cleanse.
Bob has mastered the art of supporting me through dietary changes, and has some words of wisdom to share with anyone who is partnered up with someone who wants to begin their own cleanse journey.
Within the first year of knowing, and loving, Alex she supported me in changing my diet, writing a book, and recovering from major surgery. And I supported her in a few things as well like launching a website, being a mom, and redefining her business.
What I’ve learned from being with her is that while relationships may start with passion and friendship, they grow, and are sustained by, mutual support. We love each other by helping each other be the best we can be.
I should add here that this does not mean we point out where people fall short, or define what “best” means for our partner. Rather we let them define their own vision and then do what we can to help them get it.
And, if you’re like me, you fall short over and over again. You get caught up in the day to day of your life, your needs, your stresses and forget to take your partners stresses and ambitions seriously enough. This is natural and human—and it’s something to work on.
What I’ve learned from my own dietary experiments and those of my partner is that while they can have a hugely transformative effect on your life these changes can take a toll on our lives. In fact I’m sure that one of the most challenging things anyone can do is make a change to what they eat and how they eat.
Eating is primal and deeply related to our survival. And changes or limitations can show up unconsciously or consciously as a profound threat. So it’s during these times of change that support from a partner can go a very long way to helping us reach our goals.
If you have a partner who is doing a cleanse, trying to lose weight, break an addiction—or perhaps all three at once—you can be their biggest cheerleader, support, and ultimately, their hero.
1. Get Empathetic
The first step to helping is to understand what they are doing and why. Get curious about her goals for the cleanse and also what the program entails. What foods will she be avoiding and for how long.
Understanding her plan is a good first step, but to really help you’ll want to go even deeper. Ask her about her intentions for the cleanse and what she hopes to get out of it. Ask her about her concerns and what scares her.
And also ask about her desires. If this were to be the amazing experience she hopes it will be what will change and what she’ll experience.
2. Ask “what do you need from me?”
Look at your calendars and the events you have planned. Dinner with friends, parties, family visits and ask how you can support her. Also ask what foods you can keep out of the house to help avoid temptation.
While you might consider joining her on some of the cleanse this isn’t really necessary. But it can be incredibly helpful for you to consume forbidden foods when she’s not around and to keep them out of the house altogether.
3. Outsource to save her/his/your energy & moods
Cleanses and diets usually mean less energy. Her brain will likely have less glucose to work with and it’s glucose that helps us make decisions, do housework, and yes even regulate our emotions.
Help her conserve energy by offloading some tedious tasks like cleaning house, shopping, and some child care. Take over for her when you can and even get some outside, temporary help if you can afford it. Services like Taskrabbit, Handybook, Fancyhands, and Instacart* are great for times like these.
(*note from Alex: I’ve used all of these services myself to help me stick with my healthy eating goals by saving time, getting what I need to keep a wide variety of healthy food on hand, and save precious energy and willpower)
Also consider taking over some decisions—only with her blessing of course—since choice is not always a plus when you’re feeling depleted. “Hey honey tonight I’m going to handle dinner, we’ll watch a movie, then I’ll put the kids to bed.” These words can sound like heaven when you’re tired and worn out.
4. Know her self-worth is wrapped up in succeeding.
We don’t do cleanses unless we want to change something about ourselves. This often means something about how we look—weight, skin etc—and how we feel—energy, mood and more.
A big part of these changes is often how attractive we feel to our partner. But here’s the cruel irony: in order to feel and look better over the long term we have to go through times when we feel less energetic and less attractive. Things often get worse before they get better.
So keep in mind that 1) she wants to look and feel good for you and 2) while she’s on the cleanse she may actually feel like she’s looking and feeling worse than usual. And this means her self-worth may feel challenged.
A few words from you can go a long way at times like these. Express your love and attraction more than you usually do. And don’t forget the physical expressions of love and desire like flowers, back rubs, and kisses.
5. Know that mindset is half the battle
Change is hard but remember that this program she’s on is temporary and trust that things are going to get to a better place. And remind her of this, too.
But also know that her changes will lead to deeper and more permanent changes for her, you and your family if you have one. Be willing to step into that new life with her and also willing to look at and deal with your own fears of change.
Are you afraid she might want to take away your pie or beer? Talk about how her changes might lead to your own changes and what this means for you.
6. Love her up
I kind of covered this in the section on self-worth but it deserves it’s own section. When she’s struggling with one aspect of her body like diet it’s incredibly helpful for her to feel positive things deeply. If she’s complaining or feeling lousy don’t try to talk her out of it. Love her out of it.
Try things like extra physical contact like hand holding, foot massage, and even more special kinds of touch *wink wink nudge nudge*.
Treat it like valentines day (sans chocolate) and treat her to massages and bath time. She may be experiencing a lot of physical and emotional discomfort – step up and help provide the pleasure she can experience in her body and life.
This may be as simple as taking over the child care for an afternoon and giving her the opportunity to do nice things for herself like a bath, pedicure, or even a nap.
7. Intend support
This last one can be the most challenging. She’s changing and feeling down but let’s face it — your life isn’t easy either and you still have the same demands from job, and family. It’s not always easy to not want to lean on her the way you’re used to and the way you have a right too. Good couples support each other after all.
She may also have mood swings and be a bit harder to be around at times during a cleanse. Do your best not to fight and not to nag. And if she is being especially difficult you might ask gently if she needs to eat something (from Alex’s Cleanse approved list of course) since cleanse foods tend to burn a lot faster than “regular” food and she’ll be depleted faster than she anticipated.
8. Celebrate Success
And lastly when the cleanse finally finishes both of you should do something nice like a meal out together to mark the end and celebrate. Choose a place that has a lot of healthy, cleanse-approved options, and perhaps a great wine list if that’s one of the things she’s looking forward to adding back first.
You are a part of each other’s success — and when Mama’s happy, everyone is happy! As a couple, you deserve to feel good as individuals and together.
If this inspired you to support your partner even more, wonderful! If it even inspired you to do the cleanse together — even better! But do talk before hand about the possible challenges you may face when you’re both feeling your way through the cleanse.
But hear me now: you can do this. Both of you, no matter who is on the cleanse. If she (or he) wants to join the Cravings Cleanse, know that it will be good for both of you.
And no matter what, it will be one of the best things you both do for each other, and yourselves.
Bob Gower, Author & Consultant
Alex’s main squeeze