Saturday, 22 December 2012

The Contract. (Or, How I Got My Husband to Lose 20 Pounds)

It was the middle of November. We were curled up watching a movie. Out of the blue, I asked him, "Will you let me control what you eat and how you exercise for two weeks?"

"Sure," he said.

He agreed too easily.

"Three weeks," I amended.

"Sure," he said.

I immediately dug out a pen and paper, quickly wrote out a list of rules, which would function as a contract, reviewed them with him, and made him sign the bottom. I worked quickly, knowing I had managed to catch him in a very agreeable state, and that I should take advantage of the opportunity. Never before, in the twelve years we've been together, have I had complete control over something like this. I couldn't wait to be in charge. I was almost giddy.

Before I share the rules listed in the contract, some background on my husbands health. He's a tall lad, six foot three, and has hovered between 220 and 235 for the past decade and a half. He hits the gym regularly, and can put on bulk by just looking at a set of weights the right way. However, he also consumed 5-6 liters of ice cream a week, and on the nights he wasn't eating ice cream, he was eating mounds of peanut butter slathered on a couple pieces of bread, and a beer stein full of milk. He was strong and fit, but had excess weight to lose.

So this is what I made him sign:

The "At the Mercy of My Wife" Plan
November 17 - December 8

  1. Lift weights 3x week (He can choose the days)
  2. Run 5x week (I choose the days)
  3. Only one coffee per day, the rest is green tea
  4. Eat every 3 hours. No exceptions. This will require bringing snacks on work days.  **I approve the snacks**
  5. Three water bottles per day 
  6. Push ups on command 
  7. No supplements, shakes, etc.

Absolutely no exceptions:
 - No snacks after 8pm
 - Mealtimes are single serving only
 - No arguing or whining like a baby

**We will be discussing this on a regular basis, so be ready to report on plans for the day, and how the day went. Provide details.**

So he signed.

His runs were between 3 and 6k, nothing substantial, the point was just to get him outside doing cardio. The push ups on command were by far the most entertaining of all the rules. I typically made him do 15 or 20, sometimes I went up to 50...sometimes only 10. Several times a day. And sometimes one set right after another. After another. One day he did over 200 push ups. A couple times I had him clapping in between counts. Like I said....very entertaining.  His snacks were some combination of: yogurt, apples, cheese, raisins, pumpkin seeds, almonds and clementines. If he had milk, it was only 1 single cup, 250 ml.

He rarely complained, though he did try to swindle an extra gym day from time to time. My surprise push ups only made him grin. I only ever heard him utter once that he was hungry, but I think that was a day he lifted weights and ran. But it was at 9:30 at night, and past snack time, so he waited it out. He followed the rules exceptionally well, although there were a few skipped snack times. He paid for that in push ups.

Within two days of signing the contract his pants were loose. Within a week, his chest and shoulders were getting more defined. By the end of two weeks, he had lost 7 pounds and was noticeably slimmer in his midsection. By the end of three weeks, he had lost 20 pounds. We were both shocked.

I was expecting him to lose maybe 12 pounds over the three weeks. But I assume that not devoting as much time to lifting weights and more time spent on cardio, that he had some muscle loss as well. Which is fine, he was pretty bulky to begin with...he could afford to trim down.

So that is the contract. I know some were asking about it, and its nothing crazy or special. Exercise regularly, and eat healthy in proportioned sizes at regular intervals. I think it worked well for him, because he followed the rules, and knew he had someone else, besides himself, to answer to. Plus, push ups.


  1. I think it's a great idea to stay in shape. Of course, one should also personally be motivated to get fit, but having someone to push you to avoid procrastination is a good thing.

    And yes, it's normal to loose some muscle when doing a lot of cardio. This can be compensated to some extent by still doing some strength sessions, but even then it's very hard to avoid some loss.

  2. Good work Jess....Dave looks great!