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GF w/Heart Condition & Weight Loss


I've been talking with my girlfriend about exercising for weight loss. She's fairly okay with the idea, but I think she's holding back because she was born with a slightly abnormally shaped heart. The doctor gave her the go on exercise provided her heart doesn't pass 160 bpm.

She's never lifted, is 5'5" and about 160 lbs (I haven't asked her her exact weight because she's still a little shy on the topic, but I'm guessing it's about that). She's also genetically predisposed to a lot of weight gain, which is pretty important to avoid because her heart isn't great. Let's say her goal is to lose 8-10 lbs as a healthy start (we haven't talked it out, but I think she'd agree to that as a starting point). So, dieting, light cardio, and weight training that doesn't stress her heart too much are all on the table. I want to convince her that she can reach this goal mainly through dieting and weight training. But I also don't want to feed her false expectations about what she can achieve in a reasonable amount of time. Any advice?

By the way, part of my obliviousness to this is that I'm naturally skinny. My only problem has ever been about packing on weight, so I'm pretty hesitant to tell her anything not having been where she is at.

[edit: fixed some typos]


My older brother has a heart condition (irregular heartbeat) and recently his weight has gone up from eating too much food/drinking too much beer. He has started to lift and eat healthy, and he has had no problems so far (he also has experienced fat loss). However, I don't believe his condition is anything like your GF's condition, because he can do higher intensity cardio just fine. Always consult a doctor or any other related professionals when it comes to something like a heart condition.

As far as reaching a goal of weight loss goes, eating healthy along with cardio and weight training should do the trick...


These comments, or really the phrasing, stood out to me and it sounds like you brought up the idea in the first place, not her. That could be starting things off on the wrong foot because if she's not more motivated about getting herself in shape than you are about getting her into shape, it's an invitation to arguments and stress. Like, who was the first person to bring up the idea of her losing some weight, you or her?

I could be 100% off on this and maybe I just misinterpreted your choice of words. If so, no offense intended.

In any case, training/coaching/advising your significant other is difficult, challenging, and sometimes frustrating for the both of you. This article from Joy Victoria is absolutely perfect for your situation:

As far as her heart condition, if she has complete clearance from her doctor, with the only restriction being to monitor her max heart rate, then buy the girl a heart rate monitor and get her started on a plan.

This is a great, pretty simple, step by step guide to setting up a very basic fat loss nutrition plan:

There are a ton of great recipes here:
The more often you two can cook together, the better.


Get her to try a variety of different activities outside the gym like yoga, tennis etc so that she finds something that she can stick with if weights isnt for her.
Fatloss will happen fastest with diet, especially eliminating all sugary and processed carbs


Hey guys, thanks.


Gonna agree with this and Chris too. This is a big part of it though--I firmly believe weight training to be the fastest way to transform your physique weight loss wise aside from diet considerations. Of course you can't lose fat without dieting :).

However--what matters the very very very most in the initial stages of fat loss for someone not used to training at all is this:

1) doing physically active things they ENJOY doing constantly. It won't matter how effective weight training is if she gives up. This is where Badger comes in with yoga, tennis, hiking etc.

2) doing as many different kinds of activity as often as possible--i.e. spending most of EVERY (or most days) day active in some random fashion or other, even if it's just walking, biking, or whatever. Again this is where Badger comes in with his comment above. Pick up active hobbies like hiking, or bicycling, or whatever. Simply being outside at all has a beneficial effect.

3) sticking with it when it gets hard. You can't enjoy every day at the gym or cooking healthy food, so the positive encouragement and focus to stick through the hard transition is essential. Again, this is where a variety of activities come in: great to have a perfect plan, but some crappy days she doesn't feel like the gym she wants to go swim or something....great! Something is always better than nothing and if you enjoy it you'll keep at it.

4) doing things together when she wants you to. Obviously can't be pushing her or she'll start to resent it, but if she wants to have you in on it, might be best to do it even if it's not in your plan :). Also difference between asking suggesting and pushing (obviously). if you feel like doing some swimming ask her if she'd like to go to the pool with you. Or the trail. whatever. Make it "alone time" instead of exercise. Team stuff enjoying nature or whatever. Less she thinks exercise and more she thinks "fun" the better.


I might suggest that you do cardio things together, but NO competition even if she starts it. Walks after work, walks before work, street skating, Frisbee golf. Make it fun and not just going to the gym and walking on the tread mill, she might find other things that are exercise after she figures out the physical activity can be fun.

I will warn you though, you should be careful how you word all of this. Do not imply that you find her lacking in any way, if you make that slip, no exercise will be the last thing you have to worry about.