T Nation

My Wife is Getting Frustrated!


Im writing this on behalf of my wife. Im trying to help her reach her goals. So far I am incredibly proud of her. Her strength has significantly increased and she is looking amazing. But she is so hard on herself that she cant see the improvements she has achieved.
After our second child she has not been able to lose the weight she wants to lose and get back into the shape she wants to be in. After many long discussions and having her read reference material to back up my points I finally convinced her to adopt weight training as her primary method of exercise.

She is 5’3" and weighing in at about 152 right now. She is a little on the heavy side according to the scale but she has packed on some serious quality muscle so she doesnt look as out of shape as she thinks.

After lifting consistently for a year and a half her best lifts so far are as follows:
Squat 175x3
Deadlift 195x1
Shoulder press 100x5
Flat bench 105x3
Leg Press 315x8
Seated rows 90x8

I could go on but I my point is she is pretty strong. Especially from where she began. She has come a long way.
Currently her training program is as follows:
Clean and press 5x5
Back Squat 3x10
RDL 1x20
Seated Cable Row 5x5
Pull ups as many sets as it takes to do 25
Bench 3x5
Hip thrusters 3x8
10 minutes of ab work (supersets of plank variations and the standard ab stuff)

Wed and friday are structured the same with variations in the sets and rep ranges.
Tues she does 15 minutes of sprints in our field at home.
Thursday she has added in:
Cable Pull throughs 3x10
Single leg RDL on cable 3x10
Hamstring Kick back machine 2x15
Treadmill for 15 minutes changing the speed either up or down every minute.
Sat and sunday she chases after our kids and helps me remodel our home.

She is putting a ton of time into getting in shape.
As far as diet she does not count calories but has cut out starches except around training times and reduced portions (not quite enough in my humble opinion). We eat clean and on occasion let ourselves enjoy a cheat meal. But for the most part an over all pretty healthy lifestyle.

Now my opinion:
Her legs have gotten significantly more muscular but not much smaller (her complaint, definitely not mine haha)
Her hamstrings have toned up and she has lost alot of the cellulite she had post baby.
Her Butt has lifted and gotten firmer but again, not as small as she wants.
Her back, shoulders, arms, and chest look incredible. She LOOKS like a girl who knows her way around a barbell.
Her Abs have experience the smallest change. Cant seem to shake the lil Baby pooch and her abs are only partially visible higher up on her torso.
Love handles still an issue for her as well.

I have a theory on why she is having a hard time getting the results she wants. I will preface by saying I have NO claim to being a pro and have only the knowledge supported by what reading material I have been able to find.
I think since our second child her hormones have been out of whack. Her libido is down and she cant lose weight. Her moody temperament is all hers and not to be blamed on our second son haha.

Her doctor recently put her on Birth control for the first time in her life and recommended taking DHEAs for low test.

Is there any advice or critiques you can offer me to try and better help her. Ive devoted a lot of my time trying to help her achieve what she wants so she can be happy again but Im afraid im just not doing a good enough job and I fear she might throw in the towel at some point.

Hoping someone here with far more wisdom than I can shed some light.

Thanks and sorry for the long read.


Fat Loss is almost always diet. Time to get more focused on that.

She doesn’t need to devote herself to a lifetime of counting calories, but it’s a good practice to do it for a couple of weeks or a month. Keep a detailed journal. Measure things. Get a food scale if you don’t have one. Maybe try an app if that’s easier and more motivating. She needs to get more in tune with how much she’s eating, and what her macros look like. Once she has a couple of weeks of an honest food log, it’s probably going to become very clear where the trouble spots are. Find them, and attack them one at a time. Go for the easy ones first. Gradual changes tend to be more sustainable.


Thank you for the response. I agree that she needs to bite the bullet and focus on tightening her diet. Are eating parameters for women generally the same as men concerning how many meals to eat a day and such? At the moment she has:
Breakfast- usually two or three whole eggs with spinach and cheese and a cup of coffee with milk.
Mid morning- a protein shake (14 grams of protein) if she remembers.
Lunch- we work together so we go to lunch together and she tries to order the healthiest choice on the menu. Usually jumps at things like salmon and vegetables.
Pre workout (we workout after work at 5pm)-another 14 gram protein shake
Post workout same as pre
Dinner-whatever meat and veggies she or I cook that night minus the starch option the rest of our family has.

Thats pretty much it at the moment.

Like I said every once in a while we will indulge in a homemade cake of some sort but even that she tends to go with the healthiest recipes she can find.
She almost never drinks and if she does its one glass of wine.
Should she keep the same meal schedule and just focus on even smaller portions?
I know you said to count calories so forgive me if it seems like im asking you to repeat yourself.
Are there any supplementation options that would aid her?
Also a note, she does not drink enough water lately. She used to be good about that but has been missing her water intake goals for a while now. Sure thats not helping.


Sure. I’ve come back from three pregnancies myself.

About diet, you will find both men and women who are successful doing different things. There’s no ONE diet for women. I don’t like Intermittent Fasting, but some women love it, for example.

I think a lot of people (men and women) can do pretty well with The Zone macros. That works pretty well for me. I like to eat smaller portions 4-5 times per day.

Really, I’d start with a food log of what she’s doing NOW. Keep that up for 2-3 weeks so you have a baseline picture, then adjust. It may be that her macros and food quality is mostly good but she just needs to cut portions. OR the eating out might be a lot more caloric than she realizes. If you don’t know what’s in it, don’t put it in your mouth - at least until you get an idea of where you’re at.

Just looking, but I’d cut the post workout shake if she’s going home from the gym and having a protein-rich meal for dinner. She may not need to have a mid-morning shake either, unless she’s struggling to get enough protein in. Food choices look pretty good to me, although when you’re eating in restaurants for lunch, it can be kind of hard to know how they are preparing your food. Start with simple things. For example, she could cut out the cheese on her morning eggs. Taking the cheese out of her breakfast and cutting the post workout shake might be easy ways to cut a couple hundred calories per day without really missing them.

As far as supplements, everyone has an opinion on that. I’m not a big supplement person myself. I take vitamins, fish oil, creatine, and BCAA’s. I don’t drink coffee, so I take a caffeine pill 30 minutes before I train in the morning.


Once she gets a feel for how many calories she’s eating on a typical day, and how many calories are in the foods she eats all the time, it gets a lot easier.

I kept a food log on fitday at first, then before long I knew exactly what was in everything I eat regularly.

Another idea. You’ve heard of the 1 gram of protein per pound as a recommendation for people lifting weights. Just track protein, then try to make healthy food choices, and track total calories. In other words, hit protein targets, don’t eat too much, eat healthfully but let the carbs and fats fall where they may.

You know you’re eating too much when you’re scale weight isn’t moving or your scale weight is going upward. I’ve done this many times. It’s not the the way to go if she were trying to get stage-lean, but if she just wants to get back into her pants, it should do the trick. :slightly_smiling:

It’s an easy way to get started. She can always start dialing it in more if this approach stalls.


I have relayed your advice to her and she seems determined to tighten her diet up.

Greatly appreciate the advice.

Thank you


So just an update. My wife finally got her diet dialed in hard. Took someone else saying it for it to sink in so I thank you profusely for your advice!
She has dropped 17lbs and several pants sizes since!
She is beaming and her motivation has skyrocketed.

So again I say THANK YOU!


WOW!! That’s fantastic.
So happy to hear it.

That’s just phenomenal progress on someone who is 5’3" Certainly getting back in her old jeans. Awesome!

Honestly, I’m glad she was able to find a way to eat that works for her, and for your family’s lifestyle. I think it’s more likely to be maintainable when people can figure our what works best for them, rather than following some prescribed food list, or detailed diet plan drawn up by someone else.


Yeah she spent years thinking she was eating healthy and light but when she actually took the time to count calories and determine how much she should consume everyday to be in a deficit she realized how off she was. It was rough for the first two weeks but she is adjusting quite well.
She told me last night that this would be very easy for her to keep up now that she has taken the time to figure out her diet.
She is so happy! Fitting in jeans she had before our kiddo and everything!
And on top of the weight loss her lifts are still steadily improving! She hit 205 on Deadlift last friday and she only weighs 134!
Im so proud of her =)


Awesome! Bet she looks and feels great. Now all the hard work in the gym will really show.
Congrats to her on her DL PR!!

Yeah, the modifying diet part isn’t fun for anyone, so that’s fantastic.

BTW, you mentioned some hormone issues in your original post. I have no experience with DHEA’s, or with trying to manipulate hormones - Except I do know that BC pills negatively effect my libido. I’m not sure what percentage of women experience that side effect, but it’s something to be aware of.


Her doctor put her on BC and it seems to be helping. “Time of the month” pain not nearly as bad for her and such (allows her to keep training instead of taking a week off a month). Her doc also suggested DHEAs so she has been taking them for a few months.
So far so good. She is making insane progress and feeling good so I couldnt be happier for her.
No issues with libido so far. Fingers crossed haha


I enjoyed reading your replies. I, too, am that frustrated wife. I need all the help I can get. I feel like I’ve been trying so hard to lose the baby weight, that nothing is happening. I go running at least 2-3 times a week and walking every day. I have cut out starches and lessen my sugar intake, but I don’t see a change. I’ll follow your advice about writing a food log and go from there. Thank you for your advice. I appreciate you.


You are an amazing husband! It’s nice to hear that you are supporting her and uplifting her!!


Question, were you nursing when you were losing weight? My fear is that I don’t eat enough for her nutrition. What should I do?