When you’re in a relationship, it can either be very beneficial to your health goals, or it can be very harmful.
If you’re in a relationship that benefits your health goals, you motivate each other, work out together, and help each other make healthy meal choices.
If you’re not, then quite the opposite can happen. One person, either knowingly or not knowingly, can sabotage the other. If one person has made the decision to get healthy, but the other has not, then things can easily go astray. It can be even worse if one thinks the other needs to.
I will start with this disclaimer: you cannot force someone to get healthy.
No way no how. It just won’t work. There are people that have had heart attacks and still don’t change their ways. Some people just don’t want to change, and that’s their business. This can be especially difficult when this person is a loved one, particularly your spouse. You only want what’s best for them, and you love them with everything in you, and you want them to be with you a long time.
There is a way to do it and a way not to do it.
First step is learning the difference between tough love and being a bully.
“Babe, you said you wanted to get healthy and to not bring junk in the house. We can find an alternative to take-out pizza together that’s better for us.” That’s tough love – that’s saying that a decision was made together and you’re going to work your way through it together.
“Honey, look, I love you and all, but you seem to be getting larger by the minute. I’m worried about you.” No. That’s being a bully. Don’t be stupid. I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman – no one wants to be told that they’re fat. No one.
Also, don’t be a hypocrite and live by double standards. If you want your partner to eat healthy, don’t stuff your face with cake in front of them while they’re trying to eat a salad. That’s not beneficial. That just makes you a jerk. And frankly, you suck. So don’t do it.
Here’s the hardest part of this whole process: the only person you can change is yourself. You will never be able to change any one else but yourself. However, you can influence those around you by living a healthy lifestyle yourself.
Here’s the secret to helping those around you get healthy: start doing it yourself.
Yes, it’s difficult, and yes you may be thinking that you don’t need to get healthy, you just need them to.
For example, I’m the chef of the house. I do all of the meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. I decide what goes on the table in front of my family. If I want them to eat it, I make it. Therefore I can’t blame my husband for the crappy way we eat if I’m the one that supplies it.
But what if you’re not the one that does all of that? Then it’s up to you start showing an interest in cooking, my friend. Even if you manage to burn boiling water, I promise that with a bit of research you’ll be feeling like a chef in no time. What I recommend to everyone is sitting back and watching a few shows on Food Network. Even something like Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives will get the culinary blood pumping. Don’t passively watch or stare at your phone the whole time. Really watch what’s happening and try to apply it to your kitchen.
Got a stiff chef that doesn’t want you stepping in it? I get that – I have a hard time letting my husband cook, just because it feels like my territory. Then you’ll have to find other ways of getting healthy. Ask for seconds of veggies, drink several glasses of water throughout the meal, ask if they can get frozen fruit for a smoothie, say no to soda or whatever else unhealthy junk you’ve been drinking.
The key to healthy changes is substitution. Get rid of the bad stuff and replace it with the good stuff. A little bit of research on Pinterest will quickly arm you with several ways to healthify your food. Replace refined sugar with organic unrefined sugar, or even to real maple syrup. Cut back on your salt and use garlic and other seasonings instead. Stop using butter in your cookies and use coconut oil instead. Simple swaps can make all the difference. Plus, it becomes addicting. Eventually you’ll want to be subbing out all the crappy junk for stuff that benefits you. I know you might not believe me, but it’ll happen.
The next step is exercise. This is the hardest thing out there to convince other people to do. Step one is to go on a walk. Just say that you feel antsy and want some company. Take the kids out to the park together. Then make it a daily thing.
Or maybe a video game. Set up your Kinect or whatever other movement tracker for your console and play a game or two together. Make it a competition. Get pedometers or FitBits and create a contest as to who can get more steps. Make it fun. But whatever you do, do it together.
Don’t sit on your butt telling your partner they need to go work out. Be an example.
Even if you’re not comfortable with asking them to join you or you have and they just don’t want to, don’t give up. Just do it yourself. Even if it takes a while, they just might join you after seeing your dedication and results.
Here is my last piece of advice: DO NOT MAKE IT ABOUT WEIGHT.
I’m serious. Do not, under any circumstances, make this about weight. Even if you have weight to lose, don’t make it about pounds lost. If you want to track it, do it but keep it to yourself. Let your partner see how you feel, how you look, how you act. Share how strong you feel hitting a personal record for the bench press or shaving a minute off of your mile time. Allow them to see all of the benefits getting healthy brings without the weight loss. They’ll probably notice, and if they ask you can tell them how much you’ve lost, but always make the gains you’ve made so much more important than the loss of weight.
Are you worried about your spouse? Do you want your partner to get healthy? Do you have a couples’ success story? Share it here!
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