I have been asked many times how to convince a spouse, partner, or family member that it is time to get on the healthy train.
Most of the questions come from wives of men who want their meat and potatoes and have no patience for kale salad. These wives usually cook for their spouse so they feel guilty when they don’t serve something that their husbands will want to eat.
I chose the photo above to feature what I believe most of us who are married really want – a partner who will walk with us, hold our hand, and (if we are really lucky) can keep up. My spouse is halfway down the beach before I can get out of the car – but he slows down when I ask him to (and doesn’t grumble).
A recent study asked a bunch of middle-aged Americans about their exercise habits in two questionnaires – 6 years apart.
If in the first questionnaire a wife was exercising and a husband was not – he was 70 PERCENT more likely to be exercising six years later than husbands with inactive wives.
How about that?
The conclusion from the New York Times:
But the neat alignment between one middle-aged spouse’s workouts and, after a few years, the other’s does suggest, Ms. Cobb says, that to inspire your spouse to work out more, you should probably begin by ramping up your own routine.
And if you hope to maintain that regimen into the future, nudge a sedentary spouse to join you. Otherwise it can be sorely tempting to settle onto the couch yourself.
Perhaps it is like the couple on the beach -“Hey, want to go for a walk?”, “Sure, sweetie!” or maybe they compete in tennis, golf, racquetball, or love to go to the gym together.
Whatever is happening here, what I like is that healthy habits seem to be rubbing off on the other person.
My advice has been to eat what you want to eat and do not nag your partner about his/her habits. Simply continue on your path and provide an example to follow. Your partner is an adult and can make his or her own decisions on food choices and exercise.
BUT, if this person is getting in your way – you need to take action. For example, if she brings home bags of Doritos – ask her to put them somewhere you can’t find them. If he bakes chocolate cake every week, ask to have it stored in the freezer in an opaque container.
If he wants to go out for pizza or go to all-you-can-eat-buffets all the time, order the salad. It will be difficult but you should not feel bullied into bad habits.
Whatever you choose to do, DO NOT make a big deal out of it. Cruise along, make your changes, and hope for the best.
How do you help your partner become more healthy?
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