What Should You Do if Your Partner Doesn’t Support Your Health Goals?
You know the drill: you want to eat healthy this week. You’re on track. You’re feeling good. And then you come home to an extra large pizza and a nice bottle of red just waiting for you to dive in. The weekend comes. You had plans—exercise classes to attend, errands to run—but your partner convinces you to curl up and watch movies instead.
While sometimes deferring the plan can be fun (and even a welcome distraction), if this happens too often it can derail your healthy plans and put a divide in your relationship. If you feel like you’re always compromising your healthy ways just to acquiesce to your partner’s more lackadaisical lifestyle, it might be time for an intervention (or at least a civil conversation.)
First, ask yourself: are you an avid exerciser who is partnered with a brownie-loving couch potato? Has it always been this way, or is this behavior new? Pinpointing the “issues” and defining your differences are the first steps to finding concrete resolutions.
Second, don’t take it personally. Sometimes it seems like a personal assault when our partners don’t like what we like, but everyone is different. And that’s okay. Chatting about what’s important to you in terms of health and fitness at the start of a relationship can help foster better results down the line. Too late to go back and start again? Try some of these handy tips to get you and your loved one on the same page.
1. Define what health and wellness mean to both of you. Chances are, you might have very similar definitions of what it means to be healthy. Health can come in many varieties: climbing a flight of stairs, maintaining healthy cholesterol, abstaining from sugar, or even running a marathon. Jot down your top five “definitions” of health and compare. See any similarities? If not, try and find ways to be on the same page (or at least meet in the middle.) For instance, if you love to do CrossFit and your partner loves to dance, maybe you can get adventurous and try an adult gymnastics class, or even try each other’s fitness regimens for a week. Whatever your preferences, aim for a fun activity to try together every week to shake things up.
2. Pinpoint your eating issues. What does it mean to have a good diet? If you love healthy food and your partner wants to eat take out all the time, then you have to find ways to compromise. Recreate healthier “take out” dishes at home to mimic the taste of greasy fare, or order in but get the salt-laden sauces on the side, make some quinoa, and throw some extra veggies on top. Perhaps you can peruse healthy 5-ingredient dinners to try and make together, or get take out from a healthier restaurant. Figuring out what foods you can’t live without (and which ones you should live without) can help get you both on the same healthy track.
3. Stay motivated. We often work well with goals. Just as if you are training for a race, goals keep your eyes on the prize. Not goal-oriented? Load up your iPod with new songs, purchase some new workout gear, or partner up with a friend if your partner isn’t willing to join. If your partner is a late sleeper and you can only exercise first thing in the morning, set out your workout clothes and a pre-workout snack the night before and don’t let anything derail you.
If it’s healthy eating you’re after and your partner insists on having cookies or ice cream in the house, come up with a healthier version for yourself. Opt for coconut milk ice cream and top it with fresh berries and chia seeds, or insist on going out for treats and engaging in a walk or some other physical activity after. Or just ask for what you need: “I’d really like to try to go this week without dessert to see how it changes how we both feel. Are you okay with that?” Sometimes being direct is the best option.
Whatever the issue, discuss it. We often get set in our routines, especially in relationships, so don’t be afraid to try new things, as our bodies and minds are designed to learn new skills. And who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new hobby or passion that you love even more.