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You don't have to go it alone! How to help you AND your partner get healthy!

Mar 16, 2013 06:02PM

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You don't have to go it alone!

How to help you and your partner get healthy!

by Dr. Jennifer Harned Adams,  Phd


We’ve all had times when we’ve worried about making healthier choices for ourselves.... but what about when your worry is about your partner? It’s a tricky situation that can lead to frustration and resentment on both sides.


How can you help your honey get healthy? First, examine what is actually going on. Then, consider how this affects you. Finally, encourage him  to get healthy while staying on track with your own goals.


Situation 1: You were both fit when you met, but he’s slipped into some bad habits.

How you’re feeling: Angry and sad. You and your partner had a fun, fit lifestyle– your mutual love of activity and a healthy lifestyle was probably a big part of what attracted you to each other, and how you bonded as a couple.


The good news is that even if it has been a while, your partner probably still values health and fitness, but something is getting in the way- a new health problem, a stressful job, or additional family responsibilities.


Help him get back on track by thinking back to the early days of your relationship, and the healthy things you enjoyed together. Bring that back into your routine – even if it looks a little different now. Suggest a family jog with your little ones in the stroller, or checking out that new restaurant at lunchtime rather than a romantic evening out. Helping your man reconnect his healthy habits in a fun way that fits his current life now can be the first step to getting him back in shape.


Situation 2: Neither of you were fit when you met, but now you want him to join you in your new healthy lifestyle.

How you’re feeling: Frustrated and confused. You’ve worked hard to get in your best shape ever, and your partner is still sitting on the couch. It’s frustrating – can’t he see how great you look and feel? You look at him and his habits and you are afraid to admit that you’re starting to find him less attractive.


Congrats! You’ve made a lot of great changes, and you want your partner to join you in making healthy choices. Keep in mind that if you previously bonded over watching TV and eating junk food, he may be feeling a little lost and left in the dust.


Bring your partner up to speed by slowly introducing him to some healthy habits while continuing to enjoy the things you’ve always done as a couple. Substitute air-popped popcorn for chips during your weekly DVR marathon, or make a plan to decompress after work during a walk with your dogs rather than over beers at the bar.


Situation 3: You’re trying to make some positive changes, but his bad habits are dragging you down.

How you’re feeling: Stuck and dejected. You’ve been working hard on your own goals, but every time your man brings home take-out, you feel like he is sabotaging both your health and his own. How will you ever get in shape if he keeps this up?


It’s time to take control over your own health. Even if it feels like your partner is making it hard for you to get in shape, you can’t hold him responsible for your choices – if you do, you’ll end up angry and unhealthy. Have a serious conversation about the changes you’re making and why you’d love for him to be a partner in your new lifestyle. Recognize that he may not be ready to make big changes in his own life and may be feeling intimidated– he may be wondering if you’re trying to impress someone else or if you’ll get in shape and decide to leave him (see above).


Keep these tips in mind as you encourage your partner to get in shape:

  • Lead by example – even if he doesn’t get motivated, you’ll feel good that you’re staying on track
  • Be supportive– making changes is hard work. If he knows you’re noticing his efforts, he’ll be more likely to keep it up!
  • Be positive - keep the focus getting healthy. If the focus is on negative aspects about your partner’s appearance he’ll likely feel more dejected and less able to motivate.
  • Get help – if your partner’s habits are creating a wedge in your relationship find someone to help– one of his trusted pals, his doctor or a couple’s counselor.

Remember, you may not be able to change your partner’s health habits. Regardless of what he decides to do you can continue to be an inspirational example for him and stay fit and healthy for you.