Imagine this scenario: It’s Friday night and you’ve had a long week at work. You’re looking for something fun to do that’s active and will support your goal of becoming leaner and healthier in the coming year.
While getting happy hour drinks with coworkers sounds fun, you’re feeling a little bored with that and are eager to try something different.
So you come up with this great idea of trying out the new rock climbing gym in your neighborhood. The more you think about it, the more excited you get. Maybe you’ve even been working on pull-ups at the gym and are ready to put your new pulling strength to the test.
Then, your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend comes home. At the right moment, you excitedly throw out your brilliant idea of going climbing.
Your partner responds, “Umm, I’m really tired and was thinking we could get some drinks and have a nice meal together.”
You try to hide your disappointment, and compromise by ordering take-out and popping open a bottle of wine.
At least then you can squeeze in a quick run before the food delivery makes it to your apartment. Even so, you’re a little bummed.
Does this situation sound familiar to you? What do you do if your partner isn’t supportive of your fitness goals or healthy lifestyle changes?
Here are 4 strategies to help you navigate this tricky situation.
Make sure you clearly share with your partner why you are doing what you’re doing.
Does your partner know WHY you want to get fit? Sometimes simply explaining the reason behind your actions is all you need to reframe the situation and get them onboard.
Maybe you have a deep desire to be a fit and healthy role model for your kids, or perhaps the doctor told you that you need to lose weight and decrease your blood pressure. Suddenly, coming home 1-hour later because you hit the gym after work takes on a different meaning.
At the same time, there’s a chance your partner will feel intimidated by your newfound goal to change. Maybe he or she wants to be healthier too, but needs your help.
We can’t assume that our partners see the deeper reasons for our goals, so it’s necessary for us to communicate them! And you can’t assume anything about what your partner is going through, or how they feel about your desire to eat healthy and be more active.
Change is really hard, and most people avoid it at all costs. If anything, over-communication is key.
While communication is a crucial part of the equation, sometimes the simple act of doing is even more powerful.
Here are a few things you could try:
1. Learn a simple, healthy recipe that tastes great, and make it one night for your partner. Don’t tell them that the meal is “healthy”. Instead, just cook it and let them decide whether they like it.
2. Research a fun, new activity (I call it your “active passion”) that you can both do together and plan it out.
Discovering an active passion together can be a powerful way to connect with your partner in a way that allows them to see the amazing benefits of moving their body while doing something that you both enjoy.
When communication and taking action don’t work, I think it’s time to ask your partner some tough questions.
Right now, the US population is facing extremely high rates of obesity, high blood pressure, and other diet-related diseases. If current trends continue, the CDC reports that in just over 30 years from now, 1-in-3 Americans could develop type-2 diabetes.[1.
That’s pretty horrifying.
Think about this – the reason many people go into nursing homes is because they can’t get up from the toilet without pain. A basic human movement like a bodyweight squat becomes incredibly challenging when you neglect exercise and become sedentary for many years.
There are plenty of ways to age gracefully. But if we keep on doing what we’re doing, it doesn’t look good.
But you have the power to change your health!
Ask your partner this simple question. Do they want help getting off the toilet seat later in life?
I would think not.
Having a team on your side is critical to the success of pretty much any endeavor in life, and is especially important during a fitness journey.
If your partner is still resistant after trying the recommendations above, then she or he isn’t providing the support you need. Now, it’s even more crucial that you build out your support team.
During any kind of behavior change, there will likely be setbacks and days of serious struggle. Having that best friend to chat with, or that buddy to grab a meal with is an invaluable resource that can make all the difference between staying the course and giving up.
And we all know how motivation goes sometimes – there’s a good chance that you’ll have days when you just don’t want to workout. But if you have a reliable friend or family member knocking on your door to go exercise, it will be much more difficult to stay on the couch.
Having these team members in place will give you that extra push, help keep you accountable, and let you vent frustration. Ultimately, they can help you turn health and fitness into your lifestyle.
Take a second to think about the people in your life. Most likely, you already have a few team members in place:
It’s important to mention – assembling a great team might take many years. But you only need to start with one. Think about who you want on your team right now and which roles you can fill with your current network.
A key takeaway here is that making a choice to become a little healthier – whether that’s exercising a little more or eating better, doesn’t have to happen overnight or be an all-or-nothing deal.
That is the huge point that your unsupportive partner needs to know. I talk to people everyday and most people still cling to this ALL or NOTHING mentality.
They think they will have to give up EVERYTHING in order to get lean and fit – NO wine, no beer, no indulging in pizza.
The truth is, that’s just not the case.
Of course you can’t indulge in French fries and beers every night, but you can absolutely enjoy your favorite foods from time-to-time in a smart, sensible way.
And you should tell your partner that the best way to achieve your fitness goals is to have someone there to celebrate the small wins along the way. The two of you can make it fun and doable together!
If you have a tough partner that’s not supportive of your fitness goals and you’re feeling courageous enough to share your story, tell me the details below. I imagine that many others could have similar situations, and your story might just help them out as well.