How to Get Your Partner to Eat Well and Exercise

The Break Up.jpg

I just happened to catch The Break Up the other day on FX. (Yes, I still watch cable with commercials and all.) You know, the one with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston? Whew, that movie is a doozy! Poor Gary and Brooke. There are some serious couples quarrels between them. The worst being the actual break up scene. It kills me when Gary is talking about Brooke being overly critical of him and he says “All you do is nag me. The bathrooms a mess. Your belt doesn’t match. Hey Gary, you should probably go work out. Nothing I ever do is good enough for you!”

Oof. And watching them as they have this terrible awful cringe-worthy fight got me thinking about a question I get all the ever loving time...“Kylie, how do I get my significant other to eat well and exercise?”

I did a video about this topic on my Facebook page the other day, but if you are short on time, I can sum up my answer for you with just two little words. YOU CAN’T.

You just CAN NOT. I mean, think of how hard it is to make changes for yourself. SO hard, right? Think about Gary trying to be more mindful of Brooke’s needs. Think of Brooke trying to be more laid back for Gary? They just couldn’t do it. You can’t change for someone else and you can’t change someone else. Period.

But, don’t worry, you aren’t completely powerless. There are four big things you can do to get your honey on board with healthier eating and moving more.

The first is being extremely mindful when you are approaching the subject of health. It is all about having tact and being pure of intention, You want to make sure your focus stays on health and fitness and NOT on the scale or pounds. It is important to ask yourself, “How am I showing up for them? How can I give them support?” Know a little bit of encouragement goes a loooong way. Stay in the positives. You can’t bully or belittle anyone into making change. Wait, this needs to be bolded. You can’t bully or belittle anyone into making change. Seriously no one likes a bully. So please don’t go all Brooke on Gary when she’s talking about him wanting to do the dishes (I die when he asks “why would I want to do the dishes?” Man after my own heart.) Or Gary on Brooke when he is railing her for being upset about lemons. (“Baby wants lemons.”). Be kind. Be realistic. And know people can only make changes when they are ready so it may be a process.

Secondly, and I would argue most importantly, I encourage you to lead by example. One of the pillars of high performance is influence. It is amazing how influential you can become just by doing your own thing and owning your own health. Just keep showing them the way by DOING YOU. In other words, the way to transform your husband or wife is to transform YOURSELF. They will most certainly take note of your changes. They will pick up on how great you feel. How svelte you are looking. How confident you are walking around. It may take awhile, but we pick up on the habits of those around us. So start by making your habits ones that encourage wellness in others.

Another great thing you can do to help your partner become more active is inviting them to join you in being active. What activities can you go and do together? And don’t just think about what you like to do. What activities do they enjoy? Maybe they aren’t into spinning or lifting or bootcamps like you are, but maybe they love hiking or yoga or team sports. Maybe you can encourage them to join an intramural basketball league at the local rec center and come to cheer them on. Or you can get a sitter and play a round of golf together. Or plan a family bike ride. The possibilities are endless for spending time together AND getting some movement in. They just might not ever think to plan something like this but would love it if you did.  

Lastly, be supportive when your significant other is active. Everyone loves positive feedback. A simple “I noticed that you exercised this week, great job making time for yourself.” No need to  be elaborate (or worse condescending) but acknowledge the effort they are putting in. And please don’t frame your comments all around weight loss. In fact, you can give them feedback that doesn’t make any commentary about what they are doing or how they are looking but, rather, keeps the focus on you. For instance, “I am so attracted to you when you make yourself a priority” or “I feel better when we eat healthier together.” There are so many ways to let your partner know you are proud of him or her and the work they are doing to make changes.

I know that it is difficult to see the person you love the most in this world go down an unhealthy path. I also know that it is hard to get them to make changes. And, by hard, I mean impossible.  It is not our job to change our partners. Health is a touchy touchy subject. So our job is to focus on our health and act as an example. We can’t control other people and we certainly can’t control others healthy or unhealthy habits. Do not go the way of Jen and Vince in The Break Up by being overly critical, mean or inconsiderate, that will do nothing but put a wedge between you. Instead, focus on your goals, act as an example and be compassionate.