When we start on the path of a healthy nutrition and fitness plan there are many things to take into account as you prepare to get started. Things like what program to do? Will I need additional or new equipment? Do I need a gym membership? Will I need to buy special foods or supplements? And the list can go on indefinitely. But did you ask yourself one of the most important questions? That question is how is my spouse or significant other going to feel if I get into shape. If your partner is the one that has given you the mandate or suggestion to improve your health and fitness you may not have to ask yourself the question. But if it’s your idea and you start on a new healthy lifestyle and your partner isn’t included your decision, you could be in for a rough ride.
There are many other benefits to losing weight and improving your health and fitness. One of which is increased self-esteem. As self-esteem improves there is the urge to buy better fitting cloths, spend more time out with friends and coworkers, or engage in activities that will allow you to present the new you. All of these things are normal and expected. But what many don’t take into account is that in your efforts and subsequent success to get healthy and fit, your partner may not be as enthusiastic as you are with your improvements. This is where the trouble can start.
It is not uncommon for the person who is working hard to improve their health and fitness to start seeing the imperfections in his or her partner. That little bit of extra weight or lack of muscle tone, the extra half or whole portion at dinner, or the extra whip on a late may be noticed more by the partner that is working hard to get healthy and fit. This can lead to comments whether intended or unconscious that seem harmless enough on the surface but can hurt your partners feelings or make him or her feel as if they aren’t living up to your expectations. These feelings can build until your partner can’t hold back their frustration and without warning, the fight is on.
On the other side of the relationship, the partner that is not as concerned about improving their health and fitness may see their partner as being obsessed or “fanatical” about losing a few pounds. They may consciously or unconsciously try to undermine the efforts of their partners’ health and fitness goals. They may stock extra snack foods in the home, eat chips and drink soda in the same room while their partner is working out, or complain about who gets to use the TV because there is a show on at the same time as their partner has an in home workout scheduled. These actions cause frustration and stress and again without warning, the fight is on.
Unfortunately, there have been many cases where the tensions and fighting have led to separation and divorce because neither partner is willing to accept the others feelings. In other cases, the partner that has been trying to change their health and fitness gives up and things go back to “normal”. But things aren’t really normal because one partner has “won” and the other has “lost” which can lead to long lasting resentment again, whether conscious or unconscious in the “losing” partner. This resentment can permanently alter your relationship.
That’s why it takes two to get healthy and fit.
When it comes to making the decision to get healthy and fit, include your partner in the process. Talk to him or her and tell them why you want to make this change in your life. Lay out your reasons for losing weight or improving your fitness level and why you think this would be a good thing in your relationship. Describe the process that you will be going through and the support that you will need from your partner. Then be willing to listen to your partners’ views as to how this may make him or her feel. Be ready to answer his or her questions as to what we will expect of them. You may want to set up a consultation with a personal trainer or your doctor to answer the technical, nutritional or medical questions that may come up. Be open to compromise when it comes to times and places where you will do your work out. Be willing to select healthy foods that will appeal to both of you. If you are the non-participating partner, be aware of the things you eat and where you eat them. Try to limit the snack foods and sodas on hand. Be willing to try some of the new healthy foods that your partner will be making and eating. Be open to compromise when it comes to the use of the TV for in home work outs. And, if the idea of getting healthy and fit appeals to you, join your partner on the journey.
My wife and I have been working out together for over five years now. We have participated in the same programs and at times different programs that had that certain appeal or were more in line with our fitness goals at that time. We have had success and setbacks during this time. But we have also been open and supportive of each other’s goals and needs. We have made staying healthy and fit part of our daily routines and as a result, we have enjoyed our lives together all the more.
So, on your journey to get or stay healthy and fit, why not take your partner with you. Even if he or she isn’t physically able to participate, the time that you spend together supporting and encouraging each other will make the trip worth it for you both.