Guess what? If you’re married or have a significant other, your biggest ally and enemy are one and the same: your spouse. Of course this is something that you already knew. Have you thought about it in terms of your fitness and fat loss journey?
Not surprisingly, your spouse can be the missing link to your success. Having him on board and supporting your goals is paramount to your success.
There are so many reasons why a spouse may not support your efforts. Sadly, it may come from his insecurities or inability to commit to any kind of lifestyle adjustments for himself. What ever his motivation, the way you handle yourself will not only increase the likelihood of your own success, but also, it may get him on the path to a healthier lifestyle with you.
This is a potentially touchy subject and my intent is not to offend or imply anything, just to offer suggestions. My history is such that I was married for a very long time to someone who also embraced health and fitness. Fitness was never an issue in this relationship (which, I must say, allowed the relationship to go past it’s due date…but that’s a story for another day….). In any case, since I successfully managed this aspect of a long marriage, I feel qualified to comment on how to get and keep your spouse supporting your fitness efforts.
Here are my top ten tips:
1. Set your goals, write them down and share them with your spouse. Discuss your motivation for getting fit or losing fat. This helps to ease any insecurity you’re your partner may feel that you’re on the look out and ready to ‘trade up’. If you can encourage your spouse to set some goals with you, even better. His goals and motivations need not (and likely won’t) be the same as yours. This is totally fine, as long as you respect each other’s goals.
2. If at all possible, see if you and your partner can find a mutually agreed upon activity together. It may not work out that every day you can ‘train’ together, but if once or twice a week you can find time to spend doing something active, this can be a great bonding experience. It also keeps each of you accountable. Often as women, we’ll show up for someone else’s benefit and put our own needs on the back burner. If we know that someone is counting on us, we’re more likely not to bail.
3. Challenge your partner! Set up a mini competition, have fun with it and have meaningful rewards. If you like manicures, then let that be your prize if you win, if he likes to fish, send him fishing if he wins. The best rewards include both of you, for example whomever ‘wins’ picks the next ‘date night’ activity.
4. Be engaged with whatever your partner is passionate about. If your man loves weight lifting and you don’t have a clue what he’s talking about, pay attention, listen and learn. Encourage him with his activity and hopefully he’ll do the same. Include him and talk to him about your workouts, what your challenges are, what you’re celebrations are.
5. Cut your partner some slack in terms of time when it comes to fitness. It may mean that you have to juggle schedules, especially when there are kids involved. Respect the time he needs to commit to his fitness and ask for the same. It may mean that you have to get up earlier, or swap out days for each other to workout, but if you work together on a balanced schedule where both of you get fitness time, you’re more likely to be successful and so is he. Less resentment will build when you’re both committed and understand the need for fitness time.
6. Start small. Don’t think the two of you have to start a fitness plan, start a diet and quit smoking all on Monday. Make small adjustments and allow time for these habits to ‘take’. It takes about 21 days to develop a habit, so do one thing at a time. You’ll set each other up for failure when you both try to make too many changes too fast. Nothing will last and you’ll be back to old habits in no time.
7. When setbacks happen, and they will, gently encourage each other to get back on the horse rather than judge. Be patient with yourself and him. It’s likely that you’ll fall off the wagon at different times, so don’t let his setback affect yours and vice versa.
8. Consider your nutrition choices together. It’s hard to keep to a sound nutritional plan if your spouse constantly brings junk food into the house. Ask for support, even if your partner isn’t interested in changing his eating habits, find ways that he can indulge without your falling off the nutrition wagon. Emphasize the need for solid nutrition as a health issue and not necessarily a ‘weight’ issue. Face it; junk food will not make anyone feel energized and healthy. Even if your partner doesn’t need to lose weight, it’s in his best interest to eat healthier foods. If your approach is about his ‘health’ and not his ‘weight’ your encouraging healthy eating may be accepted more readily.
9. DON’T BE A NAG. This is probably the #1 tip I have to offer. If your partner isn’t interested in your fitness or his, let it go. Don’t nag him to get involved, don’t boast or brag about your accomplishments. Quietly change your lifestyle habits and set a positive example of how good you’re feeling and he’ll likely notice how great you’re looking. In time he may make some lifestyle adjustments, or not. It’s up to him; it’s his life and his body.
10. My advice is to stick to your guns and look after your own health. Don’t compromise your health in order to keep a man, this seems like an unhealthy relationship choice on top of just an unhealthy choice altogether. If a man loves you, he’ll want you to feel and look good. If he’s threatened by your vibrant health and wellness, you may want to rethink your relationship (I know, easier said than done).
There you have it, ten things to think about as you continue your fitness journey.
Hey, in some ways I wish I didn’t name my program and blog ‘Female Fat Loss Over 40’. It sort of pigeon holes my info to our demographic. The truth is, I feel the things I share are applicable to men and women of any age, like this blog post for example. Your partner may not feel secure enough to go to a ‘girly’ site like mine to digest this, so if he doesn’t want to visit my site, simply apply these 10 principles and watch how the two of you grow and get fit together. One of my favourite sayings comes from a favourite movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding: “The man is the head, but the woman is the neck.” You can keep that saying under your hat, but we all know there’s a lot of truth to it.