You might think that a Scottish born beer drinker and a Mexican/Canadian Fitnessenthusiast seem like one of the most unlikely ‘healthy partner’ couplings, yet from the very beginning I knew that Gary was The One.
We’ve known each other for 7 years, and celebrated our wedding just over three years ago…but when Gary first moved in, it was obvious our health goals were completely different.
Just like the rest of the world, all I hoped for was a healthy, happy partner.. but Gary’s love of fried food, alcohol and zero exercise left him depleted. The doctor had a list of Gary’s health issues that could easily be resolved if he just took care of himself.
I knew nagging him wasn’t the answer. He had to enjoy healthy living in his own right. Otherwise he’d end up resenting me and rebel against health by doing the complete opposite.
Instead I devised a fun and healthy strategy to get him excited about nutritious food and exercise.
After only 2 months Gary lost 10 pounds, increased his energy and significantly reduced his waist line.
1. Create delicious menus:
All too often people equate healthy eating to boring salads and bland steamed vegetables. but that won’t win your partner over and it shouldn’t have to.
Sit down as a couple and plan delicious menus. Pictures are key. They get even the most uninterested health enthusiast salivating.
If your partner prefers that you cook, create healthy variations of their favorite meals.
Deep fried chicken fingers can become whole grain baked delights. French fries can become baked fries and mashed potatoes can become a mixture of cauliflower and potato combined.
End Result: Show them that healthy food is delicious and they’ll never crave their unhealthy alternatives again. Well, unless it’s cheat day.
2. Create filling meals.
In people’s minds, healthy eating somehow equates to feeling hungry all time. If your partner thinks this way, break their misconceptions by preparing Stews, soups, and purees.
These meals can be made with meat and vegetables. They help you feel satisfied and keep you full longer. With their lower calories and high veggie intake, your partner can come back as often as they’d like for seconds, thirds and fourths.
3. Create a Couple’s Moment with Exercise
My passion is running. I would never expect any beginner to run at the same pace, or distance, but I did adapt my running route to include a smaller, shorter distance I could do with Gary before I veered off on my own and completed my own distance.
It’s turned into “our time” together. Our days can get hectic and having 15- 20 minutes together where we can speak about a new fitness goal, our last exercise routine or simply put, giving us a break from talking about what has to be accomplished in our day, has brought us closer together.
Whether its running, lifting weights, yoga or rock climbing, finding an activity you both feel excited to do is key.
If your partners fitness level is low enough that nothing physical excites them, start with an easy weight lifting program you can both do during the commercials of your favorite show.
Remember.. NO PRESSURE. If they choose to sit one out, let it go…
4. Do In Home Workouts
If your partner’s brand new to exercise, it can be embarrassing to workout in front of others. Especially if your guiding them through a workout.
Your trying to make healthy living, fitness and nutrition fun, so set them up for the ultimate success and avoid the gym at first.
It’s true, as a fitness instructor/personal trainer, I have a huge selection of fitness equipment and I love to try it out on Gary, but none of it is needed for your partner’s beginner fitness routine.
Keep it simple, and use body weight exercises at first. As time passes and your partner’s interest peaks consider buying a set of 5, 10, 12 and 15 pound dumbbells.
5. Make Date Night Unhealthy Meal Night
Food is intimate. It connects us. Nothing unites two people closer than a night filled with unhealthy indulgences when you haven’t eaten them for a while.
Gary and I adore food (both unhealthy and healthy). We also enjoy a cool and refreshing beer, or a glass of wine.
During regular months, we limit ourselves to one cheat day a week. Usually its no more than one Saturday afternoon or evening.
Make it fun during the week plan where you want to go out. Talk about the food choices you’re craving the most. It’ll create an intimate anticipation for your weekend date to come!
6. Compliment them often
Your partner deserves all of the support they can get!
Often times when it comes to loved ones, we can get impatient or short tempered when it comes to their health. Truth being told, its because we care so much, we really want to see them live a long and healthy life.
But you have to remember that change is hard. Your partner is trying a lifestyle completely foreign to them. They’re leaving old habits behind and creating new ones. Your encouragement is key to their success.
Say one encouraging compliment a day to your partner. Tell them they’re looking great, doing great or Wow, how you notice they’ve lost weight. Follow it up with a hug or high five. Make it a habit!