8 Tips to Help Your Partner to Better Health
You say your vows and kiss to seal the deal. Fast forward into this relationship bliss and it seems you wake up to realize your partner in life is chunky. Phew. How you handle this health and wellness crisis could make or break even the most loving relationship.
Everyone knows you cannot force a loved one to get on the healthy weight “band wagon” unless he or she wants to. On the flip side, however, it’s common knowledge unwanted body fat can lead to some serious health issues, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and fertility issues.
There’s no happily ever after in any of that.
Here are some tips to put these issues on the table:
Look in the mirror. Are you at a comfortable weight? If you are not, then chances are that your partner and your kids aren’t either. Families get fat together. Before you can embrace a leaner lifestyle remember you are both on the same team and can share the journey, just like a good partnership.
Listen to their concerns. Has anyone on the planet ever prospered after a stern lecture? I agree and the answer is “no.” So? Don’t lecture. Become a good listener when discussing the topic of better health. Ask questions. Refuse to play the blame game. Just a note: Remember the kids are watching what you and your partner to see if it’s just talk or you’re making healthy changes in your lives.
Let nature take its course. Give your loved ones time to consider the things you discuss and the plans that you have made or will make. We all have responsibilities galore and I’ve found that some of us need a longer period to process information. If coming home after a grinding day at the office and on the highway, your partner flops in front of the television, tossing athletic shoes in their lap will probably not encourage a change. It certainly wouldn’t for me. Instead why not offer a cold drink of bubbly water, talk about getting ready for a walk and do it.
Swallow critiques. Men often lose weight faster that most women, because of their fat to muscle ratio is higher. Not fair? Who said that life was? If a loved one is drinking water rather than cola, cheer. If your partner is walking the dog or cycling around the block after work instead of being glued to the computer or TV give a high five. Small changes add up to healthy transformations.
Make it easy to succeed. Who doesn’t like new fitness clothes and shoes? Selecting clothing and shoes that feel comfortable and make us want to wear them can go a long way to increasing participation in an activity. This can make even the most robust coach potato decide to be active.
Give it to ’em. Contrary to popular belief couples cannot really read each other’s minds. To help your partner become healthier, notice little things, like your mate’s great posture, how a bicep bulges or the looseness of their favorite jeans. Make the compliment genuine and do so often.
Choose fun for fitness. Sure you can park farther from the store and add steps to help you trim. You can cut portions way down when eating eat out. However, for a lasting change toward healthy habits, nothing works like fun. As a couple why not take up a new sport like paddle boarding or hiking? How about ballroom dance? Have you thought of a walking vacation in Europe or Asia? All of these activities require increased strength and endurance so you won’t be successful overnight, but relationship counselors say walking or working out with one another can help your relationship become closer.
Eat to live, rather than live to eat. A few simple tricks can help you totally change your food consumption. Why not take a healthy cooking class or start to cook together using less fat, fewer high-sodium, high-sugar prepared foods. One day a week, go vegetarian or vegan. Visit your local farmer’s market, use fresh and local produce and fruits. Stock the kitchen with healthier snacks. Yes, your schedule is crazy busy and some of these things are hard to do, but imagine ten years. The healthy changes you make now could mean a fit lifetime of difference in your loved ones’ health. Tip: Love your grill. Grill outdoors or indoors, instead of frying fish, beef, pork and chicken, at least two nights a week. Do this instead of picking up fast food and you’ll save as much as 1,000 calories a week. In a month, jeans, slacks and skirts will be more comfortable and your loved ones healthier.
Don’t expect miracles or to turn a plump partner to a healthy eater and fitness devotee overnight. Success is ensured with small, doable and achievable personal goals to stay fit for life.
Sheila Cluff, fitness expert, master skater, spa guru and founder of The Oaks at Ojai, is the author of Living Your Dream, Take 5: How You Can Benefit from Just Five Minutes of Daily Exercise and The Ultimate Recipe for Fitness by Sheila and Eleanor Brown.
The Oaks at Ojai is an all-inclusive destination spa in California, a healthy retreat offering guests a range of activity from guided hikes into the mountains, to water aerobics, to restorative yoga. As an American Plan Spa, The Oaks provides a well-rounded calorie-conscious food plan that consists of three meals, snacks and beverages. The varied menus feature natural foods, fresh fish and poultry, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, homemade salad dressings and soups – all without a touch of additional salt or refined sugar used in the preparation.