Before you read any further, I would just like to put it out there for the sake of my loving husband, that I was not the one who had to talk to my spouse about being healthy. No, I was on the other side of this discussion, or the other side of the ice cream bowl, if you will. It wasn’t until after our son was born that we learned more about what was in our food and how it affected our bodies and both became motivated to cut out certain foods and make better choices with eating.
Being active and working out was always one of Josh’s passions, but I always saw it as something you had to work really hard at to get even the littlest results. However, it wasn’t long after we started cutting out sugar and making healthier choices as a whole, that we started to see results from working out way faster than we had in the past! This, and switching up my fitness routine gave me so much more motivation to be active than I had in the past! It eventually became my own thing that I wanted to do- for myself. But all this didn’t come until after Josh and I had many talks about eating habits, fitness routines, and the like.
Today, I’m so thankful he said some of the hard things he felt lead to say. He loved me enough to make sure I was taking care of myself for the sake of being healthy and able to do all the things I would want to do in the future. If you’re struggling with wanting to talk to your spouse about being healthy and/or active but aren’t sure what to say, take a look at these pointers that will remind your spouse that you’re on their side, you still think they’re awesome, and you want the best for them!
Let them know it’s not about physical appearance
You know your spouse better than I do. Try to be sensitive to their feelings and let them know that they are the only person for you and that this is something you want for the both of you that goes way beyond just looking better. I know that in the past, if my husband mentioned being active to me, my mind would hear, “You’re not pretty enough so you better do this to make our marriage better,” when that’s not what he was saying at all! But it was in those moments of vulnerability that my insecurities bubbles to the surface and I took his concern to be insulting.
Lead by example
If you’re reading this, you might assume that most people who are trying to get their spouse to be healthy are, of course, already healthy and active people, but that’s not always the case. There are always those who like what they see in others, and think it might look nice on their spouse too, but dismiss the idea of applying it to their own lives. I don’t mean to call anyone out here, but just ask yourself if you’re willing to do everything and more that you’re asking your spouse to do. One rule of thumb that I try to follow (not just with working out, because my husband usually trumps me in that area anyway, but in all areas of marriage) is to have the same- or higher- standards for yourself.
If you don’t want your spouse to eat junk, make sure you’ve already stopped eating junk. My suggestion is, always try on your requests and standards before you ask your spouse to follow them. And then decide if it’s reasonable or need reconsideration. And NEVER try to get your spouse to do something because you want more motivation yourself. If you think to yourself, “I wouldn’t eat so bad if my husband/wife helped me to make better choices,” then you’re not ready to ask them to be healthy. There’s nothing wrong with initiating new goals together, and holding each other accountable when those goals are agreed upon, but don’t make health and fitness something that will later turn into resentment towards your spouse.
Do what you can to cut out distractions and make it easy(-er)
Studies show that if you want to reinforce a new habit, you need to cut out the obstacles. This is especially true when your new habit it something that your spouse might not actually want to do on their own. When obstacles arise in front of something we didn’t really want to do in the first place, how likely are we to push through and do it anyway? Me, I’m a sucker for saying, “Eh, maybe I’ll get to the gym later” or , “Well this is the first time we’ve eaten junk this week so that’s not so bad.” My point is, making new habits is hard- do what you can to make it as easy as possible later.
If you and your spouse are trying to cut out fast food and takeout, try to plan and prep simple mealsa week ahead so when the times comes, you stick to your plan. This could also mean helping to make sure his/her gym clothes are clean, or watching the kids so he/she’s free to get out and go. If you get the chance, invite your spouse to be active with you. I love working out with my husband; in fact, we often work out together before we head to dinner on date nights. It’s just something we both enjoy, so why not make a date out of it?
Be sure to watch out for my next point, though…
Do not be their only motivation
When trying to get your spouse to begin a workout routine, they may struggle to find the intrinsic motivation (motivation that comes from within) they need in order to make being active and healthy a habit and eventually a lifestyle. In the beginning, their only motivation may be just the fact that you want them to (or have been nagging them to) be healthy and make some lifestyle changes. And that’s pretty much what you should expect in the first stages. Hey, at least they care enough to do it for you. But be careful not to let that be their only motivation.
I’ll be completely honest here, when I started working out and eating healthy, my only motivation was to be attractive to my husband who had been trying to get me to make working out part of my routine. Is that something I still want today? Well, sure. But I’ve found so many other forms of motivation along the way! Some of those include: getting a bit of “me-time” in the mornings, growing stronger, feeling better, gaining so much confidence, and just knowing that my health is in-check.
Although your spouse might be a lot more motivated to be active if they have a buddy, make sure they also feel confident (and motivated) enough to workout on their own time, when they have it. Encourage them to find their own motivation for working out. A concerned spouse can nag as much as they want, but a person won’t be motivated to be healthy unless they find their own reasons that are strong enough to stick to.
Remind them that being active doesn’t require a gym membership.
This was my excuse for so many months. I always believed that I would be 100x more motivated to work out once a got a gym membership. That’s what I told myself and my husband. And then I got a gym membership and I told myself and my husband that it was too much of a hassle to pack up our son to go to an overcrowded hot gym.
Since finding my own motivation, I freaking love going to the gym. But even when the gym isn’t an option, there are still so many ways to be active. Take a peek at these bodyweight workouts for instance. Or why not also get the kids involved in a little early morning cardio? If you don’t have a sidewalk, many parks have paved pathways for biking and running. Sometimes a gym membership, as much as it is helpful and awesome, can also be an excuse to not be active on days when you’re stuck at home.
Do what is best for your relationship
There may be times when you feel as though you’re talking to a wall when it comes to convincing your spouse to be healthy. If you’ve asked them to put down the Krispy Kreme’s once, you’ve asked them 1000 times. Like I said before, a concerned spouse can nag as much as they want, but a person won’t be motivated to be healthy unless they find their own reasons that are strong enough to stick to. Plain as that. Try to feel out how your spouse is receiving your input. Are they becoming insecure? Resentful? Have they maybe even started lying to you? Although a person’s health is extremely important, the health of your relationship is more so. Always do your best to keep the doors of communication open and ask for feedback from your spouse on how you’re making them feel. Are they ok with you pushing them or do they really need you to just let it go for a while? Don’t be afraid to just ask where they’re at!