healthy lifestyle changes
Exercise is more fun when you do it together (photo source: iStock)

Getting regular exercise, eating right, and taking time to relax are all extremely important aspects of personal care. However, it can feel nearly impossible to successfully help your partner make healthy lifestyle changes.

You want your partner to make healthier choices because you love them. But the wrong choice of words may make them feel just the opposite. Asking your partner to work on their fitness or their mental health requires a delicate tone so that they aren’t left feeling insecure or unwanted.

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So how can you encourage your partner to take care of their mind and body without coming off as parental or pushy? It’s a tricky balance, but it can be done!

Here are 7 tips for creating a healthy relationship – inside and out.

1. Do it together

Everything is better when you do it together. Isn’t that the truth? When you’re with your favorite person somehow something as mundane as grocery shopping can seem like a little adventure. The same goes for working out!

One study found that friendly competition between exercise partners can increase the amount of time you spend working out.

Another study looked a the benefit of social support on weight loss and maintenance using standard behavioral treatment (SBT). One group of participants consisted of people trying to lose weight on their own. The other group was asked to do it in conjunction with 3 friends or family members.

Seventy-six percent of the solos finished the program. However, only 24% maintained their weight loss in full from months 4 to 10 of the study. On the other hand, 95% of individuals with social support completed treatment. Moreover, 66% maintained their weight loss in full.

This research highlights how motivational it can be to work out with another person. And you can be that person for your spouse.

2. Make healthy lifestyle changes fun

They say if you can make learning fun, you’re on the right track. Taking classes can be a great way to encourage your partner to make healthier choices.

One great way you can do this is by taking a class together. What is your spouse interested in? Water sports? Kickboxing? Spin? Perhaps group sports may be more to his liking/ There are myriad hiking, birding, swimming, and salsa groups that you could join. You might even consider taking a healthy cooking class together. Figure out what appeals to him, then do it together. What could be better than improving your health as a couple?

Doing novel and exciting activities together has been shown to contribute to healthy relationships. According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, couples reported greater increases in relationship quality from before to after participating together in a novel and arousing vs. a more mundane and boring task. When these results were compared to a no-activity control, they found the effect was due to the novel-arousing task. The authors concluded that the “results bear on general issues of boredom and excitement in relationships”.

Participating in new and exciting activities that are also healthy can be a bonding experience that brings you closer to your partner while also improving your physical health.

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3. Be considerate and respectful

Can you imagine how you would feel if your spouse told you they were no longer attracted to you? No doubt it would make you feel hurt and maybe even ugly. This is the last impression you want to give your spouse when bringing up health and fitness topics!

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Be considerate with your words. Whether you’re talking to a man or a woman, the subject of someone else’s weight should be handled with the utmost care.

4. Let them know the benefits of healthy lifestyle changes

Healthy habits truly contribute to a healthy relationship. Letting your partner know about the great benefits of eating right, drinking enough water, and getting in some daily exercise may motivate them to start making healthier decisions.

Your partner likely knows that exercise can contribute to weight loss and a firmer body. But do they know how it benefits their mental health? Research in The Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reveals that aerobic exercises such as walking or dancing have been proven to reduce anxiety and depression.

That same study goes on to say that getting 30-minutes of exercise each day can contribute has many benefits including the following:

  • an increased interest in sex
  • mood elevation
  • increased stamina and energy
  • increased mental alertness
  • improved cardiovascular fitness
  • reduction in cholesterol.

5. Take control in the kitchen

If you’re the main chef in the house then you’re in a great position to start bringing new, nutritious foods into the house.

Start slow. Introduce healthy dinners into your weekly meal rotation and see which one your partner likes.

Have a Meatless Monday, do healthy takes on comfort foods like cauliflower mac and cheese, baked “fried” chicken, or zucchini brownies.

A healthy relationship is about balance. Your partner is more likely to succeed with their health goals when they don’t feel restricted, so don’t be afraid to go out to a restaurant or have a bottle of wine every once and a while.

6. Don’t force healthy lifestyle changes 

Does your partner take the time to relax? Or is the stress of their job causing them to be miserable? Has your spouse gained weight? Are they making poor diet decisions that are negatively affecting their health?

These are all frustrating issues to deal with, but you aren’t going to get anywhere with your partner by nagging them.

Taking control of your health is a personal decision and lasting change can only happen when you’re truly ready to change. If you begin to fixate on changing your partner before they are ready to commit to their health it will start to cause problems in your relationship.

7. Be reasonable

Are your expectations too high? Your spouse isn’t automatically going to fall in love with kale just because it’s good for them. Nor will they always love the same workouts that you do. And that’s okay! Getting healthy is all about finding something that motivates us on a personal level.

Having tunnel vision about your spouse’s health will do more harm than good. Set reasonable expectations about your partner’s diet and exercise routine and remain balanced.

Celebrate small wins instead of criticizing missteps. The more complimentary you are about your partner’s progress, the more motivated they will be to continue making healthy habits.

The bottom line when it comes to healthy lifestyle changes and healthy relationships

To have a healthy relationship, you must develop healthy habits. It isn’t easy to get your partner to make healthy lifestyle changes, especially when it comes to diet and exercise. But don’t fret! By following these 7 tips, you’ll be able to encourage your partner to make better decisions and enjoy a happy relationship.

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