So I just got back from a week in Puerto Rico - what an amazing vacation! One of the best parts is that, even though diet was definitely "vacation diet," my wife and I worked out together every day! We have busy lives, so it isn't always easy for us to workout together, but it really is a joy when we get a chance to share something that we both love. Plus, since I'm a guy I have to up my game when my girl is the room, so I ended up getting a better workout than if I was alone. Guys, you know what I'm talking about!!
However, I realize that this wasn't always a love we both shared, and that in fact exercise and diet can be a point of contention in any relationship, or for that matter, in friendships. Especially in a marriage when you have budget to worry about, if one person insists on organic, cage free chicken, and the other is happy with ValueMart deal of the day meat, you have a problem. Also, the issue of free time and time together is a hot issue. We're so busy in the 21st century, many of us don't see our spouses and kids as much as we'd like to, and now we want to work out during our free time? It's touchy! I've had my share of conversations with my wife about how we spend our free time, and I always feel bad if I got my workout in, but she couldn't fit it in, for example. I always say treat your workouts like an "appointment" but still, for some spouses, that isn't easy to reconcile with.
So, in this article I don't presume to be a relationship counselor, but I hope to share a couple tips to help you get your spouse or family to eat healthy and exercise with you! That important person in your life can really become your ultimate accountability partner.
1) Commit to YOU First.
The first step is committing to your own health and fitness. Have a "why" and concrete goals, preferable not just "I want to lose 20 pounds." When I talk about goals, I mean something with an emotional attachment, or something that is a physical achievement, like completing a 5k, getting ready for a wedding in the summer, setting an example for your kids, etc. Pick your program, track your food intake, and share your why with you spouse, friends, and others!
2) Don't nag them, involve them!
Begging your spouse to do P90X you - if it didn't work 3 months ago, it probably won't work today. So instead, ask them to help YOU achieve your goals. Involve them emotionally, and physically. By emotionally, I mean share how it makes you feel, tell him/her how grateful you are to have the time to workout, say "thank you" for understanding. By physically, I mean have them help you set up, like get your glass of water, find the DVD's, turn on the fan, clear your workout space, kick you out of bed first thing in the morning. One of the worst things you can do in a relationship is just assume your spouse isn't interested in what you are doing, so you go into the silo and just do everything yourself without involving them. Deep down, though this person is resistant to doing the workouts, they love you and want to support you. And realistically, if he/she is helping you set up, they will probably eventually join in anyway!
This piece of advice pertains to all aspects of relationships, but can be specifically applied when it comes to food. If your spouse is really craving pizza and you've been good for a long time, it's really not the end of the world if you have pizza one night. Maybe you can go to a pizza place that has less greasy slices and toppings. Maybe by turning off your diet convictions and giving in one night, your spouse will be more likely to try your delicious homemade quinoa recipe the next night! Also, find healthy foods that he or she likes. My wife seems to have just discovered Greek yogurt, which is funny because I have been eating it for a long time now. But now for lunch she has greek yogurt with fruit and granola early, and then later in the afternoon, has her Shakeology and it's a perfect thing for her to eat on the go at work, and certainly beats some of things she was forced to eat before!
4) Start Slow
Walk the dog together after dinner. Do a program like 10 Minute Trainer which is physically demanding, but only takes 10 minutes of your time. If you do Insanity, ask them to jump in the warm-up with you. Have a contest, who can last longer doing high knees in the garage? (I've never done that...yeah ok I have). Make it fun, make it accessible!
5) Show you care!
Your motive for wanting your spouse to workout with you has to be genuine. Hopefully, it is because you care for them and want them to be the healthiest they can be, so the two of you can enjoy each other's company for as long as possible! If you read about how certain foods can literally take years off of your life, whether it is related to LDL's, cholesterol, diabetes, or whatever, don't you feel some kind of moral responsibility to share this with your spouse? When I first started reading about things like GMO's, organic food, food additives, etc. I didn't bombarb my wife all at once. It started just like "Hey, the grass fed beef is only $1 per pound more, let's get that for our burgers tonight." Or "Instead of Chinese food, let's go get sushi tonight." Now she is about as aware and educated as I am, and it feels great! The worst thing you can do is be overly righteous about your food choices. You are not a god, and in general, people hate being told what they are doing wrong and what they need to do to make their life better. When you legitimately care, it makes a big difference and is transparent in everything you do!!