Are you worried about your loved one’s sluggish, lethargic behaviour? Are you scared of imposing your thoughts without hurting his or her feelings? Discussing weight gain, poor dietary choices, sedentary lifestyle with a loved one may seem complicated, but there are ways to subtly introduce them to a healthier lifestyle without coming off as rude, condescending, and hurtful.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the six different ways to help your loved one become healthier without jeopardising or ruining your relationship:
1. Don’t force anything – pay attention to how they like to move
Bluntly stating, “eating that won’t help you lose weight” or “you should probably go outside and exercise – you’ve been sitting a lot” won’t drive your partner to move, and instead, it may have an opposite effect.
One source confirms this notion, “However well-intended, these comments will just push people away and could even discourage them from working toward their goals.”
Rather than passively implying that your loved one needs to lose weight, you can pay attention to how they like to move.
Do they prefer hikes? Competitive sports? Individual sports like rock climbing, surfing, snowboarding? Partner-related activities like boxing?
Heather Hausenblas confirms how important it is to pay attention to your loved one’s personality, “Extroverts, for instance, tend to like more high-energy and group-based exercise than introverts”.
Once you’ve analysed how your partner enjoys exercising, you can politely ask if they’d like to join you for a mountainous stroll or a drop-in football game. This way you can get them to move without destroying their self-confidence.
2. Challenge myths and negative beliefs
Your partner may believe that purchasing a gym pass is the only way to get fit, but there are multiple other ways to do so like sports, hikes, online Youtube videos with viable instructors, a hip-hop dance class, and much more!
Another concept they may believe in is that when you train, you have to go until you taste blood in your mouth, your legs and arms shake, and your body falls into an intense state of soreness for three to four days. When someone exercises after weeks of a sedentary lifestyle, it is best to start slow and increase the pace, weights, and intensity as they continue to go.
If you are super fit and your partner is not, it is better to help them slowly build stamina and strength rather than forcing them to do your typical workouts; they may feel worse about their fitness level than they did before attempting to exercise, which may not help to motivate them to continue training.
3. Create a competitive atmosphere
If your partner despises the idea of exercising but has a competitive spirit, you may want to think of fun ways to make working out and eating healthy a game or a bet!
For example, you could create a goal where the first one to eat fast food has to pay the other in some form, or you could also make an exercise and diet chart with different levels, and the winner gets a reward. Perhaps, your chart could differ from your partner's, but each will focus on goals related to overall wellness.
4. Listen to your loved one's feelings
When your partner shares that they want to lose weight, start exercising, and change their diet, you may automatically want to lay down a plan that details which workouts they can do, and which foods they can eat.
However, Dr Julie Davelman reveals that this type of response may ignite a defensive reaction, so, instead, she recommends saying something empathetic like, “‘I see how upset you are that you were not able to stick with your diet’”.
5. Avoid giving advice
It is so tempting to dish out advice when your loved one expresses a desire to lose weight, but one expert claims that it is better to “Learn to sit with this helplessness. Better yet, express the helplessness to your loved one.”
Watching your partner’s health deteriorate in front of your eye’s can be tough, but it is vital to remember they control how they live, and not you.
If you feel totally useless, focus on yourself - increase your workouts and improve your diet, and your results may inspire your partner to try exercising more.
6. Be a team!
It is much easier to achieve goals when you work towards results with someone else. Plus, it can help your loved one to not feel alone in their journey to a healthier lifestyle. If they see you working hard for results, they may want to do the same!
You can also organise more active date nights – like drop-in basketball followed by a healthy, but tasty (yes, this combination exists) meal!
When you are encouraging your loved one to exercise more and consume healthier meals, it is essential to avoid being too pushy. Offering endless advice, confirming their weight gain, and surprising them with a date to the gym may not help them to feel any better about their current situation.
If you feel like you’ve run out of options, you can create a fun atmosphere that may involve a friendly competition, pay attention to what motivates them to move, or set an example – there are many ways to help your loved one become healthier!