By Lisa Rhea
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I want to encourage you to give yourself and your partner the gift of fitness.
It could be one of the best gifts you ever give them. It could even save their lives. Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and so many other potentially deadly and debilitating conditions can be prevented or alleviated by exercise and proper diet.
I’m not talking about exchanging their gift for a gym membership, and please don’t put a bow on a treadmill or wrap up a box of SlimFast for Sunday. Get them something nice, then go on to to give the one you love the gift of wellness with this list of dos and don’ts.
DO: Make sure your partner feels loved.
Nothing will encourage body and food issues faster than insecurity. Fat shaming and/or negative comments will not help your significant other feel motivated to do anything other than eat more and think you’re a jerk. Knowing they have your unconditional love is the best starting ground.
DO NOT: Assume your partner knows their current health status.
Ask your partner when they had their last physical. Preventative check-ups are the first step in any health and wellness plan. Knowing your numbers – cholesterol, blood pressure, bone density, etc. – is essential for knowing what you need to work on. Are you aware of your own numbers? Has your partner had a check-up lately? Find out.
DO: Talk about health, not appearances.
Broaching the topic of fitness is not easy. Your significant other has probably made comments acknowledging their own poor habits or voiced unhappiness with their appearance. Approach the subject of fitness in terms of health, not appearance. Of course none of us will complain if our partner gets even more attractive, but being active and eating well is crucial for long term health. And that’s what matters.
A medical condition or poor test results is an easy way to discuss making changes for the better. But what if your significant other isn’t showing negative signs yet or refuses to see a doctor? Consider broaching the topic as something you’d like for the family – to promote health and wellness. Or ask for their help in keeping with your own fitness goals. Which brings me to my next point…
DO: Make changes together.
Don’t expect your partner to change if you’re not willing to change as well. You can’t be eating burgers and fries while your partner adheres to a low fat diet to lower their cholesterol. If you care about their health, be supportive in your eating. If you want them to be more active, you need to do the same. Plan activities you can do together. Cook at home more and avoid going out to eat. Make dishes that support your goals. Keep trigger foods and temptations out of the house.
DO NOT: Attempt to sabotage their goals.
This may sound crazy, but subconsciously, many times one partner gets jealous of the time the other spends training or making healthy foods or simply the attention and dedication the endeavor receives. They’ll say they want their significant other to lose weight, yet offer to order pizza instead of grilling chicken. They will get frustrated that their spouse is going to the Y instead of cleaning the house. Don’t be that person. If you truly care about your partners wellness, you are going to have to make some sacrifices so they can include fitness in their life.
Do: Get active together.
Maybe he’s a runner and you like to bike, so why not go hike together instead of either? Make exercise and active living something you regularly do together. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, don’t sit inside watching college ball and drop a hint that the treadmill looks lonely. Instead, get your partner to go do something fun with you. Maybe you workout at another time during the day, but your spouse may not have the same option. A second workout won’t hurt you and could be the push your partner needs.
DO: Set goals together.
Sign up for a 5k together. Start a monthly push-up challenge. Have a competition to see who can get more steps in for the day (loser does dishes.) Find a way to make it a joint effort and motivate each other. Be willing to get out of your comfort zone to support your partner.
DO NOT: Get frustrated with set-backs.
Bad habits are just that – habits. Don’t expect your partner to change overnight. They will need your encouragement and support, even when they fall off the wagon. Be patient. Come up with new ideas when old ones fail. The most important thing you can do is to continue on your own healthy path even when your partner has setbacks.
This Valentine’s Day, get your partner’s heart racing, literally. Do something fun and active Sunday and start on a healthier life together.