When you exercise regularly and eat healthy and are working hard to improve your fitness, it can be frustrating to have a partner or other family members that don’t do the same. Usually, our first instinct is to do whatever we can to get them on board, right? But there are good ways to do that and some not so good ways.
First of all, understand that it has to be your partner’s choice and decision. No matter what, you can’t force someone else’s behavior change but you can encourage and support it. Just be patient. I’ve worked in the fitness industry for almost 25 years and have been married for almost 23 and my husband just adopted a regular exercise routine in the last two years. Talk about patience!!
- The number 1 thing you can do is be an example. Continue your regular exercise routine and healthy eating habits. If your healthier lifestyle has you sleeping better, mention that. If you’re missing less work, mention it. If your back pain is gone, mention it. Hopefully, your spouse or partner notices these things on their own but if not, its ok to talk about the positive impact fitness has had on you. Don’t brag or be condescending, though, because that will backfire! See #2 below!
- Making snarky or sarcastic comments (even if they come across funny) doesn’t send a good message. Embarrassment, shame or nagging usually has the opposite effect and your partner will dig his heels in and go in the opposite direction. And lets be honest, do you really want to embarrass your significant other? Even if this tactic works in the short term, your partner will be doing it begrudgingly so it won’t last.
- Send the right message. Make sure your partner knows that you want them to exercise and eat well because its good for them and will improve and enhance their life and their family’s life. If you talk about setting future goals together such as being available for your kids and grandkids, that can be very motivating. Having personal goals is an important step but setting goals together as a couple or a family helps too.
- Don’t make choices for them. It’s not your place to tell them they should lose 20 pounds or they should stop eating McDonald’s. Leave that to the doctors! “Should” statements are very judgy! Your partners first priority might be to work on their flexibility so they can tie their shoes. Don’t assume that you know what they should or want to improve.
- Remember that your way is not the only way. Maybe you love Crossfit but your spouse wants to go running. Or you go to Pilates and your partner wants to learn martial arts. Let them figure out what works for them. My husband is a meticulous food tracker and I don’t track food at all. We each have our own way of doing things and it works for each of us. Be supportive even if its not something you like to do.
- Stock the kitchen with healthy foods you both like. This goes along with tip number 5 about not expecting your partner to do exactly what you do. Instead of trying to force them to eat what you eat, find out what healthier options they might be open to even if it’s something you don’t like.
- Lastly, always stay positive. Always. Recognize the smallest of steps even if your partner only makes 1 positive choice out of 15 negative choices. Don’t attack your partner if they skip a workout or decide to have a handful of cookies or an order of cheesy fries. Encourage the positive, ignore the negative.
Be patient. Be positive. Be supportive. They’ll get there eventually!
Working out at home allows me a lot of flexibility with my schedule but can sometimes be limiting since I only have a certain amount of equipment. I get creative with things around the house, such as a step or fireplace hearth. This is a simple but very effective workout. It left we wiped out with my legs feeling like Jell-O!
Make sure you have a sturdy step and that you plant your feet solidly on the step when you’re working out.
1 minute of walking step-ups.
1 minute of running step-ups.
30 reps of alternating lunges.
30 reps of angled push-ups.
Another 1 minute of running step-ups.
30 reps of side squats. Switch sides halfway through.
30 reps of tricep dips.
Another 1 minute of running step-ups.
Another 1 minute of walking step-ups.
I repeat this circuit 2-3 times depending on how much time I have and how I feel.
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The month of March is National Nutrition Month so here are a few resources to help you if you’re looking for healthy nutrition information.
Eatright.org is the website of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics who sponsor National Nutrition Month. This website has a number of resources including a search feature to find a qualified nutrition expert near you.
The T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies is an excellent resource for whole food, plant based eating. The website includes lots of articles, recipes and a guide to help you know exactly what types of foods fit into a plant based diet.
Simple Green Smoothies is a great book for getting started with healthy smoothies as a meal replacement or addition to your healthy eating habits. It even includes recipes geared towards kids!
Forks Over Knives is another great resource for plant based diets. The website has lots of recipes and a meal planner feature.
Rouxbe.com offers on-line cooking courses such as Culinary Rx and Plant-Based Cooking. These courses can be taken anywhere at anytime and several courses are self-paced.
Let me know if you have any other great nutrition resources.
A recent study determined 3 major reasons women don’t exercise…
- Concerns about appearance. Women don’t want to look foolish or look like they don’t know what they’re doing.
- Concerns about ability. Many women feel like they have to be “in shape” to work out in a gym. (“I join the gym AFTER I lose some weight.”)
- Concerns about being judged. This one encompasses the previous two concerns. Most women fear judgement of their appearance, their ability and worst of all…being judged for putting themselves first.
In my opinion, these are all terrible but this last one really breaks my heart. Women are seriously judged unfavorably for TAKING CARE of themselves!! Shaming of any kind, fit or fat is unacceptable. I’m not totally sure how to change things and I know I can’t do it alone but something needs to change.
In my experience, people who judge others or make negative comments about others lifestyle choices are really trying to make themselves feel better about their own choices. For example, if I’m “selfish” for taking personal time for exercise then their lack of exercise makes them seem “normal”.
THIS MAKES NO SENSE TO ME AT ALL.
I’m not going to spout a bunch of motivational sayings or “girl power” crap because that’s not my style. These are real, valid fears and one thing I CAN do is help find ways to overcome them and help you reach your health goals.
- Select a workout location that makes you comfortable. If you want to join a gym, check out several before making a decision. Gyms have a unique atmosphere and subculture that can be motivating or intimidating, depending on what you’re in to. Check out the Body Positive Fitness Alliance to find facilities and trainers that promote an inclusive atmosphere. If you don’t want to join a gym or it’s not an option that’s ok. But don’t let that keep you from exercising. Your living room or back yard is an excellent place to start your fitness journey.
- If you’re not sure what to do or don’t want to look clueless at the gym, consider hiring a personal trainer or fitness coach. I know this is an additional expense but its well worth it if it makes you more comfortable and more likely to exercise. Some trainers are available for individual sessions (rather than buying a pack of sessions) to help get you started. Fitness trainers are not exclusive to elite athletes or the very rich. We work with everyone! A good trainer will help you learn and work at your pace to make sure you’re comfortable and confident. Just like with gyms, shop around until you find a trainer you feel good with.
- I know this may be easier said than done, but try to remember that most people are not fit their entire lives. Anybody in your gym who is very fit didn’t start out that way and if they pay you any attention at all, they’re most likely thinking “I’ve been there. Good for you!”. Try to focus on the task at hand and complete YOUR workout to the best of your ability. If you focus on how exercise makes you feel and the progress you’re making, everything else just becomes background noise.
- If you’re family or friends are not on board with supporting your choices, have a frank conversation with them. Explain WHY you’re making these choices and explain how their comments or actions affect you. They may not realize that their off-hand comments have a negative impact. The more people in your circle that you can educate about why your choices are important to you, the better you’ll feel.
- Remind yourself that your healthy habits make you healthier so you are better able to care for your kids, spouse, parents, or whoever. Taking one hour for yourself so you can have the energy and confidence to juggle the other 23 hours of the day seems like a pretty good trade-off to me.
- Lastly, we live in a social media world but that doesn’t mean that everything you do has to be public. If you’re concerned about other moms judging you for taking time for yourself, well, why do they need to know? You can keep your habits private if you choose. I don’t mean you should keep it a secret but random people on Facebook don’t need to know everything!
I’ll continue to promote the importance of health and wellness and the impact it has on every aspect your life. And I’ll continue to combat the feelings of fear with my clients any way I can. Please comment or message me if you have additional ideas for combating this trend.