At a restaurant, you order a salad. He gets a bacon cheeseburger.
On Saturday morning, you go to yoga class. He sleeps in.
When you’re traveling, you pull up a streaming workout from Acacia TV on your tablet. He watches SportsCenter.
You say tomato, he says ketchup. You say potato, he says French Fry.
He’s a great partner, dad, cook, storyteller, back-rubber. But he doesn’t take very good care of himself. And it’s crazy-making. Both because you want the best for him and because he doesn’t seem to care about his own wellbeing.
I certainly know your pain. My husband was one of my very first ever yoga students—while we were dating. Once we were hitched, he never went back. (He also did karaoke—one of my favorite activities, ever—the night we met. And not one time since.)
What’s a health-minded gal to do? What can you do to get your significant other moving more and eating better?
Here’s what probably won’t help: Nagging, criticizing, yelling or poking fun. Yes, you may shame him into doing something, but when is the last time you had good and lasting results from bullying someone?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
To get your “SO” moving towards better health, here are seven things to try instead.
- Be the change. The most important way you teach others is through modeling. So quit trying to talk him in to doing anything. Instead, exhibit the behavior you’d love to see him try. Is there some change you’ve been meaning to make that you haven’t gotten around to yet? Maybe, cooking healthier meals at home, or fitting in another workout or two into your week? Those are the things for you to focus on—not what he isn’t doing.
- Be transparent. You don’t want to rub your efforts in his face, but be open about sharing about them like how they make you feel, why you like doing them, the results you’re seeing. This isn’t about trumping yourself up or complaining. It’s about inviting him into your experience, so he has a window to your motivations and the benefits you’re enjoying. “Hey, I fit in to the dress!”
- Reach out a hand. With the lightest tone you can muster, ask him to join you. Wanna go on a walk with me? He gets to say no, of course. But some people just like to be asked. Let him know his presence is welcome. And keep asking.
- Find a shared activity. Look for something you both enjoy, and then do that. When we were first married, my husband may have given up on yoga class, but we went to tennis camp together for summer vacation. It’s an activity we both enjoy and care about. (We don’t always enjoy playing against each other—but we can always go to a facility and rent our separate ball machines.) You don’t need to do everything together, but when you find something healthful that you can do as a unit, you deepen your relationship as you improve your health.
- Ask how you can help. You may think you know exactly what he needs to do, but odds are low that he’s going to want to follow your advice. Instead, tell him you love him and ask him what you can do to help. Don’t even offer suggestions unless he truly can’t think of anything.
- Have patience. There’s a time limit to this, but you may need a lot more patience waiting for him to change than you’d ever expect.
- Repeat. When you run out of options and feel your irritation starting to rise, go back to the beginning of this list. Remember, keeping yourself in a place of feeling good is the best way to encourage someone to do the same for themselves.
Have you found a way to get your husband or significant other on a healthier track? I’d love to hear about what’s worked for you. Start a conversation with me on Twitter.
And if you’d like to try a streaming workout that features a married couple exercising together that’s sufficiently challenging for even the macho-est of men, check out Exhale Core Fusion workouts, featuring husband-and-wife team, Elisabeth Half-Papp and Fred Devito.