I get this all the time:
“I’m so ready for a change, but how do I get my significant other involved in my health and wellness goals?”
It might not be that your partner is antagonistic or negative about your wellness journey — instead, maybe they just aren’t interested in making the same changes in their own life. And that might be fine for now, but if you’re serious about making big strides in your fitness and nutrition, this change will likely impact nearly every corner of your life; from the way you eat to your after-work activities to your social life and beyond. According to Eliza Kingsford, licensed psychotherapist and CEO of Empowered Wellness, “if not approached carefully with open lines of communication, a big change like this [health and fitness journeys] can cause a major disconnect for a pair”.
So what happens when your significant other isn’t quite on board with your new CrossFit kick? Or they can’t completely understand why your fridge is suddenly packed with protein shakes and raw vegetables? What happens when one half of a couple jumps aboard the fitness train but the other half stays on the platform?
Here are a few tips in navigating these waters; and how to help your spouse meet you where you are for the sake of health and fitness:
Communicate your needs
Yes. You are going to have to talk to each other. Let’s be honest, many of us have tried countless things to improve our nutrition and/or see body changes. Many of those things are quick fixes that yield short term results and a resurgence of old habits. Share with your significant other that you are taking an honest long term approach and fill them in on your short and long term goals, your why for wanting to improve your health. Let in and let them know that you would love for them to be a part of it. Think of tangible, specific ways (helping cook, going to the gym together, verbally supporting you when you’re out with friends and you choose not to drink) they can support you and communicate those to them.
Develop a shared list
Your significant other may not be ready for changing their eating habits right away. Acknowledge that this is their choice and that is A-OK. But, with being aware of your goals, you can keep communication lines open and start to come up with a shared grocery list. What are foods they want, what are foods that you want, and a challenge: what are a few healthy foods that you both are willing to try incorporating into meals that week?
Find one thing
Your significant other may not be ready to dive head first into meal prep or CrossFit, but there are plenty of other ways to work together towards a healthy lifestyle. Find one wellness-promoting activity that you and your spouse can both get excited about! Make weekend hikes a habit. Maybe replace one night of TV a week with cooking a meal together. Heck, buy matching roller blades and hit the streets in your neighborhood! Compromise is key.
Give it time
From personal experience, I know what a disaster it can be when you try to force someone onto a journey they aren’t ready for. It rarely, if ever, goes well. If your S/O isn’t catching your newfound excitement, it’s perfectly fine. Stay consistent with your journey, avoid the temptation to apologize for your new lifestyle and continue to encourage your partner when there is space to do so.
Make it fun
Planning date nights that incorporate healthy activities might sound lame at first, but it’s a great way to care for yourself and each other. Find a local cooking class with a healthy menu, plan an active date that includes tennis, dancing, create your own walking tour and explore a part of your city you’ve never been to, or, if you’re the hosting type, invite people over for a meal and fun mocktails! The possibilities are endless — and this is a great way to remind your loved one that a healthy lifestyle is more than barbells and endless tupperware containers.
Here at CrossFit Renew, we love doing whatever we can to care for the health of the whole person — including your relationship health! These are just a few places to start when trying to navigate how to include your significant other in your journey towards health and fitness — don’t be afraid to do what’s right for you and your relationship. You got this!