You resolved to eat healthy, start exercising, and stay positive. But it took you years to begin making lasting changes. Here's how you can inspire your partner to join you.
You've spent years trying to finally work on your new year resolutions. You decide this year is the year to get healthy, exercise more, eat less junk, include more greens in the diet, think positive, whine less, and meditate. While these goals are likely to have remained untouched in many of your planners, finally you reach a point of motivation that urges you to act on them or you have a health crisis or emotional breakdown that leaves you with no choice.
Within months, you are eating healthier, exercising more often, feeling lighter and more energetic, your mind is more immune to the stress of modern living and you begin to feel a shift internally and a change in your external appearance. This feels good. And soon it feels close to great.
With the newfound glow, you shift to the next agenda: get your partner to join you in this new, healthy lifestyle. Let's break it down for you before you get disappointed: You cannot "get" your partner to change his/her lifestyle. You cannot "get" them to do anything, unless they make a conscious decision to give it a try.
You know meditation has made you calmer; you know skipping soda and caffeine has made an unbelievable difference to how your body feels. You know affirmations, journaling, and gratitude do bring about positive surprises and things are happening on their own while you had to struggle for them before. But none of your excited sharing, revelation, and preaching will reach through to your partner if you make it a compulsion or approach it with the "you should be doing it right now with me" attitude.
Here are a few tips to "inspire" them to join you.
The fact that you finally stepped on the boat to healthy living shouldn't make you judge them or put them down. When you are tempted to call them "lazy," think about the days you totally wanted to get out and go for a jog, but you just didn't gather enough motivation to do it.
A good way to connect with them is to talk about how you felt before and after, but without making it preachy. They know they will feel better after just a few weeks of exercising, but it's getting to do it that is hard. So make a connection by identifying with your own resistance and how it wasn't easy.
Admitting that you don't jump out of bed to greet the day with a green smoothie and power-packed cardio workout will make the transition more real for them. You could say, "I feel lighter and more flexible now that I have started yoga, but there are days I just don't feel like getting up early."
Or, 'At work, it is so hard to say no to gluten. It would be so much easier if I could just order a cheese sandwich like everyone else." This will make them feel more compassionate and understand that the struggle is as real as it is for them. This is a great motivator to make them join you and make it a common journey.
Keep away from statements like "You better take care of yourself or...." Well, if your partner has been warned by a doc that they need immediate change in lifestyle to survive, then it's right that you are upset and want them to healthy starting now. But otherwise, making this as something they are doing for themselves will make them stick to it. Of course, there have been dads who made drastic changes when they got to know that they want to be around and strong enough for their kids. But use your discretion when playing this card.
Speaking from a place of concern and genuine care will get through their resistance better than being offensive or patronizing. Letting them know that you are worried for their health or their stress level rather than saying "you've put on 20 pounds or you can't stop thinking of work" will make them realize your concern is real and comes from wanting a better life for the both of you and your family.
Instead of nagging them to eat healthily or giving them dirty looks when they spend the whole weekend on the couch, start interweaving healthier choices in your day together. Stock up on healthy snacks, cook together or make more time for home meals, and ask your partner to join you for walks or jogs as a way to spend time with them and catch up with each other's lives. Before you know it, they are doing what you want them to know but without making it seem like an effort. Once they know how it feels and has the momentum going, they'll make it part of their personal routine.
While this might seem like an excuse, do be aware of their mental state and emotional health. Do they show any signs of burnout, exhaustion, or fatigue? Do they show symptoms of depression or anxiety? If they do, then you pushing them to get healthier is just additional pressure on their already overwhelmed brain.
Just like how your room tends to collect clutter when you have been feeling blah and one day you wake up and just clear it all away and make your space spotless, the same happens to paying attention to wellness. Be sensitive to underlying issues and be compassionate about it. It isn't easy to workout when they feel the pressure of the world on their back.
A healthy lifestyle isn't just about sugar-free food and workouts. A sense of well-being includes feeling relaxed, being generous, having a positive vibe, making someone laugh, being kind, and growing continuously as a person. Whenever your partner is displaying any such positive traits, acknowledge it. The more you compliment their emotional wellbeing, mental stability, and the little changes they make, the easier will their physical changes be.
If you're in a position where your partner's lifestyle is impacting not just his medical condition and overall health, but also your mental peace and your and/or your family's future, you have the right to express your fears and concerns. However, keep blame and anger out of the equation.
Tell them that you love them, but you are not ready to be their caretaker just because they choose to not pay attention to their health. Express how sad and scared you feel at the possibility of not having them around and be objective about the facts given by the doctor or medical expert.
Here is a video on how you can make lifestyle changes without too much of a hassle.