You want to eat healthier and improve your fitness, but your partner doesn’t. How the heck do you navigate that without putting too much strain on your relationship?
Does this scenario sound familiar? You finish up your workout for the day, you’re at home chopping up some veggies and prepping to cook a healthy dinner, and you’re feeling super pumped about the awesome changes you’re making to your lifestyle. Then, your partner walks in and tells you they want pizza for dinner.
It can get tricky when you’re trying to get healthy, but your partner isn’t on the same page, especially if you live together. We spend so much time with our partners, and their diet and exercise habits can have a big effect on ours. When our partners are indulging in pizza and cakes and cookies, it can be really challenging to choose more nutrient-dense foods.
So, how can you stay on track with your nutrition and fitness goals and navigate a healthy relationship? It starts with communication, boundaries, and compromise.
Obviously getting your partner on board with your healthy habits will have huge advantages, the biggest one being that you automatically have an accountability buddy at home. But your partner doesn’t necessarily have to join you in order for you to be successful.
The first thing you can do is have an honest conversation about your health and fitness goals. It’s important to share why those goals are so important to you. Let them know what your plan is and talk about where they fit in your journey. Invite your partner to join you, but don’t expect them to do so. Even if you think they would benefit from joining you, your partner may not be ready to change their habits. Pushing them into something they really don’t want to do can create tension in your relationship. Acknowledge that this is their choice and accept that this is ok. Just because they’re not joining you doesn’t mean they can’t still be supportive.
Now that you’ve expressed your goals with your partner, you’ve opened up communication lines and you can start to work together when creating your grocery lists. What are foods they want? What are foods you want? Try to find a few healthy foods on your meal plan that you both want. Stay focused on developing your healthy habits, and you never know. Your new habits might start to rub off on your partner, especially as you start to see some awesome progress. And on that note, share your wins with your partner. Be sure to highlight how their support is helping you see progress towards your goals.
Establishing healthy boundaries can also help you stick to your plan. Designate a certain area of the house, maybe a certain drawer or area of the pantry, where your partner can stash things that you’re trying to avoid. If cookies and chips are out of sight and hard to reach, you’ll be less tempted to eat them. Remember that YOU are in control of your behaviors. You cannot always control your surroundings. If you decide to indulge in your partner’s food, you cannot blame them! You must own your own behaviors.
It can also be helpful to discuss expectations around grocery shopping and cooking. Will you each be cooking your own meals? Will your partner have the same meal as you when you’re eating together? Challenge your partner to work with you to find a healthy recipe that they might feel excited about. Continue to try new recipes and you might find that your partner actually enjoys some of these healthier meals with you.
Find new ways to enjoy your time together. A lot of couples spend time going out to dinner, ordering food in together, or watching TV with snacks. Try finding some other activities you can do together that doesn’t involve food, like going for a bike ride, working on a puzzle, or doing some home improvement projects.
Stay consistent with your plan. Remember that you and your partner both have an effect on each other. Just like you can be affected by their unhealthy habits, it can also go the other way and you can have a positive impact on them.
Changing your nutrition and fitness habits can be challenging enough on your own and trying to navigate all of these changes with a partner to consider can add an extra level. Make sure you’re communicating clearly, setting healthy boundaries, and working together.
Good luck to those of you out there making some positive changes and if you need help, please reach out!