How to Help Your Partner Become Healthier

October 8, 2012 · 1 comment

in HEALTH, MISCELLANEOUS

Hey guys! How was your weekend? Mine was nice, but it went by waaay too fast. I managed to LOSE MY CAMERA yesterday (I think I left it on the bus), so unfortunately I won’t be able to show you the acorn squash-marinara dinner I made on Friday, pics from a friend’s baby shower on Saturday or the lip smackin’ good BBQ I had in Williamsburg yesterday. It’s really a bummer, but there’s nothing I can do about it, so until I am able to get a new one, I’ll just have to do the best I can with coming up with photos for the blog. Bear with me, k?

On Friday evening, Luke and I went on a quick 2-mile run and then I made acorn squash with marinara + spinach salad for dinner. It was a really cute presentation—I cut the squash in half, which looked like a little bowl, cooked it using Andrea Beaman’s squash cooking instructions and then poured marinara sauce inside. Luke kept saying what a “genius” idea it was, but I’m certain there’s a food blog out there that deserves the credit! After eating, I texted Liza: “If I ever need reminding of how far I’ve come with my eating habits, just remind me what I had for dinner tonight!” I was proud of myself for not falling into the it’s-the-end-of-the-week-I-just-want-to-treat-myself trap. I took the time to make a nice, healthy meal, and Luke enjoyed it just as much as I did!

I was happy that he so receptive and excited about the meal. Let me tell you, we both have come a long way with our health. I’ve  been a fit person my entire life, but eating well—especially over the weekend—has been a struggle. And of course, when you’re relaxing with your Honey…BooBooChild on  Friday night, it’s normal to want to unwind with takeout and a bottle of wine. But now, we try to put the focus on just spending time together, and we get more excited about that—and what TV show or movie we’re going to watch—than we do about food. Don’t get me wrong, we still enjoy pizza and takeout food together, but when we  have it, we don’t go crazy and turn it into an eating marathon. Sometimes when one of us is getting a little carried away, the other (usually  me, ha!) will say, “Do we really need an appetizer?” or “A medium pizza will be plenty; we don’t need to have leftovers.” or “We have pasta and broccoli here, let’s eat in tonight.” Sometimes all it takes is slowing down, discussing your options and taking a few extra minutes to see how you can make a better choice.

Sports and exercise didn’t play a huge role in Luke’s life growing up, so over the six and a half (!) years we’ve been together, it’s a habit I have so desperately wanted him to adopt. I had always pictured myself with a sporty kind of guy because that was what I was accustomed to for so long, but never in a million years did I dream that I’d meet a handsome, charismatic, easygoing, sweet, bright and ambitious (and ridiculously charming) Englishman! When we first started dating, it was easy for me to overlook his habits. I figured his infrequent trips to the gym would become more consistent the longer we dated, and because we were having so much fun going out in the city, enjoying new restaurants and having lazy pizza-movie Sunday afternoons together, I wasn’t exactly in the position to wag my finger.

But, I did. Flat out, I was a nag. And really, it wasn’t cool. Deep down, I knew that making lifestyle changes was something he’d have to do in his own time, and that no matter what I said, there was nothing I could do. So, after a few years, I slowly stopped being so vocal about what he was and wasn’t doing (it was hard!) and decided to turn the focus on myself. I started getting a grip on my emotional eating, cooking more and drinking less alcohol. When I started feeling better, looking better and prioritizing my schedule in a way that allowed me to be the happy, healthy, productive person I always wanted to be, Luke took note.

He slowly became more consistent with running and got into cycling, too. And when I moved in with him this summer, I started making him smoothies every morning before work. (When I don’t have the time or ingredients to make one at home, he sometimes picks one up in the neighborhood. He said he didn’t like this berry smoothie as much as mine, but I’m not so sure about that!) Breakfast is so important, and I noticed that when he made a good choice in the morning, it set him up to do it again later in the day. So, if there’s a way you can help support your partner eat a healthy breakfast every day, do it! Trust me, it’s worth getting up 15 extra minutes for.

Another thing we do is make our indulgences count. This allows us to weigh what is really worth it what is not. If we make late brunch plans with friends, then we usually  have a light breakfast (banana + a little PB or hard boiled eggs or a piece of PB toast), go for a run and have a light dinner at home. Luke enjoyed this Duck Hash + bacon brunch the other weekend at Miller’s Tavern and he ate his greens. It’s usually always easy for me to make a healthy choice at brunch because I like eggs so much; I got the Market Scramble.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. This might not seem like groundbreaking advice, but I guess the main takeaway here is to a.) Stop nagging. b.) Lead by example c.) Start small, ie. breakfast smoothies. Start thinking about what small changes you can make in your home. Maybe toss in a handful of spinach the next time your make pasta. Opt for whole wheat and be conscious of serving sizes. Or try pumping up lean ground beef or chicken with a extra spices, cheese or avocado. (If cheese helps your partner eat more lean meats and veggies—go for it!) And can you suggest going for a walk in a way that’s carefree and leisurely, not forceful? What snacks around the house can you get rid of? I used to always keep something sweet in the apartment, but I rarely do now. Sometimes Luke will say, “Man, it would be nice to have some chocolate with our tea,” but once we settle onto the couch together with our hot mugs, we soon forget about it and the initial craving passes. It’s true, you really don’t know what you are able to do without, and what changes you can make until you just decide to try it. You will surprise yourself! Mexican night at home doesn’t have to include chips and dip. (Who says?) Save that as a treat for when you go out and just focus on your meal. See? Small changes. You can do it.

And trust me, when you’re looking good and walking around with a pep in your step, it will be contagious—your partner will want to catch up with you! That’s one thing I really like about my relationship with Luke—it’s a constant game of cat and mouse. We’re always chasing each other, whether it’s with our health, or career and personal goals. And get this: He’s running the NYC Marathon in a month and I have yet to do one! The fact that he’s surpassing me on this makes me a little bit uncomfortable, but don’t worry Honey, I’ll catch up. ;)

I also want to say that I think it’s important to communicate why you want your partner to become healthier. Saying, “I’d really like you to help me set a good example for our kids and be around to watch them grow up.” is probably going to be more effective than saying, “Why can’t you make time to go to the gym?” or “Are you really going to eat all that?!”

**UPDATE: The marathon was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy.**

Tell me: Have you helped your partner (or friend or family member) become healthier? What have been your struggles and successes? Any tips to share? Do it below!

**Need help with your health and lifestyle goals? Want to lose weight without obsessing about every bite you put into your mouth? Contact me for a free consultation and let’s get started!

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