You’ve made the quantum leap to be healthy and fit. Your partner, on the other hand, wants little or nothing to do with it — and is on the couch, eating pizza and ice cream.
The sizes of your clothes are shrinking, you have more confidence and energy than ever, and your significant other hasn’t moved. Not one inch — not anywhere near your home or in any attempt to follow suit and join your health quest.
This is a very real problem facing couples today. The partner who is becoming fit and feeling better experiences a sometimes painful struggle over how to raise the issue with the sloucher without hurting feelings.
“Being too hard on the person creates discomfort, and most people do everything possible to avoid discomfort.”
California’s Leigh Weinraub, founder of Mind in Motion, a “movement” created “to unlock the potential within each of us to love deeper, carry one another forward, and become our own greatest champions,” told LifeZette: “No one wants to be nagged or told what they should be doing.”
She said the best way to create positive change “is to lead with your own behavior and allow your partner to make his or her own decisions.”
As someone who has owned a health and wellness company for over 20 years, I can attest to this approach. A partner never listens to his or her significant other. While one person intently follows advice from a counselor, personal trainer and/or nutritionist, the advice that’s shared within the home — no matter how subtly — tends to fall on deaf ears.
Dr. Tony Ferretti is a licensed psychologist in Melbourne Beach, Florida, who specializes in helping clients achieve work-life balance and manage interpersonal problems and conflicts. He encourages patients to open the dialogue with phrases such as, “I find it attractive if you would take better care of yourself.” Heartfelt comments such as, “I find it beneficial for us to have similar goals,” can also take the edge off the issue, he advised. Ferretti is recognized nationally for his work and has appeared on “The Dr. Phil Show.” He also hosts a weekly radio show and has released his second book, “The Love Fight: How Achievers & Connectors Can Build a Marriage That Lasts.”
Weinraub also suggested approaching this topic in small increments. “Being too lofty or too hard on the person creates discomfort, and most people do everything possible to avoid discomfort. Shaming the person will fail miserably.”
To motivate a partner without causing that person to feel ashamed or “less than,” Ferretti suggested the couple exercise together. But “avoid words or phrases like ‘should, must, need to, have to,'” he said. Instead, he advised, people should use positive words and expressions like “can, will, want to, choose to.”
He said that conveying feelings such as, “I teach others how to treat me by how I treat myself” helps others to follow suit.
In concert with Ferretti’s approach, Weinraub built her private practice by using an innovative “walk and talk” therapy. She’s appeared on reality TV shows and has worked at Miraval Resort and Spa in Arizona.
In her approach, counseling sessions occur during an outside walk. “This is an amazing way to discuss the topic with a partner. It takes off the pressure. It kicks the burden to the curb instead of to the couch — it brings people toward each other rather than away.”
She added that “expressing concern toward one another and what people can do together begins the growth of positive change in the relationship.” Also: “If you really love the person and see the problem, express that love. Tell your partner you’re there to support anything he or she needs.”
Weinraub added, “When we offer our heart and hand without criticism or judgment and with love and sensitivity, we help create constructive and positive communication.”
While doing the working of reaching personal goals and trying to help a partner toward healthy changes, stop for a minute to consider how you would feel if the tables were turned. What words and conversations would help motivate you? And what conversations would make you feel worse? After all, if you love each other, it’s likely you’re aware of the best ways to discuss genuine concerns, as well as the hot buttons in the relationship.
Give careful thought to the approach — and use love and compassion rather than frustration and anger.
Based in Boynton Beach, Florida, Christine King is founder and CEO of Your Best Fit, a health and wellness company that provides fitness, nutrition, and design and management services for individuals, private clubs, luxury communities, and corporations.