One of the things my fiancé and I are navigating is our difference of opinion when it comes to health and the importance of healthy eating while trying to meet our goals. I am an experienced clean eater, studying nutrition and trying all the different dietary styles, gym routines, recipes, fitness classes, you name it. My fiancé is incredibly motivated in many ways, but when it comes to food, as long as it tastes good, he’ll eat it. He doesn’t mind if his meal is from McDonalds or homemade, and is visiting the gym regularly for the first time in his life…. And doing very well at it, might I add!
We are not on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. He enjoys a healthy salad and I always want the large popcorn at the movies, but finding a compromise about our daily nutrition and exercise continues to be a point of….growth, shall we say?
I will get upset when he’s making excuses or throwing nutritional caution to the wind, and he will shut down when I push too much with my attempts to revamp our health habits.
What to do?
This is an ongoing journey for us and I think there are a lot of other people who experience this with their partners (or friends, family, etc). I’m sharing what we’re working on to better find some common ground.
Make Your Intentions Very Clear
Making my intentions clear as well as expressing my passion has helped my fiancé to understand where I am coming from. He loves me and wants to support me and my goals, and the only way he can do that is if I clearly communicate what I am trying to do. I want to be healthier. I want him to be healthy. I want to be more mindful of how much we’re drinking, how often we eat out, and if we are making excuses at the gym. I want to cook healthy, versatile, new food and for him openly try it.
When he sees how these small changes make a big difference in my general happiness (as well as his body!), he is more willing to support my effort to keep health alive in the relationship.
Allow for a Two-Way Conversation
Asking someone to change their entire way of life in one day is not an option. He has been very understanding and cooperative, but also not afraid to tell me when he needs a break. There are some days where just says, “No, I want to have _____ today.”
Sometimes I have a hard time not taking his choices personally, but I think that is the key. We both have to learn that one of us preferring a certain way of eating or living is not a dig at the preference of the other.
I am not perfect at this AT ALL, but it is something I’m working on.
Stick to Your Own Page
You cannot force a grown adult to do something he doesn’t want to do. It’s that simple. The only thing I can do as a partner is to lead by example in hopes that some of my healthy habits will rub off on him.
Take for example our daily gym routine: At first, it was slow-going. But after a couple months of my continually leaving to go work out, his thrice-weekly trip has become an almost every day thing. We walk there and back and we use the time to chat about what we’re listening to on our podcasts, what we did that day, what we learned, or how we’re getting stronger.
Even though he might not be hopping on the health train as hard as me, he is doing 200% more than he was doing a year ago. And that is something to be impressed with.
Don’t Critique or Offer Unsolicited Advice
This one is really hard for me, I will admit. I tend to be a treasure trove of unsolicited advice. I have so many fun facts about food and health stored up in my brain, coming from different books, podcasts or articles I’m reading, and I love to talk about it. In this particular situation though, I know it can feel critical and/or accusatory.
I am practicing positive reinforcement and encouragement when it comes to his choices. He has his own personal health goals and I celebrate every little step. As for my choices, I simply do my own thing. If he makes the decision to order the burger and fries, I will (usually) stick to my guns and order what makes me feel healthiest.
It is difficult not to gush about all the health info I’m learning, but the truth is he already knows what is and isn’t helping him meet his health goals. It isn’t my job to badger him.
Again, this one is difficult for me, but it’s something I am trying to stay mindful of as we figure out our combined method of healthier living.
Allow for Indulgences
This is a big one! Someone who is not accustomed to eating tons of fresh veggies cannot switch to a veg-heavy diet overnight! I have to remember this because although I am quite happy adding a couple servings of fresh veggies to my breakfast, this is a foreign concept to him and at first he did not enjoy it.
What we do is add the veggies (my favorite part) but he can have it with cheese and toast, and/or sugar in his coffee. We’ll slowly reduce some of the added indulgences as we both get used to eating more cleanly. I don’t think plunging into the deep end is the way to go here.
Getting healthier can be such an amazing experience, but if I force my partner into a lifestyle he hates, he’s more likely to quit. Baby steps.
There are so many things my amazing man is good at. He is incredibly motivated, endlessly understanding, impeccably kind, and is a better self-starter than I could ever hope to be. So how is it that I can still get upset when he decides to order chicken wings instead of a chicken salad?
This is something a lot of couples struggle with I think…Focusing on the small things instead of the big. He goes to the gym with me almost every day. He happily eats any healthy meal or new recipe I try out in the kitchen.
Is he going to come do sprints with me or prefer a Buddha Bowl over a Big Mac? Probably not, but the fact that he is coming to the gym at all and happily trying all these new foods, THAT is something to be grateful for.
(This post was read and approved by my loving guy.)