Despite being a personal trainer, someone fitness obsessed was never on my list of must-haves when dating. I was perfectly happy being the “healthy” one in the relationship so long as the person I was with supported my lifestyle and was willing to join me for activities like cooking healthy meals and taking walks.
When my now husband Nicholas found out I played tennis on our first date, he booked a ball machine and tennis court for our second date. He saw my competitive side come out and I was happy to see that he was having fun with the activity despite not having picked up a racquet in years. While he once took spin classes a few times a week, he admittedly met me during his "off season."
Now that we’ve been together for years, I’ve noticed his health improve remarkably and he often makes comments about what a positive influence I’ve been on him in terms of his health and overall activity level.
The truth is, I know I was lucky. While my spouse was receptive to making healthy lifestyle changes, that’s not always the case. Being the person in a relationship who is setting and tackling health goals can be difficult, especially if your significant other isn’t supportive or on board with your lifestyle.
I’ve learned quite a few things from being the “healthy” one in the relationship. Here are five simple things I do every day that encourage my spouse to jump on board with my healthy lifestyle.
I do the grocery shopping
Luckily for my husband, I actually enjoy grocery shopping. I’ve learned that when it comes to healthy eating, convenience is key. So when I order tasty, healthy foods that he likes (he requests hard boiled eggs, cottage cheese and baked chicken), he eats them throughout the day. He's also said that my healthy snacking has rubbed off. He sees me eating healthy, so instead of grabbing a bag of chips on the go, he’ll grab popcorn or a beef jerky stick for protein. By organizing our groceries, putting nutritious foods front and center and following my own healthy diet, I’ve influenced him to eat healthier without saying a word!
I announce my workouts
Just as you would tell your partner if you were running to the store or going to watch a movie, make it a habit to announce your workouts. I have noticed that when I announce that I’m going to do a workout at home, go to the gym or play tennis, it puts it on his radar, too. It’s a healthy habit that he hears about daily. I make announcements in advance, which gives him time to get ready. I say things like, “I’m heading down to the gym in 30 minutes.” Since we’ve moved in together, he’ll sometimes tag along when I make my announcement and even goes to the gym in our apartment building without me.
I suggest healthy delivery restaurants
When people think of ordering takeout, they usually think of indulging in something unhealthy like pizza or Chinese food. But when I think of delivery food, I think of gourmet healthy food that I don’t have to cook and tastes great. Most of the times when we order delivery, it’s from one of my go-to healthy restaurants that has tasty options that my husband will love, too. Even if we order a burger and sweet potato fries, I know it’s grass-fed beef or includes tons of veggies on the burger.
I leave healthy treats on his desk
I like to leave little things on my husbands desk to make his day a bit easier and show that I am thinking about him — but it doubles as an opportunity to help him make healthy choices. I’ll put a cup of water on his desk before he sits down to work or a healthy snack next to his briefcase before he leaves on a work trip. I’ll even make him a green juice and put it on his desk with a pretty gold straw to make it look more enticing. If I make healthy foods, like egg muffins or protein bars, I’ll bring him over a sample in his office. All of these small gestures add up throughout the day and encourage him to make healthier choices without feeling "pushy."
I suggest active dates that play into his interests
When we were talking about our honeymoon plans, my two requests (besides a beach or pool!) were some sort of workout classes, or at least a nice gym, and healthy food options. Some days we were the only two people in the class so it turned out to be a private training session, which we enjoyed! At home, before dinner and drinks we’ll play tennis or put on our sneakers and walk to a casual dinner near our apartment. When we travel, I look for ways we can ride a bike or walk into town for coffee or shopping instead of taking an Uber or driving. It makes the activity feel more like an adventure, too, and who doesn’t love being out in nature and exploring a new city?
I don’t treat him like a client
Anyone who has ever been asked to do adopt a new habit knows that preachy or bossy direction — or unsolicited advice — rarely goes over well. While I’ve been coaching people on how to get healthier and more active for years, I try to save my recommendations for those who ask for help. If you’re the healthier one in your relationship this is a good thing to keep in mind. Everyone moves at their own pace and it may take your spouse longer to find the motivation to eat healthier or exercise — and that’s OK! Just seeing you make healthy choices (and the positive changes that come from them) is enough to slowly nudge them to join in. It sounds corny, but leading by example really does make a difference!