Many struggle to merge a romantic relationship with their love of fitness. When you've committed your life to another person, it's natural to want them to be into the same things as you. And when they're not, conflict can sometimes arise. Perhaps you try to convince them. You bribe them to come try a class or go on a run or eat the overnight oats you made. Still, they want nothing to do with you and your little containers of cold, soggy oats.
Their rejection might have nothing to do with laziness or a lack of desire to be fit. It may be your approach. Let's break it down this way. Did you come out of the womb eating chia seeds and making bone broth? Was your workout routine perfect from the start? Was it always easier to go for the healthier option? Of course not. These things take time, experimentation, and sacrifice. So, if your SO is struggling, understand that these things do not happen overnight. Not like those delicious oats they won't eat . . .
How can you help? First and foremost, stop trying to be their personal trainer. Take it from me, I'm a trainer with a husband who does not approach exercise the way I do. And after a few years of butting heads, we realized it's better for us to go our own way, fitness speaking. And it's helped our relationship: no competition, no guilt trips, no hard feelings.
For me, being active fuels my daily routine. I found my happy place in group exercise and liked it so much I became an instructor. I am always looking for new classes and challenges to keep me sharp. Because I work out so much, my eating habits have had to change to provide the right kinds of fuel to get me through. It's not about a Pinterest-worthy lunch, it's about setting myself up for success in my workouts. If I eat right, I feel stronger.
On the other hand, my husband wants an efficient, no frills, and non-interactive exercise session that he can fit into his busy schedule that includes weekly overnight travel, two demanding (but adorable) children, and me, his hyperactive wife. When he eats, he cares more about enjoying the food than its protein count. On that last point, we do agree. But the rest? Not even close.
You love them for who they are, not how much they can bench press.
When I come home from yoga and demonstrate a new arm balance and he just shakes his head and says, "I thought yoga was about stretching," do I take that personally? No, I can't. I don't need his approval to enjoy my progress, and our relationship doesn't need him to be able to drop into a Flying Pigeon as a marker of our marital bliss. We can do different things. We can work out separately.
The message you are trying to send may be about health, but it may come across as judgment and rejection of who they are in their present form. You love them for who they are, not how much they can bench press — and it shouldn't be about changing how they look. We need to model an active, healthy lifestyle in a positive way so that it is an attractive goal and not an unattainable deterrent. We have to be willing to let others come to fitness at their pace, in their way, and on their terms. The more we push, the more they will pull away. We need to ask instead of tell, invite instead of order.
If your partner isn't ready to commit to a regular exercise schedule, there are still ways you can engage in healthy lifestyle choices together that don't involve sweating — like gardening, taking an after-dinner walk, or finding healthy and tasty new recipes to make together. There are constructive ways to encourage your partner without it turning into exer-nagging. Or worse, exer-bullying. In the end, everyone's fitness journey is personal. We need to start with respect and love so we can end with the same.
Product Credit: On him: Citizens of Humanity khaki chino, Vince white t-shirt, Vince navy bomber jacket / On her: Pari Desai knit top and skirt, Gabriela Artigas gold ring, 2bandits square shape ring