Encouraging Your Spouse to Embrace Fitness

Holly had admitted before that she needed to lose a few pounds, and John was simply trying to help. Let’s face it. Encouraging your spouse to embrace health and fitness is a sensitive subject, and a wise person will tread carefully!

John & Holly

Honey, for Mother’s Day this year the kids and I bought you something you can really use!”  John said, as Holly held the odd-shaped gift with happy anticipation.

Their three young daughters giggled with excitement as Holly ripped the pink-flowered wrapping paper from the mysterious gift. “Daddy said you can use it everyday!” one of the girls cheered.

I’m sure I’ll love it!” Holly said with a smile. 

As Holly tore the last of the paper away, revealing its contents, John noticed a slight change in her expression. Her smile was somewhat modified by a subtle grimace, as she beheld her Mother’s Day gift… A Thighmaster.

Holly was crushed. John was puzzled. Holly had admitted before that she needed to lose a few pounds, and John was simply trying to help.

Fitness, Fun & Encouragement

Let’s face it. Encouraging your spouse to embrace health and fitness is a sensitive subject, and a wise person will tread carefully! 

We each bring different interests, dreams, desires, and motivations to our relationships. And often, we bring deep-seated emotions that are closely tied to our weight. Handled poorly, these differences can lead to disappointment, frustration, and resentment.

But handled well, these differences can add variety, which can actually serve as a springboard for a lifestyle of health and fitness that is fun and mutually encouraging.

5 Tips for Encouraging Your Spouse

After 20+ years of marriage and countless successes and failure, my wife and I offer these 5 effective tips for encouraging your spouse:

Lead by example – Inspire your spouse by staying active, eating healthfully, setting goals, and pursuing them yourself. Your own personal progress can be a tremendous encouragement to your spouse. But do so with much grace, being careful not to gloat. Let your attitude and actions speak rather than your words. 

Think “experiences” rather than “programs, plans, & diets” – This is huge, and applies to both eating and exercise. Programs, plans and diets can feel restrictive. But activities like ziplining, kayaking, and cycling the countryside are experiences that really make us come alive! We love to discover and explore active experiences that are new to us both! We have tremendous fun and make lasting memories together.

Ask yourself what it is that makes your spouse come alive – This is closely related to #2 above. A few years ago, my wife noticed that I came alive when talking about riding my bicycle. She encouraged me to ride and even purchased cycling gear for me. Her support of something I loved doing inspired me.

Step out of your comfort zone to encourage your spouse’s new passions - I’ve become quite passionate about cycling. My wife has graciously gone out of her own comfort zone to ride alongside me. She’s not as enthusiastic about cycling, but she enjoys the time getting exercise together.

Start at your spouse’s fitness level – Maybe you are a seasoned runner, but your spouse is a beginner. Do a beginner 5K training program with him and register for a fun, themed 5K such as the Color Run.

Give the gift of fun – Rather than a tie, socks, or thighmaster, give the gift of fun, fitness-related experiences. Groupon is a great place to find fitness related activities. One of my favorite birthday gifts was a Groupon for indoor rock climbing with my son!

Laughter erupted as John, Holly, and their three girls took turns clumsily squeezing the Thighmaster between their knees. Later that day, they found a Groupon for a local indoor trampoline gym and had the time of their lives!

Brian DeLay

Brian DeLay is an airline pilot living in the Midwest with his wife and three children. As an avid runner and cyclist he has completed numerous half-marathons, marathons, and cycling "century" rides, and serves as the race director for the Run for the Ridge 5K. His favorite activities are those he shares with his family. Visit Brian on Google+

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