The key basic contributors to healthy living are well understood; we all know that good health starts with fresh air and exercise, nutritious fruit and vegetables, and cutting out (or cutting down) on the things we know are bad for us.
Knowing what the ‘right’ choices are isn’t difficult, but it’s not always so easy in practice to make all the healthy lifestyle changes that you know you should.
Having the important people in your life onboard, especially your partner, can make all the difference in sticking to a plan or giving up.
If you’re part of a couple or family, it can be hard to make changes to your lifestyle that will affect the other people around you, especially where it changes the dynamic of your family life. For example, if you normally all eat together, and only one person wants to make a significant change to the family meal plans, it can cause friction.
Getting Your Partner Involved
Including your partner in the process and decision-making throughout any lifestyle changes is essential. It’s very reasonable to ask your partner to support you in becoming healthier. It’s also very understandable to want them to be healthier too – they’re precious to you, and you want them to stay fit and well.
Using positive language, explain why you want to make healthy lifestyle changes, and what it means to you – and for them. Be realistic about your expectations, and also be understanding if they have any concerns.
Education is key – you know why you want to make these changes, but does your partner? Do they know the benefits associated with a healthy diet, good levels of fitness, and low alcohol intake? Is there any way to appeal to them about the dangers of smoking, high-fat diets, and inactivity?
You can’t expect them to feel strongly about making significant changes unless they really understand why you want to make those changes and the benefits it will mean for both of your health.
Exchange Old Habits For New Ones
A big lifestyle change can almost seem like a time of mourning, particularly if you feel like you’re losing something important or enjoyable.
If there’s something in particular that you and your partner feel you’ll be missing out on, try to make small adjustments and swap out that thing or activity for a healthier version of itself. Remember that small steps in the right direction are always positive.
If your partner is worried that you’re going to miss out on things you enjoy together as a couple, it can be useful to take a little time together and work out precisely what their worries are. This can help you create ‘healthy swaps’ – working out the best ways to adjust your lifestyles so that you feel healthier and live longer, without feeling like you’re missing out on anything.
Maybe they’re worried about missing out on meals out, the answer could be as easy as swapping a high-calorie, low-nutrient meal for a healthier choice – even something as simple as asking for a salad instead of fries. Perhaps your evenings out as a couple tend to include a few alcoholic drinks, consider whether that could be gradually reduced or whether there are healthy alternatives to alcohol that could be introduced. If you or your partner are finding it difficult to cut back on alcohol, asking a doctor or health coach for advice could be useful.
Plan Healthy Activities For You And Your Partner
Whatever the activities you enjoy as a couple, consider whether any of them could be switched to a slightly healthier version – walking or cycling instead of driving, choosing an active holiday over a pool-side all-inclusive.
If exercise is a key part of your healthy living plan, talk about the kinds of exercise you’d like to do more of and see if you’d like to do it together. Or if there aren’t any you can share, whether there’s a way you can encourage each other to take exercise separately – you don’t have to enjoy all the same things!
Sharing Decision Making
If you’re trying to involve your partner in your healthy changes, having a rigid set of activity and meal plans to thrust at them is enough to make anyone stubborn. Talking is always key, and it’s essential to give people input and feel that their opinions are valued. People are more likely to be open to the plans they helped create than those that were forced on them.
Ultimately, you can’t force anyone else to change. You can provide education, encouragement, and you can set a good example, but you’re not responsible for anyone else’s choices, even if you feel they’re unwise.
It can feel much more difficult to make healthy choices for yourself when you are close to someone with a different set of priorities – there’s no easy answer to this. However, persevere. Do what feels right to you and what will give you – and your family – the best chance of a happy, healthy life. But be mindful that it will take your loved ones a little longer to appreciate these habits as you do.
Remember, some people aren’t good with change; it can seem frightening to them, and if you try and force it on them, they’ll likely dig their heels in at first. But, if a few months down the line, the healthy meals and nutritious snacks that caused so much friction at first suddenly seem to be more palatable to your recalcitrant partner, don’t be too surprised – you knew it was the right choice all along.
Just don’t say ‘I told you so.’ 🙂
How The Budwig Center Helps Your Family
We understand the importance of having the support of your family members when changing your diet and lifestyle to regain your health. At our clinic, when patients sign up for the all-inclusive programs, we allow one companion to eat lunches with them for free.
We encourage the companion to be present for the kitchen demonstrations as well as the group discussions. Since the program includes training as well as treatment, we want the family members to be involved and learn the same helpful information that the patient is learning.
Many companions have requested specific treatments or tests for themselves and noticed how beneficial this has been for them, convincing them even further that this approach will be helpful and useful for the patient, their loved one.
As an example, Brent And Michelle Gentry came to our clinic after Brent was diagnosed with testicular cancer. While at our clinic, Michelle decided to do one of our wellness programs.
Watch this touching video. Their experience is an inspiration to us all:
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