How To Manage Health & Fitness as a Couple

1. What can we do as a couple to create a healthier lifestyle?

You owe it not only to yourself but to your partner to be in good health. Being healthy and energetic makes a huge difference in your state of mind and overall happiness. Are both of you committed to a healthy lifestyle? Do you both want to maintain the proper weight, eat the right foods, exercise, stay current with check-ups, and avoid risky behaviors or overindulging in alcohol or recreational drugs? How can you support each other in these choices?

2. What physical activities could we do together to improve our fitness?

A healthy lifestyle must include some physical activity, whether it’s walking, running, biking, going to the gym, or playing a sport. Doing these activities together not only improves your health and well-being, but also strengthens the bonds of your intimacy and connection. Talk about the activities you would enjoying doing together as a couple and how you are going to commit to making this part of your lives.

3. What specifically could we change about our eating habits or diet that would be healthier?

It’s easy to say, “Let’s eat a healthier diet,” but what does that mean specifically? Will you stop buying junk food, soda, or sweets? Will you increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables in your diet? Will you reduce portion sizes or cut back on late-night snacking? Maybe it means you go grocery shopping together and plan your meals in advance. Discuss your individual ideas for a healthy diet and how you can find common ground.

4. How should we handle it, if our health and fitness goals are different?

For some couples, the differences in attitude about health and fitness can be as difficult to navigate as religious differences or differing sexual needs. If one of you holds fitness as a primary value while the other is more casual about it, this can be the source of resentment or conflict. One partner might take up a sport that the other doesn’t enjoy. Or if one of you has a more extreme diet preference, like being a raw vegan for example, then the other can feel frustrated by the limited food choices you can enjoy as a couple. You both know that health and fitness are important, so create a goal of meeting in the middle during certain times of the week. Discuss how you feel about your differing goals and what you need from each other to feel comfortable.

5. How do you want me to treat you, when you feel sick or have an illness?

When we’re in poor health or have an illness, we need our partner’s support and love more than usual. For some, that love and support means being physically present, offering acts of extra kindness and care, and speaking words of comfort. For others, it might mean being left alone and remaining quiet during recuperation. Find out from your spouse what he or she needs and wants from you during times of illness or feeling poorly.

6. Do I have any bad health habits that really bother you? If so, what are they?

It can be uncomfortable to say to your partner, “I think you need to lose some weight,” or “You really drink more than I feel comfortable with.” Whether your partner’s bad health habit directly impacts you or not, you want him or her to have the self-respect to care for themselves and be healthy and happy for you. When asking each other this question, you might hear something that is hurtful or embarrassing. Be gentle and loving as you share your answers and open-minded when you hear them.

7. How can I ask you to work on a bad health habit I observe in you?

This issue might come up again in the future if you observe your partner making a health choice that isn’t ideal or that really bothers you. You both need the freedom to discuss this without it turning into an argument or without embarrassing or judging each other. If your partner is frustrated or concerned about one of your habits, how would you like him or her to approach you and voice the concern?

8. How are we serving as healthy role models for our children and extended family and friends?

Every choice you make and habit you practice is a message to those around you about who you are and what you value. What kind of couple do you want to be for those who are paying close attention to your choices and actions? What do you want to teach your children through your behaviors and how do you want your friends and family to perceive you when it relates to health and physical well-being?

9. If you could improve one thing related to your health and fitness, what would it be?

Hopefully you’ve created goals as a couple around good health and fitness, but you likely also have personal goals. There are some health habits that are keystone habits—habits that trigger you to perform other healthy behaviors. For example, exercise might trigger you to cut out unhealthy foods from your diet. What might be a keystone habit for you?

10. How can I help and support you to achieve that one thing?

As we work toward our individual goals around health and fitness, we need the support and accountability our partner can provide us. Find out specifically how you can offer this support as your loved one pursues a keystone health or fitness habit. Are you willing to provide the support requested, and if not, what are you willing to do to help him or her reach their goal?

Follow-up: Are there any behavior adjustments you’d like to request from your partner related to your health and fitness? What specific action steps will you both take to improve your health and fitness as a couple and as individuals? Write these down and determine how and when you will initiate these changes or actions.

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