Advice For Getting My Partner Healthy

Kyle P

Level 6 Valued Member
Hi, everyone. To start, I want say again that I absolutely love this site and it’s abundance of resources. Thank you in an advance for sharing your knowledge, past, present and future.

Any tips for helping my girlfriend to fall in love with training the way I have, with the goal of just overall better health and quality of life? She hates exercise.

I’m big on back story for giving or receiving advice, so sorry for the dissertation to follow:

Full disclosure, I’m not a beast. Lots of you are beasts. My God. It’s incredible. But I love strength training and good health and in my mid forties, I look and feel much younger because of it. My girlfriend is 13 years younger than me and I want her to get the same benefits. Currently she does very little for health. We are both a bit overweight, but not too bad. We eat pretty healthy (whole foods) most of the time but still eat junk (pizza, fried food, etc) 1-3 times per week. We love to drink! Vodka, gin, whiskey, (very occasionally) beer.

I’m telling you all this because we love our lifestyle and don’t feel a need to change those aspects. I feel that I am able to enjoy these indulgences and still feel generally great because I exercise properly (IMO) and regularly. My current programming (any thoughts are appreciated):

M/W/F: GTG pushups (roughly 100/day). Swings with a 40kg KB, 10 sets of 10.
T/Th: GTG push ups. Snatches with a 32kg KB, 5 sets each arm of 10/8/8/6/6.

I feel good after sessions and almost always recovered the next day. If not, I do less or skip a day (rarely).

I know I need some steady cardio but hate jogging with all my heart, no pun intended. Probably going to start doing some moderate intensity heavy bag work starting next week.

Just wanted to let you know goals and current state. Thank you again for everything, Strongfirst community!! You rule.
 

Timmer C

Level 5 Valued Member
In a non-COVID19 world, it’s possible to get someone hooked up on activity that they do primarily for pleasure but that have physical benefits. Kayaking, bicycling, long walks, hiking through parks, swimming, roller blading, etc. Wanting to do fun things together doesn’t make one a nag, whereas trying to coax a partner to exercise can make one into a nag. Walking or bicycling can become a way to enjoy time together while going to retrieve a pizza or other indulgence,
 

wespom9

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
The best thing you can do is model behaviours without pushing her to be different, or even expecting her to be different. The more you push, the more you will get push back. Expecting someone to have an epiphany and do a complete 180 on their exercise habits is futile.

My wife for the most part despises physical activity for it's own sake. We walk together quite a bit, sometimes hit a tennis ball back and forth, but she is relatively sedentary. She will presumably never feel the same way I do about physical activity. That doesn't mean we can't do fun things, but I don't expect her to all of a sudden try to increase her 5RM in the squat.

Behaviour change theory would say that your wife is "pre-contemplative"; meaning she is not even thinking about changing her habits. There are many tactics this theory says may help. But that's only if she is open to that. Do some research so you have an idea the language that may be appropriate. BUT - don't think it's magic. Sometimes people need to reach their proverbial tipping point before they are ready and willing to change a habit. If or when that happens, be nothing but supportive.
 

Maine-ah KB

Level 7 Valued Member
do something with her. the only time I've convinced girlfriends to workout with me is when we just go on hikes together. I would suggest against trying to force training on her (ive discovered its a good way to things thrown at you..)
 

Kyle P

Level 6 Valued Member
Thanks for the thoughts. Definitely don’t want to force anything. I just want her to set herself up for good health down the road. Good points, though. Walks, hikes, etc. Things together. Guess I want her to jump into loving kettlebell snatches, haha
 

Molson

Level 4 Valued Member
@Kyle P thanks for starting this topic.

My wife also was never interested in sports or activities other than walking. Somehow after a few years, as she got some illnesses she just started to look for ways to start feeling better and less tired, etc. it’s a process and everyone needs to get trough his own. I’ve bought her a small Kbell to have a try. She is starting to like it, although Covid-19 put that on hold.

It took also a decade to realize that biking is the most convenient way of commuting in our case.

Looking at your partner’s age, many people only realize in their mid 30s or later that health and well-being is not a given and one needs to work to maintain it.

What you could to is to try to understand what is behind her dislike for exercise. This might start to unlock it. Is it more a social think, more of her acceptance of her body, disliking sweaty effort etc.
 

Oscar

Level 6 Valued Member
Im in the same boat as you, my wife is fortunately healthy, but doesn't do any activity at all. It's a pity because she suffers of back pain, and many times struggles to carry out 5 kg daughter. This could be easily solved dedicating 5 minutes a day, or 30 minutes a week. I wonder if she'll ever return to exercise.

Nice program by the way! Mine is not that different, I'm doing Q&D 3 times per week and GTG push ups every day.
 

Kyle P

Level 6 Valued Member
@Kyle P thanks for starting this topic.

My wife also was never interested in sports or activities other than walking. Somehow after a few years, as she got some illnesses she just started to look for ways to start feeling better and less tired, etc. it’s a process and everyone needs to get trough his own. I’ve bought her a small Kbell to have a try. She is starting to like it, although Covid-19 put that on hold.

It took also a decade to realize that biking is the most convenient way of commuting in our case.

Looking at your partner’s age, many people only realize in their mid 30s or later that health and well-being is not a given and one needs to work to maintain it.

What you could to is to try to understand what is behind her dislike for exercise. This might start to unlock it. Is it more a social think, more of her acceptance of her body, disliking sweaty effort etc.
For sure think that understanding the psychology behind the dislike is key. And yes, I think more biking is a great approach!
 

william bad butt

Level 6 Valued Member
I've commented on this before... For years, I've tried to get my wife interested in barbells and kbells. She occasionally (at most once per week, maybe less) swings her 8kg bell and does presses. I bought her this bell and she has been using this bell forever, probably since before Strongfirst even existed. I've tried to suggest that she try the 12 kg bell but she has no interest.

My wife is very healthy. We walk daily. She is a hiking machine, she could probably leave me in the dust. And she does to Planet Fitness 2-3 days (or did, before social distancing) per week and does essentially a bodybuilder split routine with machines and dumb bells. She told me she read some article, years ago, that's how she got her program.

So many years ago I gave up and quit bugging her. She is never going to do a barbell lift and she will never do a kbell snatch, and that is OK. She does her thing and I do mine. But honestly, I've always found it weird...

But last year I took a different approach. I quit trying to push my system (dogma) on her. Instead I asked her if I could join her at Planet Fitness 1 day per week. She taught me her system. So I've incorporated her program (something I would have never done on my own) into mine. And honestly, I've been able to incorporate it so it is assisting with my health/strength goals. It's been really great spending a couple extra hours with her and I think we both get something out of it (from a fitness standpoint). I've caught her doing some new movements she has seen me do, lol.

You cannot change somebody else, especially your significant other. It wont ever work. You can only change yourself.
 

crazycanuck

Level 8 Valued Member
@Kyle P thanks for starting this topic.

My wife also was never interested in sports or activities other than walking. Somehow after a few years, as she got some illnesses she just started to look for ways to start feeling better and less tired, etc. it’s a process and everyone needs to get trough his own.


You cannot change somebody else, especially your significant other. It wont ever work. You can only change yourself.
I think both these statements are a lot of the crux of this topic. My husband is in his early 50's, and 15 years ago was diagnosed with sarcoidosis (autoimmune type illness affecting lungs, joints, etc). His main symptoms are fatiguing easily in general, decreased endurance for bursts of activity eg: shoveling snow, and pain/swelling that rotates through various joints. We have walked and done hikes/camped together but his tolerance for much outside his factory job has really gone downhill...he wouldn't be one to exercise as a hobby like I do, for him dog walking on occasion is about it, and to start weights would be out.

I learned long ago that nagging him to exercise would be pretty fruitless, and would just be a wedge in our relationship..I'm his wife and not his coach/teacher, unless he invited me to that role first I think.

In cases of chronic illness, poor health/needing to make a change in health habits, when someone feels that the effort needed to be expended > benefit obtained (the benefits which are vague sorta-out-there and not tangible in their mind) that change is highly unlikely to happen. I work as a nurse and have seen people stare death in the face, survive, still be re-admitted in the next year with their second heart attack or get their leg amputated from diabetes they chose not to control All the harping on them in the world did not change that, but they don't need a "I told you so" either. I know it is hard with spouses/girlfriends/boyfriends, etc because we love them, and it comes with what we perceive to be good intention and enthusiasm and duty on our part but may not be taken that way by our loved one. Of course we care about the person, want to see them live long/healthy lives, but in the end, change that is meaningful and sticks needs to come from inside the person with thier own motives.

Maybe for all of us in this particular situation, what we really want deep down is a common connection with them, but in some cases might need to be in other more mutually liked ways and acceptance on our part in the end of it all that they are them, and we are us.
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

Level 6 Valued Member
Ugh, topic near to my heart. Fully agree that there's nothing you can do other than support anything she does want to do.

I've had to watch my wife hit rock bottom repeatedly with her back pain over the years. Pain gets bad, resolutions are made, things improve, pain is forgotten and old habits set in... it is a horrible cycle to watch, and there seems to be little I can do or say to break it. I just keep hoping.

My wife does love to play volleyball with me. Best thing I've learned to do is shut my pie hole regarding any frustration I might have about our level of play, and try to make sure it remains an enjoyable experience for her.
 

Molson

Level 4 Valued Member
I think both these statements are a lot of the crux of this topic. My husband is in his early 50's, and 15 years ago was diagnosed with sarcoidosis (autoimmune type illness affecting lungs, joints, etc). His main symptoms are fatiguing easily in general, decreased endurance for bursts of activity eg: shoveling snow, and pain/swelling that rotates through various joints. We have walked and done hikes/camped together but his tolerance for much outside his factory job has really gone downhill...he wouldn't be one to exercise as a hobby like I do, for him dog walking on occasion is about it, and to start weights would be out.

I learned long ago that nagging him to exercise would be pretty fruitless, and would just be a wedge in our relationship..I'm his wife and not his coach/teacher, unless he invited me to that role first I think.

In cases of chronic illness, poor health/needing to make a change in health habits, when someone feels that the effort needed to be expended > benefit obtained (the benefits which are vague sorta-out-there and not tangible in their mind) that change is highly unlikely to happen. I work as a nurse and have seen people stare death in the face, survive, still be re-admitted in the next year with their second heart attack or get their leg amputated from diabetes they chose not to control All the harping on them in the world did not change that, but they don't need a "I told you so" either. I know it is hard with spouses/girlfriends/boyfriends, etc because we love them, and it comes with what we perceive to be good intention and enthusiasm and duty on our part but may not be taken that way by our loved one. Of course we care about the person, want to see them live long/healthy lives, but in the end, change that is meaningful and sticks needs to come from inside the person with thier own motives.

Maybe for all of us in this particular situation, what we really want deep down is a common connection with them, but in some cases might need to be in other more mutually liked ways and acceptance on our part in the end of it all that they are them, and we are us.
So well said!
 

Starlord

Level 2 Valued Member
I think walking and hiking in some of the beautiful, natural places near you will probably be your best bet. Have some lunch packed, find a good spot and just appreciate nature.
 
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