You’ve got your healthy living routine down. You exercise three to five times a week and have a healthy relationship with food. So what happens when your significant other is not as fitness-focused? Can cohabitation work with someone who doesn’t have the healthy habits that you do? With all the indifferences you will face once you move in with your partner, nobody wants healthy living to be a point of argument.
If your health habits are total opposite ends of the spectrum, there is still hope. Fitness and nutrition experts Jil Larsen, Brooke Taylor and Sophia Ruan Gushée weigh in on some pointers in establishing a healthy, happy home. Try these six healthy cohabitation tricks.
Keep an open dialogue
Planting the seed of health is as easy as just important as sticking to your routine. Rather than forcing your beliefs on someone, casually bringing up your own fitness goals is a good way to get someone thinking about their own. Start the conversation by asking for their opinion on your diet and exercise routine.
Find common ground
Once you’ve moved in with your significant other, you’ll be sharing many experiences. Why not make fitness a part of that experience? You can take cooking lessons together and start incorporating healthy habits, while still having fun. Larsen, a certified health coach, says to “find an exercise you both like to do. Perhaps, instead of going to the gym, suggest a bike ride or a class that is held outdoors. Communicate about what foods you enjoy and then try to find a healthy version to cook and eat. Exploring new things and being open minded together can put your relationship on a whole other level.”
Set some ground rules
If you’re faced with a difficult partner that doesn’t want to engage in healthy activities with you, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your own fitness goals. Taylor, a fitness expert, has seen plenty of couples, one of whom is motivated and the other who doesn’t want to be bothered. While she still encourages trying to motivate your partner using baby steps over time, she doesn’t want you to give up on your own health in the meantime.
“More often than not, I see couples who face challenges due to different lifestyle choices. You are really motivated, make it a point to go to the gym, eat healthy and set goals that you strive to achieve on a daily basis whereas your significant other cannot be bothered,” she says.
“When you are trying to motivate yourself to do something out of the norm and you don’t have that support from your significant other or spouse then it can be challenging. You may ask yourself, “What can I do to change this?” My best advice is stay true to your goals and your schedule.”
Be a great example
You’re not going to get your partner to become healthier by osmosis, but seeing your positive health results may encourage them to make some changes. By standing your ground and keeping up with your own healthy habits, your partner will witness your happiness, your stamina and your ability to handle stressful situations better. Your partner will see both physical and mental health benefits that are hard to resist, even for the laziest of people.
Let’s face it—shaming or nagging is never a way to get your point across. Positive encouragement, on the other hand, will always have a happy ending. When your partner starts to make healthy changes, and they will, make sure to let them know you’re proud of them. Don’t belittle them if they miss a workout, but praise them when they attend one. Don’t cry over a pizza night, but make sure to extend gratitude for a healthy meal made by your partner.
Pick your battles
Gushée, an author, thinks that picking your battles is the key to a happy partnership. “There are so many ways we can be healthier. Assess what’s super important, like no smoking at home, and where you can find common ground, like no shoes in the home,” she says. She recommends that “if you’re cohabitating with people you eat with, then slowly introduce healthy meals and snacks into their lives. Perhaps you decide to prepare a meal once a week, like Saturday dinner. Over time, they’ll start to enjoy eating healthier because it can be more tasty and they’ll feel better.” These pointers are just as good for romantic partners as they are for regular roommates. Share tasty meals with the people you live with, and watch everyone in the home get healthier.