Tips For Guiding Your Partner Into A Healthier Lifestyle Without Being A Jerk

When we love someone, we want the best for them. We want them to stimulate their brain by reading challenging writers, travel to faraway countries to experience other cultures, be exposed to art that opens their mind and, so we have them around for a long time, we want them to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

But not everyone is cut out to live a healthy life. Some people will take a pint of ice cream over a salad every time. And working out? There are those who would rather pull their hair out, strand by strand, than ever step into a gym setting. Even if you sit these people down and list out all the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, it doesn't mean you're going to convince them to make the change and, honestly, no one should be forced to do anything they don't want to do.

However, if you've noticed your partner has been suffering physically or mentally, it might be time to say something to them in a calm and loving way. Suggesting to someone we love that working out and eating better doesn't mean we're making a comment about their weight. It means we've noticed that their health, in all aspects, can benefit from a healthier lifestyle. Here are our best tips to do that. 

Don't shame them

People adopt healthy lifestyles for different reasons. For some it's about losing weight or toning up, for others, they just feel better after a workout, then there are people who rely on living a healthy lifestyle because it's great for their mental health. Not everyone wants to pump their body full of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), so for them, the hormones released when they're taking care of their body, are essentially their SSRIs — or rather a natural attempt at treating mental illness.

But just because a healthy lifestyle works for you, doesn't mean it works for everyone or that every person you meet is even slightly interested — and your partner just might be one of those people. Because of this, the worst thing you can do is throw out statements like "you really need to go to the gym, eat better, and put your physical health first." Not only does no one want to hear that, but no one deserves to hear that. When we shame people we love, even if that's not our intention, we back them into a corner. This technique can be interpreted as manipulative and even abusive, so you can't be surprised if your partner lashes out and decides right then and there to avoid a healthier lifestyle out of spite.

Share with them how you're feeling

As much as you may want your partner to get involved in healthy lifestyle, it's important to remember it's about them and not about you. Yes, you're guiding them in making decisions that are likely better for their body and mind, but just because you get a boost of adrenaline from running 10 miles a day or you walk out of a yoga session feeling centered and at peace, that doesn't mean your partner will experience the same thing. Sharing your positive benefits is one thing, but assuming your partner will feel the same, physically and mentally, by engaging in the same activities is never a good idea. We all take away what we put into something, so telling your partner they will feel the same as you isn't right. 

Two people can be living healthy lifestyles, but it doesn't mean the results are going to be identical. So, while it's good to share the benefits you're experiencing, it's best to leave it open-ended for your partner to have their own experiences by not making promises you can't keep.

Focus on the daily impact of a healthier lifestyle

If your partner has a job that they deal with by popping Xanax like candy due to massive work-related stress or there's a drama with their extended family that's driving them to the brink of madness, then here's an opportunity to point out the benefits of a healthy lifestyle that aren't just about getting physically fit.

According to a study that was published in BMC Psychology, healthy lifestyle choices result in lower psychological distress, decreased use of alcohol, tobacco, and other mind-altering substances, and overall life satisfaction was far higher than those who didn't opt for living a healthy lifestyle. Granted, this doesn't mean that your partner needs to spend hours in the gym every day or start training for a marathon, but even little changes, like moving their body 30 to 40 minutes a day and cutting back on processed food in exchange for whole food can make a difference. It's a change they'll notice and likely thank you for helping them reach it. 

Support them and their journey

Not everyone is into the idea of living a healthy lifestyle and, honestly, that's their choice. Some people can't do without a couple of cans of Coke a day, a burger from McDonald's a few times a week, and the idea of moving their body and exercising unless it involves sprinting to the bar before last call — which is fine. Sure, there's plenty of research that supports the idea that living a long and healthy life is the result of living a healthy lifestyle, but it's still not a guarantee and we all know that.

So, this is your chance to be part of your partner's journey. Make little changes for them so they can see that while nothing trumps pizza, healthier food still tastes good and even makes you feel better. Do some sun salutations with them at home and basic yoga positions, as a way to ease them into a lifestyle they may be hesitant about. Also, people do better in these types of situations when they know they're not alone.

Give them space to indulge

When it comes to embracing a healthy lifestyle, you need to give your partner (and yourself!) space to indulge. Without occasionally indulging, people can go a bit mad — especially if they're new to the whole healthy lifestyle thing. You can't expect someone to suddenly turn their life around and never look back at their less-than-healthy ways. Fast food can be really tasty! Flourless chocolate cake? No one can live without that! 

If you find that your partner slips up a bit and they go on a three-day ice cream binge, don't judge. It's so much better to have an occasional bit of indulgence than have a week-long binge. Even if the goal isn't weight management, going back to processed foods somewhat quickly, like carbs especially, can induce yeast infections which no one wants. A little once-a-week treat is a good idea and will be better for your partner in the long run.

Accept them as they are

If we truly love someone, as much as we want the best for them so they'll be around for a while and be healthy during that time, we simply can't change people — or at least we can't completely change them. We can help them make little changes, and give them a heads up as to what are the healthiest choices, but if they're not into it, then they're not into it. 

If that's the case, hear them out. Obviously, there's a reason why someone wouldn't want to make a healthy lifestyle change, just as much as there's a reason why someone might. Although neither reasoning is necessarily right or wrong, at least having a dialogue about why you and your partner feel the way you do about the subject is what matters most. Health nuts can love people who exist on pasta alone and vice versa, and sometimes that's all you can do: accept them for who they are.