Reader’s Request: Motivating A Partner

Posted: March 2, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Evening, friends! I received the following reader’s request and wanted to reach out to all of you fabulous ladies (and men – hi Evan & Matt!) to help with some ideas.

I love my husband and lately I have become increasingly worried about his health. He enjoys food that isn’t always the healthiest and isn’t active. I want him to be healthy for our family. We have been finding balance with food, but he doesn’t have any desire to workout. I worry that if my husband continues with the same eating habits and activity level he will reach an unhealthy weight down the line. His doctor already recommends he lose some weight.  I have tried to help him see the benefits, but now I feel like I nag him all the time. How can I help motivate him to take better care of himself and get active?

I am not an expert by any means, but here are some things I thought might help.

  • Speak openly about your concerns with him. Be sure he knows that its not just disappointment in his appearance or work ethic. Hopefully that will set the tone for him to not feel nagged, but encouraged instead.
  • Do things together – activities like hikes & cooking healthy dinners. That will hopefully take the pressure off and make the experience more enjoyable as a couple or family effort.

  • Find an activity that inspires him. What are his interests? Does he like watching UFC? Perhaps let him try out an MMA fitness gym. Does he like numbers? Invest in a gym membership for him to start doing weights. Then, let him get motivated with seeing the numbers increase as he gets stronger. Heck…even a Wii Fit could work well to get a guy moving. They do like their video games!

  • Make it a “game” and set up a realistic reward system. Set a goal of say 3 workouts a week. If he completes those workouts for a month, then he can do something like buy those concert tickets he wanted.
  • Use a plan. Things like Couch to 5K or a laid out plan like P90X may help. Sometimes trying to decide what to do any given day makes picking up exercise overwhelming. If it’s a straightforward plan to follow, it may be easier to keep with it. You can always include the reward system well with a plan too.
  • Find a buddy. Do you know one of his friends that could partner up with him to either workout together or go through the same workout plan as a challenge?

  • Keep it short term. Get him to commit to a month or two of regular activity (3-4x/week) and he very likely will end the time frame feeling better and enjoying working out at least a little bit more.
  • Praise along the way. When he does make an effort to do something active, even a short walk, talk him up! Focus on what he has accomplished over what may be lacking. Encouragement goes a long way to motivate.

Do you have any extra tips or ideas for her? Share them in the comments section!

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43 Comments to “Reader’s Request: Motivating A Partner”
  1. I’m so glad I recently found your blog – sometimes I think you are speaking directly to me!!

    So….I’ve awarded you with The Stylish Blogger Award! Check it out at

  2. These are all excellent points! I think finding activities you both enjoy really helps. Taking a hike or going for bike rides are great activities and don’t feel like exercise. Also cooking together is so much fun! We have the best time listening to music and cooking together. Coming up with meal together is great and then you can work on making them healthier. The things you usually get at a restaurant can always be made at home and most of the time taste better!

    I love this segment! Tina, you and I should have a business here…you can do the physical part of getting healthy and I can help with the cooking! (not that you need my help with cooking) That’s a joke, but dang it would be fun!

    Have a great night Tina! I hope you get some down time with Peter!

    • Tina says:

      I’m game! And yes – I would happily take anyone’s help with cooking. Especially you – you make awesome stuff!

  3. great suggestions, tina! i did a post a lot like this a while ago, so here are my tips for your reader’s question:

  4. Melie says:

    these are great tips! especially the one about making health a priority over weight or appearance. What I have found that works well, at least what worked with friends and family, is to try to get them involved in something physical that you enjoy. Every time that I was dragged rock climbing or skiing by friends who love it, even though I don’t, I was kind of swept away by their enthousiasm. 🙂

  5. My best tip would be to tread lightly and let your partner discover things for themselves, being pushy or demanding will backfire. Encourage healthy habits that they like and be patient. They may never share your passion for it, so know when they are interested and when they aren’t open to it.

    Doing fun activities together takes the pressure and necessity out of making healthier choices. I would focus on healthy habits that don’t seem like it! Let it flow naturally.

    • Lizzie says:

      I have to agree with this. I used to push my husband all the time on this issue. He wasn’t that out of shape – but he wasn’t heading in a direction that would fix that. Out of nowhere 18 months ago, he decided at that 34 he was out of shape and slightly balding (it’s less than he thinks it is!), and he decided that he could be either 40 and balding or 40 and fat – but he didn’t want to be both. He is now training for his first 1/2 and is more interested in where and what I buy for food. It was tough as he isn’t really surrounded by the fittest guy friends, but oddly enough his changes are rubbing off on some of them! 🙂 But all it took was for me to lay off a little – but offer encouragement and compliments when he did get going. It helps to also take care of yourself, as that can also be inspiring.

  6. Thanks for the tips. I wish the Husband enjoyed working out and eating healthy like me! He has come a long way snce we did get married, so I know it is all about baby steps!

  7. I think you have some great tips here. One thing that I have found helpful is to compliment him in his workout clothes. As I typed that I think it may sound weird, but when I tell my husband how good he looks in his workout clothes, I can tell he likes it and I think it motivates him to look even better. Guys like to feel like they look good just as much as women! Also, once he started working out I really emphasized how I could notice the results. Of course, the first step is to get him IN the workout clothes!

  8. Lauren says:

    Thanks for these tips! My boyfriend is active when doing things he likes (snowboarding), but he’s not really the gym type. I agree with Chelsey – baby steps!

  9. Lee says:

    I could have written that question! I have a lot of the same concerns about my husband.

    One thing that’s helped him in the past is that we’ve signed up for a race together. I think it’s easier to motivate to go to the gym when there is a tangible goal ahead.

  10. Helen says:

    You have some awesone tips here. I have trouble with my husband and the exercise topic. He has a some what physical job so he doesn’t think he needs to go to a gym. I can control some of his diet since he eats what I cook at night and usually takes the leftovers for lunch. However, if I don’t by his pop corn and ice cream he will get it himself,,,lol!!

  11. Jess says:

    What great insight, Tina! I’d add to that – workout together. Find something you BOTH will enjoy and commit to spending some of your workouts together. Doesn’t have to be ALL workouts but a couple of them anyway. Use it to bond together over a shared interest and thus, a shared goal. Maybe you decide running together is it. Pick a 5k to train for. That’s how it started for Scott and I and running – it was our “thing” to do together that was for ourselves, but also for our relationship. Some of our best convos have been while we’re running. He is my favorite running partner now. And we’re healthier for it!

  12. Flash Games says:

    Thank you..really informative!!

  13. Amy Lauren says:

    My fiance and I go to the gym together, usually on Sunday afternoons (of course this is not the only time we go, just the only time we are both there at the same time and riding together). We don’t usually do the same things, but sometimes we do… but really we just make a habit/tradition out of it and it’s a way that we spend time together.

    A couple of other young couples I know do it too, even taking a fitness class or boot camp class together. That’s definitely something to consider, and I think partners are a lot more receptive if you’re doing it there with them… because you’re practicing what you preach AND it’s extra time they get to spend with you.

  14. Cynthia says:

    I sometimes have those same concerns about my husband. He eats junk food a lot and rarely exercises. One thing I have done is walking with him instead of alone and including him in that. He doesn’t like workout videos or anything like that, but walking/jogging is a nice way to spend time together and get in some activity. Also, I try to make healthier versions of the foods he loves so he doesn’t feel restricted but is still eating somewhat healthy. There are some foods we cook for dinner that he loves better than the “junk food” version.

    One thing that is important to remember is that everyone is responsible for their own health. As concerned as someone is, that person has to be the one to make healthy choices, NOT you. You also have to respect the person that they are. My husband and I exercise together and we cook healthy meals, but I’m not going to chastise him and judge him for eating fast food for lunch.

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  16. jobo says:

    What a great post, and great ideas too. I agree with all of them but also think that they have to want to do it too, and want it for themselves, not just for you. I think that goes without saying, but figured i’d throw that in, just in case 🙂

  17. What a great post, Tina! I feel like a lot of women are in this position. Guys are usually pretty competitive, so if you focus in on a sport, like say getting them on a club basketball team or a soccer team, they usually like being active that way!

  18. Michelle says:

    I think all of your suggestions are great Tina!

    My hubby just did his first 5K with me this weekend and he had so much fun that it’s inspired him to exercise more! He’s not always athletically inclined (he’d rather be playing video games), but showing him how fun exercise can be really helped.

  19. My tip is lead by example. Or workout together under the guise of spending time together. I get my guy to go on walks me and the pups because we don’t see each other enough. He used to not go until I told him it would mean a lot to me if we spent that time together, and now he goes way more often! 🙂

  20. hahah omg I love that poster with the T-rex!!!!! It just made my morning 🙂

  21. Great ideas! My BF has a basically zero free time so not a lot of spare time to work out. But that doesn’t stop him from complaining about feeling fat all the time. So last weekend I made a deal with him: if you go to the gym with me this weekend, you can complain all you want, but if you don’t go to the gym, you are NOT allowed to complain once about feeling fat. It totally worked–he came to the gym with me. Of course, I still have to hear him complain, but that’s okay 🙂

  22. Those are some great tips Tina! My usual working out partner is my twin sister. I’m so lucky to have such a great partner I can rely on. My husband works out about 2-3 days a week, but not consistently. We are taking two trips this spring/summer and I’m hoping he’ll be my workout partner. I think it’s best to take baby steps and acknowledge their progress. My husband used to eat fast food everyday and never workout. Now he eats much better and works out a little. I also appriciate ate that he’ll eat most of the healthy food I made (just in larger portions).

  23. Great tips, Tina! I especially love the first one – it needs to be about concerns over health and well-being. Sometimes I forget that other people are just as sensitive to remarks about their appearance as I am!

  24. Thank you for these suggestions! My husband got an EA Active game for his Playstation 3, which he has used some. Better than nothing! While his eating habits still have not changed for the better, I’m still hopeful.

    I sometimes struggle to show concern and I think it comes out at criticism. So I am a work in progress as well 🙂

  25. Great tips Tina! Definitely not being pushy and giving praises is key. I wanted my husband to start working out regularly but it never really stick unless it was something he wanted to do. Leading by example (like with kids too) is a great motivator too.

  26. My fiance is super competitive, so I just bet him that he couldn’t do something (even though I knew full well that he could) 😉 and he took off. He can run forever, and I tell him I’m so proud of him when he does!

  27. I think this is a really great post. My tip (although you’ve already listed it) is to do things together. That’s been the key for me and my hubby!

  28. haha i think evan and matt are the only guys in our little bubble. great shout out.

    SO, this post is fun! dude, marshall just all of a sudden decided he wants to be fit and healthy. so weird. but he’s been to the day every day since and he’s been eating super healthy. i am not questioning it! i consider myself lucky that he decided this on his own!

    i think setting a quiet example is the best way to get them thinking about the importance of exercise and healthier eating habits.

    love ya!

  29. I love these tips!
    I struggle with nagging/motivating my fiance to workout – I want him to so he is healthy, not at all so he loses weight, etc., but I know it doesn’t always come out that way!

  30. Stephanie says:

    I say go slow, try to incorporate one healthier action a little at a time with your partner’s permission and don’t FORCE them to be anything they’re not ready to be but always have an open mindframe and ready suggestions. Talking about the issue is important as long as its not condemning or judgemental.

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