Oh the secrets of happy, healthy couples! Did you know that the average couple gains 15-18 lbs in their first five years together? Call it love chub or love flub, but if you’re anything like us, you’d like to order love without the extra blubber.
Luckily, your romance needn’t end in sweatpants (a larger size), a pint of ice cream (or five), and some serious regret. Happy, healthy couples aren’t just lucky- they work to make their health a priority, with the help of their partner. Whether you’ve just started dating, are ecstatic about your engagement, or have been happily married for decades, there are a number of habits that can help keep you (and your partner) healthy, sane, and slim-together.
Secret #1: Act independently
Good behavior tends to breed good behavior. When one partner continues to engage in healthy habits after beginning a relationship, the other partner tends to hold up their end of the bargain. However, when one party begins to let fitness and nutrition slide, the other partner may become tempted, changing his or her behavior to mirror the behavior of the lazier party.
In other instances, the guilt of going to the gym and sacrificing time with a partner may cause one (or both) members of a kinship to forsake healthy habits altogether for the sake of spending time together, often spent on the couch or engaging in other, less-than healthy activities (hello, new pizza place!).
Even upon entering a courtship, continue to engage in healthy habits independently- be sure to express to your partner that you want to spend time with them, but that you also need to spend some time exercising and eating well to feel- and be- the best version of yourself.
Secret #2: Happy Couples don’t diss; they discuss
Thou shall not guilt they partner! Irritated that your partner brought home a tub of Ben and Jerry’s even after they were just griping that they want to lose 10 lbs?
While it’s tempting to admonish their behavior, doing so can backfire and cause resentment. Remember that your partner is an adult, and is free to make his or her own choices. Even if their behavior is not ideal or doesn’t comply with their previous statements or intended goals, there are ways to discuss and address choices that don’t shame or patronize the other party.
Rather than chiding your partner, express curiosity about their choice rather than criticism. Having a conversation is okay- offering a critique is not. Opening the floor for discussion may provide them the opportunity they need to open up about a stressor or emotional issue that is preempting a less-than healthy behavior. Offer opportunities for help and change, but don’t force them to change or guilt them if they slip up.
Secret #3: To each their own
While you share many things as a couple, It’s also important that you find ways to accompany each other on your own unique nutrition and fitness journey. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to nutrition and exercise, and you shouldn’t expect that your partner will mimic your exact beliefs and protocols.
After all, you aren’t trying to date yourself, right?
Rather than expecting your partner to act in accordance with your own diet and fitness mindset, find ways to support them in the development of healthy habits that work for them.
Secret #4: Create a healthy routine
While you should continue to independently practice healthy habits, a romance is a natural partnership in which you spend time together. To that note, creating a healthy routine is key, even if that routine includes natural time apart.
For the time that you do spend together, find ways to create healthy bonding experiences, rather than making all of your time sedentary or based upon unhealthy food experiences. Seek out healthy, eclectic restaurants, go for walks along the waterfront, hike, or engage in another active pursuit.
Finding ways to bond without sacrificing health-related goals will help keep you both physically and mentally healthy- and together- for the long haul.