How can I inspire my partner to be a healthy, fit person with me?
April 16, 2013 10:20 AM   Subscribe

I want to be a healthy, fit person, and I want my partner to want that, too. What's the selling point? How can I convince my SO to make this change with me and notice how our generally very sedentary life is sucking the life out of our relationship? Help!

My partner and I have been together for years. We have occasionally been active together, but it's few and far between. I would love for us to be more active, but I have significantly less time than my partner, whose behavior is impeding my ability to make time for this personally. I work full time and I am also completing some necessary schoolwork that takes up a lot of my time. My partner doesn't have this additional responsibility, but I still find that we are contributing unequally around the house (I contribute more). This is obviously frustrating for me, but even more so when it causes me to have less time to take care of myself (and it's showing, which makes me feel even worse). I frequently work 10-12 hour days and come home to find that my partner has been home for hours and hasn't done anything, when I was planning to workout. Of couse, I don't have time for that because if I don't clean or make dinner, it won't happen. This is is definitely a separate but similar problem re: energy and commitment levels, which is why I'm including it here.

So my goal is to get us both working out, but not necessarily together. We in our early thirties and although we are within normal weight range, we are really "fat skinny". We pass for thin but would not consider myself or my partner as physically fit (highly sedentary at this point). I think many aspects of our lives, mostly our energy levels and hopefully our sex life, could be improved by being fit and feeling well. I am definitely doing my best to keep up with my health despite my time limitations, but my partner is really "no thanks" on the whole idea of being fit and exercising. How do I make it clear that this is important to me (you know, other than saying this, which is definitely something I've done)? We have no plans for a family (this would be very difficult for us anyway) so "being healthy for a family" isn't really a good place to start. We do have a gym membership; my partner just never goes. And I don't want the "start small" stuff like taking walks... We have pets and are (short-distance) velo commuters, so that stuff's already happening.

Also, I realize that I sound very negative, but I love my partner and don't want to be overly pushy about this. This isn't a matter of "you are really unhealthy and this is a dealbreaker" either; I just think we could both be in way better shape and be much happier for it. Thoughts?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

I would say lead by example. Just decide you're going to go to the gym, tell your partner in advance, and then go, hell or high water. Dinner not cooked? House not cleaned? Oh well! Partner is presumably an adult and can fend for themselves.

Your health and happiness should be a priority, and while you can't force your partner to change, making health a priority for yourself and not allowing your partner's lack of initiative to drag you down may change things for the better.
posted by ladybird at 10:27 AM on April 16, 2013 [35 favorites]

Honestly this sounds like the sort of situation where you need to take care of your own needs - if your partner really isn't interested in participating there isn't much you can do. Would they consider participating in some sort of team activity like softball or soccer? It may not be much but it's still adding exercise in.

It also sounds like you need to have a separate conversation about how to split chores and divide personal time. That way resentment lies and it's best to resolve it before it becomes a major issue. Maybe a schedule outlining responsibilities would help? So on x day you will be working then exercising from y to z, so partner has to have dinner waiting when you get back. If it isn't made then you feed yourself (which would be a different type of frustrating) but once you come to an agreement about how to divide things you have to be firm about sticking to it.
posted by brilliantine at 10:28 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you're already walking the dog, try taking longer walks or adding some wrist/ankle weights to the walk. If your partner doesn't want to add extra things to their routine, maybe they'd be amenable to adding extra things that they're already doing.

Also, would they be up for doing things like going for a walk at the weekend to spend some time with you? Frame it less as "get more exercise" and more as "this will make me happy".

If your partner knows that you're going to cook and clean if they don't bother, then they'll just leave you to do it. Perhaps let them deal with the consequences of you going to the gym once a week, leaving them to cook or clean for theirself. If you continue to cope, they will likely let you.
posted by Solomon at 10:36 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

You can only advocate for yourself. Start picking up physically active hobbies, and perhaps they'll join you for at least some of them. If that means you do less housework, so be it. They can step up or fend for themselves. You might get some pushback at first, but keep advocating for yourself and it's likely they'll come around.

p.s. "skinny fat" is a pretty offensive term, you're implying that fat people are inherently/automatically out of shape, but as you have seen in yourself weight and physical fitness are not the same thing.

posted by zug at 10:37 AM on April 16, 2013 [8 favorites]

if I don't clean or make dinner, it won't happen

Then it doesn't happen. Your partner won't starve. You're enabling him/her by picking up the slack. Come home, go to the gym, eat dinner. wash your own dishes, wash your own clothes. The SO will figure it out soon enough.
I've found that having conversations and come to Jesus talks just waste my breath. Action, not words. Do what you need to do, and when the partner does do something you like, lots of praise. Ignore the other behaviors.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:37 AM on April 16, 2013 [27 favorites]

Start living the life you want. You've told your partner what you want and s/he so far doesn't place a priority on being fit. You start working out and on a separate track start working on the areas of your relationship that you think can be improved. It would be nice for being more fit and healthy to take care of the relationship issues as well, but it looks like they are going to have to be handled separately.
And don't let your partner stop you because s/he hasn't done the dishes or cooked or whatever - just go do what you need to do and calmly do it.
posted by mrs. taters at 10:40 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

You are talking about a lot more here than getting your partner to go to the gym with you. You can always text him on a Tuesday afternoon and say "pls chop up the veggies & make some rice/chicken for fajitas, I'll be home at 9 after the gym." So either you're doing that and he's completely blowing you off or that's an easy first step for some of the issue. But what's at the root?

Laziness at home may feel like he's not invested in you/the relationship. Your mention of sex may hint that you're not satisfied by/attracted to your partner? You're going to school and he isn't so you're seeing a dead-end? Or something else? There's a lot to unpack from your post.

In the meantime, go to the gym when your schedule allows and eat raw or just cook small things for yourself when you can. Lots of relationships have chapters where you just really aren't in sync. With work & school & a fitness goal, you're not on the same schedule. If it's more than that, you need to figure out what's really missing.
posted by headnsouth at 10:40 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Stop pinning the burden on your partner. If partner doesn't want to workout, partner doesn't have to.

Maybe you should find a workout buddy. Partner may not want to workout with you and that's okay. What sucks the life out of the relationship is how demanding you are of another person to do exactly what you want and not understanding how they feel. Chances are your view that they've done nothing all day isn't correct. It's probably fighting anxiety or whatever that comes with studying.
posted by discopolo at 10:41 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

You're kind of asking your partner to change something he's already said he's not interested in changing, which is usually a recipe for disappointment. You can encourage and lead by example, but if he doesn't want to exercise, you can't force him to, and you have to decide how okay you are with that.
posted by xingcat at 10:44 AM on April 16, 2013 [8 favorites]

This is one of those things that only works if the other person wants it for himself.

If you want to workout, do that. Make the time. I get up at the butt-crack of dawn to walk, I absolutely loathe it and it's only because I want to get in all of my activity early, before the day overtakes me, that I do it. I exercise because I must, not because I like it.

As for the housework and dinner, it's not your responsibility. It is a mutual effort. Stop making it a bone of contention in your relationship. If you can afford it, hire someone to come in and clean weekly.

When Husbunny quit nursing to go back to school for Actuarial Science, the deal was that he would clean the house, since I was the major breadwinner and he had more time than I did. He's so fucking cute. He went online and found a weekly schedule, with specific tasks listed out, day-by-day of things that needed to be done. And bless his heart, EVERY TIME he cleaned, he'd whip out that list. One of the best times of my life.

As for dinner, I enjoy cooking and it decompresses me. Lots of people don't feel the same way. Alternate responsibility for dinner. Your nights can be rotisserie chickens from the supermarket and salad bar. He can do whatever. Or you can both do some prep on the weekends to make dinner easy on the weekdays.

If your SO doesn't have a willing spirit about this, there's nothing you can do to change him. If you don't like him where he is, then you have some hard decisions to make.

TL/DR: You can't change people, you can only change your reaction.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:45 AM on April 16, 2013 [9 favorites]

I spent years whining to my partner that WE were too sedentary, that WE didn't eat properly, that WE should become more active. Finally one day I said fuck it and started exercising with a group of women who are now dear friends who I enjoy getting fit with. I started eating cleaner. My lifestyle has done a 180 in the last year and a half. Partner is still a couch potato. That doesn't bother me at all. If he wasn't pulling his weight with regards to housekeeping, now THAT I would have something to say about.

Bottom line, you can't make someone exercise. Believe me, I have tried. But I realized that he is a grown man who is capable of running his own life and doesn't need me telling him a "better" way to live.
posted by futureisunwritten at 10:48 AM on April 16, 2013 [15 favorites]

My partner doesn't have this additional responsibility, but I still find that we are contributing unequally around the house (I contribute more). This is obviously frustrating for me, but even more so when it causes me to have less time to take care of myself (and it's showing, which makes me feel even worse). I frequently work 10-12 hour days and come home to find that my partner has been home for hours and hasn't done anything, when I was planning to workout.

This isn't about the workout. This is about you feeling that you and your partner are not contributing equally around the house. Address this first, and do it directly: "Partner, I'd like to discuss the distribution of chores around the house. With my work and schoolwork I don't have a ton of left-over time and the way the chores are divided now is causing me extra stress. Let's sit down and make a list of things that need to be done on a daily/weekly basis and split them up so that they're a little more equal, taking the extra burden of my schoolwork into account."

Write it all down and post it somewhere you both can see it.
posted by anastasiav at 10:50 AM on April 16, 2013 [10 favorites]

My husband has lost 150+ pounds since July 2011. I'm also pretty sedentary, but only slightly overweight, and not motivated to do anything about it really. I'm sure it would have been helpful for him to have me join him at the gym, and he made it clear I was welcome, but he said more than once that the weight loss was "his thing" and required him to take the initiative, whether I came along or not. He's gone from a 330 pounds to a guy that runs 10K's for fun. And you know what? I've lost some weight too. He's the cook, so he's changed the things we eat and how we eat. I acquiesced to skipping buying soda and junk food as a show of support, and am better for it. We go hike and take regular evening walks outdoors when the weather is nice, but of course I'm nowhere near the fitness level of him. But just watching him on his journey has encouraged me to join in on various activities that I never would have been interested in before.

So I second the first comment: Lead by example and hopefully he'll follow along in some way.
posted by chiababe at 10:56 AM on April 16, 2013 [6 favorites]

I'd separate this into three separate issues.

Regarding chores: During a quiet moment on some weekend or other relaxed day, have a conversation about household chores and your respective expectations. Explain that you feel frustrated when you come home and the kitchen is too messy for you to cook dinner. See if the two of you can work out a system in which your partner makes sure the kitchen is ready/clean before you get home so that you can easily make dinner. If your partner feels too drained after work to come home and clean, perhaps s/he could make a point of consistently cleaning the kitchen after dinner so that the space is cleared and ready for the next day's dinner preparation. Or, you could take responsibility for cleaning the kitchen after dinner each night and your partner could cook dinner when s/he gets home before you the following afternoon/evening.

Regarding your workouts: Determine an exercise schedule that works for you and doesn't (significantly) inconvenience your partner. Share this schedule with your partner however makes sense (Google calendar, paper schedule on the fridge, whatever). Have easy meals on hand--buy frozen meals, make and freeze your own meals, or keep a few staples around all the time (fruit and veggies you can eat whole, soups you can easily heat and eat, yogurt and cereal, etc.). If you come home on an evening you've planned a workout and find that the kitchen is a mess, say, "I need to hit the gym in half an hour, so I'm just going to heat up some soup for myself--want a bowl?" If this happens consistently, have another conversation about chores--but don't skip the gym in favor of cleaning the kitchen.

Regarding your partner's health: Talk to your partner about his/her health choices and how they impact you. You can't force your partner to make different choices, but you can express things like, "I'm concerned that you're potentially damaging your health by not exercising. I care about you, and want us to have a long and healthy life together."
posted by Meg_Murry at 11:02 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am sort of in your position. Well before I became involved with my now-fiance I started on a weigh loss and health quest. Healthy eating and a lot of time spent working out are really important to me, and at first I did a lot to try to encourage my fiance to participate at the same level. He wasn't at all interested, and for a while that really upset me. I kept worrying about his health, our future, and what that meant if our priorities differed.

What I came to realize is that he was doing what he could on his terms.
- He supports me endlessly in my efforts. He applauds me when I have a good weigh in. He cheers me up when I have a crappy weigh in. He makes me feel attractive and beautiful and sexy in my current weight and never makes me feel like he needs me to lose weight to be sexy to him. He encourages me because it is important to me, and he comments on the positive changes and change in my appearance because he knows it is a result I want.
- He does a gigantic amount of schedule adjusting to ensure I get my workouts in. The alarm goes off at 5:30am every morning so that I can get to the gym before work. He isn't the type to be able to fall back asleep, so when it goes off at 5:30am, he is up at 5:30am. Work doesn't start until 8:15am. I felt bad for making him get up so early every day without needing to but he has repeated time and time again that my health and workouts are important to both of us, and it is a small price to pay that he doesn't mind paying. Having him be willing to do that and never complain is effing awesome.
- He has been open from day one to eating very differently than he ever did. He does a lot of the cooking but he makes a point to make things that fit what I need and that are healthy. Because of this he has lost ~25lbs since starting to date me.
- He, all on his own, decided last summer that he wanted to start jogging a bit. It was never something I pushed him on. He just said that he was proud and impressed at how hard I work, and he wanted to take his health more seriously to ensure we would be able to be doing things in our aged years. He knew the gym wasn't his thing, but maybe jogging was. Turns out, yes, he likes jogging!
- I decided I wanted to do more biking and asked him if he wanted to come for a bikeride with me. Turns out he really enjoys biking too! We went on some 20k bikerides last summer and we're pumped to do it more this summer.
- We jointly decided to bin the satelite and take tv watching out of our life for relationship and money reasons, not health. TV watching is time spent NOT interracting with the other person and it is a total waste of money, so away it went. Because of that we looked for other things to fill the time. Bike rides, walks, gardening, and golf are things we spend our evenings in the summer doing. Unplanned increased activity! Yeah! (Our relationship is pretty kick ass too, and we have a way more active social life. TV sucks so hard and it only has a negative impact on life if you ask me.)

So basically, he had to come to it on his own and it wasn't in the way that I used (ie. he doesn't like the gym), but mostly I just had to let it go and see the things he WAS doing and appreciate those. No, he didn't stop drinking beer and he didn't suddenly become a weight lifting maniac and get down to 5% body fat. But he IS addressing he health, he is making healthier choices because of me, and he is outstandingly supportive of me. THAT is what matters, if you ask me. Let your partner define themselves what they need to do. You can support them in what they choose, but you aren't going to be able to force him in to it. All you can do is take care of yourself and lead by example, and all the while appreciate the things they are doing to help you along. Take the wins where you can get them.

regarding time limitations for your exercising etc., seriously look at doing it first thing in the morning. Working out at the gym before work is god damned awesome. You start every day with a big success, you have more energy for the day, you sleep better at night, and (at least for me) you go way more consistently because there is never anything else you need to do at 5:30am. The only excuse is "I'm tired" but that goes away with time too.

regarding the chores, you guys need to have a major talk about chore distribution and general household tasks. That is a whole other can of worms that I think is something you guys need to sort out, totally separately from your health goals.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:10 AM on April 16, 2013 [7 favorites]

Theres an exercise dvd you might try...its out of print so you might have to dig on anazon/ebay/elsewhere...Sweet Moves: Be a rockstar in bed!
It's campy and there are costumes. No one can resist!
posted by sexyrobot at 11:14 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Let your partner alone. This is the path to a lot of resentment and nonsense. See to your own exercise needs and let him or her do the same. You can love a person, and want them to be healthy because of that fact, but you can't make them do things they aren't interested in. Trying leads to manipulation and all kinds of gross stuff. Do walk the dog together, find outdoor things to do. Don't, after doing those things, say "see how easy that was!" Don't make them do yoga and train for marathons with you. Trust me.
posted by littlerobothead at 11:19 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

“Skinny fat” is a thing that trainers and supplement makers made up to scare people who don’t like, or need, them, to pay up anyway. Slim younger people do indeed sometimes suffer from illnesses highly correlated with obesity – type II diabetes, hypertension, elevated cholesterol, or other cardiovascular disease precursors, etc. – but those things in those people are neither the result of a lack of exercise nor cured by exercise (medication and diet change are usually the thing.)

In other words, if your partner has a healthy BMI and doesn’t want to exercise, there really isn’t a great reason to make him go the gym. If his physical lassitude bothers you, get him out doing something fun – hiking, tennis, skiing, whatever.
posted by MattD at 11:22 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

The real issue here isn't that your partner won't work out. (Well, maybe that's the issue but you're not going to get anywhere without dealing with some other stuff first.) And that other stuff is:
-unequal division of household labor
-low energy levels in general dragging the household down and possibly impacting your sex life (I got that from reading between the lines. Sorry if I got it wrong.)

You need to nip this unequal division of labor thing in the bud. That is a HUGE problem in many relationships and it effects everything. You should be able to say to your partner: I'm going to be working out on MWF this week. Can you take charge of cooking dinner those nights? And they should help you out if they're going to be home! (And I don't mean order a pizza. I mean cook dinner.)

Have you talked to your partner about this issue? You need to address it directly if you haven't yet. It seems like this would have a bigger impact on your relationship than if your partner started jogging. Just think, you could come home to a clean house or clean towels or a hot meal after a 10-12 hour day. And then you could go work out and take a shower in your clean bathroom with your clean towels and thank your partner for the awesome hot meal. And maybe you washed those towels on the weekend, but your partner cooked dinner and you cleaned the bathroom this week but he cleaned it last week.

A commenter above says that trying to convince your partner to workout is a "path to a lot of resentment and nonsense." I agree. Allowing unequal division of household labor to persist is ALSO a path to resentment and nonsense.

On the exercise front, don't let your partner's resistance hold you back. You need to exercise for yourself. Because it feels good. Because you want to take care of your heart. Because you want to be fit. Those reasons won't change whether your partner joins you or not. I think leading by example can work. When your partner sees how happy you are from exercise or new workout buddies you've made or how you have more energy, that can start to sink in.
posted by purple_bird at 11:40 AM on April 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

To answer your question: you can't. I am not a morning person but I get up at 5 every other morning to go to the gym because my partner isn't usually interested in going, and if I go in the evening we won't have any time together. It's exhausting and kind of unpleasant to get up that early to work out, but its worth it. I get my workout and we get our time together.

The other problems you're describing need to be broached, but if it were my relationship, I'd be trying to handle them separately from the gym issue.
posted by renderthis at 11:41 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

My partner and I started doing Crossfit together about 2 years ago. We absolutely love it - and the class based social nature of it encourages both of us to go to class when the other isn't around. Might not work for you, but it does for us.
posted by prentiz at 12:01 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

“Skinny fat” is a thing that trainers and supplement makers made up to scare people who don’t like, or need, them, to pay up anyway.

For the record, not true. "skinny fat" refers to someone who is not large, but their body composition is fat with very little muscle. This means they are physically weak, with associated risks like osteoporosis for women, and faster lifestyle degradation with age. Any weight bearing exercise will be good for someone in this condition. I've seen it more associated with women, I assume because of a higher tendency to control weight through diet with no associated exercise/men build muscle more easily?
posted by jacalata at 12:21 PM on April 16, 2013 [10 favorites]

I think you have probably three issues here. One is the uneven distribution of housework. Another is the unsatisfying sex life. The other is the exercising thing. You are not asking about the housework or your bedroom problems, so I will just ignore them.

If you want to exercise, tell your partner this, and do your exercising.

But honestly, if I were your partner, I would be extremely irked if you also tried to make me exercise. I have never consistently exercised at any point in my life. I do not look fat, but I am weak, so I guess I fall into the offensive "skinny fat" category.

I will do things that I enjoy, such as skiing, walking around town, etc (which you say you already do) and that is good enough for me. As long as I'm not completely sedentary, I'm actually quite happy with my life. I don't want to run and I don't see any reason that I should be able to lift 80 pounds. If I had extra time, I'd try to pick up the piano, or read three extra books a week, or something of that nature.

I've tried CrossFit but I genuinely hate running and feeling so tired that I feel faint. (I went for about 3 months.) And basically I dislike any sort of discomfort.

I guess I could potentially be induced to do other forms of exercise if they could be made "fun", i.e. with loads and loads and loads of positive reinforcement. And it's not like I don't care about health/strength, because I find it really sexy when my partner can pick me up (seemingly) effortlessly. It's just not my priority in life, and I consider that viewpoint perfectly valid (which OP does not seem to).

But I think more broadly, you need to hash out your OTHER problems with your partner. And YOU wanting to exercise is a completely separate issue from whether or not YOUR PARTNER should exercise.
posted by ethidda at 12:52 PM on April 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

I agree that you can't make him just start going to the gym with you, but you can maybe find something active that he thinks is fun and do that together. That's what happened to me.

I used to be a fairly active person and the past few years I became more sedentary and became "skinny fat." I wasn't very comfortable with it and I knew I should be working out more (I would do yoga or go for a run occasionally), but it wasn't enough to get to actually start working out. Then I started dating a guy who was pretty active and I still didn't really do much but I started to become more and more concerned with my "skinny fat"-ness. He would go to the rock climbing gym once or twice a week and rock climbing was something I've always wanted to get into so when they had a month where they waived their sign up fee I joined. I figured it would be better than coming home and throwing on a movie and drinking beer every night. Now we go 3-4x a week, I'm way buffer, and we still get to spend time together. Plus it's motivated me to work out even more (more yoga, running, etc.) because I everything active I do helps with my rock climbing.

If my boyfriend had asked me to start going to a regular gym to work out I would've been offended. And it's true that I wanted to be more active anyway, he didn't really care. But seeing him have so much fun and having him keep inviting me to do a fun activity really motivated me to just go for it. I got him to do yoga by telling him how awesome it makes me back feel and how it takes away all my tension in my neck and shoulders (I sit in a desk all day).

Maybe try something like that?
posted by ad4pt at 1:11 PM on April 16, 2013

It almost seems to me like you're blaming your partner's sedentary lifestyle for your own, and that's not really fair.

When you're making changes in your life, there's a stage that usually comes first, where you want to make the changes, but aren't quite ready yet, and it's pretty common at that point to look wistfully at the things holding you back and think "if only this were different, then I'd be living the life I want ..." The thing is, many, many people get stuck at this stage - I know I have. Sometimes it's because you don't really want to make those changes, sometimes it's because the changes seem scary, sometimes it's just procrastination.

If you want to get fit, you don't need your SO's participation or even approval. Yes, it would be great if he made it easier by doing his share around the house (and you should take some of the great advice above about dealing with that) but it's not the thing holding you back. As others have said, you could just see the dirty living room and go on a bike ride anyway.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 1:38 PM on April 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

You need to figure out what your "stake" is in how your partner chooses to spend their time: what are the aspects that have a significant (or at least, non-trivial) impact on your life? What benefit is it that you (you personally, not your partner) are lacking or disappointed with right now and are hoping will improve if your partner were in better shape?

Any sort of benefit that you envision for your partner you need to just leave out of the equation. I assume your partner is not an idiot and realizes that people often get a mood boost or more energy by exercising vigorously. Your partner KNOWS exercise is good for them in various ways and is still deciding that they'd prefer not to.

What that leaves you with is your stake, which might include things like:
-- You are disappointed with your sex life because of a lack of energy
-- You are not feeling as physically or mentally attracted to your partner as you would be if they were fitter or had a more motivated/less couch-potatoey attitude (tread with caution!)
-- Your partner's unhappiness is bringing you down.
-- Your partner's lack of energy to do anything but blob on the couch is resulting in an unfair division of domestic labor.
-- You don't spend enough time together AND you want be more active, and given your current time commitments one logical way to accomplish this would be to do active things together.

Those are all examples of legitimate reasons why YOUR PARTNER'S fitness level or exercise frequency might be of importance TO YOU. Of course, your partner exercising more is only one possible solution to many of these problems. If your partner is so unhappy and lacking in energy that it's affecting you negatively, then perhaps therapy or medication or even just getting more sleep might also be valid solutions.

In other words, you're perfectly within your rights to have expectations about what you get out of the relationship and ask for your partner to make some changes in order to meet them. But you're overstepping your bounds (and bordering on patronizing) if you're essentially asking your partner to change "for their own good." That's a parent 's job, not a partner's job.
posted by drlith at 1:49 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is your partner depressed? That would be one explanation for not doing much of anything all day and not showing interest in taking care of oneself. Will he or she see a therapist, or bring it up with his or her regular doctor?
posted by desjardins at 1:51 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

everyone else had great advice about chores and just working out by yourself if that's what you want to do. i would like to touch on And I don't want the "start small" stuff like taking walks -

so, your partner doesn't want to do the whole get fit thing and you only want to do the full on gym thing. it sounds like both of you are unwilling to compromise. it might be useful to consider why, if your goal is both of you getting fit and being less sedentary, you'd dismiss out of hand one of the easiest ways to start that process.
posted by nadawi at 2:10 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Nadawi's comment about not wanting to start small reminded me of another thing: often, that procrastinating-from-making-life-changes thing I talked about is the worst when you want to make big changes, and you don't want to start small.

Because you look at this fantasy version of yourself, where everything will be different and better in these big ways, and it's super appealing, and the thought of it is exciting. But at the same time, it's just so different from where you are now, that becomes really appealing to find various ways to "excuse" yourself from making those changes. Again, this is very much based on my own personal experience.

This is why most experts recommend "starting small." Because it's a way of short-circuiting this particular brand of self-sabotage.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 2:41 PM on April 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

I agree with nadawi - please reconsider the effectiveness of starting small.

My husband and I started out with a huge imbalance in our physical activity levels. Husband has played high intensity sports all his life. I've always been more fond of curling up on the couch with a blanket and a book. But I did enjoy being outdoors, and Husband often suggested that we go for walks, bike rides, light hikes, just to get fresh air and be out in nature. Then our friends asked us to join their co-rec beach volleyball team, and we started doing that together. Little by little, we added more and more fun outdoorsy things until they became part of our lifestyle, and once that was ingrained, I found myself saying yes to more rigorous activities and wanting to do more just for the sake of getting fitter. Even running, which was once my sworn nemesis -- I used to get winded after three minutes of jogging, and last night I ran 6 miles just because I felt like it. Then because we needed to eat better to have more energy for the things we wanted to do and I didn't want to see the progress I was making go to waste, we started watching our nutrition more closely and our grocery list eventually evolved from frozen pizzas to fresh fruits and veggies.

Looking back, I'm amazed at the changes in myself, but it was all very, very gradual. Whenever Husband tried to push big changes, or tried to frame changes in terms of concern over my health, I just felt overwhelmed, patronized, and ashamed of my lack of fitness. All of that is the opposite of motivated, in case you weren't sure. I needed to know that he accepted me just as I was, and that my enjoyment of the activity was more important to him than improving my fitness. If I was struggling, I needed to know that he was sympathetic to my struggling, not judging me for struggling. I'm actually optimistic for you since you and your partner are starting out on more even ground than my husband and me, and you'll probably be dealing with similar trials and tribulations of getting fit.

The housework thing is a totally separate thing. On that note, I agree that you should focus on taking care of your own needs and he'll eventually figure out that you're not going to pull his weight for him. If not, you'll have to decide whether or not you can accept an unfair division of labor. But maybe it's not totally separate - maybe the fitness/health problem and the housework problem both cause you to feel that your partner is ultimately a lazy person, and this is a disappointing realization. Is that the real underlying issue?
posted by keep it under cover at 5:12 PM on April 16, 2013 [6 favorites]

If you can't get your partner to the gym can you get them to do something active with you on the weekends? Tennis, golf, surfing, whatever. I find that doing something like that inspires me to be a little more active overall.
posted by BibiRose at 9:54 PM on April 16, 2013

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