Encouraging a spouse who is overweight to exercise or exercise more can be tricky business. If your spouse is particularly sensitive about his/her weight, then frame your encouragement around the fact that you want to spend more time together or spend time reconnecting if you two have grown apart.
Before starting any exercise program though, make sure your spouse gets a checkup to ensure if s/he is in good enough shape to begin an exercise program. If out of shape, the doctor most likely will recommend losing weight, exercising and healthy eating.
When the doctor starts talking about specific numbers in the tests and what they should be, sometimes this is enough motivation to get the person started exercising. Depending on your relationship with your spouse, your doctor’s recommendation may carry more weight than if you suggested the same thing – losing weight, exercising and eating healthy.
If cleared to exercise and your spouse agrees to it, set up some exercise dates. Let your spouse suggest the activity; this puts the person in control instead of feeling like the activity you choose was being forced on him or her. Whatever the activity, exercise at that person’s level so s/he is not struggling to keep up with you.
Make it fun. Suggest signing up together for a yoga class or a dance class. Exercising doesn’t have to be about doing the same thing all the time unless it is an activity both of you really enjoy. Sometimes just a walk after dinner is all that is needed. Plus it gives both of you time to talk about the day’s activities. All it takes is a 30-minute walk three times per week to start getting in shape and improving the numbers on the doctor’s tests.
Has your spouse set small goals at first?
Once your spouse starts meeting those goals, reward him or her with an exercise-related gift like an exercise DVD, a set of resistance bands or a gym membership for both of you.
People like to be encouraged. A comment that you like to exercise with him or her at your side instead of alone. When you notice a weight loss, make a positive reinforcement remark to keep the momentum going. Never criticize or belittle your spouse. That will only make the person more defensive and unwilling to exercise with you.
Losing weight and getting healthy isn’t going to happen overnight. And it may take additional time on your part working out with your spouse, but in the end, it’ll be worth it as you two grow old healthily together.