For the Love of Exercise

Our editor, Bethany Turner (second from left), ran the Color Run 5k in Washington, D.C. with her college roommate and their boyfriends as a fun way to encourage exercise. Photo by Hank Chavez

Our editor, Bethany Turner (second from left), ran the Color Run 5k in Washington, D.C. with her college roommate and their boyfriends as a fun way to encourage exercise. Photo by Hank Chavez

Two years after I left my employment in an outpatient care clinic, I ran into a previous patient who had lost 50 pounds. Smiling, he related how he finally “decided to do what the doctor told me to do for the past 10 years!” In making the recommended lifestyle changes, he began exercising, succeeded in weight loss, and was able to stop some medications and avoid a diagnosis of diabetes.

What had finally motivated this man? He related how friends and loved ones had developed severe illnesses over the past year. Standing by his side, I could sense the relief in his wife as he told of the changes he’d made.

Making positive lifestyle changes is difficult. If it were easy, there would not be so many programs, trainers, motivational speakers, etc., in our world. Even more challenging is encouraging positive lifestyle changes in someone you love. Check out these hints for success.

• Goals must be personal. You cannot impose your exercise routine, desire to run a marathon or a love for biking on your mate or significant other. Epic failure example #1. I decided I was going to the gym and therefore my husband should go to the gym. After much convincing (read: nagging) he joined for one month. Regularly he went to the gym for one month—and he hated it! My goal to have him there with me was not a reason for him to want to be there. He loves to walk, bike and hike while lifting hand weights on his own. Your partner’s health goal may not be your goal!

Timing is everything. Denial is a powerful force. Sometimes, someone other that you must be the bearer of bad news that stimulates a change. A healthcare provider sharing poor test results, health changes in a friend or family member, a visit to the ER or a step on the bathroom scale may just finally be the convincing that someone needs to make a change.

Our society overall is not focused on wellness. Wellness requires premeditated action followed by a stimulus to change. Keep offering suggestions or planning activities you can participate in together! In addition, if your partner has not been one to get a physical, encourage him/her to see their healthcare provider soon!

Positive reinforcement is always more effective than nagging! That said, you must be an enabler in order to promote changes. If your significant other starts to exercise after work, it may mean your dinner time is later or that you have to help get the meal started—without complaining! Or, maybe you need to coordinate child care so both of you can exercise.

Finally, take care of yourself. Many of us are taking care of a partner who is already in poor health and cannot make any changes. Remember to take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually so that you are at your best to take care of your loved one!

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