Most of us are not walking around intentionally trying to be the bad guy and purposely sabotaging the fitness and health goals of our loved ones; however, sometimes, we are doing things that are not helpful and can frustrate the heck out of those around us. You need to learn to support your friend in their fitness journey. Here are a few of the common issues my clients have come to me with when it comes to partners being accidentally (or sometimes intentionally) a jerk.
Yes, spending time together as a couple or wanting to hang out with your friend is important, but so are your friends/partner’s fitness and health goals. Hitting the gym can range from wanting to look better in swimwear to preventing specific health issues to helping with depression and anxiety. Unless someone spends a significant amount of time at the gym, regular workouts shouldn’t be a huge issue. Try not to guilt trip them into skipping their sweat sesh. Maybe offer to join them at the gym to work out or start going for evening walks or weekend hikes together. You could even step outside your comfort zone and try going to a martial arts or yoga class with them.
If we are being honest, we have all probably done this one at one point. We know a friend/partner is on a diet and brought home either a pizza or donuts or tried to get a friend to eat foods they are trying to reduce in their diet at a party. While there is nothing wrong with the occasional treat and all foods fit, having certain foods around can be too tempting to avoid. It can be extremely frustrating when you are trying to eat healthier and reduce your sugar intake with a partner/ roommate that keeps bringing home treats and goodies from the grocery store. Sometimes the person will feel pressured to eat the food to avoid starting an argument or hurting their partner’s feelings.
Ask your partner what foods they would prefer you limit bringing home or not keep around the house in large quantities. Maybe instead of bringing home an entire cake, the swap could be a slice of cake to share with your spouse, or instead, bring home a donut for each of you instead of a dozen. Communicate with them and ask what would be most helpful.
Another version of food sabotaging is making comments about what someone is eating: “I thought you were on a diet?” or “Oh really…you’re going to eat ALL of that”. This isn’t supportive and can make someone feel defensive or embarrassed about their food choices. Again all foods fit. Someone can be in weight loss mode or working to better their health and still have the occasional piece of pizza or pie. You’re not the food police, so stop acting like it.
Also, telling someone, they need to eliminate this or food from their diet can be very problematic. Not everyone does well on low-carb, and not everyone wants to go plant-based or keto. Just because it worked for you doesn’t mean it will work. Unless someone has asked for your opinion on what they eat, it is probably best not to give it unsolicited.
Now we are drifting a bit more into the intentional being a jerk territory, whereas the above is usually just accidental. Some of the worst comments clients have come to me with usually are from their spouses or families making fun of them for being proud of their fitness journey.
When it comes to this last category, my advice is simple: be kind or be quiet. There is nothing wrong with being proud of your hard work at the gym and changing your lifestyle; this can be so much more than aesthetics. Reducing your blood sugar or cholesterol, especially if you’ve been able to go off medication, is huge. Being strong enough to get back to doing activities you haven’t been able to for a few years is enormous. Being able to move better to play with your grandkids is huge. Feeling comfortable with your body again, whether that weight loss, weight gain, or just finding peace with your body, is huge.
If you’re constantly feeling the need to put someone down for achieving a fitness goal or making negative comments about their body, it might be time for some honest self-reflection.