What to do when your partner DGAF about health

In this episode, Claire shares what to do if your partner just does not care about healthy habits the same way you do.

Show Notes
Program note: Hey, glad you’re enjoying the podcast! In this episode, you might hear Claire talking about Nutritional Freedom and Foundations. Since we launched the podcast in 2020, we've undergone a makeover to improve the membership experience. For more, listen to our "And we're back! All the updates!" episode.

Claire Siegel: You're listening to the Flourish podcast. I'm your host, Claire Siegel, founder of Flourish. We're on a mission to help women get healthy for good. Join me each week for a new episode that'll help you sustain healthy habits and nourish your body so you can Flourish in life.

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Claire Siegel: You're listening to the Nutritional Freedom podcast. I'm your host, Claire Siegel, registered dietitian, founder of Nutritional Freedom, and total stationary nerd who's sharing episodes each week to help you ditch diets and get healthy for good.

We'll dive into what really works when it comes to creating sustainable nutrition and health habits, ways to improve your body image, and how all of this helps you live a life that's in alignment with your values. Because that's what really matters, right? Let's dive in.

Claire Siegel: Hello. Welcome back to the Nutritional Freedom podcast. Let's talk about other people. Specifically your partner, your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, life partner, friend with benefits. Hey, yo.

Uh, so chances are you follow me, nutritional freedom... you listened to the podcast because you're interested in creating a more consistent and sustainable approach to your nutrition and your health. And I love helping you do that because, you know, yes on one hand, I think it's great, you know, to help people, specifically, women eat more vegetables and, and do all that kind of thing. But really what I love is watching women take really good care of themselves consistently and from a place of self-love and seeing what becomes available to them in life as a result of that.

And, you know, a lot of the work that we do involves understanding why that's not happening yet, right? Why that consistent and sustainable and loving, and respectful approach to nutrition and health... why that hasn't been your norm. So to do that, we have to understand what is getting in the way. What are the obstacles, the barriers, the challenges that you're facing that keep you from developing that approach to your nutrition and your health and the way that you take care of yourself.

And I often ask. I ask this on our client applications. I ask it on Instagram. I ask it on our discovery calls in a response I get all the time is my partner doesn't eat healthy or my partner just doesn't care about health. And so if that is you, you're in the right place. Thank you for being here. I'm so excited that we get to chat about this. And I'm going to teach you how to react and how to respond, but it's probably not going to look or sound like what you expect.

Okay. So, so let's get into it. Let's get into what you should do if you're partner doesn't really care about... let's say maybe it's not health as much as, you know, healthy habits, right? So a great place to start is, first of all, knowing your why. And there's lots of ways to think about this, but, but we typically think about it in terms of your values.

So first understanding what your core values are and how your core values are supported by your approach to your health. So most people don't don't know their core values and most people have never kind of, again, linked it back to their approach to their health. So it's a very, very important first step. And again, this is something that is, that is the internal work.

When this becomes externalized is in the sharing of it. And you have to start here. Why does the pursuit of health matter to you in the first place? Before you can bring anyone into this, you need to have this clarity for yourself. And by the way, like, regardless of if you get your partner on board or not, this is information that you have to know for your own journey.

What does this mean? What does this mean for you beyond just feeling good, right? And also what does feeling good even mean? Is it more energy? Is it better digestion? Is it more confidence? Maybe all of the above. And what is feeling all of that? What is the energy? What is the great digestion? What is the confidence? What is it all for? Keep digging. You need a really good answer.

Maybe your, you want to pursue your health and feel more energy and have better digestion so you can play with your kids without worrying that you're going to need to go to the bathroom, right? Or maybe you want to feel more confident so you can enjoy intimacy with your partner.

Keep digging. Keep asking yourself why every time you ask yourself why... ask yourself again "why?" until you get to the root. Wanting to pursue health just to feel good is typically not a great answer. It's not specific enough and it's not high enough stakes to really create long-term sustainable behavior change.

And I just want to be really clear that no matter what your, your behaviors look like right now, chances are, if you're here listening to this podcast, this matters to you in a real way. And maybe part of the reason why that hasn't become a reality through your behaviors is because, you know, you just, haven't kind of. Again, gotten to that root here.

And, again, beyond just you knowing it, if you want your partners, um, buy-in, or at least you want to attempt to get that support, you have to share it with them and offer that core reason, right? And this is going to help you. It's going to help you in your communication, right? It's going to keep you from, like, spinning your wheels in frustration because maybe your partner doesn't know genuinely why this is so important to you, and you may never get your partner fully on board to, to exercising with you, to doing all your meal prep with you. That's okay.

As we'll explore, you know, that's, those are all things you can do on your own. But what is really helpful at a baseline is support. And it's much easier to get that support when you're really clear about why you need it and why it's going to be helpful. All right? So the next thing I need you to know is what you need and what you want.

So you can start to think about where your partner fits into all of this. What do you need and want from your partner when it comes to your health journey. Emphasis on "your," your health journey? Because when it comes to health and most other things in life, you can't want it more for someone than they want it for themselves.

So this podcast is not about ways to make your partner healthier, if, and when he or she is an interested. This is about how can you bring your partner along in your health journey so that you are supported. What you can do is focus on you in the ways in which your partner can be supportive or at the very least neutral to the health journey that you're on. So take some time to understand where you stand here and then communicate it.

Don't assume that your partner knows your every need, can predict your desires or distinguish between the two. Right. So I was just, I'm on the phone with a client who's coming in to foundations and she was sharing that her fiance will, will go out and go to the liquor store and pick up, you know, a bottle to refill their bar cart or what have you, and, and bring her home some wine..

And she felt like that was not serving her. And so a key here would be communicating that. Saying like, "Hey honey, I know this is an act of love and, and you're trying to do something nice for me, but what I really need from you here is to, to not do that." Right? So here's some other examples.

You could say something like, "Hey honey," I don't know, I don't know why I'm saying honey here. I never, I never called Jon honey. I wish I did, I think it's very cute, but it just is not something that flows naturally. But anyway, you might say, "Hey honey. Hey pumpkin. Hey sweet cheeks, exercising regularly seriously helps me manage my stress, so I need you to watch the kids a few times a week so I can get to the gym. Can we plan this together?" All right?

How about this? "I'm happy to handle the meal planning and prepping on my own since I'm really focusing on my nutrition right now, but if you're interested, I'd love it if we could sit down and pick out just a couple of dinners together."

Or how about this one? "I think it'd be really fun if we started going on more walks around the city. Do you want to plan one for the weekend with me?" Y'all. Communication.

And I'm not a relationship expert, but I will say Brené Brown, she says "Clear is kind." And I think the clarity here... one it's kind, and two it really helps your case, right? The clarity of knowing your why, and then also communicating what you want and what you need from your partner, so that you can stop seeing them as a barrier to your health. All right?

So the next option here, something to consider is ways that you can bring your partner in and also make it fun. And so the thing here is that maybe your partner just isn't interested in health or healthy habits, because it's just not something that he or she values. And that is totally fair, by the way. Like, think about it, you wouldn't want someone forcing a value on you. And, and so it probably doesn't really make much sense for you to force yours on other people. So that's something to kind of keep in mind and in that may be an area in which, you know, y'all are kind of doing your own thing and that's okay.

But maybe there's something else going on.

Maybe your partner isn't interested in health because, you know, he or she has preconceived notions about the fact that it's boring or hard or just, uh, joyless. And listen, uh, it, it can be. You know, there are ways of, of pursuing and approaching health that can be boring, hard, and joyless, but it doesn't have.

So if your partner is, you know, open and is interested, and does want to be supportive and does want to do it with you and does value it in some way, shape, or form. Something to think about is how you can make healthy habits and the, you know, regular, um, pursuit of them or regular actioning of your healthy habits, a joint venture that's also really fun.

And, and this is going to look different for everyone and every relationship, but some ideas. Okay? If you're into food, for example, you can pick a cookbook and set a goal to cook your way through it as a couple. Or, you know, uh, when we are not in quarantine days, as I record this in June of 2020, um, if you love to travel, select destinations that are like conducive to healthier and more active itineraries, right?

So hiking trips in, in the summer, for example, or, or going skiing in the winter. Or maybe y'all are like big sports people, in which case you could sign up for a, an intramural league together. Like again, how can you bring the fun and the joy into the pursuit of your health—if your partner is open to that.

Okay. That's what we've got so far. Know your why and share it, know what you need and what you want and communicate it, and then bring them in and make it fun.

Now. What, if you try all of that and, and nothing works. Your partner knows where you're coming from, but, you know, they still don't really care... at least not for, you know, they don't care for themselves. Guess what? That doesn't mean that you can't care for yourself. And this is where I want to encourage you to ditch the dependency, to stop thinking that your approach to health is dependent on how anyone outside of you approaches their health.

Listen, it is great to have a gym buddy, to have an extra hand in the kitchen, or an accountability partner. But guess what? That person doesn't have to be your romantic partner. Right? There's lots of other ways of seeking out that community and that accountability. And in fact, that's why we have such a strong focus on both of those things in our programs. This thought that your health depends on how your partner feels, thinks, or behaves may very well be getting in the way of your pursuit.

So we've talked a lot. I'm going to offer you another example of the way that thoughts, feelings, and actions work together. Okay? So let's say, you know, you're, you're in this circumstance in which your partner doesn't care to engage in healthy habits. One thought you may be having, and I've heard this thought and thoughts like it so many times before, is "This sucks. It's so hard for me to be healthy when my partner doesn't care." And that can lead to feelings of defeat or, or apathy.

So maybe in, in light of that feeling, you engage in unhealthy behaviors despite the way that you really feel and what you really want for yourself. And that leaves you feeling unsatisfied, guilty, and often resentful of your partner. And you get to choose: is that, is that a thought you want to hold or, or might you choose to think something else?

So let's explore an alternative, okay? So same, same circumstance here. Your partner doesn't care to engage in healthy habits for whatever reason. I want to offer you a different thought. How about a thought along the lines of, "I can't change my partner's thoughts, but I can focus on me."

"I can't change my partner's thoughts, I can't change my partner's feelings, but I can focus on me."

Now that may create new a feeling of I'm being proactive, right? And so what, what ensues from that feeling? What actions? Well, you may find that you allow your partner to be true to himself or to herself while also being intentional about your health priorities. And the beautiful thing there is that you get to take the actions and engage in the habits that you want to do that honor your values, and you get to do so without having this, you know, negative effect on the way you think about your partner, the way you feel about your partner, and ultimately your, your relationship.

There are big changes possible here by simply adjusting the way you think and the way you approach this. If you feel like your partner's thoughts, feelings, and actions are your barrier to your health habits... I really want to encourage you to take a step back and question if that's actually true or if it is quite frankly a convenient excuse?

Again, it's not to say that accountability and support doesn't help, but is there a way of getting that accountability and support to exist outside of your romantic relationship? To let your romantic relationship be one thing and to let the accountability, the support, the approach to health be, be something different. Don't give your power away here, right? Recognize where it's important for you to take responsibility and ownership of your own thoughts, feelings, and actions. All right?

I would love, love, love to hear.... to hear your thoughts. How does this make you feel? Does it, does it make me feel a little bit uncomfortable to think about? That's okay. By the way, you don't have to agree with me. You really don't. But if it makes you uncomfortable or if that wall goes up as you're listening to this, ask yourself why? Explore that. Again, we don't have to agree. What I, what I want to do here is encourage critical and independent thought on your part so that you can ultimately live a life that's in alignment with your values.

And so you get to ask your question of, "does this idea, this belief that my partner is getting in the way of my health... does that serve me? Does that help push me forward? Or can I perhaps approach this a little bit differently?

All right! If you have thoughts, feelings, feedback, I want to, I want to hear it all. I am so open. So send me a direct message on Instagram. I want to hear from you. And of course, if you are loving the podcast or you found this episode particularly useful, feel free to share the link with a friend.

You could share it with, with your partner. Maybe it would bring up some, some good dialogue and discussion between you two. Um, but thank you so much for being here. I'm having so much fun leading the podcast, and I will see you next week. Bye.

Claire Siegel:

Thank you so much for joining me for today's episode of the Flourish podcast. If you enjoyed it, please take a second to leave us a five-star review or better yet, share it with a friend. And if you're ready to start your own journey to get healthy for good with accountability from expert coaches and the support of an incredible community, head to the show notes to get started on your Flourish journey.

I'll see you in the next episode.

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Claire Siegel
Co-founder, CEO
Claire Siegel is the founder and CEO of Flourish. Claire has made it her life’s mission to help women create a sustainable approach to their physical and mental well-being.

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