T Nation

Inspiring my wife to exercise

I need some suggestions from those of you who are married or in long term relationships. My wife is not interested at all in exercising or proper diet. I love to lift, have been lifting going on 20 years now. We are both professionals, but have different ideas as far health and diet is concerned. How can I get her to get involved and stay involved? I have $10k worth of professioanl grade equipment in my house, she won’t touch it. I know one thing, being rude or obnoxious about the topic pushes her further away. I am committed to her, so please no immature responses. Maybe some T-vixen can help me out. I am not looking for her to become some fitness bunny (although I wouldn’t object!)I just want us to both be fit when we retire in 30 years.

Ahhhh! I share in your plight. Though I am not married, I am comitted to someone (who enjoys my enthusiasm for fitness, bodybuilding and the like) and have made it more of a game so to speak. I put together a “program” for her from diet to training to supplements and definitely have included alternative sections to a book I constructed for her containing it all. See, this was a gift at one point unto which I pointed out was given to her with her health in mind “because I cared so much.” Though she has struggled through the beginning, she has definitely taken interest due to my “present.” I put other things in there (the book) including things like articles strengthening bonds of relationships if people share in the same activities, etc… Believe me, ehalth and fitness was the furthest thing from her mind, but whe has really taken this on with open arms. Hey, wrap it up and give it to her as a gift and I guarantee some sort of response. Explain to her how hard you worked on it and how much it would mean to have her “follow it.” - at least as closely as she could possibly do…and of course, she would be “doing it for you” (uhhhh, b/c she cared so much in return of course!) :slight_smile: Hope this helps at least a little.

Some people just hate physical exertion, and some hate anything with the label “exercise.” You might want to try activities like dancing, rock-climbing, hiking, etc… things that she might actually be interested in that are physically demanding, but are enjoyable in a context other than as pure exercise. If she gets hooked on something like dancing (swing dancing can be really demanding, but fun!), she may want to start working out to improve her performance in the activity.

What are your wife’s “ideas of health and fitness”? She doesn’t have to lift to be healthy. Is she physically active? And what are her fears of lifting? I find that when some women say that lifting weights “aren’t for them”, they are actually saying “lifting weights are for men”. Or have a fear that by lifting weights, they’ll “look like men”.

Maybe also, your wife would like to maintain seperate interests. Lifting weights is yours. And she has hers. Despite all this, in the end, it'll be your wife's choice to wanting to initiate a weight training program and to maintain that motivation.

I like Dana Houser’s idea of a book. It’s cute! However, if your wife is uninterested in fitness or proper diet it may be because you are interested too much. Sometimes, pushing someone tends to make them dig their heels in even more. So, I suggest you lay off any kind of nagging, or pushing, or talking. Rather, you might just try incorporating physical activity into what you two do together. It may not get her into the gym, but physical activity can take on many forms. For example, skiing, skating, hiking, canoeing, ballroom dancing, tennis, badminton, soft ball, swimming, etc. etc. Get my drift? Is there anything she LIKES to do that is physical in any way? Encourage that and join in with her, or suggest anything that you think might be of interest to her. You can do your lifting separate from what she wants to do. As for diet, do you cook or do the groceries? If so, what you buy and cook will influence what she eats, right? If not, start joining her in the kitchen and at the grocery store. Do you have kids? How about the whole family goes out and tosses a ball around, or plays volleyball, baseball, or basketball. What about rollerblading or bicycling? What about long walks together to “spy” on the neighbours every night? It really doesn’t take much to be physical–just some imagination. Once she gets going and likes it, the rest will come more easily than you think. You didn’t say whether she was overweight or anything, so I am assuming it is just lack of interest, or fatigue after a day at work.

My wife after years of being totally focused on aerobics was finally convinced of weight training. How? I got her hooked up with a trainer that was a good one that explained the advantaged of weight training to women. Then from that point, I got her into BFL. Now I am slowly progressing her out of that into the T-world. I can tell you what has not worked for sure: 1. Nagging, 2. Sarcasm, 3. Being arrogant about me holding to a training/eating regimen and her having a hard time

The number one thing that has worked has been encouragement. If she missed on her eating for a day, my response of ,“Hey, don’t worry about it, that is past, move on to what you are going to do tommorrow…” she felt like I was on her team. I made a lot of mistakes to learn that one…

John

Thank you for the responses so far. I like the idea of a fitness book. I think the ideas of some type of activity together might be the ticket as well. We do grocery shop together, but she tosses in her pop tarts (breakfast) etc. She has slowly begun to try to prepare nutrionally sound meals. I forgot to tell why my wife thinks weight training isn’t the greatest. About 2 years ago my employer did a company wide BFL program. I did it just because I thought I could win the $500 prize. (I did) My wife did it with me. I got her to try some protein shakes, which she thought tasted like wallpaper paste. She did pretty good on the program, but once it was over, she stopped. Since then she has put on about 15# of fat. She chooses to blame it all on the BFL program and the protein shakes because it “messed up her metabolism”. Never mind that being almost totally inactive and combining the fact that your metabolism slows as you age is really the culprit. -Scott

Leave a trail of chocolate that leads to the gym. OK, that won’t work. The best bet is something you both can do together, rollerblading, biking, etc. that involves getting sweaty but still has an element of fun or distraction. You might probe into her reasoning why she avoids lifting weights. There may be some misconception she has that keeps her away. You can work on the osteoporosis prevention angle too. Weight bearing exercise is about the only type that keeps calcium loss to a dull roar in older ladies. Good luck.

I wouldn’t say anything about it. Every now and then it would be ok if you asked her if she wants to workout with you, but only once a month or so.

Too bad she didn’t watch the evening news one day last week: it showed what a modest amount of weight training can do for ANYONE whether they’re young or old, it improves almost everything health-wise, and the study showed most of the older “lifters” had a 20 year improvement on their health, making them feel 20 years younger~~if she says she’ll wait until she gets older, starting now improves the benefits, just like compounding money!! And the study said women lose a lb of muscle per year! (I think that was the quote) after 25 or so, men don’t lose that until later, but they will too!! A fountain of youth!! That’s a major part of why I’ll work out until I die!

Steely Eyes had some good points to make if you do decide to “talk” to her about weight training again. The osteo thing is quite significant for women and weight training really helps prevent that. You might also want to mention the yucky looking “fish-belly” arms (saggy triceps) that ALL women get as they age. The “fountain of youth” thing is really important too.
Most women shy away from weight training because they think it will make them look like Arnold. I know that’s stupid, but it’s true. They do not want to look bulky and honestly believe that weights will make them look huge.They see guys getting huge because of the weights, so they figure they will too. The fitness industry really needs to boost up their marketing to change that belief.Most women also do tons of aerobics/cardio thinking that the more they do, the more calories they will lose. While that is partly too, they forget about plateauing, and they don’t realize that muscles that are developed will work more efficiently at burning those calories. If they even pick up a weight, it is 5 lbs. or less. Well, I’m ranting here, so I’ll stop. Your wife seems to be convinced that the BFL program resulted in weight gain–so she’s not going to buy into that too quickly. Try the alternative ideas given to you by many of the posters. Once she begins to feel envigorated, she may change her mind about the weights.

It’s really a tough thing for some people to get up and exercise. I have the same problem with my girlfriend. While I am about as enthusiastic as they get when it comes to health and fitness, she could almost care less. On occasions when she’s “feeling fat” she will be motivated to join me at the gym or go for a walk. She feels that as long as she eats right (and everyone knows that you’re gonna slip up from time to time) she shouldn’t have to exercise. She also hates the idea of me supplementing whether it be with protein, a multivitamin, my fish oils, prohormones, etc…she thinks that if she doesn’t do it, i shouldn’t either…This is my passion in life. Are there any other T-dudes or T-vixens that are so inspired by health, fitness, supplementation, and life for that matter, that you’d like to make it a carreer? Anyone who already has?

Dude, similar plight. I couldn’t persuade my wife to get fired up about any structured exercise program. But I’ve been patient, kept doing my own thing, and found that if we view exercise as an activity we do together, she responds much better. She’ll go hiking, backpacking, canoeing, biking, or whatever with me at the drop of a hat, because we’re doing something together. Now she’s gravitating into her own different activities too. But whining, nagging, or talking like you’re her coach will make your life exceedingly bad in several ways.

Fitness instructing was my career for awhile, but it really doesn’t pay. It’s a great part-time job, but to earn enough money you almost have to burn yourself out–and even then it still doesn’t pay. If you’re interested in pursuing fitness as a career, I recommend that you look on it more as a supplementary thing that you do for yourself–and that your career should be something that will actually make life comfortable for you financially.