The Influence of Environment Part 1 of 2: Love and Household Support
You don’t know me, but you know I’m a nutritionist, so maybe you assume I don’t eat candy or drink alcohol. Well, I do consume those things. My friends and I laugh about “Kyle the Nutritionist” when I’m having burgers and wine. Or more like, they laugh AT me. It’s all good.
But as an honourable fitness professional, I lead by example. I make sure I’m always in good or great shape, that my blood work is in the normal range, and that I cope with stress in healthy ways.
One of the reasons I stay healthy is the positive influence of my friends and I don’t keep junk food in the house.
This is a two-part blog about our environment and how it impacts our health and fitness.
Part One: Love and Household Support.
“There is something reassuring about watching someone you love eat a salad.“
My Girlfriend is healthy and fit. She lifts and runs, and eats arugula salads almost every day.
It’s not an accident I found her. I would never date a person who wasn’t dedicated to health and fitness. This eliminated about 85% of the population. Sometimes I strayed from my framework out of sheer loneliness or because “your standards are too high,” hearkened from my peers. But I stood fast.
Here is why I held out for a healthy partner:
1. It seemed logical to seek out someone with similar interests.
2. Healthy lifestyles are attractive to me. Not just the soft skin and muscles, but there is something reassuring about watching someone you love eat a salad. It means she is taking care of herself, and maybe that means she’ll be around for a long time, and maybe she will be responsible to take care of other important things.
3. I don’t want a bad influence in my life because it’s hard enough to stay healthy. In relationships, the unfit person always drags the fit person down.
4. Couples who play together, stay together. I enjoy exercise, and so does she. (Or we hate it that day but do it anyway). I like camping and sailing. So does she (we are still working on her fear of open water).
5. I assume that if both of us stay in shape it will improve our chances of having a healthy sex life, even though I know that body composition doesn’t always correlate to sex appeal.
But, like me, she likes to drink booze and eat candy like a normal person. So, there are times when we are actually bad influences on each other. But that’s only about 5% of the time,
Before getting serious, we had formal discussions about our health priorities and norms around exercise, drinking, and junk food. Do other couples have this conversation? They should.
What happens when both people get out of shape, and then one person wants to get healthier, but the other doesn’t?
From what I’ve seen, there are three potential outcomes to the above question:
1. The person trying to become fit gives up due to lack of household support, and both parties stay unhealthy (this is the mostly likely outcome).
2. The person trying to become fit inspires the partner, and both parties become fit.
3. The person trying to become fit succeeds, and the other doesn’t try. The fit one dumps the unfit one because their core values are so different.
No matter how motivated someone is to be healthy, if every night they have to sit next to a person eating chips, eventually will power fails.
But if both parties agree to make the home an healthy environment, it’s so much easier to comply.
Little things like keeping a space clear for yoga, and having a policy of no junk food in the house.
If a partner wants to be mildly supportive, I think the bare minimum is no junk food in the house.
If you are in this situation right now, here is a script you can try:
“I have an idea that can really support me and it won’t limit your lifestyle in any way. I’m not saying we can’t have junk food in the house, but can we at least have a rule, where there can’t be any leftover after it’s eaten? So if you want it, you just go out and get it, and eat it, and I won’t say anything. I’ll either sit with you or go to another room. Except for pizza night and dessert sometimes, I will still join you for that. I just don’t want any junk food around for 90% of the week.”
In my opinion, if the family/partner can’t get on board with this rule… Well, let’s just say that I get really upset when I hear this.
- The environment is a powerful dictator of human behaviour
- Keep healthy food in the house
- Do not keep junk food in the house
- Have some kind of treat meal, junk food, or alcohol each week, to avoid insanity and lead a normal life
- Choose supportive partners and/or friends
- To improve current relationships, learn how to talk about things. Have honest and open discussions about how you are changing. Remind them that you love them and ask for some kind of support. Be specific.
Conclusion of Part 1: Love and Household Support
If you want to succeed at your fitness goals, you need a supportive environment and supportive relationships.
It’s never too late
to open a dialogue with people you love, and change the patterns. If you need help with these conversations, I can help. I can help you practice confrontation, have a specific script for you, and support you through the process. The book I recommend for this is Crucial Conversations.
Please stay tuned for Part 2: Skittles vs. Wine Gums, Trigger foods, and Liquor Cabinets