Is your significant other sabotaging your fitness?

Studies show that having an accountability partner increases your fitness results. Working out with a group increases success rates even more. And what about when those two variables are combined?
By Monica Hilton
November 19, 2021
Is your significant other sabotaging your fitness?

Studies show that having an accountability partner increases your fitness results. Working out with a group increases success rates even more. And what about when those two variables are combined?

Over the years, some of the best results I’ve seen come in pairs: Couples working out together in a group class are some of my most consistent, happy and successful members.

It’s worth noting that this also happens when the pair is a couple of friends who hold each other accountable, but today’s topic is all about what happens when one person in a relationship is all about fitness and the other is… not. (I really wanted to use the “fitness pizza in my mouth” joke here. Forgive me.)

When it comes to healthy lifestyle, if couples don’t fit into the “we’re in this together” scenario described above, there are generally two other categories that the non-fitness partner might fall into: Support or sabotage.

The supportive partner might not necessarily be interested in an active lifestyle but they still encourage and nurture the goals of their significant other. Generally I’ve found that in this situation, both partners view fitness as a hobby that one participates in and the other doesn’t, no different from a bowling league, book club or church group. There’s no animosity from one partner to the other in regards to fitness, it’s just something he/she enjoys and they both live happily ever after.

Sabotage is a whole different ballpark. In a fitness-sabotaging relationship, one partner is not interested in a healthy lifestyle and therefore is not ok with the other partner trying to live that way. Whether the cause is laziness, jealousy or some other ulterior reasoning, partner one is willing to go to great lengths to stop partner two from achieving exercise, nutrition and/or wellness goals.

To take a deeper look at examples of how this sabotage might manifest itself, we’ll use Fran and Larry as an example. Fran wants to be Fit Fran and Larry is fine with being Less-Fit Larry. Larry doesn’t really understand why Fran wants to work out. He wonders if there might be someone else that she’s trying to get in shape for and honestly, he just thinks it’s easier to be lazy.

At first, he makes little, sarcastic comments about her getting healthier or gives her grief: “You’re going to the gym AGAIN?!” as though it’s a bad habit that she needs to fix. Then he starts intentionally scheduling things for them to do during her normal workout times. Sometimes he orders pizza for their dinner or buys an assortment of chips and unhealthy snacks to fill the pantry, even though he knows she’s trying to improve her nutrition.

Who would do such a thing? It’s more common than you’d think and while sometimes it’s intentional, occasionally it’s actually subconscious. Either way, it’s not okay. Someone is making the (often difficult) decision to live a healthy lifestyle. They are choosing a habit that’s beneficial for them, and one that gets paid forward to those around them. Unlike drinking, smoking, gambling or any of the many other life-altering addictions they could be choosing, this is arguably among the best choices they could be making.

Recognizing the sabotage is the first step in fixing the issue. If this topic resonates with you and you’re interested in diving deeper into next steps, hit reply and let me know. Or forward to a friend who might be experiencing this.

I’d also like to hear from you if you’re in a “team fitness” relationship OR if you’re looking for an accountability partner! Knowing who’s reading will help me with upcoming articles.

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