The year is still young, which means those healthy-living resolutions might still be in play—and if so, good for you! In fact, maybe your significant other, roommate, spouse or best friend is also in pursuit of a health goal this year. We’ve written about how to start making a change to your lifestyle and ways to stick to your healthy routine before, but as I reread that post I realized that I did not include finding a health “buddy.” It’s not crucial, but it helps. Going it alone can be a drag.
The Power of a Partner
Research indicates that having a partner “in the game” with you can make a positive difference in your results. A study published in 2015 found that, among married or co-habitating couples, when one partner took up a new healthy habit, the other partner also began to make a positive lifestyle changes. This was more strikingly noted when the healthy habit was a new thing—versus in couples where one partner had been practicing that healthy lifestyle habit previously. It’s been established that social modeling as it pertains to eating (using the eating behavior of others’ as a guide for your own) is important in shaping our eating habits, whether we realize it or not. Considering this can either benefit you or make it harder to stick to a healthy eating plan. All of this points to the well-known diet/fitness advice to surround yourself with people who are living the lifestyle you want to live. Or, in less lofty language: it’s harder to enjoy your salad when everyone around you is eating pizza and beer.
Having someone to be on your healthy living “team” is another tool to help you reach your goals. It’s not just someone to chat with while jogging or spot you while weight lifting. It’s also not someone to drag you through your weight loss plan or approve every morsel you put in your mouth. An accountabilibuddy is someone who curbs your very human tendency to make excuses (enablers don’t help you make real changes), who (nicely) pushes you when your energy or motivation are flagging, and perhaps most importantly—wants accountability from you in return. It’s a partnership. While spouses can be impactful in helping you adopt a healthy lifestyle, they may not be the best accountabilibuddies.
Being a Good Healthy-Living Partner
Chances are, you’re not a personal trainer (if you were, someone looking to have you as their healthy-living partner would likely be paying you for that—that’s not what we’re talking about here), so nobody expects you to be professional at being their partner. What they do want, though, is basically the same thing you’d be looking for in a partner: someone who is courteous, punctual, responsive, consistent—oh, and fun would be great, too! What you don’t want: someone who will nag you, judge you, is inflexible, is condescending, is an enabler or pushover, is always late, or expects way more from the relationship than you do. (And of course, you don’t want to have those traits either if you’re hoping to team up with someone.) Not everyone will be a good match. In order to help you think of who might be appropriate, try making a short list of what you think you’ll need in a healthy-living partner and go from there. Another thing to consider: offer to be a an accountabilibuddy for someone else—perhaps the kind of person you’d like to team up with. Sometimes all it takes is being the first one to offer.