By Joyce Florance

When someone asks my husband if he runs, his standard answer is, “Only if something is chasing me!” My husband does not exercise and his diet is filled with red meat and potatoes, corn chips and pork rinds. He will eat the occasional salad, but only if it is smothered in blue cheese dressing. I have encouraged him to exercise and eat healthier, but he has little to motivate him since he is 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighs 155 pounds and has cholesterol and blood pressure readings lower than mine. He tells everyone that if he were to eat healthy it would probably kill him. Here are some subtle ways I have found to get him to exercise and eat healthier.

  • Walking vacations. Choose vacation spots that require walking. Hot Springs, Ark., the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns and flea markets are good examples. This works most of the time, although occasionally he insists on the use of a trolley.
  • Don’t eat out. Fix his meals at home so you have more control over what he eats.
  • Sneak in healthy foods. Forget ground turkey or low fat cheeses. He can’t be fooled. However, I did remember that my mother put grated carrots in the spaghetti sauce and Dad never knew the difference. I use less cheese than the recipe suggests or I add extra tomatoes. I add less salt because I know he is going to add more anyway.
  • Don’t nag. Instead, reinforce good behavior and serve as a role model.
  • Sneak in advice. If my husband complains about a backache, I use that as the opportunity to tell him how good exercise would make him feel.
  • Explain that exercise doesn’t require a big time or effort investment. Moderate exercise three to four times weekly for 20 to 30 minutes is all that is required.
  • Start with small steps. Don’t go from pork skins to organic chips but from pork skins to baked chips.
  • Julie Hartley, dietitian and wellness coach at Willis-Knighton has given me some good advice: “Taste is key when getting people to change their diet. Experiment with different foods and spices.” With my husband, hot and spicy are two essential ingredients.

Each day, I tell my husband that as we grow old together we need to stay fit, strong and flexible so we can enjoy our retirement. To remain independent as long as possible, regular exercise and eating healthy are necessary. Every time he talks about upgrading to a larger RV, I tell him how important strength and endurance are to handling a large vehicle. Wish me luck as I continue to encourage my husband as I let him know how much I love him and that I want him around as long as possible.

Fit Tip: To get a friend or loved one to exercise, consider getting them a fitness watch that monitors their activity. Gadget and goal oriented individuals will love to watch the number of steps walked increase each day.