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my husband's health - - like I need MORE stuff to do!

So my husband had a physical today - for the first time in several years. The doctor told him that he's overweight (which he already knew) and that he should start exercising (which he also knew) and that he should quit smoking and cut down on his drinking (yes - he knew that too!). Of course, I knew all of this as well! But my (and his) knowing these things is not the same as him DOING something about it.

So - here's my question...

How do I fascilitate my husband on his "quest" for better health? I don't want to be a nag, and he should want to take care of these things on his own, but I know that if I'm not on top of things that nothing will really change for him.

I told him, "When it comes to my health, it is a matter of will power on my part. But I fear that when it comes to your health, it is also a matter of will power on my part." Basically, if I don't make it "easy" for him to change his habits, he's not going to do it.

Here's what I figure I can do:
1. I can stop buying junk food. I'm the one who does the grocery shopping. If it's not in the house, he won't eat it.
2. I can tell him I'll watch the kids for an hour (as I do all day long anyway) so he can go to the gym.
3. I can buy bottled water and keep it in the fridge so he can grab one whenever he "wants a cold one."

I think it's going to be hard for him to change because even though he and I and the doctor all know that he should, I'm not quite sure he believes he has to deep down inside. He's only about 20-30 pounds overweight; he smokes a pack every 2-4 days (not technically a "heavy" smoker, I guess) and his chest x-rays came back fine; and he's not a drunk, he just has a few beers after work to unwind. So I think that since none of his issues are HUGE that he won't feel that it's necessary to change anything.

I guess I'm rambling now. Maybe I just needed to "vent" and think through this "out loud." But I'll take any helpful suggestions people have to offer.


Fri. May 19, 8:10pm

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We all need to vent sometimes.
Changing the types of foods you buy is a good idea. I'm assuming that you probably prepare the meals also, so you could prepare healthier meals for the whole family.
An idea is to get family exercise. Summer is coming so you could take the kids to the park and play frisbee, play catch, or go for a walk, or go swimming, or buy a badminten net for your yard. As I remember going swimming in the river was always quite a workout for my dad because I relentlesly asked to be tossed into the deeper water. Thinking back, that was probably one heck of a arm and shoulder workout!
It may not be super easy at first, but this could be a good opportunity for your whole family to develop an active lifestyle with healthy eating habits.
Just remember that it's not all on you either. He's going to have to feel personaly responsible for his own health. You can help, but you can't force him to make the changes so don't be hard on yourself.

Friday, May 19, 2006, 8:58 PM

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Welcome to my world

I understand what you're going through. My husband is a diabetic. I, like you, want to do what I can to help him. I also do all the grocery shopping so food in the house is (mostly) legal, he does bring some questionable items in the house. I also do most of the cooking so I can insure that meals at home are healthy. What happens outside the house is totally up to him. I do not scold him for ordering a burger and fries when we go out (while I eat a salad). I bought him a pedometer and offer to take walks with him, even though I slug it out at the gym every day.

What I found helpful for me was to understand what I COULD do to help and what I CAN'T do. I can buy the pedometer, I can't make him exercise. I can offer healthy food at home. I am not his mother and I don't order for him in restaurants. He has greatly improved over the years, so there is light at the end of the tunnel.

As for your husband not being alarmed because there are no big, scary health issues right now...just wait. If he continues to smoke, lead a sedenatary life style and disregard the excess weight he will end up with chronic, (MOSTLY)preventable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease. Then he will be forced to make changes. Or not. I am a nurse and see people every day who decided, against all medical advice, to continue unhealthy habits. You see them too, in wheelchairs at the mall, with the oxygen tank on the back. In life,there is always the fork in the road, which road should you take. Your husband is at such a fork right now. I hope he choses wisely.

Friday, May 19, 2006, 9:11 PM

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I think your strategy is an excellent one, OP. At least you will not be an "enabler". If he wants to continue his bad habits, it will be due to his choice and his efforts. But I wouldn't nag him too bad if he does drag in the bad stuff. People will do the right thing only when they are ready. But there will be no mistaking your message - how much you care about his health. You will be giving him every encouragement and opportunity to succeed. Another thing to keep in mind, though, is to let him be part of the solution. Ask him what his healthy preferences are. People who take part in the process come to "own" it rather than it being forced on them. Best of luck to you and your husband.

Friday, May 19, 2006, 9:13 PM

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