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From Couch Potato to Studly Spud

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Do you have a partner who needs motivation, poking, and prodding to exercise and be fit and amazing like you?

Dear Fun and Fit: How do I get my husband off the couch and moving?
Kathy L, Marietta, GA

Are you a Couch Potato or a Spud Stud?

Kymberly: I love this question if not just for the fact that I get to coin a new phrase: Spouse Spud! Who out there has a partner who loves exercise … as long as it’s you doing it?

Speaking from personal experience, I can say that I have had total failure in getting my spouse onto a regular workout program. I went so far as to give the hubster a year’s membership at the club where I teach. And I paid for this, mind you. It was not a freebie just because I teach at the club in question. Anyway, the hubster had mentioned wanting to work out more – meaning more than one day a week as he had been doing. I thought that meant, well, you know — “work out and exercise.” It really meant “I’ll go one time, ride the bike for 15 minutes, and declare myself in too much knee pain to ever exercise formally again.” That was the most expensive, whiny 15 minute gym session ever!

My professional advice is “let sleeping spuds lie.” You cannot get them off the couch. They have to get themselves off that divine divan. We can only control our own fitness, so we can be ready to join Spouse Spuds in action when they finally catch up. And on.Bake on that, Couch Potatoes!

From Couch Potato to Studly Spud

Alexandra: Sadly, if nagging worked, every spouse in the country would be fit. Speaking from my counseling hat (like the talking hat in Harry Potter), I can say that Kymberly stole my words. You can’t get him off the couch except with sharp objects (excluding your tongue). But you CAN set a good example. If you go walking or skating or dancing or even better, do more burpees than he can, your husband will notice how much fun you’re having and want to get competitive, beat you,join you.

Become the Burpee

Also, people like to do what their friends do, so if his friends are exercising, they can invite him. He might join in for the social rewards and just happen to get more fit in the process. If his friends are couch potatoes too, then you’ll need to move on to Plan B: get some really sexy yoga pants. Stand in front of the couch, blocking access to the television, and say, “Do you think my butt makes your TV look like it should be turned off?” Then go on your walk. He’ll be home, wondering what just happened.

People do things out of their comfort zone because it’s either fun, better than the alternative or they see it clearly as a significant step toward a goal. So your best bet is to find something fun and invite him along. And if he doesn’t want to come with you, go anyway. Curiosity is also a great motivator, especially if you just signed up for a partners line-dancing class!

This little tater went to exercise. This little tater stayed home. This little tater got superbuff. And this little tater was alone. Don’t be a tater hater!

Readers: Have you had any success getting your loved one off the couch? What worked? What didn’t?

Photo credits: Creative Commons-  oddsockmikkime and Amber Karnes




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About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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14 Responses to From Couch Potato to Studly Spud

  1. Elle July 19, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Definitely helps to find something fun to do together. My husband has been running with me this whole past year and we also walk, swim, bike, play tennis and hike together. I can even get him to do aerobics with me occasionally.

    It’s all about the smile factor, I think.

    Telling is no good… but Asking and Including works well.
    Elle recently posted..Off to a Great Running StartMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit July 19, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

      Exactly, Elle. FAI: Fun, Ask, Include. You have it right there. Both of my boys think that exercise is fun because I’m always talking about how much I love it. Sometimes they even come to one of my classes!
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..The Klout Workout: Perks & CircuitsMy Profile

  2. Tamara July 19, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    Sometimes the hardest people to motivate are the ones closest to us.

    My hubby complained about a sore back for years. I repeatedly showed him how to plank and do some simple upper back strength exercises. He finally started planking and ‘surprise’, no more back pain. But did he continue; of course not, his back doesn’t hurt anymore!

    I’ve given up trying to help, although it frustrates me that people pay me for my advice and my own hubby won’t take it!

    In his defence, he does bike ride 30-45 minutes daily. So at least he’s doing something!
    Tamara recently posted..5 Easy Breakfast Ideas for the Time-CrunchedMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit July 19, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

      I totally agree. I had the exact experience. While dating, we did lots of exercise together. After we got married, poof, nothing. It was very frustrating. And my dad has had all kinds of issues; all of which could be solved by exercise. Yet not once has he ever asked our advice. Maybe if we billed him…..
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..5 Fitness Trends from IDEA ConventionMy Profile

  3. Leah @ Chocolate and Wild Air July 19, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    I think leading by example is absolutely the best practice – no one likes a nag! Encouraging them through their friends is also a great idea, I hadn’t ever thought of that one…
    Leah @ Chocolate and Wild Air recently posted..Back to our regularly scheduled programMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit July 19, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

      Yup, all of my friends tend to be people who are active. I am physically uncomfortable if I sit too long. As a matter of fact, every so often I go walking with one of my dearest, longest-time friends. Great way to socialize and get more fit.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Diets Work if You DoMy Profile

  4. kevin@dentalimplantsinMexico July 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    Nagging is the worst tactic for any situation, it never works and usually leads to someone getting upset. However I think that offering and including the other person, could be the most successful tactic because they will enjoy spending the quality time together while also knowing that you wanted them to be part of your experience.

    • AlexandraFunFit July 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

      I tried nagging for a number of years, then finally gave up. It just made both of us irritable. Giving up was hard, but it was the best thing overall. Some people just don’t want to make changes just because we think they should! As a counselor, I can appreciate the need to let people make their own choices; as a family member, letting go was hard. But in the end, I hate nagging, so why would someone else like it any better?
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Lose Weight or Maintain Weight Loss? My Profile

  5. Shira July 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    Hi ladies! Bonus points for working the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter into this post. My ex was such a couch potato he’d probably count as mashed and I couldn’t do a thing to get him to exercise. Even worse, he’d disparage my love of fitness, which was probably reason #48 (out of hundreds) we ended up divorced back in 1999. So when I wanted to meet the right guy, I knew he had to possess at least a basic interest in being active – and ended up with a man who exercises even more than I do. My fiancee rows several times a week on a crew team and hits the gym for cardio and strength training most mornings at 5:30 am. The only downside is that when i show up at the gym around 6:30a, I’m bounded to get a smart-ass “sleep in again” comment. :)

  6. Madeline @ Food Fitness and Family July 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    I’m really lucky in the sense that my spouse is as obsessed with fitness and eating right as I am. However, I know a couple of friends who have the opposite problem. I totally agree that nagging doesn’t work and that they have to want to change themselves. Very sound advice as always ladies!

    PLUS I never fail to crack up when I read what you guys right … I’m not a tater hater ;)
    Madeline @ Food Fitness and Family recently posted..Munchkin Meals: LunchMy Profile

  7. Evelyn July 19, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

    I use to be the couch potato. My hubby is the one who exercises. He would say what he thought I should do, but I never did it. He stopped telling me what I should do and when that stopped, that’s when I took an interest in exercising on my own.

    It wasn’t until I decided to do it for myself that I started working out. I guess one has to get to the point where they are tired of being a couch potato. Takes some longer than others.

    Love the headline, very catchy!!

  8. Cody July 20, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    I’m in my slow transition from couch potato to active human. A few month ago, nearly all my friends were couch potatoes.

    However, one at a time, each of us began building a workout routine and going to the gym as a group. Now all of us are active on a daily basis and are eating a far more healthy diet. It’s something for everyone to do now, where we all participate.

  9. Alison @ racingtales July 20, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    Agree, nagging won’t work. Setting a good example and showing that you’re having fun (even the times when you’re not) might. I never tried to get my husband to work out, and now he’s a runner and triathlete…he saw how much I enjoyed it and wanted IN! (Also great way to get some time away from the kids…)
    Alison @ racingtales recently posted..Product Review: Cheribundi Tart Cherry JuiceMy Profile

  10. Mariella Lombardi July 21, 2012 at 4:59 am #

    Really great advice ladies. I think that most husbands appreciate if we, the wives, try and stay fit and do exercises:) My husband likes martial arts and he does that every week so I can’t say he is a couch potato. Now I will try to get him to go take up a salsa class, it’s nice to do something together.
    Mariella Lombardi recently posted..My Daughter is Overweight – How Do I Tell Her Without Crushing HerMy Profile

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