Give your spouse a new, healthier you in 2016

Set a goal to get healthy this year, and learn simple ways to achieve it.

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  • Note: If you are a man, read every "him" in this article as "her."

    There are a lot of gifts you can give to the one you love most, but perhaps there is none greater than a better version of yourself. You've already given yourself to him; now, how about giving yourself again but better? How about giving him a new, improved, healthier version of yourself in 2016?

    If you give your spouse a fitter, healthier you, you are giving him the gift of more quantity and quality of time with you. You will live longer and help him to live longer. You will live better and help him to live better.

    You may think you can't do it. But you can because there is a secret about true love that is also the key to a healthy lifestyle: there are things you lack the discipline to do for yourself that you can find the strength to do for him.

    If you believe that, read on because we are going to tell you exactly how to do it.

    First, you should know we have been long-time critics of fad diets—the kind of weight-loss programs that come and go; the kind where you count everything from calories to carbs to proteins and take all the pleasure out of eating; the kind where you lose a few pounds, then promptly gain them back.

    We have found what matters more than just a weight-loss program is to truly understand our appetites and our capacity to love.

    We have always liked the appetite metaphor of a horse that needs to be controlled with a bridle. In this view of things, appetites are not inherently bad or ugly, and neither are they things we want to overcome or get rid of. Rather, they are things of great beauty but so strong that they can hurt us if we do not channel and control their power with a "bridle."

    You don't curse the horse or kill it. You appreciate it and control it in a way for it to serve you and bring you joy. Appetites are the same.

    At its best, your food-appetite (far from being your enemy) can be the sensor that tells you what your body needs. Your appetite probably isn't doing that for you right now because you've messed it up a bit. But you can fix it to where the things that sound, look, smell and taste the best to you actually are the best for you. So the basics of this new way of living is that our appetites are good, our senses are good, the earth is good and natural food in variety is good.

    Our philosophy is to eat what you want, but only eat half of it (half of your normal portion, half of what your appetite wants). Along with eating only half as much, eat twice as slow. Take smaller bites, set your fork down in between bites, savor, sip and smell instead of gulping, guzzling and gorging. It turns out eating half as much, twice as slow takes the same amount of time, and you end up enjoying it more!

    Our observation and theory is Americans eat about twice as much as they need. The job of our food-appetites is to get enough nutrients into our bodies, and the way our appetites go about their jobs is to give us the urge to eat until we consume enough food to give our bodies adequate nourishment. Your appetite doesn't care if you are eating junk food so long as it gets you to eat large enough quantities to get the nutrients.

    Interestingly, by controlling the quantity of food we eat, we also begin to control the quality. As we discipline the size of our portions and as the appetite finds it can't change those quantities, its only other option for getting the nutrients it needs is to demand higher quality. So, if we stick to the half-portions, vegetables and fruits and other wholesome foods begin to look better and better to us, while junk food gradually loses its appeal.

    There is a little more to it than that like drinking a tall glass of water before each meal and finding a type of daily exercise you enjoy, but the basic core of what we believe will get you healthy is to simply eat half of 3 meals a day and to have no snacks in between other than fruit or vegetables.

    Now is a great time to begin because the number one New Year's resolution every year is to be healthier. And, if you have tried it before but failed; or, if you have lost weight, but gained it back; you may need a new approach—something simpler and something you can sustain over weeks, months and even years.

    And now we get back to the suggestion of doing it as a gift for your spouse. It is hard to eat slowly when you feel hungry, and it is very hard to stop when you have eaten half of a meal. Many who have tried to do this for themselves find they simply don't have the ongoing motivation to do it.

    So, the thing to do is ask yourself a simple question: Who do you love more than yourself? Hopefully the answer is your spouse. Reframe your reasons and your motivation for wanting to get healthy. You are doing it for him. Simply try to remember you are doing it for the one you love most and also for your present or future children. As you think of it in that way, you will find you can do it and that it gradually becomes a habit—a good habit that can save your life and be the greatest gift to those you love.

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Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times #1 Bestselling Authors and founders of JoySchools.com who speak worldwide on marriage and parenting issues. Their new books are The Turning, and Life in Full.

Website: http://www.valuesparenting.com

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