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Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017 12:17 am

Sofa’s choiced

PHOTO COURTESY AMY ALKON
Amy Alkon
My husband has a great body, but since we got married two years ago, he has completely stopped working out. One reason I was initially so attracted to him was that he was in great shape. I go to Pilates four times a week. How do I motivate him to go back to the gym? –Toned

If your husband’s starting to see definition in his legs, it shouldn’t be from rolling over and falling asleep on the remote.

As for how to get him back into workout mode, consider what psychologists Edward Deci and Richard M. Ryan have learned in studying motivation. They break it down into two categories – intrinsic and extrinsic, fancy terms for internal and external. The extrinsic kind is outside pressure to do something – like nagging from the wife to start going to the gym instead of just driving by the place and waving.

Extrinsic pressure tends to motivate defiance rather than compliance – which is to say it’s remarkably effective at bringing out the “terrible twos” in a 46-year-old man. Intrinsic motivation, however, is the kind that Deci and Ryan find leads to lasting change. This is motivation that comes from within a person, meaning that it’s in tune with who they are and what they want for themselves – like abs of steel instead of … wait, there are abs in there?

So, the challenge here is not how to make your husband work out but how to get him to start wanting what you want. You’re allowed to make requests of the person you’re married to, so ask him to try something for you – go to the gym … for just three weeks. Reassure him that you still find him hot, but explain that you really, really find him hot when it looks like you could chip a tooth on one of his biceps.

The three-week stint – beyond getting him back in the habit of going to the gym – should lead to some positive changes in his body, giving him a sense of accomplishment. Because Deci and Ryan find that feelings of “competence” are an integral part of intrinsic motivation, there’s a good chance he’ll feel motivated to keep working out – instead of trying to get by on making those weightlifter grunts every time he changes the channel.

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