Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Health

I'm not always the best about taking care of myself.  I have a tendency to start up with healthy living plans, only to watch it all fall apart when my inevitable stress-messes hit. At this point, I'm wise enough to get back on the healthy living wagon (somewhat) quickly, but there's also a comfortable lazy tendency pulling me back towards the comfort of my bed (instead of exercising in the morning) or towards the comfort food of pasta, cheese, and numerous other rich indulgences (instead of a plate piled high with vegetables with cheese as an accent).  Even worse, Jason has many of the same comfort-trending inclinations. 

This should be a health-related disaster.  But, somehow, it's not.  Instead, we're much better influences on each other than when we were "just" in a committed relationship.  We're consciously working to build routines that reinforce health, including planning our weekly home cooked meals, shopping at the Farmers Markets, and supporting each others' unique exercise needs (he bikes, I sometimes run, use workout videos, and buy occasional personal training sessions to re-motivate me at the gym. I still miss college sports.)  He reads my Weight Watchers cookbooks and asks questions about my needs as he learns to cook in ways that support our healthy aims.  When one person lags, the other is there to actually help with the slack, making lunches, cooking dinner, and suggesting Saturday afternoon walks around the neighborhood.

Most certainly, we could have done this in an everyday partnership situation.  But knowing that we're in it for life has made it both easier and more imperative.  It's shifted the calculation of what's important in my everyday. We're strong enough together that we're actively challenging each others' choices, asking if you really want that extra (third) cookie (couching it in weekly points allowance language or we-have-a-nice-dinner-out-tomorrow language.*) We're careful about these conversations, but we're finally learning how to effectively challenge and push each others' comfort zones, ultimately safe in the knowledge that these tough questions won't precipitate a breakup.  Because we're committed to this relationship, no matter what and it's because of that lifetime view that we're pushing each other so hard.  My health matters to someone else.  His health matters to me.  My late night sugary indulgences suddenly feel short-shortsightedly selfish now that I'm able to picture the long-term selfish goals that require being healthy enough to travel the world at 80 together, holding each others' hands, reminiscing about a lifetime of joy built on the back of these hard third-cookie conversations and commitments.

We're aiming for a lifetime of marriage by using this engagement period to test out recipes, routines, and hard-question approaches. For me, it's the hard questions that are the most striking part of this engagement period.  Finding ourselves secure in this partnership has finally allowed us to jointly tackle our individual (and shared) weaknesses, to be more honest with each other, and to continue feeling respected in the process. We're actively making time for it, even when it's hard and I mostly feel whiny.  For us, we've directed our current efforts at health.  For others, it's probably something else.  But regardless, this process of marriage has given us an opportunity to test our boundaries and rely on our love, all while working to build a long-term future.


*we also know each other well enough to know when NOT to touch the third cookie conversation with a ten foot pole. There's that look, at the end of one of those days, that obviously says back the heck off my chocolate chips.  

17 comments:

  1. I can totally totally relate to this. I get trapped in the 'reward' cycle of bad foods. Had a bad day? Pasta! Been eating well? I deserve cookies! We try the best we can and I've really been trying to stick with exercising but like you, I just want to see us healthy enough to be together for years and years and years :)

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  2. This is really admirable and mature.

    We, on the other hand, are content fatties with no sense of the future (immature.) we eat what we want (yuuuuuuuuum, mac & cheese) and have each gained more than 20 pounds since moving in with each other. Um, not good. We are trying to become more healthy now, but it is very hard to wean the Guy off of cheese products.

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  3. My name is Davanie and I'm a chocolate chipoholic. So is my fiance. He's much more inclined to exercise than I am - like 6-7 days per week rather than my measly 1 or 2 (or zero), but I tend to eat better since he thinks you can eat whatever you want if you exercise a lot. You're right, one of the many perks of being in it for the long haul is to motivate each other to be a better person.

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  4. @cupcake - we totally gained those same 20 pounds... when we weren't living together but spent all our free time together. My guess is every good couple has ways that the partnership helps them both succeed a bit more, and health is one of those ways for us (perhaps because we've been dealing with family health issues for so long). Because d*mn, I love me some cheese. I cannot say enough wonderful things about cheese (except for that 2% light supermarket bs attempt at cheese.) But so long as we've promised not to buy it for the house, I'm okay. I am, however, a little overzealous at hors deurves cheese plate moments.

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  5. good for you guys. me and my guy are both something like 10 lb overweight because we have not been good at influencing each other to get out and exercise.

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  6. Hm, let's see. I lost weight when The Candyman moved in and he's gained 35 pounds! He needed to gain weight tho! :)

    But, the point here isn't weight, it's those third0cookie conversations. They can be SO hard. But they are also SO rewarding. I think this is just a great post. The core of it the growing and how you constantly feed off of one another in the growth process. it's so wonderful and only expands with marriage.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  7. this is what partnership is. you guys totally get it. i said these exact words to Mike at dinner last night: "we need to help each other be the best person we can be. And to live the best life we can possibly live." i will be working late nights again soon, and therefore health-related obligations like exercising and eating well will likely go out the window. but not this time. we know now that we need to motivate each other. i need mike to MAKE me get my ass on that skateboard and go skating with him, or throw on some tennis shoes go running with him. i need him to calm me down when I worry too much (which happens A LOT). and i need him to help track my progress w/my anxiety disorder, and motivate each other to explore ways in which to overcome it. And Mike needs me to help him be more organized, be more aware of his cholesterol problems, more attentive, and more focused on the goals he wants to achieve, but can't because of his ADHD. He just got diagnosed btw, so that's a whole new set of adjustments we're working through. but we're dealing with it together. With a positive attitude. And with the unified goal of helping Mike live the best life possible despite his ADHD - and me, to live the best life possible despite my Anxiety. And with the notion that if I falter, or if Mike falters, which WILL happen, then we need to approach each bump in the road with LOVE. With wanting nothing more but to help the other out by whatever means necessary. Even if it's something simple like keeping a journal of mike and my progress on our meds, or doing yoga together every other day, or setting up a calendar to keep both our lives organized and in sync.

    and PS, when i'm spoon deep in a carton of peanut butter chocolate ice cream after a long day, mike knows not to give me the "third cookie look." i HATE the "third cookie look." ;)

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  8. I know what you mean! Ryan has been a great influence on my in terms of health. I balance his super healthy tendencies out a little bit, so it works. And I know what you mean about knowing when to not even go there!

    Isn't it odd to think this all affects someone else? It's such a weird thing to get used to.

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  9. that's really great that you guys can challenge and support each other when the other wants to slack. we are so not that way. when one person slacks the other follows (maybe with a little "you're so bad" comment thrown in there) right behind. we eventually get back in the swing of healthier living but our times off the wagon can be quite often and vast.

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  10. @Bowie Bride and TSB: exactly. For us, it's health. For others, it's helping motivate each other towards art or yoga or whatever. They all require "third cookie conversations" and this engagement/planning period is bringing out that commitment.

    @the alternative wife: on my own, I'd probably slack 50% of the time (or, um, more.) Let's assume it the same-ish for him. But together, we only slack about 25% of the time. There's still definite slackage, but having made this a priority and practicing how to talk with each other for our health (and other goals) has created such an improvement. It's a goal and conversation we're constantly working on, uncomfortable moments and all, because I'm definitely familiar with life off the wagon :)

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  11. That photo makes my heart melt. I hope we're traveling the world at 80 too. Good on you two for motivating the other. That's what partnership is all about.

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  12. This is what its all about supporting each other and helping work toward common goals. Eric and I are making this move for our health and well being. I was on the track for the wedding but now we are both jumping on it.

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  13. A couple needs to support and influence each other in positive ways. This is how we always make the next day better. : )

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  14. word.

    we joined a gym together and really prod each other to eat healthily.

    he's better at this than me, of course. im always the one coaxing him to eat a leeetle bit of my cheese fries...

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  15. you really have a good thing going there. you both are really good for each other - encouraging, nurturing, each helping the other be the best individual he/she can be. it's rad. i got him to do yoga with me for awhile! does that count? :)

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  16. The sad thing for me is that Mr Fix It is much more into exercise than I am and I am much more into healthy eating (sort of) than he is. So while I will benefit from having an in home personal trainer to get me fit once we are living together, he will benefit from having home cooked healthier meals on the table each night instead of eating fast food as a bachelor. :) It's unfortunate that we couldn't be doing this before the wedding...something I guess we continue to look forward to post-wedding day.

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  17. health is so important indeed,
    but I crave for milkshake now!
    That picture is adorable~

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