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Working Out Together

I've been reading a lot of postings on this site lately and have read a slew of good advice as well as many sad stories. Quite a number of the postings have involved spouses supporting, or not supporting, each other. Here's my two cents on the topic.

Let me start by saying that I realize my belief is just that - my belief. It holds no more credence than that so here goes.

No one got you into the physical condition that you are in. You did it and you need to undo it. Yes there may have been the wrong sort of support to push you along the way, enablers, disease, lifestyles, and peer pressure but you were the one that sat or drove when you could have stood or walked. You are the one that gobbled through large and second portions when you could have slowed down and eaten less while enjoying it more. These were your decisions and you have to take ownership of them. I have been there myself when I let my high metabolism and active lifestyle excuse some pretty bad nutrition mistakes that I allowed to became habits I had to overcome later.

That being said, we all need and deserve support. Very few can make it alone in these kinds of behavior and life changing struggles. But what is support?

My wife and I had very differing views on this at the start and, to be honest, still have at times. She thought support was my doing everything with her and at her pace. I thought that support was helping make time for her workouts, being tolerant of her diet changes and staying the heck out of the way. It turns out that we were both wrong.

My wife and I have quite a few similarities with some major differences. Physically, we are completely opposite body types and come from majorly different backgrounds in regards to physical activity. She grew up spending hours practicing a musical instrument and lavishing in the praise she rightly deserved for it. I grew up doing chores and playing outdoors until dark and getting praised for my grades. I can't tell you how she feels but I know that starting an exercise program and ceasing to use food as a subtitute for other things was immensely difficult for her. I do know how I feel. I've always felt physically inferior to almost everyone and only got recognition for working harder than everyone around me. I still feel that way most of the time.

This being the case I couldn't do the same workouts or riding or walking events she did without eventually getting frustrated and angry. I wanted to be there for her and help anyway I could but our needs are different and mine weren't being met. She wanted to complete the workouts and events and hope to get her physical shape back in the process. I wanted to give each workout and event everything I had and to finish feeling that I had left it all there which made me a good as anyone at the start line and better than those who quit.

Eventually we found ways to workout at the same time doing different things. We found classes that we could do together that allowed for working at our own pace (spinning mostly). We enter events with both a walking and a running division. When we ride our bicycles we ride together until we find that she has someone to ride with and I'm released to "play with the big boys". This meets both our needs and allows us to support one another without one of us (usually me) getting angry and sarcastic.
I have found that as long as I get ample opportunity to "stretch my wings" I can often ride or walk with her without feeling resentful. She found out that she has the personal strength to find support in our joint participation without me being right at her side.

So far it works for us.

The next time you are looking for support from someone else in reaching a goal, please stop and look at what you really are asking. Is it support, a need to control the relationship, an excuse for failing, or just replacing one crutch with another?

Oh, one last thing before I close. Unless you think this is one-sided and I'm the "better person" in all of this - let me tell you that I get plenty of support from her as well. She reminds me (and sometimes nags) when I don't feel like working out. She praises my small accomplishments when I place in my age group or stay up with a group of riders that used to leave me in the dust. She doesn't let me get away with meritless excuses. She even suggests events to challenge me to get better because she knows me so well. Personally, standing still is falling behind (luckily I don't apply that standard to others.).

And she helps me laugh at myself when I'm hobbling around in stiffness and discomfort the next day!!!


  • nakrya
    nakrya Posts: 191
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I see where you're coming from.

    When I first started getting serious about fitness, I got myself a personal trainer. I didn't want to rely on my boyfriend for support, although he was adamant that he help me out. I needed the support for motivation, and I couldn't be happier. I'll be doing my first 10k next weekend!

    My bf is a lot more active than me, so there was no way we could "work out" together. That being said, we do so many other things like hiking (how we first met), he's teaching me how to swim, and we have so much fun just being 'active' together.

    But you are right in that you have to look at your goals, and what you want. Don't rely on someone to reach your goals for you.
  • Ge0rgiana
    Ge0rgiana Posts: 1,649 Member
    All I can say about this is I know what it's like when they DON'T support you and how different it is when they DO. My last relationship was a very toxic one for many reasons. As for the healthy lifestyle part of it, my ex kept junk food in the house constantly. I wanted to play tennis for years, but I could never get him involved in any sort of outdoor activity that didn't involve beer. (I tried to play with friends, but our schedules were always crazy and it fell through) I'm an impulsive eater. I am fine eating healthy food, but when I have to open the cabinets or the refrigerator day after day and see candy, snack cakes, burritos, canned ravioli, etc... I am only human, and I only have so much will power. He would say "Well just don't eat it." I'd mutter under my breath "Well just stop drinking. Same difference." You get the picture.

    My currently relationship is 180 degrees different. While we both have different nutrition needs / goals, we do support each other. REALLY support each other. I cook as healthily as I can, and I encourage him to make better food choices. Although losing weight was never his goal, he has slimmed down a bit! (Men really do have it so easy!) Weight loss is definitely one of my goals, and he realizes my problem with impulsiveness. He has worked with me to develop a system where he can have his occasional naughty snacks (which aren't a trigger food for him) and I don't have to see them. He's almost a foot taller than I am, so he keeps his stash up on a top cabinet shelf where I can't see or reach them. If he brings home something that has to be refrigerated, we put a dish towel over it. That sends this magical signal to my brain that says "This is unappetizing". Strange but true! We are also very active together. I have finally found my tennis partner, and we also go walking in the local nature center and even do yoga together.

    I fully understand about support not meaning wholly depending on the other person to prop you up and do it for you, but it really is much more difficult when your partner sabotages you and isn't willing to work with you. It causes problems for your relationship. I finally realized that my health is just too precious to continue on with someone who was going to think that little of me and my efforts to be a healthier person. (There were other bigger problems with the ex, but the healthy lifestyle issues are a reflection of the relationship in general.) After I left that relationship, I realized that one of my big requirements for a mate was someone who would support my health efforts at the very least. My current boyfriend was no health nut when we met, but he was willing to play ball. Not only have I not had to fight him, he has actually enhanced my efforts by being there for me emotionally and exercising with me. It's so much easier to get out there and chase fuzzy little balls when your partner is psyched to do it, too!

    Yeah, you can do it on your own. But it sure goes smoother when you and your partner are on the same page.