7 Ways to Crush Your Fitness Goals...With Or Without Your Partner
I am bringing in an incredibly talented and wise writer here, whose mind and wit I respect beyond most. She is also such a fresh perspective when it comes to juggling her fitness, career and mom/wife life :) :) :)
Get ready for a most deserving treat <3
I give you… Alicia Esposito :)
You’ve likely seen them...they’re the couple running the marathon together, crushing reps at the gym together or eagerly share photos of their day-long hike in the mountains on Instagram. They challenge each other, support each other and use fitness as the connective tissue (no pun intended) that solidifies and fortifies their relationship. They’re the fit couple.
If you’re reading this, thinking “Yeah, that’s me and my guy/girl! We rock!” Well, good for you. But there are others that aren’t so lucky. Or better yet, there are others that are so stuck inside their heads that the idea of simply reaching out to someone else is emotionally and mentally crippling.
You could’ve guessed, but I’ll say it. One of those “others” is me.
That’s right. My husband doesn’t work out. The idea of it makes him guffaw. While he used to hit the gym pretty regularly, the craziness of everyday life and raising a 16 month old has left him prioritizing mental health and rest. Which leaves little ol’ me to my own devices, gradually building my fitness levels back up after a tumultuous pregnancy that left me tired, sick and overly reliant on carbs. Not every day has been easy, but I’ve learned a few valuable things along the way about what motivates me to stick with it -- even when the temptation to phone it in and watch last night’s Big Little Lies instead is alive and well. Hopefully they help you, too!
1. Remember why you’re doing it to begin with: Every day, I have to do a little gut check, reminding myself why I work out and what the ultimate outcome will be. While fitting into my old jeans is certainly a perk, it’s not the reason why I push myself at the gym or go to the 7:30pm Orangetheory class after a long day. It’s the feeling I get during and after. The surge of energy, the sheer euphoria that comes with knowing that I accomplished something and pushed myself harder. Working out is my therapy and it allows me to channel my stress and anxiety in a way that’s productive.
And I know more often than not, it will nourish my body and soul in a way that no Netflix series can accomplish--even Stranger Things. Your reason for pushing through the next workout or signing up for the next big fitness challenge is likely very different. But we all have something that moves us; that urges us to do better and be better. Keep those motivations in your head and heart. When things get hard, they will guide you.
2. Look at how you perceive working out and “health”: I used to look at working out as a punishment for what I already ate or would be eating in the near future. “Thanksgiving is in two days, so I need to burn as many calories as possible.” “I want to celebrate with a few cocktails tonight, so I need to skip lunch today.” Totally unhealthy and icky, right? Yeah, I used to do this.
In fact, it is this completely abusive and volatile relationship with food that led me to so many body-related issues that actually began with my initial 75-pound weight loss almost a decade ago. Despite focusing on the outcomes of working out (hello, skinny jeans!), I still perceived the act of working out as sheer torture.
Now, I look at fitness as a blessing. How incredible is it that I can move my body this way?! That I can lift heavy weights and walk inclines like a mo-fo and feel so great afterwards?! I don’t mean to sound preachy, but shifting this mindset has done wonders for me. The feeling of dread made me simply skate by on certain goals, and focus more on pounds and inches lost. Now, I focus on the big picture of how working out and eating well makes me feel, which has made it a more incremental part of my life.
3. Rethink how you’re moving...and why: This connects well to my previous point. If you’re doing something just for the caloric burn, it won’t be a priority in your life. It won’t feel sustainable or realistic; just like work. I went through an extensive rotation of fitness fads over a number of years -- spin, running, kickboxing, step classes, Zumba -- until I found that lifting weights and simple cardio bring me the most joy. For a decade they have been the core of my fitness journey and, despite their simplicity, have always pushed me in all the right ways.
I’ve been going to Orangetheory consistently for the past 14 months; I feel like it elevates my love for weights by adding in new challenges and class structures, and brings in the camaraderie of group class that I don’t get when I hit the gym alone. Listen, you may hate lifting weights. You may get more joy from yoga or long distance running...and that’s great! What I’m trying to say is, do what moves you (no pun intended). You’ll find that you’ll feel more eager to get moving and will want to push yourself towards another goal as a result.
4. Make incremental and realistic changes: Any time I venture back from the grocery store, my husband mutters, “You scare me.” The plethora of new products and produce spilling from our fridge after a trip to Wegman’s feels overwhelming for him, and ultimately, makes healthy eating seem a little daunting. I’ve cut out dairy and minimized meat from my diet, and I was worried that it would feel sustainable; that it would feel like a chore for myself--especially since my husband wasn’t doing the same.
But rather than purging all of our old foods from our cupboards, I’ve merely supplemented them with new things. And rather than resorting to cooking two dinners every night (how annoying), I’ve made small incremental changes to make our meals healthy and tasty.
Over time, we’ve found products that we like and don’t like; and have even added new meals to our rotation. As a result, he’s really getting on the healthy eating bandwagon. This was a step I took to make my journey feel more practical, but in the end, it actually ended up helping my husband, too. Talk about a win-win!
5. Lead by example: Some people learn by doing, others learn by watching. I tried to remember this when I felt tempted to push my husband to go on a walk with me, or sign up for our local gym. What I’ve found is that as he’s seen me implement consistent exercise and more healthy nutrition, he has seen the positive impact it has made on my life. Over time, he has opened his heart and mind to consider how he can do the same--and the benefits that he’ll see as a result. Think of all the positive change you can create simply by existing and being happy! Pretty incredible, right?
6. Ignore mental and emotional sabotage: There will always be people in your life that try to get you off track. They may say your latest fitness goal is too extreme or they may call you elitist for trading the burger and fries with a salad. Or, your significant other may try to tempt you with some takeout and a movie marathon when you’re getting ready to lace up your sneakers.
I learned in a recent episode of the “Rise Together” podcast that fitness sabotage comes in many forms--and it can be intentional or unintentional. This is a topic that gets really deep, but for now, I will say this: You answer to you. Your health journey is for you alone and you don’t have to explain or validate yourself to anyone. And if anyone is trying to sabotage you and keep you away from your goals and who you want to be…well, they suck and don’t deserve you.
7. Get a support system: I’m pretty lucky in that although my husband isn’t super into fitness, he still supports my journey. He’s the one who pushes me to go to the gym after a long day at work or when I really should be catching up on laundry. But sometimes having day-to-day support from people who are going through the same thing makes an incredible difference. I signed up for the Body Upgrade Intensive not knowing what to expect.
I knew that Lian is a killer trainer and she helped me get into fantastic shape for my wedding in a way that aligned to my needs and my preferences. But I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming sense of community and support I’d be getting. We’re all in the experience together--asking for feedback, sharing ideas and even updates on our own wins. There’s a feeling of understanding that is simply unmatched and it intensifies your sense of community. You not only feel heard and supported in your journey; you feel like you’re contributing to someone else’s goals, too.
So while I don’t get to run side by side with my hubby in the New York Marathon, I do get his love and support. On top of that, I get the support of a community of other fitness lovers as we work together towards our respective goals. And that is something truly special.