As most of you know, I’m near the end of my (very public) fitness challenge, and while I was brainstorming ideas for this week’s dating column, I realized that one kind of led into the other.
I came up with the issue of dating, dieting and whether or not the two can go together if one person starts hitting the gym and the other doesn’t.
When I first met my boyfriend last year, I definitely wasn’t into fitness or healthy eating. We spent our winter weeks cozied up on the couch drinking calorie-rich craft beers and mowing down on chicken wings, pizza, baked pastas and desserts.
It didn’t take long for me to pack on 15 lbs while he actually lost eight (ugh, men), and soon I was pulling at myself in the mirror and frowning at the weight gain taking place. I was happy in my relationship, but miserable about what I saw in the mirror. It was affecting my moods, my self-esteem and making me feel guilty about what we ate as a couple.
When January came, my boyfriend had to go finish school until April while I was left to my own devices. That’s when I joined Ernie’s Fitness Challenge, wrote about it publicly to keep the pressure on and get back in shape. When I hit the grocery store I didn’t have to think about getting a meal that my boyfriend would like; it was all about what was healthy for me. Really, it’s hard to be tempted by bad food if it’s not around and not allowed in your house.
Across the country my boyfriend was free to eat whatever fast food he wanted without tempting me or making me feel bad.
Now I’m feeling great, going to the gym all the time and eating healthy. At first my boyfriend was worried and asked, “Does this mean things are going to be different when I come home? No more beer nights and pizza?”
Which, finally, brings me to the subject of this column.
It’s hard dating someone who doesn’t have the same fitness lifestyle as you. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but it takes a lot of sacrifice and support to make it work without one person feeling bad.
If one partner loves to eat burgers all the time and the other won’t touch them, how do you plan a meal together? Or if one needs to work out all the time does that mean the other feels neglected or even guilty for not joining them?
The list of issues is long.
If someone in a relationship is really driven to improve their health and fitness, the other should maybe try eating “bad” things while out with friends instead of in the house where the other partner will feel tempted.
Just because we’re becoming fit doesn’t mean we still don’t love beer and pizza, which is why it’s only fair if our partner is considerate. Think of it like smoking around someone who just quit. It’s mean to rub it in, isn’t it? It’s not that different from someone trying to quit bad food.
When it comes to making meals together, cook something healthy that tastes almost as good as a baked pasta dish, then the non-fitness partner won’t have much to complain about. It’s either that or make two different meals, which is a lot more work.
The ideal situation would be for the one partner to join their fitness-seeking partner, that way the person trying to achieve their fitness goals has an extra boost to continue to eat healthy as well as workout with someone. Having a partner to go to the gym with is always a great incentive to push one another and maintain your goals.
Support is key.
Now nearing the end of my fitness challenge, my boyfriend has listened to my journey for the past two months, and rather than be worried about the sacrifices he’d have to make, he’s now looking forward to learning how to cook with me and being healthy together. Of course I’ll still have a beer with him from time-to-time, but he doesn’t mind the idea of me sipping on a red while he has a Keiths either.
With that kind of support and his understanding I know I can continue down this path of getting fit and eating healthy.
It is possible, because it’s all about compromise and communication, perhaps the two most important factors of a successful relationship.
And there are always cheat days.