Last weekend my fiancé and I did an exercise that really delved into who each of us is and what we want and expect in our relationship. A friend of mine had given us a list 70 questions for engaged couples to answer and ask BEFORE the big day. We each wrote down our answers separately and then discussed them together. Some of the questions were easy and some more difficult. We discussed everything from finances to child-rearing to household chores to affection and more! We both agreed it was a really good exercise and strengthened an already good bond between us. My fiancé even admitted had he done this exercise before his first marriage, it would have illuminated some red flags. Answering the questions also showed me how ‘wrong’ some of my past relationships had been!
One of the reasons I am with the man I am with is because we are so similar. Even similar people, however, can have different outlooks or priorities at times. We agreed on about 90% of our answers, but there were some that we had different outlooks. It really helped us to discuss these and understand why we each felt the way we did. Sometimes the ‘why’ was enlightening and not the obvious reason. It was also comforting for us to see that we both value and prioritize an active healthy, lifestyle.
It got me to thinking that often times we may find ourselves in situations where our healthy choices are questioned. Sometimes our significant others or family do not understand or appreciate why we spend time working out or away from family. Sometimes it’s the expense of being active or buying healthier foods that can be misunderstood or create conflict.
I know in my past I have had family question why I might want to get up early to run in the morning or participate in the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. My employer certainly questioned why teaching Spinning and Pilates was a priority to me after work. Even past boyfriends have laminated how my long runs interfered with the weekend or lobbied for wings instead of grilled chicken. Then there has been the discussion of expense – you are spending how much to go run a marathon?
I wonder if we need to take a different approach when defending our healthy choices? Instead of just saying – this is important to me….dig deeper and EXPLAIN YOURSELF!
I have clients tell me when they keep up their regular Pilates, their back doesn’t hurt. If you approached your family and said, “Have you noticed I don’t complain about my back all the time and I am more active now? I have Pilates to thank for that and I hope you can support this.”
I have had clients tell me they sleep better. That conversation could go like this, “Have you seen how I am not tired all the time lately? Since I have been working out regularly, I have more energy and sleep better at night. I know my workouts take some time away but I think they make the time I spend with you better.”
Sometimes our reasons are more about feeling good! “Have you noticed I don’t take so long to get ready because I don’t have to try on every outfit and ask you if I look fat? Eating right and working out has helped me feel good in my clothes.”
For some it’s an opportunity to de- stress and be happy. “Have you noticed I don’t seem quite so on edge and I have more patience with the kids? Pilates gives me a stress outlet and a little ‘me’ time that makes me feel happier and more capable to handle our hectic days.”
When it comes to finances that can be a sticky point for many – we tend to have our own view of what is a good expense what is wasteful. Here is how that conversation may go, “I know my fitness and active lifestyle does take part of our budget, but have you noticed I don’t get sick hardly ever? I also don’t need to keep buying clothes in different sizes. I would prefer to sacrifice a night of drinks out or dinner if necessary to maintain my fitness routine.”
You may not convert your skeptics or critics to your choices – but you may enlighten them! Understanding why something is important to you and seeing the tangible results in you may go a long ways to gaining their support! Next time you are faced with a friend, for example, who says, “Can’t you skip your workout so we can get drinks earlier on Friday?” … How will you respond? Will you cave? Or will you stick up for your workout and explain yourself like this, “Since Ive been working out my knees don’t bother me and I feel more confident, I think I’m more fun to be around when I’m healthy and happy!”
Getting to the heart of the matter of why you do what you do and making sure your family, friends and even critics understand ‘why’ you are doing what you are doing can make a big difference in their level of support. Give it try!