It can be a battle…

Personal Battles

Even when we have been living a healthy lifestyle for a number of years, there are still days when it’s really hard to stay on the wagon.

Some days it is second nature to eat well, make good choices and get your 2 litres of water in, and then there are days when you just fancy pigging out, and eating ALL the high calorie food. It is a regular battle with our conscience between what we really want to eat and drink and what is the better choice.

There are other, sometimes more personal battles to be had too, and this week we are particularly focusing on the battles we might have with our partners and other members of our household, when it comes to our decision to change our lifestyles.

This is something I experienced regularly at first when I started making changes to my lifestyle with my other half, and still do periodically 11 or 12 years on. Granted because the journey has been a gradual one, my lifestyle didn’t change drastically one day, 11 years ago, it happened slowly over time, I don’t think he necessarily noticed at first (I didn’t announce one day that I was changing my life!), but there have definitely been times when our relationship has been tested due to our differing opinions on what our own individual lifestyles should be like.  And in that very sentence is the crux of this issue – they are our individual lifestyles.

So what do we do if we want one thing and our partner isn’t ready to make the change, or just doesn’t want to? How do we manage when we want different things from our diets and our free time?  How do we manage this without bringing an end to our new lifestyle or the relationship?

I know, from conversations I have had with other members that I am not alone in this situation, there are so many that experience it, and it can be really tricky to navigate through.

Don’t force it!

I think the worst thing that you can do is try and force your new healthy lifestyle choices on someone else, when they don’t want it (even though it would be done with the best intentions).  No-one likes a lecture, so it’s the kind of thing you need to drip feed, sharing the positive side effects and benefits of your new healthy lifestyle, and that doesn’t necessarily mean telling them about it, maybe it’s more about them noticing the difference in you, your energy, appearance and outlook on life. Inspire them to make the change rather than force it on them.

But what do you do in the meantime, before they decide to take the plunge too? You want to eat healthy and your other half wants take away every night, you want to go to exercise classes or out for a run, and the other half wants to go to the pub.  Well, there are ways in which it can be managed, and as with everything in life it’s all about compromise.

Eating in

This is a really difficult area depending on who does the cooking in your house, and how many you are cooking for. No-one wants to be making multiple meals, to keep all and sundry happy, but sometimes it might be unavoidable.

If you do all the cooking, then of course you do have control over what goes on your plates, but you may have to put up with the complaints.  But as with anything, if it’s done often enough, the rest of the household will soon get used to it and hopefully the complaints will get less and less.

If it’s your other half that does the cooking, then this could be harder, however just as if their tastes are vastly different to yours, it may be that you just have to make yourself a separate meal, or a slightly different meal, using slightly different ingredients.

For instance, just the other night, my husband made a curry (he loves to cook, and takes over the entire kitchen when he does!) The curry recipe was perfectly healthy, but he likes to have chips and garlic naan with his.  I prefer basmati rice. So we tweak our meals to suit our individual tastes that way.

Some nights we do have totally different meals, so on the days when he wants something unhealthy we have something in the freezer to suit both our tastes. I freeze a lot of the leftovers of food I make, so there is always something for me to go for when these situations arise. Likewise, there is always a stock of pies or Cornish pasties in the freezer for when he wants something stodgy. Alternatively we always have a box of eggs in, so if all else fails its an omelette for me!

Eating out

This can be the easiest to manage, in my opinion, lots of restaurants have healthier options now, so it can be fairly easy to manage your differing food choices when eating out. However there are some restaurants that just don’t do healthy foods, and if these have been your favourite haunts in the past when eating out, it may be that these are the places that you visit as a real treat less often, and find some different places to visit if you eat out regularly.

Socialising

Socialising came up as a bit of an issue in my relationship, because in the past our social life centred around the local pub.  We met in our local pub, 20 – odd years ago, and all our friends were there. And Johnny, my husband, very much wanted to maintain this aspect of our lives.

But if I was going to change my lifestyle I had to drink less alcohol.  Initially I would drive, which would mean that I wouldn’t drink, or just have one, the same when we went out for meals as well. Then we would start doing something active before going to the pub, so we would maybe go for a long walk on a Sunday afternoon, before going for a couple of drinks, and again I would more often than not just have a soft drink. Having friends round at ours had in the past meant drinking loads of wine and eating really rich food. This changed, we still had good food, just healthier food, and I would drink slower and add soda to my wine, to reduce the calories.

When we are going for a night out, I will now plan a run or exercise activity the following morning with other friends, to hopefully keep a handle on the amount of alcohol I drink, so I won’t be so hungover that I can’t go.

Sometimes, particularly in summer, on a Friday night, when Johnny wants to go for a few beers at tea time, I will go for a run, and then meet him at the pub on the way back, so he gets his ‘man time’ and I get to do what I enjoy, but yet we still go home and have tea together.

Exercise time

Exercise is the one thing that can take over, in my opinion. I hear lots of people who experience just this, whether it is with their own exercise habits, or their partners. Once you get into exercise, its a bit like an addiction, you want to do more, and before you know it, you are out every night and your other half is getting a bit fed up, being left home alone.

I have experienced this, particularly when training for a big event and it can be difficult to balance the exercise and training against home and family life. I was out at work all week, then exercising in an evening and then at weekends as well, and it’s no surprise that Johnny got a bit fed up being left ‘holding the baby’.

I now have a rule that weekends are family time, and I fit all my training runs and exercise in during the week, so weekends are all about Johnny and the kids.  I have found this is the best way for us, and that’s what you have to do, find what works best for you and your partner and family.  Keep the exercise in perspective and recognise the limitations on your time and how it’s still important to spend time together.  Taking part in activities with your family is a great way to get your exercise in – a family bike ride, or swimming session.  But, if your partner doesn’t want to exercise with you, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to spend time with you, so it is really important to make sure that you spend quality time together when you can.

The Final Word!

Most importantly don’t be swayed by your other half, or those friends that don’t want to eat healthily and exercise. Remember why you are doing this – the benefits to both your physical and mental health, the way eating well makes your body feel, how you feel less sluggish and more energised, how exercise makes you feel happier, improves your mood and your sleep. And most importantly how you are working towards your goals, and this time you are going to achieve them!

This week!

If you are in a battle with some of your friends and family about the changes you are making, get some perspective.  Be open with your family and friends about why you are doing this, and why you feel you need to do it.  Talk to them about how you want to make it work without impacting upon your relationships. If they know how much it means to you, they will undoubtedly help you to achieve your goals, whilst working together to find a happy compromise.

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