Getting the balance right

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 can be a regular battle with our conscience between what we really want to eat and drink and what is the better choice.  That battle will always be there – some days it’s easy and some days it just isn’t. Just don’t let a bad day derail you, and turn into a bad week, month or year.  Just pick yourself back up, read some articles on the Be Strong website, search up some good healthy recipes and get a plan to get back on track.

It might be an idea to build a ‘cheat day’ into your plan. The Weekender plan allows you to do that. A day where you can treat yourself, helps you to feel like you aren’t completely depriving yourself of everything you love, getting that balance right for you. (Although we hope you don’t feel like that with any of our programmes!)

Getting the balance right may mean, taking things a little slower – baby steps – to get you from where you are now, to ultimately where you want to be forever. Be real about your current eating and drinking habits, and then be real about what the ideal situation is for you in the long term, that will be how you live out your days at a weight and fitness that you are happy with.

External Battles

There are other, sometimes external 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 12 or 13 years on. Granted because the journey has been a gradual one, my lifestyle didn’t change drastically one day, 12 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. Perhaps batch cook so that you have got an option in the freezer, when they are fancying something that really doesn’t fit with your plan.

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 a small portion of 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 with lots of peppers, onion maybe a bit of chicken or chorizo… a quick, filling and proper tasty meal!

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.  And if I am honest, it has taken over with me at times.   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 babies’.

We now, after much discussion, have a general 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.

However, this did have to change when it came to this years marathon training program. There just wasn’t enough hours in the week to be able to fit it in Monday to Friday. The year previous, we had been in lockdown, so there was plenty of time for marathon training, and as one day was pretty much the same as the next, it didn’t really matter when it was done.  But this year, was a little different. We had some of our freedoms back, our lives had gotten busier again, so we had to work out a compromise.  I had to sit down with Johnny and explain how important it was to me, to be able to make a good show of myself at the marathon and do my best, without any regrets for not putting my all into my training. I asked him to give me 4 months, where I would be doing my long runs on a weekend, but after that it would be done with, and as this was my last marathon it wouldn’t come up again. I was amazed, but he actually agreed. I think it was because he had an end date when normality would resume, and he wouldn’t be left home alone with the kids, while I ran the length and breadth of East Lancashire, forever. And I have to say this time around we haven’t had any disagreements or arguments about it. He has put up and shut up. But for me now I have to uphold my end of the bargain, and return to family time, now the marathon is over.

The Final Word!

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 too – 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.  If that means sacrificing the odd workout, now and again, then so be it.

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.  This is all about balance, so check in with yourself and your loved ones, to make sure you are getting the balance right.  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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