You want to squeeze in a gym session on the weekend, but you feel guilty that it would take away family time.
You didn't get your workout in early in the day like you meant to, but now you don't want to do it at 8pm when you and your husband usually watch your show.
You have been doing a great job staying on target with your macros, but your husband surprises you with a dessert that blows your whole day and you feel like you "have" to eat it to be nice.
Every single one of those scenarios have actually occurred in my life in at least the past year.
It can be very difficult to balance taking care of yourself, which you know is beneficial for both you and your family, with the wants and needs of your spouse.
How can you make it all happen--taking the time you need for your workouts and mental health--while being considerate of your spouse's desires?
Talk to each other.
The necessity of communication between husband and wife is not a new concept by any means; it is usually cited among at least the top three pieces of advice given to newlyweds (along with "Don't go to bed angry," which I'm not completely in agreement with).
But while you might find it easy to talk to your husband about a variety of topics from parenting, to budgeting, you might feel awkward when it comes to talking to him about your fitness and nutrition regimen, especially if this is a whole new venture for you.
Once you break the ice and initially discuss your plans, intentions, and needs, it will be much easier for you to continue communicating what you support you might need from him as well as what your plans are in the days to come.
Here are my top tips for talking to your husband about your fitness/nutrition regimen:
1.) Tell him everything your plan entails and why you are doing it.
By laying out everything you plan to do, there won't be any surprises when you are fulfilling your plan. Example: your husband is not freaked out by waking up to you doing burpees at 5am because he knows you are going to be doing cardio in the morning 2x a week. If you just tell your husband you plan to "get in shape," he is not going to have any idea what that entails. Are you walking once a week? Are you going to be needing time alone at the gym 5x a week? Lay out everything as clearly as possible.
During this discussion, be sure to include why you want to make this change. This is usually the hard part. No one likes to admit that you feel sluggish and weak or if you want to feel more comfortable in shorts. Try to suck it up and be honest. Remember that he wants what is best for you and is your #1 fan! Plus, he probably prefers a more energetic, confident wife so I am fairly confident he will be behind this plan!
This also makes it much easier for you when dealing with situations such as #2 in the beginning of this post. You and your husband always watch a show you recorded at 8pm on Thursday nights but your day was nuts and you didn't get your workout in when you had planned to. Rather than sit there silently, feeling regret and shame that you didn't get it done, ask your husband if he minds if you do a quick 10 minute circuit in the other room and then you'll be showered and ready to watch by 8:15pm. If he already knows what you're trying to do and how important it is to you, I'm sure he won't mind postponing your plans for 15 minutes.
2.) Come up with a system or schedule that works for both of you (and your kids).
It is obviously unfair to just drop the bomb that you're going to spend from 6-7pm at the gym every night and that he needs to handle bedtime because now your waistline comes first.
Instead, come up with a plan together to mold your schedule around what is best for your family. This is where give and take comes in to play. If your husband regularly exercises or is beginning to as well, you might plan some workouts together or maybe you accommodate one another's preferences. You get to go to spin class on Saturday morning while he handles Saturday morning sports for the kids while you hold the fort down at home when he stops at the gym on the way home from work.
3.) Don't be afraid to ask for exactly what you need.
You need to be specific. About six months ago, I voiced to my husband that I felt that I needed a few hours, once a month, away from him and Josh where I could spend time with a girlfriend or my sisters. I was missing my girl time and realized I was just becoming silently bitter about it. He was more than happy to commit to being with Josh so I could do this and also felt it would be beneficial for me. Then, a month or two went by where I didn't make any plans with anyone and therefore, this grandiose plan didn't happen. I became angry with him for not coming to me with an array of dates to choose from so I could make my social time happen, but I realized it was not on him to take action. I was waiting for him to do this when the onus was really on me. I had to be specific. Yes, he had agreed to the once a month plan but in his mind, that meant I tell him what day I was making plans for and he'd be gung-ho to hang out with Josh. Be specific!
4.) Remind him of your goals if he is unknowingly interfering with them. (*Bonus* if you catch him before he interferes with them)
We women are hard to figure out. Some days we are complaining our jeans don't fit while the next day we're calling our husbands asking them to pick up ice cream on the way home. Sometimes your husband, while trying to be sweet and kind, can create obstacles for you without meaning to. When this happens, gently remind him of what you are trying to achieve and why. Example: your husband gets you a giant chocolate heart for Valentines Day because he knows you love chocolate and he has done this for you in the past. Even though it was a very sweet gesture, don't let guilt become your driving force to chowing the whole thing down. You could have a few bites and then offer to share with him or your kids and explain that you don't want to overdo it but that the taste was just enough!
Also, if you know an event is coming up where something like this might happen, try to give your husband a heads up first. For example, your birthday is next week and you really don't want to waste calories on a cake. Talk to him first and say, "Hey, you know what I was thinking for my birthday this year? Since I've been doing really well eating healthily, I found a recipe for this guiltless dessert that I would love to try." Or before Valentines Day, "Hey, I know you sometimes get me those chocolates I love on Valentines Day but since I'm trying to cut back on the sugar, what do you think about getting each other a non-food gift this year?"
5.) Make sure you are reciprocating.
Whether or not your husband values health and fitness, make sure you are being respectful of his needs, wants, and hobbies. Try to accommodate your husband's wishes as you appreciate him accommodating yours. Maybe your husband is an introvert and would love an hour to himself to unwind and be quiet when he gets home from work. Or maybe your husband wants to log in some miles on his bike on the weekend. Make yourself available to bear the household responsibilities so that he can have that time.
While marriage isn't about keeping score and keeping an hour-for-hour tally of time allotted to each spouse, it is thoughtful to look out for one another and provide your spouse the time and support that your spouse needs to recharge and be running on all cylinders. If both of you are being open about what you need in order to be spiritually, mentally, and physically healthy, it will be infinitely easier to meet those needs.
Let me know if this was helpful or if you have any other ideas for how to discuss fitness and nutrition with your spouse! I'd love to hear them :)