Having been in the (iron) game for so many years and therefore an O.G. (original guru), I can see the expression on their faces well before they’ve even entered the gym. That embarrassed, soiled grin. The knowing, telltale facial contortion that identifies guilt. Worse than being caught picking a nose or wedgie, this is the face that quite often refutes an entire passage of gym progress. This is the face far too often more guilt-ridden than being caught at the Bunny Ranch with a zero balanced Debit card and explanatory measures back home to the wife and bank examiners. And as the sodium-induced, heavy-eyed round face looks up and it can bear its silence no longer, its lips verbalize, “I cheated on my diet again and it’s because of stupid!”
We’ve all been there. Often, a relationship brings comfort, security, routine, and, far too often, laziness. Aside from perhaps less actual scheduling allotted for personal upkeep due to tighter time parameters, the need for dressing up and always presenting your best lessens. As the months and years roll by, your jeans feel tighter, extra loose flesh hangs where once was a flat plain, and perhaps an avoidance in sitting down in public, for fear of splitting now delicately stretched garment fibers.
Until one day, as you catch your gaze in the mirror while passing, you ask yourself, who is this person, now resembling John Goodman following a Katz deli (the best!) splurge? Why, would it seem, sometimes on our own we are strong, yet together we are weak, when it comes to good nutrition? Indeed many a night I have turned to the immediacy of a quad-stacked In-n-Out burger (4x4) instead of the comforting embrace of a significant other, thusly replacing sweaty passion with a sweaty complexion from indigestion.
No longer can we blame others for our own (I include myself from past relationships) lack of self-discipline for if we can’t love ourselves (through glutinous behaviors) then how can others profess to love us? While it is important to celebrate some of our greatest moments through the company of others and sometimes rich, heavy foods, we must hold up the proverbial shield and turn our defensive (comfort eating) into offensive (healthy patterns) in order to sustain not only ourselves, but our relationships for the duration.
What follows is my Top 10 list of behaviors, actions and modalities that you and your significant other can partake in TOGETHER to stop the insanity, declare war on fat and lessen your total combined weight!
1. You’re on Your Own – The King of all options. Simply stated: You eat your way, (fattening) and I’ll eat mine, (healthy). But that doesn’t ever seem to last long, does it? Eventually, you may find yourselves eating at different times completely. I personally spent many lonely early mornings with egg whites and oatmeal while my ex would indulge in a bean and cheese burrito later that day. Extreme yet effective, this may be the last alternative; the red button if you will that is only to pushed when all else fails and the nuclear launch codes are obtained. Read below for other effective alternatives.
2. One for You, One for Me – Take turns being the key master. After all, it works in group therapy and mental health, why not in regards to your physical health too? One night one party prepares (healthy) dinner and the other, the next. That way you are both looking out for nutritionally sound, yet palatably satisfying fuel that each party appreciates!
3. Pre-Prepare – Trader Joes has made some aspects of my life easier. Brown rice that’s already cooked. Chicken breast strips all ready to go and asparagus that’s just a microwave away from working its natural diuretic magic. Costco, on some levels, is even better. Bought in bulk and just as prepared, makes it a snap to organize meals for two and they even carry those cute Tupperware sets for packing!
4. Garments, Pictures and Visualization – oh my! I have always believed in knowing the target intended instead of shooting blindly. How do you envision YOUR physique to look? A pair of jeans you’d love to squeeze into, a picture of your favorite celeb complete with chiseled midsection or the clear metaphorical visualization emblazoned in your brain of how you will ultimately look in a bathing suit, will pay dividends in actually bringing you there.
5. Other Rewards – I used to tell my ex when the urge for me to eat everything in sight would hit, punish me with sex. Her reply was, “What do I get out of this?” Oh well, it was a good try, so I thought. Part of my process was turning to food (a readily and willing commodity) whenever I needed it in the abandonment of physical comforts. The unfortunate reality was with my (at the time) ever-expanding gut, I myself, could almost pass for a couple. Instead, I turned toward other positive deterrents: a hike, music, a movie, a book, shopping. Since then I have jettisoned both the excess weight and the relationship and have bettered myself in a myriad of dividends.
6. Realism – While giving up a behavior taken to the max, (drinking anyone?) may in actuality be a bit unrealistic, agreeing to cut back to say once or twice per week to ingest said empty calories will do much to keep both of your waistlines in check and make truly special those times to completely let go.
7. United We Stand – I always loved those episodes in my youth of G.I. JOE or HE- MAN in which both protagonist and antagonist would team up to rid that universe of a common foe. When in doubt, be there for one another! The foe in this case, body fat, will be overcome on a continual and long-term basis if both parties work together in proclaiming a lean and healthy body worth fighting for; therefore, make it a dual effort in achieving such!
8. Johari’s Window – is a cognitive psychological tool that essentially shows us as we see ourselves, as others see us and how we really are. Sometimes, the “how we really are” conflicts with the other two selves and as such, per our endeavors here, to quote Carlito Brigante, “"If you can't see the angles no more, you're in trouble.” Know thy true self and where you’re at.
9. Limit Thyself No More – Know that good nutrition is not a confined term that must equate to tuna straight out of a can and brown rice only. There is so much great information out there, the popular “Eat This, Not That” book series for example. Therein exists many diverse, tasty and quality meals that you and your partner can explore together.
10. Mass Carbicide – There’s a time to be strict and a time to dine. Might as well go to hell together. Make it count, enjoy and perhaps get a head start on that cardio session later that night (after the bloating subsides.) Proper nutrition is like a party, an all-nighter once in a while is a great escape but a party every day will yield a tired and jaundiced you!
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