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Health & Your Relationship

When I read Rachel Wilkerson’s How CrossFit Has Helped My Relationship it got me thinking.

A lot.

Rachel said that by encouraging her boyfriend to take up a healthy hobby – in this instance CrossFit – their relationship ultimately benefited despite the fact that in the end it actually meant less alone time. I have no trouble at all believing this. In my experience, if there’s a substantial disconnect between how much two people value health & nutrition in their lives it can potentially lead to problems down the road.

I don’t believe that you need have all the same views, do the same workouts, or approach food the same way. But if only one person takes their health seriously and devotes time, energy, and effort to maintaining said health, the other individual may become resentful, jealous, threatened etc. Or things can go the other way around and as one person becomes healthier and more fit they begin to pity, worry about, and/or neglect their partner.

Take a look at this piece by the Primal Parent entitled When Good Health Destroys a Marriage. It’s written from the perspective of a woman who changed her diet and was feeling her best, while her husband was… Not. Ultimately their marriage couldn’t survive because she has a strong, well-tested belief in the importance of good health & nutrition, and refused to settle for someone who couldn’t – or wouldn’t – put forth the effort to investigate improving his own health.


{Kyle & Rochelle – The authors of Eat Drink Paleo}

If you can find someone who shares your views, that’s fantastic – like my friend Kyle & his lady-love who write the oh-so-entertaining Eat. Drink. Paleo – Two foodies who fell in love and are now transitioning to a paleo lifestyle. But at a minimum you need to show an interest in the other’s routines and goals, and be able to talk about and share your successes and failures.

Take my relationship for example, on the surface my boyfriend and I have virtually opposite views on all facets of fitness and nutrition:

  • He eats an incredibly regimented high protein, low carb diet composed primarily of chicken, eggs, and vegetables which he tracks on a daily basis. I eat a mostly vegan, gluten-free, high raw diet.
  • He does intermittent fasting – meaning that he doesn’t eat until early afternoon & only eats three meals a day. While I eat at least every two hours after my 4am wakeup time.
  • He follows a lifting schedule & does CrossFit-style workouts that leave him wheezing, covered in bruises, scrapes, and rope burns, and stress his nervous system for days. I run, do circuit workouts & go to Pilates, martial arts & boxing classes.
  • His ultimate goal with his work outs and eating regime is to retain & increase strength while dropping body fat. I’m only interested in being healthy and not having daily back pain.

Pretty different, right? But the truth is that those are fairly superficial differences – underneath it all we’re both incredibly passionate about health and fitness, and that’s what really matters.

We love going for walks & hikes, cooking, eating, going to the farmer’s market, and planning our meals and workouts for the week, and most of all, we love debating our positions on these topics. If you looked through our emails, Facebook messages, Tweets, and text logs you’d find photos of our meals, new recipes to try, books to add to our Amazon basket, articles to read, great blogs we’ve found, documentaries & movies to add to our Netflix queue, and questions about what we’ve eaten, what workouts we’ve done, and how far we’ve walked that day.

Every day.

{Hers vs His}

It doesn’t matter that we’re not spending our days doing the same things, what matters is that we both approach our lives with a profound respect for our bodies, what we put them through, and how we fuel them. Yes, we debate topics like veganism versus paleo eating, different types of fat, which oils to use in cooking, fasting, detox programs & cleanses, and strength training. Yes, sometimes I question his sanity when he comes home with his hands shredded from doing hundreds of pull-ups or muscle-ups or toes-to-bars. But mostly, we just talk about it.

Our shared passion for health and nutrition was not what brought us together 12 years ago, nor is it what has kept up together, but it does give us something to talk about and share every single day. And because it’s important to us both, we appreciate the other’s routines and ambitions, even though they’re different.

Like Rachel said:

One more lovely side effect of the fitness revival: Eric and I are back to bonding through nerdy, fitness-related conversations. (We’re also bonding over our sore muscles.) I’m really enjoying little things like talking about our workouts and progress, discussing an article about diet or exercise, trying new healthy foods together, or going shoe shopping for new athletic shoes.

You don’t need to be 100% in sync with your partner, you just need to be with someone who has the same appreciation and respect for health and fitness as you do. Added bonus if it becomes something that you can share and bond over!

12 responses

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  5. Hi, I saw your pingback on my post When Good Health Destroys a Marriage. Thanks for the link and I think it’s great that you’re addressing this very real issue! I just wanted to clarify that I didn’t lose weight. I have been misquoted in this way before and consequently accused of being some new hottie that didn’t want to stick with her ugly fat husband. That was not our situation. My own transformation was mostly emotional and mental. Well, it’s complicated, of course. And given the fact that it was a real relationship, involving 2 real people, and this is the internet and all, I could only say so much.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    • Thank you for reaching out, I’ve updated my post and I hope that the amendment is to your liking. Please let me know if you have any other comments!

      April 12, 2012 at 12:30 PM

  6. Pingback: CrossFit Love: How Sharing Fitness Has Improved My Relationship

  7. Holly

    Loved this.

    April 2, 2012 at 3:17 PM

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    March 30, 2012 at 12:16 PM

  9. kitty

    What is Paleo eating?

    March 30, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    • In principle the paleo (paleolithic) diet is based on the diet eaten by our ancestors during the Paleolithic era (aka – Caveman diet or Hunter-Gatherer diet). The modern translation is high protein/low carbs/no processed foods, however strict devotees also exclude gluten, dairy, refined sugar, salt, legumes, and processed oil. Essentially you eat meat & non-starch vegetables. While it’s effective in initial weight loss (similar to the Atkins diet) there are some who really enjoy it/find it sustainable and eat that way most of the time. From a personal standpoint I’m not a huge supporter of excluding nutrient dense foods like beans, seeds, and sweet potatoes from the diet on a long-term basis. This way of eating has become more popular/publicized lately with CrossFit becoming increasingly mainstream.

      March 30, 2012 at 10:35 AM

  10. Pingback: Health & Your Relationship « Moi Contre La Vie |

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