Last Sunday I was given a great gift by my husband. We weren’t arguing but I was feeling indifferent. For weeks, I’ve not been able to put into words what I was feeling or why I was feeling it but I had reached the breaking point with my diet and exercise. I’ve made little progress in getting back to my “happy weight” let alone BEYOND it despite working my ass off last month. My nutrition SUCKED and my attitude and confidence were at their LOWEST. I had hit a WALL. Now, here I was, laying in bed in the middle of the day, arms crossed, with a husband who was feeling amorous and me feeling sooo NOT, and after a few uncomfortable minutes that included my leaving the room, I was finally able to speak my mind.
I admitted to Brad that my bad attitude and frustrations were REALLY starting to affect my attitude toward him and I didn’t want things to get worse. Inside myself, even though I’ve known the problem has NOT been HIM, I have harbored a bit of resentment toward him since he came home from deployment. When you manage your household alone for years, succeed in getting your health in order then start to see it fall apart after your spouse gets home, you get angry. I was ANGRY! The important thing for me was keeping it clear in my head that HE was not the problem. I KNEW the problem resided in me, I just couldn’t figure out on my own what the hell was wrong let alone how to resolve it. In typical me fashion, I resisted seeking help from my partner and kept trying to work it out on my own. Wrong, wrong, wrong. But I digress.
As we sat there, he asked me point blank what was so different about my life since he’d returned home that may be affecting my health. I mustered up some courage and I finally admitted that it’s my diet, or more specifically, OUR diet. It was SO MUCH easier to eat clean and eat how I trained myself to eat for the last year BEFORE he came home. “What’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner?” were not questions I needed to worry about having an answer for before he returned from sea duty. I went from eating 6 small healthy meals a day most days to feeling pressured to “June Cleaver” it up with bigger meals and desserts and things that satisfied my husband’s appetite for, well, crappy foods! We don’t eat too terribly – I still inject protein and greens only dinners every now and then – but the disruption in what had become my new normal has been enough to affect my weight by about 10 pounds.
Then came that gift I was talking about, because what happened next, for me, was amazing. He said, with real conviction and love in his voice, “OK, then we’ll do things how YOU need us to do them. Forget me and how I eat. Let’s eat how YOU eat – it’s better for us, I know it will be better for ME, and I want you to feel healthy and happy”. Immediately, what had been cloudy became clear. I felt like I could BREATHE again. In that moment, I realized I had been AFRAID to do things how I wanted and needed to do them for ME to be happy. It’s a fear I know was impressed upon me for years as I watched my own parents’ marriage play out. I feared pushing my way of eating on my husband because I didn’t want him to feel like I was bossing him around or taking control of something I feel should be a personal prerogative. I FEARED losing his love. What a strange thing to feel like you will be abandoned for taking care of yourself, but that’s exactly what was going on in me. I came to the greater realization that ANYTIME I feel stressed in my relationship with my husband, it’s because I fear losing his love. By letting me know he was okay with what I NEEDED to do to feel better, I felt like I had PERMISSION to do what I needed to fix my own problem. And I felt LOVED.
That night, I gave myself permission to do something I’d been putting off for a while and that was starting Chalene Johnson’s 30 Day Push. Thanks to my friend Adrienne, this has been a tool I’ve used several times to refocus, PRIORITIZE my life, and get my head in order. I did a few days worth of assignments while my husband ran a 5 miler at 9:30 at night (how awesome is he?) In the process of listing my current priorities (health, family, marriage, faith, etc), I came to the conclusion that my MARRIAGE is truly my #1 priority. Why? It’s the core of my life. It is my WHY. I thought for sure that my health would float to the top spot since I’ve been obsessing and agonizing over it for months, but really, my marriage is the priority that drives me to be healthy, to be a good human being, to be my very BEST self. I cherish our partnership more than anything in this world, the well being of our entire family depends on our ability to be a strong team, and I am a better partner and mother when I am healthy, confident and content. Immediately things became clearer for me. I felt my center of gravity shift. The chaos that stirred inside me was gone. I had THE PRIORITY. Next, I was able to list my goals and put those goals that didn’t support my #1 priority on the back burner or simply take them off the list. My soul got quiet. I was less of a mess and when the morning came around, my spirit and my energy were renewed and my focus returned to my health MINUS the stress that had been consuming me. In a way, I felt FREED.
My lessons learned:
- Do not discount how much your FEAR can affect your mood, your attitude, and your progress. Dig deep. Explore every possible reason for your struggles when you have them, but start by asking yourself, “What am I REALLY AFRAID of?” You might be surprised.
- Give yourself PERMISSION to be happy and give your partner permission to be happy when you know the result will be a happier partnership. I don’t mean let your partner put band aids on the problem by providing a temporary solution (though I know sometimes this is necessary). I mean, encourage your partner to do those healthy things that help them overcome the root of their struggles and truly make them better, happier people.
- Identify your number one PRIORITY and organize your thoughts, attitude, and life around it. The 30 Day Push is free and is one way to help you do this but there are other approaches that work just as well. Give yourself permission to sit at the shoreline or in a coffee house or on your couch after the kids go to bed – anywhere you can be alone with a notebook or journal and your thoughts.
How have you been able to get over your walls on your wellness journey? I’d love to hear more about it.