Monday, August 15, 2011
I love being married.
It's a beautiful commitment, one that helps sustain me each day. It brings me a purposeful and rewarding love, a husband who I know will be next to me every single morning to share our days and support me in everything.
After Paul and I recently celebrated our two-year anniversary (July 31), I got to thinking about commitment, and the relationship we've built and strengthened already in our married years. Being married is much different than dating; marriage changes everything.
Why? Well, those who are married know this of course, but it's all about the level of commitment and a lot to do with communication (and yes, lots of "little things" about each other to deal with daily).
So, why am I blathering on about marriage? I mean, today is just a Monday, and it's not Valentine's day or anything. The reason is that as I started thinking about marriage and what makes it awesome, even through the hard work of maintaining and strengthening our relationships, I realized there are a great number of similarities to the commitment of a healthy lifestyle. *cue "Aaaahhhhh" realization here*
Okay okay, hear me out.
We've all heard it time and time again here: "It's not a DIET, it's a LIFESTYLE." Okay, well, as a lifestyle, that means we have to be dang committed. [I'd compare a DIET to a one-night stand, or maybe a post-breakup fling. Something of the like.] So it's a lifestyle.
Most of us have spent a good amount of years "fluffing around" in the diet-dating pool. We've tried a LOT of different ways to lose weight, all of which proved unsuccessful. But now we're ready to commit, right? We've found "The Way" that works? So it's time.
We say our vows [goals] at the beginning. We lay them out and make a verbal and sometimes written commitment to ourselves to keep at it.
Then there's the honeymoon phase.
[This is the odd phase I never really understood and still struggle with sometimes in relation to being married. Maybe it's that my DH and I got married when things were so uncertain and scary in our lives. Maybe it's because we had literally no money. Maybe it's because we were young, and jobless, and terrified of what was next.]
A lot of people say the "honeymoon phase" is sugar-coated and easy. It's the part right at the beginning, where you are all coochy-coo mooshy-moo with each other. Well, let's say there is SOME of that. In our healthy lifestyle parallel, this would be the "YEAH, I'M GONNA DO THIS!" and "WOO HOO! I'M GETTING HEALTHY THIS TIME FOR GOOD!" motivation stages we all need at the start to get going. We feel awesome, charged, positive, and anxious for change.
But there are ugly parts to this phase, too.
Like, in a marriage, when you realize that your partner snores. Or that you are a mega bee-yatch in the morning for no good reason. Or you're finding out for the first time that it really sucks sharing everything with another person (including shower-hair). And you have no money, and no future plans.
In our health-journey, it's the ugly struggle of resisting your favorite cookies at the grocery store for the first time. It's learning that you ARE actually addicted to sugar and caffeine, so cutting back causes jitters. It's facing the uncomfortable realization that those five pounds you thought you gained since your last Dr. appointment were actually 15 pounds. It's when you try to run for the first time and wind up panting and heaving, bent over after two lame minutes.
The honeymoon phase causes mixed emotions.
As you get to know your spouse, things get easier, but aren't always easy. You ebb and flow with each other, have good days and bad days, but through it all, you understand that you've made a commitment to each other, and there's no breaking it.
You don't leave your spouse when he forgets to unload the dishwasher. You don't call it quits when you feel like you can't express your frustration without getting "Mr. Fix-It" to chirp in when you JUST DON'T WANNA HEAR IT. You pull through, and learn to relish those moments you have together when everything is perfect, and you're completely surrounded by love.
In your healthy lifestyle, you start to develop a routine. The jitters stop, and you find yourself running 10 minutes without dying! There are still hard days when you don't want to get up with your 5 am alarm to go exercise, but somehow you manage to roll outta bed anyway. You don't always eat perfectly, but you know that there is always a new day ahead to do better.
So.... you're coasting along... and then suddenly...
Your first real fight.
You spend the night sleeping apart, and begin to question everything. You wonder how you'll ever fix this major problem between you and your spouse, and what's going to happen if you can't? You cry, you get mad, you feel helpless and sad.
In health, your first plateau.
The scale won't budge. You're doing everything right (well, maybe not EVERYthing), but still, it's stopped! What's wrong? Did you fail? The self-doubt and frustration kicks in. You lose your motivation. You skip a workout or two, and eat a triple chocolate sundae.
Somehow, in marriage, most fights get worked out. Somehow, we get through it.
Because of commitment.
You made a commitment to your spouse. You're going to follow through.
Why then does it seem exponentially harder to follow through with healthy-lifestyle commitments?
All to often, we let a "fight" (a plateau) kill our commitment. Or, in my case, maybe it's boredom and lack of drive that kills it. When things get routine, and you've met your goals and done what you set out to do at first, it's easy for healthy-lifestyle maintenance to become boring and unsatisfying.
The important thing to realize is that our commitment is in our control. When my marriage gets boring, it's time to spice things up. What's causing this boredom, or what led to that fight? Trouble-shoot, regroup, and make a change.
Lately, my commitment to my healthy life has been low. I've spent time trouble-shooting, and I know a great deal of it has to do with emotional issues outside of my control, and my own lack of excitement in my routine. I often feel bored with maintenance, like there's nothing super great to look forward to (I say this even as I am training for my second half marathon this fall, and continuing to push myself with strength training and improvement).
But even though I don't always feel the butterflies in my stomach when I'm with Paul (like I used to while we were dating), and I certainly don't feel the thrill of success like I first did when I finish a 3 mile run, I choose to stick to my commitments.
Marriage isn't a walk in the park. And a walk in the park isn't always easy to commit to. Each day, we make efforts to sustain our marriages, and keep ourselves healthy, EVEN WHEN it may be easier to walk out or give up.
The rewards of a meaningful, healthy marriage FAR outweigh the challenges of the relationship. Likewise, the long-term rewards of a healthy lifestyle FAR OUTWEIGH the struggles we face each day to maintain it.
I am wed to this lifestyle.
And I make the choice each day to love it, through thick and thin. *hehe, wink* ;)