When I first tied the knot, one of my married friends joked that I’d soon kiss my strict fitness regimen goodbye.
Apparently, marital bliss came with a side of shrunken biceps and a flabby bum. A 2013 Telegraph article revealed that the happier couples were, the more weight they gained. Science seemed to support my friend’s hypothesis.
Did it mean my next HIIT session would be a sprint towards divorce court? Was it impossible for health and happiness to coexist? Not hardly.
Now that I’m a husband, my health is even more important to me. My husband has always understood this about my lifestyle, and though we don’t share the same fitness interests, we carve out time in our schedules to accommodate each other’s needs.
Just like any other aspect of a marriage, our health and fitness routine involves compromise, teamwork and moral support.
A Tale of Two Workouts
If there’s one thing my husband and I can agree on about fitness, it’s that neither of us likes to run. For him, it’s a herniated disc (and not a personal hatred of the sport) that keeps his running shoes pushed to the back of his closet.
For me, I’m fully capable of running; I just hate it. I was a not-so-good but consistent distance runner in high school and college. However, the older I’ve gotten, the less interested I’ve become and the more running has felt like a chore. Our reasons may differ, but neither of us spends time on the treadmill.
That’s where the similarities stop. We’re not one of those naked Instagram couples in matching short shorts and stringers spotting each other on heavy lifts. His motivation is health.
Almost ten years my senior, my husband views working out as a necessary evil. He gets in his required time (typically 3-4 days a week) on the elliptical or the stationary bike. That’s coupled with some core exercises to strengthen his back and fight off the effects of that pesky herniated disc. If he has a late work day, he skips a session.
If the weekend weather is nice, he’ll trade out the gym for a 90-minute bike ride from the Financial District to the George Washington Bridge. He wants to age gracefully and live a long, healthy life. His workout routine supports that.
I want those things, too—the graceful aging and long, healthy life. But I also want to look hot in my board shorts during all my tropical summer vacations.
I lift 5 days a week, a split that separates chest, back, legs, shoulders, and biceps/triceps into their own dedicated days. Thanks to a bout of hip bursitis last year, each lifting session is preceded by a lengthy warm up and stretching routine.
A couple of my workouts are followed by some HIIT on the Stairmaster. I’m not necessarily trying to get a six pack (I don’t have one), but I like the feeling of being lean.
Plus, as someone who works from home, my late morning workout is the perfect way to break up my day. It’s rare that I miss a session unless I’m out of town.
The Kitchen Is Where the Heart Is
For us, staying fit together doesn’t necessarily mean working out together, but we always reconvene at the dinner table. We’re in full agreement about nutrition.
Since I work from home, I control the menu on weekdays. My specialties are things that can be made in a slow cooker with minimal effort or stovetop dishes that can made in 30 minutes or less.
I live in an apartment that doesn’t have an oven. You’re probably thinking, “Where does this guy live?”. My building is one of those chic, luxury FiDi buildings where everyone orders takeout. So, there’s a beautiful stainless steel microwave where my oven should be. Hence my reliance on the slow cooker.
I make a lot of tilapia: orange tilapia, honey garlic tilapia, tomato basil tilapia. I’m like the Bubba Gump of healthy seafood. And I’ve never met a pack of quinoa or brown rice that I didn’t like. Throw in some broccoli, carrots or green beans, and we’ve got a party.
On the weekends, my hubby takes over. We used one of the gift cards from our wedding to purchase a wok. I then bought him The Essential Wok Cookbook as part of a food-themed Christmas gift. Our Sunday fare is usually a nutritious interpretation of chow mein, pad thai, or spicy chicken.
We’re not necessarily logging our calories in MyFitnessPal after every bite. But we’re in agreement that the food on the dinner table should be fresh, filled with nutritional value and organic when applicable.
However, it’s not all work and no play on our plates. We indulge occasionally. A Tate’s chocolate chip cookie here, a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream there.
Debunking the Myth
I can understand how some people view marriage as the path to body destruction. If your primary motivation for staying fit was to attract a partner, there’s no reason to keep going once you’ve succeeded.
However, my husband and I both incorporated health and fitness into our lives before meeting each other. Once we fell in love, we both understood that staying active and eating healthy were crucial for us. We both wanted to look 10 years younger than the age listed on our IDs. And, oh yeah, we wanted to be around to start a family and all that good stuff.
For us, staying fit together is about having a mutual understanding about the role fitness plays in our lifestyles. Though we live in the same place, our lives take us in very different directions in a given day. We respect the fact that we enjoy different activities and have different fitness goals. We support each other’s workout schedules. We agree to keep our diet clean and balanced. We take turns handling meal duties.
My husband may not be there to spot me on a heavy lift, but having his support as I pursue my personal goals is all the motivation I need. Sorry Telegraph, this married couple isn’t gaining a pound.