Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I need advice. I’ve always been a reasonably in-shape girl. I feel like staying fit in college was easy. I walked a ton and had friends to hit the gym with. After school, I backpacked for a year — again, tons of exercise, just built into my day, it was great. After that, my boyfriend and I got an apartment here in town and got jobs. I’ve been in the workforce about a year now and am embarrassed to say I have also slowly packed on weight.
I don’t feel like we are unhealthy people. We eat out sometimes, and sometimes get fast food, but we cook at home too. I have alcohol on weekends, and sometimes wine after work and he’ll have a beer or two while we watch TV. I really think the main problem is we just aren’t that active. I have a desk job and it’s not unusual to sit all day. We spend most evenings together at home watching shows or videos on our phones. He’s usually in bed by 9 at least to read if not full-on fall asleep while I typically stay up until at least 10 or 11.
I no longer have a gym membership and I suggested that we get one together. My boyfriend is thin and always has been, no matter what he eats, and he’s never really gone to gyms or fitness or yoga classes, or even tried any kind of regular physical activity routine. For all he cares, he could read and nap all day. Perfect example, when we were backpacking, I loved the long walking days and he was always miserable before, during and after the hike. He says I should just get a membership on my own. But if I start going to the gym after work, it cuts into our evening time, which is already scarce and which we both agree is very important.
Any advice how I can work in some fitness time together without putting a strain on my relationship?
It’s all about balance, and it sounds like the only balance you currently have is between your desk chair at work and your couch at home. You need to get on your feet, and not just because your jeans are too tight. There is loads of research out there about the risks associated with sedentary lifestyles. Getting your body moving isn’t just about weight loss or maintenance; it has all kinds of impacts on other health factors that can hinder or lead to a longer, more satisfying life.
Let’s assume your Mini-Mister isn’t interested in joining you. There are easy ways to work mobility into your workday. For example, request a standing desk, suggest walking meetings instead of gathering in a conference room, or take a 5-minute walking break every hour to get your blood flowing. Outside of work, you could join a gym for as cheap as $10 a month, or buy punch cards for spinning or yoga or lap swimming.
I get it: You see all these after-work activities as things that take away from time with your man. And very likely, they might. Some alternative ideas: Get yourself out of bed and try early morning workouts — it’s a hard adjustment for sure, but you can do it! Figure out how to get physical during your lunch hour. Or buy some in-home fitness DVDs and do something after Mr. Sleepy crashes for the night and you find yourself with a couple hours to kill.
Whatever ends up working for you, it will probably mean changing up your routine, and it may mean more time apart from your partner. But it will also mean a happier, healthier you, which is such a beneficial return on some physical investment.
As much as I admire your ambitions to create a perfect work-workout-boyfriend balance, it’s time to admit that it’s impossible. It’s also time to be selfish and start working out regularly again, because, as Wise Wanda noted, if you don’t feel healthy, you don’t feel happy. And if you don’t feel happy, it will eventually affect everything and everyone else in your life: work, friends and yes, the relationship with your boyfriend. Sounds like it already has, to some extent.
So start embracing who you are: someone who wants, needs, craves to have regular exercise in your life. This is the way you’re wired; don’t fight it anymore. Your boyfriend isn’t wired that way, clearly, so stop fighting to push him into something he isn’t and doesn’t want to be.
Wanda rolled out all the different ways you can make workouts work, but I want to emphasize that even if the best and only time to get in a good, regular exercise session is weeknights after work when you and the BF are usually chilling and chugging on the couch, don’t you dare feel guilty about it. This is self-care, this #metime, this is what you have to do. And likely, this isn’t going to be every night of the week, so you’ll still have plenty of full nights together. Also likely, he’ll be happily lost in a book while you’re at the gym anyway and not feeling guilty about that at all.
And when you start coming home from the gym glowing, feeling strong, fit and stoked, he’ll notice and hopefully encourage and admire it.