Tag Archives: fitness

Meet Your Lover at Their Passion

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Today I rode 15 miles with my fiancé. A year ago I could not have ridden half that distance. But she loves cycling. And I learned if I take up cycling it’s time spent doing something she loves, and we’re together. While I would not put cycling in my initial passions, I joined her at the point of her passion.

So she never joined us in our biking adventures, or our tennis “games,” or rough-housing in the pool. She chose to separate from us.

How many times in our lives do we have the opportunity to join another person in doing something they love? Dancing? Biking? Playing tennis? As you long to expand your time and join with this other person you begin to look for ways you can be together. And if that togetherness is bound up in physical fitness activities so much the better.

I remember in the early months of my relationship with the mother of my children, she began taking tennis lessons with one of her best friends. They loved to joke about how they were doing it for the sexy skirts they got to buy and wear. And though I give her an “A” for effort, there at the beginning of our relationship, she didn’t continue beyond the first 6 weeks. I would often ask her to go “hit” with me and the kids, but often she took the time as an opportunity to have some alone time instead.

It seemed that there was always some reason that she wouldn’t join in. Board games. “No thanks.” Swimming. “Not this time.” And tennis. “I’ll just say here.” She often took the opportunity to join as an opportunity to not-join. Odd.

When the kids were riding bikes, I suggested we get her a mountain bike for her birthday one year, so she could join us. “That’s not a great birthday present,” she said. I never quite understood that response. “Um, what is…?” So she never joined us in our biking adventures, or our tennis “games,” or rough-housing in the pool. She chose to separate from us.

In relationships, marriage or dating, we choose what activities we want to join in. And we can either look for ways to connect or we can look for ways to be separate.

As our marriage was winding down, she did try to enter the tennis court again. This time it was just the two of us. And I recall the feeling of sadness as we were entering the court for the first time in 10 years. I thought she looked great in her tennis outfit. And I was encouraged by her openness to “trying tennis again.” But her heart was not in it. She was doing it as a potential bridge between us, one that she chose to shut down years earlier. And the roadblock between us had become too high to pass.

We only played tennis together that one time. It left me feeling empty, as I knew she did not enjoy herself, and would not be suggesting tennis again.

In relationships, marriage or dating, we choose what activities we want to join in. And we can either look for ways to connect or we can look for ways to be separate. I believe my then-wife was aware that she had isolated too much in our marriage and that she was making an effort to come out of her shell and join with me. The effort was appreciated, but the overall effect was lost in the sea of dissatisfaction that was obvious on the tennis court that day. She had never continued her lessons, had never joined the kids and me on the court, and was not very happy being a complete beginner. It was easier not to play tennis.

It’d be easier not to get into bike riding with my fiance. I’ve fallen several times and have the scars to prove it. But we keep getting back on the bike and we keep making dates to ride. Today we’ve got an ongoing Sunday morning ride that we can both look forward to.

Join with your partner in all the ways you can. Time together doing things you both love is time together IN LOVE. That’s how it works. And that’s what you want from here on out, a way to join in more and more of your life.

Always Love,

John McElhenney
@wholeparent

Back to Positive Divorce & Co-Parenting

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image: biking together, the author, creative commons usage

Can You Love Yourself As Much As You Desire Someone Else?

WHOLE-buddhahead

I want my kids, but mainly myself, to be proud of me.

You cannot love someone else unless you fully love yourself. If you are thinking things like “if I lose 15 lbs,” or “if I could get better clothes or a nice haircut,” it’s okay, but it shows a bit of self-acceptance that still needs some attention.

While I was making progress in my fitness, as tracked on my blog, the ultimate transformation took place when I found a partner who was healthy and lived a lean and active lifestyle.

I remember talking to a good friend a few years ago about my weight. I was lamenting how hard it was to get motivated when I was feeling depressed and fat. How could I ever find a woman to love me. His response was swift and direct, “If she doesn’t love you just the way you are, she’s not worthy of you.” I still think about that moment. I heard the words, and though I didn’t believe them at that time, I came to understand the fundamental value in his wisdom.

I wanted to lose 15 pounds. I wanted to play more tennis so that I would be more active and attractive to a woman. I wanted to be with an active and athletic woman, so I’d better not turn into a couch slouch. I wasn’t that at all, but I was overweight due to the depression of the divorce, and my poor food choices. I really didn’t consider myself fat, until I saw photos or videos of myself from birthday parties or something. I didn’t like how I looked. I didn’t see how I could love me as I was. I needed a change.

The change that had to happen was actually in my mind. I decided to begin a fitness and health routine, program, process to discover more about me and my relationship to food and fitness. I started another blog (http://fitbytech.com) to complete the motivation and exploration. As I wrote about myself, I began to discover issues I had yet to resolve.

  1. Fitness has a lot to do with what you eat, not just how much you exercise.
  2. Quantity of calories is very important, but it’s not everything.
  3. Quantity and quality of exercise are important. I could never commit to going to a gym because I hated being in the gym. I could always commit to play tennis, but that required another person, or some group I could join.
  4. My negative self-talk was toxic. As I turned my inner-voice into a Bill-Murray-in-Stripes character, I began to lighten up about failures and resets.
  5. Fitness and health is all about failures, forgiveness and resetting. If you eat ice cream one night, you wake up the next day and say, “Whew, I’m glad that’s over.” And you jump back into the plan. Always back to the plan. Never a failure, but just a temporary setback.
  6. Friend and family seem happy to see you changing, but they’re not always as supportive as you’d like them to be. “Wow, you look great. Here have this piece of cake.”
  7. It was MY IMAGE of MYSELF that was the real issue. By “feeling fat” I didn’t feel attractive. I didn’t project confidence in my physical appearance. I had personality and humor in spades, but I was not happy with the way my pants fit.

My Breakthrough

That’s the key to my fitness and healthy eating. I want to be proud of me. I want to look at myself with a shirt off and get a smile. From me.

While I was making progress in my fitness, as tracked on my blog, the ultimate transformation took place when I found a partner who was healthy and lived a lean and active lifestyle. Sure, I can’t keep up with her, but I can draft behind her in the kitchen and on the running trail. And by being with someone who loved me as I was, I began to love me more, just as I was. Sure she’d like me to be fitter, so would I. But her love for me, like my friend said, was not based on my weight or my fitness level.

I still want to get in better shape. I want my health to be an advantage in my older days. I want my kids to look up to me, and know that they are still several years from being able to beat me on the tennis court, or sprinting across any random field we come upon. I want my kids, but mainly myself, to be proud of me.

Yep, that’s the key to my fitness and healthy eating. I want to be proud of me. I want to look at myself with a shirt off and get a smile. From me. My sweetheart has been singing my praises since the day we met. She’s an amazing cheerleader. And her “Are we going to run today,” texts always produce a “meh” inside, but a “Hell, yes!” on the outside.

John McElhenney
@wholeparent

visit: fitybytech – my health and wellbeing blog

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image: The Last Desire – Tamarama, Ian Burt, creative commons usage

A Sprinter In Love, and How I Am Learning to Pace Myself

WHOLE-sprinter

I was a sprinter in high school. After my years of playing football and lifting weights I was a bit of a jock. And when I joined the swim team I quickly learned that all those muscles were great for going fast, but not so great for going the distance. I swam the 50 and 100 yard races of all strokes. I did okay, but I didn’t set any records. But I hated swim practice where we would swim swim swim for an hour or so… UG. I often felt like I was going to drown.

In my adult life I have become less of a sprinter in my physical exercise, taking a more measured approach to my fitness and life way. Here’s what I mean. People either run or they walk, for the most part. I walk. When I run, the sprinter brain kicks in and I start running faster. Trying to catch the runner in front of me. Trying to beat the runner ahead as we head up the long hill. When I run a tend to get anaerobic, and drive myself too hard. Sort of the way I did when I was swimming. If I swam at my natural sprint-like pace, I’d never make it through a half hour of swim practice. I learned to dial it back, to breathe a lot more, and to go the distance.

In my relationships I tend to approach things like a sprinter (or runner). And I’m tired of the long recovery periods.

In walking versus running, I’ve also learned a similar pattern for myself. I CAN run. And when I do I notice more pain, more exhaustion, and my recovery time the next day is much higher. So if I go out and run 2 miles vs. walk 3.5 miles I might get the benefit of the higher cardio workout, but I’m going to be hard pressed to get back up and run again the next day. If I walk, I can walk day after day without any real recovery days, unless it’s really hot, like it was last week. (Texas summer heat is mean business.)

So, for my life and my style of fitness and my age, I walk. And I walk happily. And I’ll walk every day if I can. If I ran, I’d probably work up to daily runs or at least every other day, but what’s the point if my joints start aching and if I am damaging my long-term ability to play tennis, or even walk? There’s no point in it.

I know there’s a time thing for most people. And running takes a lot less time and can give you higher benefits. But that’s just fine with me. I’ll walk, thanks.

In my relationships I tend to approach things like a sprinter (or runner). And I’m tired of the long recovery periods. I’ve learned that going fast may feel exhilarating, but it might be a flaw in my strategy. If I walked more, in my dating process, perhaps I would become less focused on one woman and be more comfortable casually dating a few at a time. (I’m personally not talking about sex, but that’s okay if *you* are. I’m just talking about “getting to know you” dating.)

Here’s what I’ve learned just in the last week as a serious dating relationship collapsed under the weight of our collective mismatch. I had put all of my eggs in her basket, and that tended to make me more focused on her than perhaps I should’ve been. I wanted her badly, and our courtship turned to passion in a few weeks. And that wasn’t the problem.

I was the problem. I wanted to run, jump, swim into “what’s next” with her. I learned, in the course of dating her, to taper my sprint a bit. Only a bit. I was always hungry for her. I wanted to devour and praise and massage her all the time. Of course, as single parents that wasn’t really an option. So we travelled along together side by side, her running and me walking on the trail, but in the cadence of the relationship I kept sprinting ahead.

And I have more time alone again to reflect on my pattern. Walk, walk, walk, sprint. It’s the sprint thing that I can do without.

Time after time I would write a love poem and think, “Man this is a good one, I should share it.” And inevitably this would lead to a freak out. Okay, back to walking. And then I would get a second wind and sprint back to the front of the pack and send another mis-timed missive. Damn. I didn’t learn very quickly that this was a running woman, but she wasn’t ready to run with me into a “R” relationship.

Now I know. And I have more time alone again to reflect on my pattern. Walk, walk, walk, sprint. It’s the sprint thing that I can do without. At least in terms of dating. In my physical exercise I am happy to get some running in on the tennis court, THAT is worth it to me. But on the trail or on a treadmill? Forget about it.

So I know in my fitness walking and walking frequently is the key to my happiness. It may be a longer haul to get as fit as I’d like to be, but I have very little pain and almost no need for recovery days. (Tennis in the Texas heat is a bit of a different story, but I try to play early in the morning when possible.)

Besides, if I ran I wouldn’t have so much time to enjoy and study the music in my earbuds.

Always Love,

John McElhenney
@wholeparent

back to Dating After Divorce

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image: photo taken today along my walk, john mcelhenney 8-5-2104 CC