JA, a middle age housewife, presented to my office for her monthly weight management visit. She had been hovering around her goal weight the past few months and recently incorporated some new tips and was pleased to have lost 5 pounds this past month. While inquiring about the different things she was doing to lose weight, she said, “I’ve started working out more regularly. I’m going to the gym and lifting with my husband.”
Time froze at that moment, the second hand on the clock slowed as my pen dropped in slow motion on the desk. JA’s face went into a half blink as the sound went into a vacuum. Immediately my thoughts drifted to the tragedy of husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, trying to play sports together, exercise together, etc. (Incidentally, girlfriends and gayfriends never seems to create conflict.) It doesn’t usually work out well, case in point, we’ve all been embarrassed, appalled, angered, and felt sorry for the battered spouse, significant other on Amazing Race every season (and that goes for both genders on that show).
I’ll admit it took me several hints short of a dumbbell up-side my head to realize that when my wife wanted to get fit, I should have stopped after getting her the shake weight and just offered to keep the 6 month old preoccupied during her workout times. It definitely was not a green flag to go all manic Jillian ala food police on her 24/7.
Now I successfully just congratulate and encourage her when she gets back from her Zoomba, pole dance, or spinning class. No longer am I asking if she’s working out today when she is falling asleep standing up after being awake all night with a cranky baby. No longer will I tell her to go faster on the elliptical or point out that she only exercised for 13 minutes. Instead I will sit back on the couch with the baby on my lap, enjoying the view of her doing the wii fit; give her a thumbs up and a smile as she sings too loudly to her MP3s. No longer will I ask her how many zingers she’s had, but instead bring her peanut butter cups or surprise her with a DQ blizzard because she deserves it.
The pen clanged and slowly bounced up and my thoughts went to the mixed-doubles couple playing next to me the other day, where the husband was barking and cussing out his poor wife who was trying her darndest and she was still apologetic. They looked like they were in their 60s so you know they’ve interacted this way their whole lives.
The clock started ticking again and JA’s voice echoed into clarity as she said,”I’m worried my arms are getting bigger. Ya know? I looked in the mirror yesterday and I stopped and said, WHOA, followed by, UH-OH.”
Me: “Uh, stop right there, I know we’ve talked about the importance of strength training as a part of your weight loss…” I gave her some detailed instructions on paper and summarized that her strength training should be for TONING and WEIGHT LOSS. Not for Serena Williams’ guns or should I say Samantha Stosur (who can flex like Nadal). For every exercise your first ‘rep’ of your first set, should be just as intense as the last ‘rep’ of your third set. Make it challenging but not difficult or hard. If you are grunting on the last few reps its too heavy.
“He says that I should do more weight, that its too easy . . .” your husband, unless he’s a certified personal trainer (who’s that a nightmare for, am I right? Eh, right?) is re-living his lifting days from college or worse—high school sports and trying to impress with the stacks of iron he is lifting. He’s showing off how he has to move the pin so fa=r after your set or he may secretly revel in making your muscles so sore you can’t lift your arms to do your hair as he points and laughs, possibly even poking at you. Or secretly, he really doesn’t want to be working out with you and hopes you’ll stop.
Spouses have to communicate their goals to get on the same page. Let your significant other know you love or hate whatever it is he is trying to introduce you to. Maybe you have to accept that ”side by side play” is okay in this instance and he doesn’t really need to ”fire” you up to finish the set, followed by a chest bump like you’re his beer buddy. You ride together to the gym and while he herniates his bench presses, you enjoy the stationary bike, singing loudly in your earphones.
I wrapped up the office visit,”You have to be clear with your husband, you want Ripa arms not Madonna muscles.”
“YES, that’s it exactly!” JA exclaimed in laughter, then stopped in a blank face, “But he won’t know what that means.”
Dr. Curvy, aka Dr. Stephen Camacho, is a family doctor practicing in the midwest. He’s a busy guy, married with 8 kids, no typo here, 8. He loves singing, dancing, reading, cooking, playing all sorts of sports, doing outdoorsy things, being artistic and creative. Every day he tries to learn or do something different to make himself a better person for others, and for himself. You can follow Dr. Curvy on twitter.