Jane Doe is turning forty next month. Her husband, John, and she are healthy and keep regular exercise as part of their lives. They both feel that they eat right and are happy with their bodies. Jane has an office job and teaches fitness classes part-time. John also has a desk job and is a member of a running club.
Jane feels good about herself, but wonders why her fitness routine and healthy diet have not yielded the results she expects. So, in anticipation of being a “forty something”, she decides to revamp her exercise and eating to really transform her body. She studies up on new fitness/nutrition science, talks to other fitness instructors and nutritionists, comes up with a plan for herself and implements it.
Although her new plan is not particularly difficult, it does require that she be more disciplined in her eating habits, eating schedules and the way she works out. After her research, she realizes that truly attaining the body transformation that she wants requires more than just doing what she has done year after year. In fact, it’s yielding diminishing returns!
When Jane first explains to John what she intends to do, John is very supportive. He thinks it’s important for Jane to feel good about herself especially at this time in her life. Deep down, however, John feels that Jane will “mellow out” and return to her previous behavior soon enough. So, any inconvenience to him caused by her lifestyle change is temporary right?
Fast forward a few months. Jane has worked out her dietary needs, schedules and foods quite nicely. Her workouts are coming along and she is starting to see real change. She likes it
John, on the other hand, has always felt that he is the fitter one. After all, his friends always ask his advice about workouts and fitness. His routine hasn’t changed in 10 years, though, and he really doesn’t think about the quality of the food he eats. His attitude is that so long as he exercises, he can eat what he wants. He has accepted his slowly growing “love handles” as part of aging. But now, he seems to be getting older and Jane seems to be getting younger!
Fast forward six more months .Jane is really looking and feeling different. She has remained true to her goals and everyone comments to her how amazing the changes are. After all, she was already “fit” before. When she and John go out, John can see how men are attracted to her like they were when she was 15 years younger. She exudes a confidence that he hasn’t seen in years.
John is starting to feel insecure with his own body, his own fitness accomplishments and even his attractiveness to Jane! He wishes that she would go back to being the wonderful, “soft” woman she used to be instead of the hard-body babe she is becoming. He begins to feel resentment and jealousy of her attention and success.
John has two choices here. He can learn from Jane’s experience, try some things for himself and transform his body; or he can continue to believe that Jane’s methods are too extreme and resent her success.
If you are over age 35, you probably know more than one couple with a similar story as Jane and John. You might even have had the same experience yourself. A physical transformation by one partner in a couple and not the other can lead to adjustment problems.
The message is that we as individuals are solely responsible for our own physical fitness and health. However, changes in eating behaviors, work out schedules and interests do affect the people closest to us in a variety of ways. Sometimes, like John, resentment develops in the unchanging partner. Sometimes competition fuels this, sometimes fear, sometimes a feeling of inadequacy, or not understanding how important it is to the other partner.
So, if you are the transformer, it’s important to listen to your partner and empathize with the difficulties your lifestyle and physical changes are causing. As you transform, be aware of the insecurities that might arise because you are moving in a new direction and reassure your partner whenever you have the chance.
If you are the partner who is not currently in the process of body transformation, talk about the inconveniences, feelings and insecurities you have. Ask your partner why he/she feels the need to change so dramatically. Communicate your feelings!
Most all of us go through some kind of emotional change in mid-life which usually has something to do with our body changes. It may be exasperating to have a partner suddenly become very particular about their eating habits or exercise but an extramarital affair, alcohol/drugs or shopping addiction would certainly be much more disastrous!
Copyright (c) 2007 Ainsley Laing