Paleo Without your Partner
So we’ve reached that exciting time of year where everything is new and bright and we’re full of hope and ready to make changes. The healthy menus are planned, you’re ready to get some good quality sleep, get hydrated and get off the couch and get your body moving. But wait, you’ve only got HALF the program figured out, because you’ve got a partner in this life, and everything you do is bound up in them. Your significant other is a major influence on your life, and they bring to the table many strengths that can help support you and love you through the tough times (that’s one of the reasons why you’re with that person, right?) but they also bring with them their own needs, issues, insecurities, weaknesses, and other bits of humanity that, while it doesn’t make them less worthy as fellow travelers on this big rotating ball of dirt, does tend to put a crimp in your plans to eat better, move more and make positive changes in your life.
Where to Start
So where do you start? First off, you need to commit for yourself. As a caretaker it is crucial that you put your own oxygen mask on first. You deserve good health, lasting energy and physical fitness. I really encourage you to try your new healthy routine out for 30 days and see the difference for yourself. Take damaging foods out, see how you feel, put them back in and see how you feel. Everyone’s system has different tolerances, and this is all about self-experimentation and learning what works for YOU and your body.
Once you get your own mojo flowing, you can deal better with the problems plaguing the people you love. Let’s take a look at some of the common issues I’ve seen when dealing with partners that aren’t on the same health path as you.
- My partner refuses to make any dietary changes and continues to bring garbage food into the house. Grown adults with their own ability to decide what to eat, when to eat it, this is not in your control. In this world, the only person you have the ability to change is YOU. Focus on YOUR positive changes and often those good habits will begin to rub off. Remember that we all come with our own emotional eating baggage (comfort, shame, food tied to memories (both good and bad), medicating stress with food, and our own fears about change and acknowledging something we are doing isn’t working). Many people are not ready to face themselves. They may become critical of you because they don’t like that you are shedding light on things they don’t like about themselves, or because they are afraid that you WILL succeed and will leave them behind. Continue to be supportive, check in often with them emotionally, and encourage the positive changes you see.
- My partner complains about the healthy food I make. If you are a caregiver and you are the one that shops and cooks, you are going to win this race (at least for yourself). Whatever your budget, buy simple clean ingredients, sneak healthy foods in and make healthier alternatives without telling them about the changes if you have to. If you are preparing food for someone who absolutely refuses to give up certain damaging foods, either prepare a less damaging paleo-friendly version or offer the unhealthy item as a “SIDE” rather than part of the main dish, and refrain from eating it yourself. Watching you refrain may give them the strength to try giving it up themselves.
- My partner refuses to buy and prepare healthy food that I’m requesting. If you have food purchased and prepared for you, be sure to approach your requests for change in a positive manner. Let the chef know he or she is not doing a BAD job, or cooking foods that aren’t delicious. Make sure they understand that you honor and appreciate what they do, and you want the family to feel good and be healthy, and this knowledge is new to all of you. Ask them to incorporate the new techniques, and offer to help so they don’t feel overwhelmed. You will also need to be patient with the learning curve (every meal may not be just what you want. Again, praise the positive and downplay the negative). If bad food continues to be prepared, refrain from eating the offending foods and focus on the cleaner foods. Encourage and praise the preparation of the healthy foods and downplay the foods you don’t want. As the primary chef in our house, I can tell you unless it’s something I absolutely can’t live without that I have very little desire to spend my time cooking food my husband doesn’t want to eat, and as the chef I WANT him to enjoy the food we eat. It’s all about the approach when making these changes within relationships.
- My partner doesn’t respect my sleep requirements. This is an especially big one for all the couples who have a TV in the bedroom. As we know, sleep is critical to good health and longevity, weight loss and physical performance. This gets even tougher if there are children involved with bedtime routines and household chores that need to be accomplished. Parents need to be a united team in order to handle all of these responsibilities and still take care of your own health and sanity. So what can you do if you’ve got a mountain of chores to do and an unresponsive partner who thinks that Leno is more important than getting a good night’s rest? First off, get done only what you need done and then get to bed. Do you need to handle every dish in the sink, fold every sock, pay all the bills, and give the dog a bath? Is it REALLY that important to watch the latest episode of Downton Abby right now? Is that more important than giving your body proper rest and recovery, fat burning, liver detoxing, and muscle repair? Make a list of the things that are actually crucial to daily living and sanity, and be prepared to let some things go at first (trust me, when you start getting more energy after a good night’s sleep those chores will stop being such an exhausting drag!) Once you’ve got your essential list handled, say goodnight, and get your bootie in the bed. If you are dealing with a lot of night time light exposure, tv in the bedroom and all manner of raucous, there are a few tools that can help you cut to the chase: blue blockers, eye blinders, ear plugs, melatonin, and natural calm magnesium powder are all amazing tools for helping the body readjust to a natural nighttime rhythm.
And never forget, you need to understand where your partner is coming from and love them through it. Change can be scary, and you’re probably even a bit unsure of yourself, think of how they feel looking at it from the outside in. Show them you want to take them along on this journey, be prepared for whatever underlying emotional struggles are keeping them stuck and be ready to face those struggles when they come up. Be prepared to deal with it and love them through it and help them accept themselves. That’s part of being a team.
What strategies have you used to work through a difficult change with your significant other? What obstacles have you overcome? Share your stories and help us spread the love!
Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/jay_defehr/8587483603/”>Jay DeFehr</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)</a>