{living in sin} How CrossFit Has Helped My Relationship

by Rachel on February 21, 2012

The past two months have been kind of great around my apartment. It’s cleaner. It’s calmer. We’re spending — and wasting — less. We’re cooking more. And we’re actually here less in general. And all this? Can be attributed to my new love, CrossFit. (And to a lesser extent, my mistress, yoga.)

First, some backstory.

So, the difficulties of maintaining your weight and healthy eating habits when you’re in a relationship are something a lot of people know far too well. You’re more comfortable, you would rather hang out with your new SO than go to the gym, you’re eating in restaurants more, women find themselves eating man-sized portions all of a sudden…the list goes on and on. I never thought Eric and I would have this problem. I mean, our love of spin classes is one of the first things we bonded over when we were introduced. However, I’ve been known to eat my feelings, especially happy ones, so if this was going to happen, I kind of thought it would happen to me.

Surprisingly, it didn’t. It happened to Eric. While the new relationship had a lot to do with it, his new job was actually the bigger catalyst. After six months of insane workweeks, my triathlete-loving, “Sorry I can’t tonight because I’m going on a 35 mile bike ride at 7 AM on a Sunday morning,” I-think-you-might-love-yourself-a-little-too-much boyfriend had no motivation and had gained about 15 pounds.

While the relationship wasn’t the main reason, it certainly didn’t help. I mean, I couldn’t blame him for wanting to watch one of our shows together in the evening instead of going for a run. I wanted to do the same thing. Still, I was managing to get my workouts in. The main difference between us? I was taking classes.

To me, classes are the best way to stay motivated. (To be honest, right now, it’s the only way I can stay motivated. The thought of going to a gym to do cardio for 30 minutes alone makes me feel quite sad.) From the motivation I get from a group and instructor to the fact that it’s a hobby to the fact that it costs too much not to go once I’ve signed up, I’m all about classes.

Despite how passionate I am about taking classes, Eric remained unconvinced.

(Even though the rare times he did work out, he was going to classes.)

So every month or so, we’d have the same conversation. He’d tell me he really needed to get motivated and get back in the habit of working out regularly. He’d come up with a plan. I’d encourage said plan. Sometimes I’d mention classes, but he seemed certain he could do it without them. And then, every month, he’d sort of miss his goal. And by “sort of,” I mean “completely.”

I was kind of torn about how much motivation and support I should provide in this situation. I mean, yes I wanted him to get back in the habit of working out and eating healthy because it’s ya know, something I strongly believe is necessary to living a healthy, happy life. But on the other hand, I didn’t want to be bossy about it. And while I cared, I didn’t care. I mean, while he was unhappy about the weight gain, it didn’t bother me at all. I thought he looked great. Sure his health was on the back of my mind, but not enough to start nagging him about it.

During our regular conversations on the topic, I tried my best to motivate him. I kept suggesting he take classes and told him how much I thought he’d like CrossFit. He seemed optimistic that he’d love it, but he wouldn’t pull the trigger and join. There were times when we worked out together, but they were typically one-time things; we couldn’t seem to get in the habit of working out together regularly. I did everything I could to not enable him to stay on the couch snuggling with me. But ultimately, it’s his life and I wasn’t going to nag him into doing anything.

So that’s how I felt about it at first. Then, back in December, I started to really care.

We were e-mailing and he was doing his typical “I really need to get motivated to start working out again regularly” thing and at that point, I had just had enough. See, even though I didn’t care that he had gained weight, he cared. A lot. And it was really hard for me to watch him lose the athletic, fit, “Sure I’ll run that half-marathon in a month with you because I’m in great shape and don’t need to worry about training” part of himself. Like a lot of people who have lost a good amount of weight and discovered how much they actually enjoy fitness, Eric took a lot of pride in this part of his identity. That pride gave him a lot of confidence and the absence of it was hard on both of us. At that point, I wanted him to start working out for selfish reasons: it was breaking my heart to watch him get so down on himself.

So I told him as such. Bluntly. And then I basically said, “Look, here’s a CrossFit gym by your office and I think you’re more likely to go because of the location. It’s cheaper than the one by our apartment. The classes are at convenient times. The way you’ve been trying to do things isn’t working and I’m not surprised — because motivating yourself is hard. But since we can both agree that you will probably love CrossFit and I’m saying that we cannot continue to have this conversation every month, today is the day. I mean this with a lot of love but…seriously, call the guy and set up a consult today or imma go batshit tonight when you get home tonight.”

(You know…in so many words.)

So he signed up. And he did, in fact, thank me later.

Because CrossFit? Has been awesome.

First, as predicted, he loves it. Eric really prefers in-your-face type workouts and just getting his ass kicked, so he’s all about this style of workout. While he hasn’t been doing it long enough to see any huge changes in his body, he’s getting much better at the WODs, so that’s something. The great classes plus the initial results are just making him excited about working out again.

And the effects it has had on my relationship have been even better.

With Eric going to CrossFit three times a week and me going to yoga four times a week, we had to start using a calendar to keep track of who was working out which nights and who was on dinner/dog walking duties. Um, a calendar? Is a breakthrough for us. As I’ve said before, Eric does not share my strength with time management. But his stricter workout schedule pretty much forced him to start doing it, and that makes life so much easier for both of us. To stay on top of everything, we each have nights to be out of the apartment working out and nights we come straight home from work.

The apartment is cleaner because better time management means we’re better about doing our chores. And it’s calmer well…because it’s cleaner. (That makes me calmer anyway.) Really, it’s calmer because (duh) working out beats stress, and because of the aforementioned calendar, but mainly it’s calmer because all that time Eric is spending at CrossFit is time he’s not spending with me.

As I said, we’re home less, and we’re home together less. Because Eric and I are so similar and we are good friends, it’s easy for us to hang out together a lot, which isn’t always good for a relationship. It’s been nice to sort of have our own spheres where we can each retreat and we know the other can’t come with us. An an added bonus, the nights I come straight home, I write more, which has been as big of a boost to my own happiness and confidence as working out. Ultimately, the time we spend apart makes us both look forward to catching up at the end of the day even more.

One more lovely side effect of the fitness revival: Eric and I are back to bonding through nerdy, fitness-related conversations. (We’re also bonding over our sore muscles.) I’m really enjoying little things like talking about our workouts and progress, discussing an article about diet or exercise, trying new healthy foods together, or going shoe shopping for new athletic shoes.

So while I have no desire to do that crazy-ass shit Eric does at CrossFit, I will totally call myself a fan of CrossFit. He’s happier, I’m happier, and everyone is getting laid more.

Sounds like a great workout to me.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat February 21, 2012 at 12:54 pm

It’s great that you both found a fitness routine that keeps you motivated – maybe I should suggest CrossFit to my husband.

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2 Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie February 21, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Love this! My boyfriend is a CrossFitter as well as a coach, and our relationship is really centered around health, nutrition, working out etc. We send more food pictures back & forth than anything else. Fitness nerds I guess, but its so much healthier than being TV or vino buddies.

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3 SaraB February 21, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I totally get this. Sometimes though, my husband gets pouty about the amount of time I spend working out and not at home. All I have to do is look him in the face and remind him, working out= higher self confidence. higher self confidence= more time in the bedroom. Really it’s a win win. That usually shuts him up and puts a smile on his face. Good for you guys for working on the balance.

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4 Dori February 21, 2012 at 1:24 pm

I love this post! LOVE. I’m like you, I need classes to motivate me because I won’t do anything on my own unless it is running outside on a very nice day. But there is that whole winter thing and rain thing and strength thing and, yeah, I need classes. I’ve even got my boyfriend coming to spin with me every now and then! He tried Refine once but he will never be back. Anyway, I think you handled the situation so well and I am thrilled Eric founds something he loves. I struggled too after starting to date my boyfriend, but now that we spent that initial time together, I am happy going off to a class to do my own thing. I agree it helps the relationship to have your own things, and I love the way this has trickled to improve all different aspects of your life.

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5 Dori February 21, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I somehow missed the second to last sentence of your post before. Amazing.

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6 Sneakers2Sandals February 21, 2012 at 2:15 pm

this is my first time on your blog and I just love this post! it touches on so many things i’m feeling…i think couples who workout together stay together!

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7 Dallas February 21, 2012 at 2:20 pm

oh hai, Eric. good afternoon. how are you? Fine? yes, you are fine. that is how you are.

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8 jasmine February 21, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Words. Words. Words. I know there are words in this post…

Um. Is that a picture of ERIC?

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9 Rachel February 21, 2012 at 7:34 pm

hahaha

Thank you?

(Yeah, that seems appropriate…thank you!)

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10 Kavi @ Lab to Fab! February 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I’m with you – I generally stick to classes. Now that I’m abroad for an extended period of time, I need to find alternative ways to exercise. I’ve never considered myself a runner, but it may be time to start! (And that picture of Eric running is pretty motivational!)

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11 Natakue February 21, 2012 at 2:48 pm

I would love to see what your chore calendar looks like, Rachel! I share a similar dilemma.

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12 Rachel February 21, 2012 at 7:34 pm

I keep meaning to post about this but I’m not sure we have it all figured out! Right now, these are the basics:

– We each cook two nights a week; we each cook the nights we don’t work out.
– We split dog duties; he walks them in the AM, I walk them at lunch, PM depends on the workout schedules (whoever makes dinner takes care of the dogs). This is more flexible now that I’ve been enjoying lunch workouts though. We kinda take it week by week and are both good at accepting more responsibility when the other one needs to put in extra time at work and then not taking advantage when one of us did more in a particular week.
– We do a lot of general cleaning together but if for some reason I do more up front (which tends to happen, as I clean as a stress relief and also just because I hate clutter), I typically just ask him to do something else to balance it out. (i.e. I put all the clean dishes away so I ask him to load the dirty ones and wash the pans or something) It’s pretty much always a non-issue.
– Generally, he’ll do more dog-related chores and I’ll do more kitchen-related chores. Often we do them at the same time though (like on a Sunday afternoon or whatever) so we’re both putting in equal time.

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13 deva at deva by definition February 21, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I totally agree with this post. We have a lot of things we do together, but it is the things we do apart that help keep us close. We don’t really have a chore calendar, but we do have our own little routine that keeps things running smoothly.

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14 RAIN February 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Working out…whatever it is…running, cross fit, yoga…makes us happier people, which in turn makes it more enjoyable for others to be around us.

Sounds like this really worked out for you on a lot of levels! I am sure he really appreciates that you pushed him! (And you appreciate the other benefits, it’s a win-win!!!!! And how often does that happen?!)
:)

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15 Nancy February 21, 2012 at 4:26 pm

I was in your boyfriend’s situation until I too started CrossFit. Except I was introduced by it from a friend. I just hit my 1 year mark last week. I freaking love it the WODs and how it kicks my ass every time.

Now my Boyfriend and I make sure we do our own 20 pushups so many times per week. haha.

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16 Cameo February 21, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Can you rub some of your time management skill off on me????

I totally agree with you that classes are very motivating. Once I sign up I feel obligated to go because I know the instructors will say something if I cancel. And especially if I LATE cancel (bad). I’ve made a lot of new friends and acquaintances since I gave up the gym and started taking studio classes and that is a huge plus.

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17 Emily Susan February 21, 2012 at 8:56 pm

I think this, and the previous post are some of the best things you have written in a while. Your posts are always good, but recently they have been kick ass! I’d say writing more is working out for you.

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18 Rachel February 21, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Thank you! I feel like I’m definitely writing more but it’s so hard to know if I’m writing good content so I really appreciate any feedback…and, well, that kind of feedback is even more exciting! But yeah…I really appreciated this comment.

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19 Jules February 21, 2012 at 11:52 pm

I agree with Emily Susan. You wrote a post awhile back (or was it a response to a thread on GOMI? I can’t remember) commenting on the inevitable switching gears that would take place in your post topics, themes, etc. due to life changes. While I’m single, not living in Texas and technically 100% Caucasian, I really love the writing that you’ve been doing and the topics that you’ve been covering. Looking over your blog and its evolution, it’s fantastic to read through the path that’s brought you here, and comforting to see a fellow child of the mid-’80s going through the same career, relationship and personal issues that the rest of us are. It’s nice to read a blog that isn’t full of “I heart quinoa and working out 24/7!” but is honest about how hard it is to stay active and healthy while maintaining a social and work life. Thank you so much for staying genuine, awesome, and continually living up to your “Sorry I’m not sorry” motto.

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20 Rachel's Mom February 21, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Great picture of Eric. Where/when was that taken?

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21 Rachel February 21, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Spring of 2010, right before we met! (This is one of the pictures I saw that made me say, “Yeah. Sure. Set us up.”)

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22 Liz @ iheartvegetables February 21, 2012 at 10:06 pm

That’s awesome! I’m glad he found something that motivates him and keeps him going!

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23 Samantha M. February 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm

I’m going to echo the sentiments previously stated about your man. ‘Cuz DAMN. (Sorry if that’s creepy!)

The Hubs and I are far too guilty of the coming home and pooping out due to stress and natural laziness. I also hate working out by myself, so boring. We did go to the gym together for a little while, but it was hard to schedule it at the same time. CrossFit sounds too extreme for me, but he might like it. I want to try Zumba myself, ‘cuz I love to dance and all I ever hear is raves about it.

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24 Rachel February 21, 2012 at 11:18 pm

I hear raves about Zumba too! It’s not for me (just the thought of dancing in public makes me squirm) but I feel like most women LOVE IT. You should definitely try it…probably can’t hurt, right?

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25 Nikki February 22, 2012 at 7:21 am

Echoing previous commenters – the quality of your posts recently has been fantastic. I’ve really enjoyed reading them. The effort you put into the quality of what you write is showing.

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26 Allison February 22, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Rachel, I really appreciated this post – I was so impressed that I sent my husband the link to the nearest crossfit studio. I think he’s going to sign up! I HATE crossfit (yoga and running slowly is more my style) but you outlined the best parts of crossfit so well and it really resonated. He’s very social and enjoys friendly competition and encouragement, so I think it’d be something he’d really like. Thanks! =)

PS – I’ve really enjoyed your posts lately!

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27 Rachel February 22, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Ahhh that’s awesome!! Seriously, best compliment ever. Keep me posted on how it goes for him!

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28 Christina February 23, 2012 at 10:23 am

I’m having the SAME issue with my boyfriend right now. We’ve been together for 7+ years, and he’s always been into working out; mostly jiu jitsu and weight lifting. Since his jiu jitsu school closed, he has been kind of lost. And that was a year ago. And it’s driving me batty!! I am having the same feeling you had (caring but not really caring b/c I think he looks great and just really unsure of how to motivate him). I am really concerned for his mental health most of all. I am trying to encourage him to get to the gym, but it feels like I’m hitting a brick wall. Maybe I need to tell him how much it’s affecting me and that if he doesn’t do something I will go apeshit crazy on him.

p.s. I have to agree with a previous commenter – your recent posts have been really, really great. There’s an extra ‘oomph’ in them, if that makes any sense.

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29 rachel February 23, 2012 at 3:02 pm

I’m so glad you posted this! I’m not in a relationship, but I joined crossfit at the beginning of the year and it has been exactly what I needed to boost my confidence and get myself out of the rut I was in- driving up to Clearlake 3x a week gives me an awesome excuse to get off of Galveston island and do something for myself- and heck, maybe someday I’ll meet my own “eric” through it!

P.S. It’s been said, but I’m sure compliments are always welcomed- been reading your blog for a while and always loved it, but I’ve loved the recent posts even more! SO often I read something and think “hey! that’s exactly how I feel about ___”, which has been fun- I’ve even gotten a few school friends hooked too… keep up the good work!!

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30 Rachel February 23, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Hey, thanks! Also, it’s really nice to hear that from someone who isn’t in a relationship because I don’t like the idea of losing people just because I write about living with my boyfriend. It means a lot to me to know that you are going through a lot of the same things I am and still find my blog relatable.

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31 Bridget February 23, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I think it’s really interesting the balance between “I think you’re fat please workout” and “I love you enough to say get your ass to the gym because YOU are happy when you do”.

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32 Courtney March 1, 2012 at 11:19 am

My boyfriend is a trainer at our local CF gym and he introduced me to it (3 years ago) and I LOVE it! I totally understand the “fitness chats” (oh the soreness!!) that is usually one of our date topics too :) I hope Eric is competing in the CF Games– if so, tell him good luck!

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