Consider, Communicate, Compromise
I’ve been in a relationship with Moses for 8 years, loved him for 9 years, lived with him for 3.5 years, and been married to him for just over 3 months. The Al I was on the day I met Mo – 19 years old in my dorm room at Temple University – is not the Al I am today, and the same goes for Moses. Yet, we’ve loved each other through every evolution, each and every new version of ourselves.
When I first set out to change my lifestyle, it was super superficial. I craved a change in body composition that I hoped in turn would change the way I felt and the way I navigated the world. To be honest, I’m not sure that if you asked either of us on day one of the Tone It Up 2016 Bikini Series, myself or Mo would have predicted that my health kick would really stick. Determination, initiative, drive – these were learned traits for me. Up until that day in April, I had been a total go-with-the-flow, artistic, laid back n’ lazy kind of gal.
Here we are, nearly 3 years of self discovery, sweat sessions, and big ass kale salads later and it’s clear. My hobbies, my priorities, my approach, my interests, my physical appearance, and my definition of self, have shifted. There’s no doubt about it, who I am as a person has changed. For the better, if you ask me.
I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to shout it from the rooftops: I fully believe that my lifestyle and choices, my commitment to self-respect, have made me a better partner (wife!) – not to mention friend, daughter, coworker, coach,etc.
I think Mo would agree. We’re very independent people who value ourselves as individuals within a partnership. But it’s not to say that my when my lifestyle changed, it didn’t impact Moses in any way. He’ll joke that my sobriety and lack of late-night junk food runs have saved him money, and that my cooking skills have improved vastly.
On our wedding day, Moses and I vowed to choose each other, over and over again, “loving what I know of you, and trusting who you will become.” This line was, and is, so very important to me.
I have undergone a radical physical and mental evolution over the last few years, and I’ve asked Moses to accept me, adapt with me, and learn to love who I have become.
Moses knows how very important my lifestyle is to me, and I appreciate his support in ways that I can hardly begin to express. Because of this, I make my greatest effort to consider Mo in my choices and emphasize keeping an open line of communication to make sure that my routine and preferences are not impacting his happiness, goals, lifestyle or our relationship in any way short of positive.
Pro-tip: If your s/o (or friends or family for that matter) don’t totally get your whole health & fitness thing… explain it to them. In earnest, passionate, sincere terms that convey just how important all of this – nutrition, exercise, self care, etc – is to you. You can’t expect the people in your life to be mind readers, or to resonate with your objectives, but you can expect them to offer up respect – you just have to ask for it.
Cookin’ for Two
In our household, I am the primary nutrition decision maker. (Outside of our humble four walls is another story…) I shop solo so that I have (more) control over what food is readily available in our kitchen. I plan and prep (or partially prep) my entire menu from Monday post-workout to Sunday night-cap, factoring in flexible dinner recipes that both Mo and I will enjoy. Mo loves to cook, and he’s super good at it! (And, will all due respect – he’s a grown ass man with two hands.) He prepares his own breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. I do my part to keep the fridge, freezer, and pantry stocked with items that we both can use to build healthy meals.
When considering multi-person menu items, I look for recipes that are equally nutritious as they are delicious. If I’m suffering from meal-planner’s block or torn between a tale of two dishes, I’ll ask Mo what he’s craving for inspiration.
In an attempt to meet both of our nutrition needs and preferences, I find it easiest to pick out a preparation method for a protein that I think both of our palettes will enjoy, and pair it with flexible, mix-and-match sides. The “his vs. hers” plates on the ‘gram are causing a bit of controversy in the wellness sphere, but let’s be real: as a built, 5’10” mesomorph male, Mo has different nutrient needs than my 5’2″ female endomorph frame.
Here’s how I’d plate one of our fave repeat dishes, adobo chicken, two ways:
Al: 5 oz chicken thighs + 2 cups sautéed baby bok choy and broccoli + 1.5 cups cauliflower rice + 1 tbsp cashews
Mo: 6 oz chicken thighs + 2 cups sautéed baby bok choy and broccoli + 1.2 cup brown rice + 1 tbsp cashews
Meal prep is probably the most time-consuming piece of my lifestyle. I dedicate about 3-4 hours every weekend (usually Sunday) to cookin’, cleanin’, and capturing content. Moses plays video games or watches football during this time, and neither of us are complaining about that 😂
I’ll give credit where it’s due, Mo has been integral in the development of my culinary skills and tastebuds! True story: I went 19 years before ever tasting a taco, and I probably would have gone another 19 if it wasn’t for Moses (and a wicked college hangover ;))
Admittedly, dining out has been a work in progress for me since I started giving a damn about what I put into my body. It’s a tricky transition to go from consuming with reckless abandon to measuring and logging every ounce of nut butter and avocado oil. What I’ve learned is that food is fuel, but not just for the body. It’s fuel for the mind and soul, as well. It connects cultures, nurtures relationships, and fosters memories. This realization is one of the main motivators that set me on the path of practicing Intuitive Eating, stripping food of morality, and ultimately, finding food freedom. I would be withholding the truth if I didn’t disclose that Mo and I have experienced a squabble or two surrounding my reluctance to enjoy a restaurant prepared meal, or my anxiety when analyzing a menu. I did not want something like food to become a point of contention in our relationship. So I started viewing ingredients for what they were: nutrients. Protein, carbs, and fat on a plate. Nothing more, nothing less. This outlook has helped me to honor both my wants and needs when dining out, while still making mindful selections that support my goals and preferences.
P.S. it’s totally okay to not eat every meal together. I’ll be totally honest, Moses hits up one of his fave buffets (Chinese or Indian) every weekend while I meal prep and make a cozy lunch on the couch. It works for us! Mo and I love going to markets or food halls where we can each get something that meets our preferences, but come together at a communal table.
Pro-tip: I typically peep the menu before dining. Key word: peep. Not analyze for 5 hours, adding every dish into MyFitnessPal until hitting a magic number (yes, I’ve actually been there, done that). It helps me to feel familiar with the restaurant offerings and confident in my ability to make the best choice for me. Speaking of which, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with requesting menu modifications, so long as they come from a positive place of wants and needs, as opposed to restrictions, rules, or “shoulds”.
For two years, Moses commuted over an hour to work, across state lines via train, while I hopped on the subway (that I could practically see from our apartment) for a 15 minute shuttle to the office. Eventually, we decided to buy a home in the ‘burbs half way between my 9-5 and his. Let me tell you something: it’s really damn difficult to make friends outside of your college crew as an adult. Especially in a brand new environment, and when your hobbies include grocery shopping, meal prep, and deadlifts. Moses joined CrossFit for this reason, without any prior experience. He’d been your typical body buildin’ gym-goer before, but signed up for CF in a search for community in our new hometown.
A few months went by of hearing Mo rave about his 5:30 a.m. fit fam and witnessing his progress and success since joining the box. I hadn’t seen him so passionate about fitness, or any activity aside from a brief video game stint the year prior, in a long while. It didn’t take long for the FOMO to fully set in, and with a little reassurance from Mo, I decided to on-ramp at Broad Street CrossFit myself.
Exercising together has connected us on a whole new level. Hard work, passion, dedication, and commitment mean entirely new things when they’re loaded up in the form of a barbell that weighs more than you do. We see each other fail, persist, persevere, and eventually succeed first hand, day after day.
Let’s send a blessing up to the most recent iPhone and Instagram updates that report just how much time we spend scrolling our screens. Was this wake up call more jarring than a 4:30 am alarm for anyone else? Social media is an extremely important part of my role in the health & fitness community. It serves as a place of connection, inspiration, creativity, motivation, and accountability. And, it’s the platform that I use to (hopefully) inspire, motivate, and support others in a real and honest way. And, if we are being honest, scrollin’ and tappin’ can distract us from social connection IRL. I make my greatest attempt to put my phone away during dinner dates, long drives, family walks, and movie nights. I save content creation and photo editing for times when Mo is busy (or distracted with football 😉 ). My insta family and my contribution to the community is important to me, but my relationship with Mo is even more so.
And no, friends, Moses does not photograph me, but he’s always one iPhone ahead and sometimes lets me borrow his phone 😂
Fit Couple Findings… so far…
- Never go to bed hangry. Actually, just never get hangry. Always. Pack. Snacks.
- Don’t steal a rep. If you’re spotting your spouse, wait for the signal to swoop in with the assist.
- Communication and compromise are key.
- If you need more flavor in your dinner, sneak to the kitchen to spice it up. Do not douse your dish in hot sauce in front of your spouse.
- If ya don’t do the cookin’, offer to to the dishes.
- Do not, I repeat DO NOT, swipe food from your girl’s plate without asking. But always offer her a bite of yours.
- Always compliment the booty gains.
- Competition is healthy!
- Just because your partner hits snooze for an a.m. sweat sesh doesn’t mean you have to.
- Push each other, challenge each other, listen to one another, respect one another, and speak with kindness.
Location: Glen Foerd on the Delaware
Hair & Makeup: ONLO
Groomsmen: J Crew
Photography: Denise Marie Photography
Florals & Decor: Maura Rose