Aisles and displays and endcaps abound, full of heart-shaped, chocolate-coated calorie bombs…Diabetes must surely be lurking around the corner. It seems as if this time of year one holiday’s candy gives way for the next, which is then clearanced to make room for another. But you’re living the fit life, right?
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to reconnect with your lover (or to learn to love yourself), but also a great time to strengthen your support network and reconnect with your goals. Share the love!
If you are a regular gym member, you will, at some point, comes to recognize fellow gym goers as a variety of species: There is your gym rat, the cardio queens, the chicken-legged bodybuilders, the rare gym unicorns, etc.
In this menagerie, bonded pairs sometimes appear. There is one such couple at my gym that I am fascinated by. The female is tall and thin. Sometimes I can’t help but imagine her slipping through a crack in the floor if she turned sideways.She must have the metabolism of a hummingbird. She’s made up like a Victoria’s Secret model and, un-ironically, dresses like one. I’ve never actually seen a female wear a crop top to the gym except in magazine ads. She rocks it. My husband and I have dubbed her male “Half Naked Yoga Guy.” He often removes half his clothes doing Sun Salutations on a mat in the middle of the gym. Our gym manager has posted signs, asking gym members to keep their clothes on. Since he’s the only one I’ve ever seen do this, I have to assume they don’t know his real name either.
My husband and I are of the other variety. We roll into the gym at 6 a.m. I always look like a hot mess. On second thought, that’s probably why no one bothers me. I have a short pixie cut that I rarely brush before leaving the house, meaning that either one side is squashed up in the wrong direction in the shape of a pillow, or spiked all over like an angry hedgehog. I haven’t showered. I don’t have a lick of makeup on, or, better, I have old mascara and eyeliner smeared under a single eye. I’m immediately irritated if I’m late or it’s too loud. I give the stink eye to the guy playing Nickelback. My shoes are very well taken care of, having some specifically for lifting weights or running. My husband is similar, but with impossibly long hair that could use a brushing and clothes that don’t often match. It must be love. How else could we both look as if we’ve crawled out from under a rock each day and still be married after 10 years?
When we work out together, we’re supporting each other. We might hiss, snipe, and generally act like jerks to one another at the gym, but it’s not personal. We’ve both got individual goals, and we hit the gym hard when we go. We can always count on each other for that extra push. Plus, it’s nice to have a spotter in life: Someone to literally and figuratively pick weight up off you when it’s too much.
If your version of the fit life doesn’t involve the gym, or your relationship with your significant other is still in the early stages, or you’ve got your own goals, here are some tips and tricks to being healthy and happy for Valentine’s Day:
Candy vs. Flowers
Choose the flowers. For some, flowers are old-fashioned, so they’re not gifted as often. They’re also more expensive than a box of chocolates. Why are those pros when they sound like cons? Flowers are beauty, simplicity, and they smell nice. There is no second-guessing, guilt, or stress associated with flowers. I love chocolate as much as the next person, don’t get me wrong, and it’s OK, healthy even, to indulge every now and then. But take a look at your family’s food culture. Food obligates you to another person. When it’s offered, you feel it’s rude to turn it down. Not only that, American food culture is one of abundance. We celebrate everything with food. Skip the sweets!
Dining Out vs. Dining In
Dine in. It’s not as boring as it sounds, and I look back to my point about American food culture. Along with our abundance, we also have a need for convenience. The United States Healthful Food Council reports that Americans spend half of the money they budget for groceries on dining out. Why pay for mediocre food at Olive Garden on date night when you can make a delicious, healthy meal at home for so much less? Take a look at your favorite restaurant foods. What ingredients can you swap to make a better meal? Whole-wheat pasta with made-from-scratch marinara and roasted vegetables. Now that’s sexy!
Jewelry is arguably one of the most gifted Valentine’s Day presents ever. Although I don’t wear jewelry to the gym, my gym identity follows me everywhere I go. I’m living in the fit life in the cut of my clothes, my posture, my attitude, and confidence. Etsy.com has some fantastic fitness-related gifts that would shake things up the status quo, like this one by LiftYourFork:
Guys, you often buy your SOs racy lingerie at this time of the year. You buy these things because you appreciate the bodies that we have worked so hard for. Living the fit life is transformative, but it is also a full-time job. We love sharing our bodies with you, especially when you consider that you’re the only one seeing it, but in our downtime we want to be comfortable. So, show your lady that you love her body and the effort put into it by getting her naughty nothings and a new workout ensemble. Athleisure is on the rise, much of it cute and affordable. Victoria’s Secret is currently my hands-down favorite for fashionable and functional gear. Their high-impact sports bra, the Knockout, is the best for cardio. I favor the Player for medium-impact exercise like heavy lifting.
But What If You’re Single?
Treat yourself, of course! One of the most common complaints I hear from both men and women is their lack of time to themselves. If V-day rolls around and you’re alone, call up me, myself, and I and schedule a date. Do something that makes you happy. Splurge on something that you don’t do often because of expense or time. Get a massage, a manicure, a pedicure, a cut and color. Take in a movie that you’ve been wanting to see, but maybe it’s been out for a while. Have you ever seen a movie in an empty theater? Never underestimate retail therapy. Living the fit life means new clothes to fit new bodies.
Living the fit life as a couple can be a fantastic adventure. Learn to navigate the barriers together and those barriers become opportunities to strengthen your bond (and body). Get comfortable being uncomfortable and work for it. Just keep your clothes on at the gym. That makes everyone else uncomfortable.
- Brittany Hall is an American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer (CPT). Known as "Pixie" to her patients at Dr. Evans' The Institute of Family, Preventative and Lifestyle Medicine; she is also an ACE-certified Health Coach. Brittany is an American Karate First Degree Black Belt, co-owner of Lionheart Krav Maga and Fitness, and is a Bikini competitor. She is currently training as a Krav Maga instructor with a special interest in women’s self-defense. She completed the Lifestyle Medicine Core Competencies Program through the American College of Preventative Medicine. She was also an attendee at the Active Lives: Transforming Our Patients and Ourselves conference presented by The Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Harvard Medical School.