Tonight I went on a run. It’s the first run I have done with a member of the opposite sex since approximately 2008. You see, I used to have a boyfriend who I would run with often. We both lived in New York City and even during the cold winters, we would bundle up and make our way from 51st street down to Battery Park by way of the West Side Highway. When I moved uptown, we would run from 82nd up to the northernmost point of the Park and make our way down Park Avenue and then back up to 82nd. Sundays were spent running, evenings after work were run nights and we both enjoyed it.
Until I didn’t enjoy it anymore. I longed to spend Saturday nights out having a drink or two (okay, or more) and Sundays having long brunches with friends, browsing the stores and just enjoying the City. But this was not an option for my partner who somehow had the stamina of…something that never gets tired? I don’t even know what that thing is. The very first night that I stated that I would not be joining him for the run, he was noticeably agitated and huffed off on his own. When he returned he told me that it was really important to him to be with someone who took care of themselves. He didn’t want to be with someone who disregarded their health or was unhealthy in any way. I sat there listening, confused and unsure if I had heard correctly. Had I stayed at home from a run or shot up with heroine? Had I really done something wrong or didn’t I just stay home watching The Bachelorette with my roommates? It was a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment in our relationship. Needless to say that after that I had very little desire to run with him ever again. But I did off and on. When I begged off he would get upset. The more he got upset the more I said no to runs and yes to nights out with friends and Saturday brunches. My life got a lot more fun and our relationship lost common ground. After we stopped running together it seemed we didn’t have much else and our relationship eventually ended.
As of late I have been writing about healthy recipes, homemade beauty products and how to make yourself a healthier person by making healthier and smarter choices. This is all fine and good but in order to work towards our overall wellness (my goal with myself and clients) we also need to learn about the importance of Primary Foods. While in Nutrition School, I learned about two types of foods: Primary foods and Secondary foods. Primary foods feed us but they don’t come on a plate. They are 1. Relationships, 2. Physical Activity, 3. Career and 4. Spiritual Practice. Secondary foods are the foods we find on our plates. In order to have total health in your life you can’t focus solely on the Secondary Foods. The Primary Foods are essential to living a well-rounded and healthy life. With a laser focus on only Primary foods or a laser focus on only Secondary foods, you will have more problems finding a balance as both are essential to your wellness. Meaning you could be a top runner but if your relationships with family, friends or loved ones are not healed or cultivated you’re still most likely going to feel like crap. Or likewise, you may be a staunch raw vegan but if you hate your job, surprise – you still feel like shit! Or, you could have a very developed spiritual practice and eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner….you get what I’m saying here.
Looking back I see many instances in my life where Primary Foods needed serious work. In this particular case it was my Romantic Relationship. It wasn’t just the running that was going awry. It was the hurt I felt at the sense of being harshly judged. When you feel judged by your romantic partner you don’t feel full acceptance to be who you are when you are with them. I didn’t feel safe letting my Freak Flag fly. Meaning, I didn’t feel like I could be myself. Thanks to the running I had the heart of a steam engine, strong and healthy. But at the same time it had been slightly broken by a sense that I could be harshly judged when I least expected by someone who I tried so hard to please. Relationship expert Pat Allen says that a woman’s deepest desire is that her feelings be cherished and a man’s deepest desire is that his thoughts be respected. Men and women alike – take note. This is a ‘so true it hurts’ statement.
Do you see how deep this running thing went? What someone might have perceived as an innocent statement had a huge impact on me. For years I hated running. I didn’t want to do it ever again with anyone much less with boys. But as I began making my New Year Resolutions (I start early) I found that what I really wanted was to do was get back into it. I know that my best running efforts come forward when I am in fact running with others. For me this meant one thing – going for a run with my sweet fiancé. He loves to run and I have been mentioning the prospect of us heading out together the last few months. I would timidly suggest a run and then back out saying forget it. I didn’t want it to become a “thing” like it had in the past. I didn’t want to feel like I was being judged for stopping and starting, wheezing loudly, taking a long time, deciding not to go, being viewed as unhealthy or lazy….And then it hit me. By associating running with the experience I had with an ex I was projecting a HUGE amount of pressure onto my current situation and putting a ton of pressure on myself. Not only that, I was keeping myself from doing something I really really really wanted to do again. And based on what? Something that happened 6 years ago?
The only thing keeping me in the past was me! That was it. It was time to forgive the situation, the ex and myself and move the fuck on.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve done this,” I said warily as we laced up our sneakers on on Tuesday night. “I’ll probably need to stop every now and then.” “Okay,” he responded unruffled. And we were off.
It was a lovely night, unusually warm for December. We stopped a few times so I could walk and he obliged. I admitted to him that I got scared when I felt like I was losing my breath and he told me not to worry about it, that breathing would get easier. “You have a good pace,” he said. “You’re doing a good job.” At one point he turned to me with a big smile on his face and said, “This is so fun! I’ve always wanted a girlfriend to go running with me!”
Well there you go. Here I was hanging on to an old resentment while keeping myself and someone I love from having an enjoyable experience today. I was worrying about this thing that happened long ago and he was just happy to be outside with me.
Does any of this ring true for you? Are there things that you are doing now that are keeping you from being happy, from expressing yourself within your relationships or keeping you from trying new things in your relationship? If so, it’s time to address it on your end first. Not by bashing what the other person is doing or saying. And not by bashing an ex for what you believe “they did to you and someone will naturally do it again, it’s just a matter of time.” No, no NO! Inspirational speaker and my favorite vlogger Gabrielle Bernstein says that the first step in clearing up a current issue or a problem is to clean up your side of the street. Meaning, what are you doing to contribute to the problem? Are you holding on to old resentments from past relationships? Are you bringing exes mistakes into the current relationship and making the new love pay for those mistakes? Do you need forgive someone from your past? Are you projecting past problems on to an innocent by-stander? What are you accountable for? How can you clean up your side of the street? How can you forgive? How can you improve your overall wellness by improving your relationships?
Here’s a bonus to the whole thing. I loved the run. I loved every second of it, even the part where I was afraid of not being able to breathe. The sense of fun that comes with running next to my love and feeling so grateful for the comfort that he gave me when I felt most vulnerable. I felt appreciated for the effort of trying to do something new together. I felt relieved that I had been able to get over myself and let go of a past experience in order to do what I most wanted. I felt free, I felt courageous, I felt strong and you know what else I felt? Healthy 🙂