On this episode, we’re joined by Andrew Bowen—a husband and father to two teenagers. Andrew travels for work as a corporate executive and entrepreneur. He is also a health and fitness coach/mentor with his wife, Joy.
The truth is it’s difficult for all of us to keep health and fitness a priority in our lives and our marriages. We’re excited to have Andrew join us and look at this topic!
Tell us a little about where you began on your health and fitness journey.
This isn’t something I’ve been doing all the time. This is something that started about eight years ago. I was 37 at the time, training in martial arts and I was just heavy. Every time I got off the mat, everything hurt.
I was also probably mildly depressed. I was on the road constantly and would soothe myself with food. It’s been a journey—fitness hasn’t been a priority in our marriage the whole time. Joy actually kind of fought me until we had some medical curveballs and had to make a change.
What was your wife’s pushback initially?
I think it was a little bit of jealousy more than anything else. She would tell you the same thing. I was already on the road 60% of the time. And when I was home I was heading to the gym. She also saw me making changes for my family and it was an affront to her and made her feel she wasn’t.
What are some other reasons people use for not getting in shape?
The classic excuse is not having enough time. But the biggest one is that you see someone on the eighth year of their journey and not the first step. It’s difficult to envision how the one change today will make anything different. People feel overwhelmed with time commitments or not seeing the vision of what they can do.
It’s also hard. But all the other things you do during the day didn’t cause your brain to dump a bunch of serotonin in it. Exercise does that and your body gives you a pat on the back.
How would does being in shape (or not being in shape) impact your marriage?
I’ll start with being a role model for your kids. Being that example for my boys was something that was uplifting of my status in Joy’s mind.
Setting an example to our kids was a big part of bringing us closer together. Having that struggle and seeing your spouse willing to fight that struggle brings you closer together.
What if you feel self-conscious about working out with your spouse?
If we’ve done our workout the right way, we are both sweaty, disgusting messes. But a lot changed for us about five years ago when my wife went through breast cancer. She would tell you that she felt like an alien in her own skin.
We used exercise and it brought us closer together. We’re sweaty together all the time, but there are benefits. Like you take a shower after. We like sweat dates.
What did it take for you guys to get started living healthier?
I’ll talk about my own journey first. For me, I can bring it down to a single moment. All the guys in my family study martial arts. I remember watching my first black belt test on the sideline and thinking that I’d never survive that. That’s when I decided to make some changes.
It started off small. I started by replacing French fries with veggies or a salad. I put some guardrails in my life on the road and had four rules:
- Never eat brown food (anything fried)
- Avoid chain restaurants, because the local ones were usually healthier
- I made a goal for myself that if I saw fruit, I’d eat it. Finding fruit on the road could be hard, so if I had the chance I’d grab it.
- And last was that I’d work out before wine. If I was having wine that day, I had to do my work out first
How does being healthier affect your mood?
One workout isn’t going to make a change. It’s the ongoing process—even if it’s just a week. Part of it is the self-confidence of doing a week, even if it’s working out three days or sticking to your meal plan. That sense of accomplishment starts to boost that pride and that is contagious.
What happens if one spouse works out and the other doesn’t?
We see it all the time and I’m embarrassed to say it’s mostly from the husbands. In our coaching business, we have about 90% women and 10% men. I see it on a few levels, first is the jealousy we talked about earlier.
It’s one spouse feeling less because they’re not having the same priority of themselves. I want to shake men sometimes and say, “your wife just told you she wants to get in better shape and live longer, and that’s a bad thing?” But our country is facing an epidemic and we do need to find ways to talk about it.
How is exercise a great aphrodisiac for men?
Let’s talk about chemistry for a moment. There are two things that happen when you work out consistently over time.
First, your serotonin goes up and serotonin is actually tied to sex drive. But second, as you build muscle you create testosterone which also increases sex drive in men and women. Also, when you’re feeling confident and you’re seeing the progress it helps your intimacy.
How do we encourage each other without stepping on each other’s toes?
Obviously in any relationship, communication is key. The key to being able to comment on someone’s progress is to understand their goals. Your spouse needs your reaffirmation. But if their goal was to make their pants fit better and you’re commenting on their triceps, it’s not helpful.
Have the conversation about what they’re trying to change about their body. If you’re talking about people’s physical appearance, especially if they’re not secure, it’s really easy to step on a landmine.
How do you define “getting fit” or “being healthy”?
That’s a great question, because I don’t think there’s such a thing as “I’m in shape.” For me, it’s, “how can I be better tomorrow than I am today?”
The fitness journey is exactly that—someone who has decided to place their health as one of their priorities. What that means really depends on where they’re starting and where they want to get to. If you’re not in model shape on a magazine, that doesn’t mean you’re not getting fit.
What if one spouse is passionate about this topic and one isn’t?
At some point, you have to meet your spouse where they’re at. If you’re the spouse who’s passionate about it, go do it and spend your time getting fit. But also model the rest of it.
I took on the meal prep and meal planning each week. It was an act of service I could do and help control the nutritional menu and know my kids have at least one good meal.
Here’s your one simple thing based on where you are.
- If you’re a beginner, do something you didn’t do yesterday, like take the dog for a walk or do the opposite and stop doing something like drinking soda. Pick one thing you can achieve.
- If you’re already doing some exercise, get on some type of a program to get the consistency. And then stick with that plan.
- If you’re already working out consistently and want to take it to the next level, share it with someone else. Be aware of how you share it—don’t just share the end results, but also how you got there.
Thanks for joining us for the Married People Podcast. We hope you’ll subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and leave a review—they help us make the podcast better.
At Married People, we want to help make marriage real, fun, and simple. Because when your marriage is better, everything is better. We do that with weekly blog posts, podcast episodes, ebooks, and other awesome resources for couples everywhere.
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