Motivation. It’s that dirty word that gets the better of all of us at times – some days it’s just too hard to muscle up the gees to get to your workout. But, research shows that having your other half as a workout wingman can help sustain your motivation – a couple that sweats together also stays together. According to Psychology Today, lab studies show that after jointly participating in an exciting physical challenge or activity, couples report feeling more satisfied with their relationships and more in love with their partner.
We caught up with couple that is living proof! Wanita Nicol, deputy editor of Women’s Health magazine, and her husband Bryan, have been married for nine years and are in their best shape ever. But, it wasn’t always this way… We caught up with this adorable pair about their fitness journey.
BODYTEC: What was your attitude towards exercise when you met?
BRYAN: I went to the gym regularly but, now knowing what I know, I was not exercising as hard or effectively as I could have been. Back then I was exercising out of fear of getting fat than anything else.
WANITA: I used to exercise quite obsessively. In retrospect, although I was spending a lot of time in the gym, I wasn’t training effectively. I was thin so I didn’t notice that I had completely plateaued, but I wasn’t nearly reaching my full potential.
BODYTEC: What is the benefit of workout out together as a couple?
BRYAN: Exercising with a buddy in general makes you more accountable – you want to pitch up and not let him/her down. I would much rather train with my wife than listen to my iPod. I guess there’s also a bit of a competitive element to it; wanting to accomplish what the other has already and using their gains and successes as motivation. You also sync your schedules, which is convenient.
WANITA: Working out together gives us something to do together that’s not housework. It’s much easier to get up and exercise when you’re in it together than when the other person is sleeping in and you’re heading off into the cold alone.
BODYTEC: What are you most proud of in your fitness journey together?
BRYAN: The fact that we are both currently at the peak of our fitness and physical transformations. We are stronger, leaner and more capable than we have ever been. And we did it together.
WANITA: I love that we’ve become an active couple – we’ll happily spend a Saturday afternoon playing around on a pull-up bar or parallel bars trying to do new tricks, rather than sitting on the couch. We weren’t always that couple, so it feels really good and healthy.
BODYTEC: What are you most amazed at by your partner’s fitness achievement?
BRYAN: Initially she would not be able to manage one rep of several of the exercises that she now does without hesitation. Aside from fitness/strength, I am also amazed by the shape that she is in. Her body has become strong, lean and athletic and her self-confidence has grown too.
WANITA: When I met Bryan there were many things about his body that he complained about but he believed he was a victim of genetic destiny. Through targeted exercise, he’s overcome all those issues (including chronic back pain) and it’s amazing to see how his body has transformed. People constantly comment about his physique and ask him for advice – even strangers – so he’s definitely doing something right.
BODYTEC: How have you changed your diet?
BRYAN: A few years ago I saw a dietitian to get some guidance on portion control and info on healthy eating in general. This was a revelation! Hands down the most important component of the whole fit lifestyle equation for me. I now know how much of what to eat. My eating has changed from eating three large meals a day to five or six smaller meals daily. I eat a lot of nuts, fruit, biltong and lean meats. Carbs are not the enemy, forming a large part of my daily intake. My favourite healthy home meal is Wanita’s nachos. She is the nacho queen and will use low fat nacho chips, lean ostrich mince and only a sprinkling of (goat’s) cheese. I can devour a lot of it without feeling guilty.
WANITA: We’ve both seen the same dietician so we can eat for our own needs, but in sync. It’s not limiting at all – more just about tailoring portion sizes. I make pretty good healthy nachos.
BODYTEC: How has exercising together affected your relationship?
BRYAN: We spend more time together doing something we both love and enjoy. Being physically present and actually seeing my wife pushing the limits has given me even more respect and appreciation for her character and drive. Being there when the person you love most in the world accomplishes a goal is very rewarding.
WANITA: We’re at a point where we should probably be starting to get bored, but it’s refreshed our relationship. We’re having a lot of fun together.