Something I learned early on in my relationship with my husband was that although he came from a poor, developing country where he had very little growing up (material-wise) he grew up surrounded by wealth, in the form of an amazing family and lots of love.
That notion of wealth was something we had in common, despite being from different worlds, and it bonded us instantly.
Because of his humble upbringing, he took great pride in saving to buy something special and, therefore took excellent care of the few material things he had. To this day, non-material things matter most to him. But like many guys, he does love his toys: specifically cars, power tools and electronics.
Though I didn’t grow up anything but average middle class, I didn’t really ever struggle or “want” for anything. I realize this means I am very lucky– to have had both an amazing family and to not ever really be worried about money as a kid. But I was never spoiled. I knew the meaning of a dollar, and started babysitting at 13 to earn my own spending money.
That said, I’m still the type of person who would break a wine glass and expect to just get a new one without a big to-do about it, whereas he’s the kind of person who would take care of a pair of khakis until they absolutely didn’t fit anymore. (Just this weekend he finally tossed two pairs!)
Our different cultural and economic upbringings have proved interesting over the course of our nearly nine year relationship (and nearly three year marriage). But the truth is, while neither of us will ever be inherently different people, we love each other as we are, and have learned a lot from each other — I’ve learned how to be a little more cognizant and aware of my surroundings (i.e., less careless) and he’s learned to bend a little (i.e., living in the moment a little more vs. always thinking about the future)
Which brings me to his most prized (material) possession …
Anyone who knows my husband in real life knows how much he loves his car, a 2003 BMW 5 series. He’s one of those guys who seriosuly loves cars, and always has (in the garage, he has a photo of every car he’s ever owned … three are BMWs).
But he doesn’t just like them for aesthetics like some BMW aficionados — as an engineer, he’s interested in how they work and loves tinkering (much like my own dad). And, given his history of taking pride in what he buys, he takes excellent care of his car — knowing this investment now will pay dividends later in the form of a safe, reliable family car.
One day not too long ago we were in his car and stopped to get gas. I admit, I’m usually oblivious when we’re at a gas station (probably the Jersey girl in me who knows someone else will do it for me!), so usually I’m reading or playing with my Blackberry.
But this time I noticed he was using premium gas to fill his tank. When he got back into the car, I asked why he was using that kind versus regular.
He explained he had to; that’s what his car runs best on. He could use regular gas (like my Civic takes) but that the German automaker doesn’t recommend it; it would shorten the life of the engine. And so though it’s more expensive up-front, he uses premium gas to keep his engine running and in good shape.
Suddenly I had an epiphany.
Just because I drive a Civic in real life, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t fuel my body like a BMW, with premium “gas.” I ought to be treating my body like the “luxury car” it is, not like some piece of metal I can ding and not be concerned about.
In the past, I’ve been guilty of fueling my “car” with less-than-premium “gas” and expected it to still run. Sometimes I’ve run it close to “E” (i.e., over-exercising) and seen my performance (naturally) decline. Sometimes I’ve over-fueled it and it hasn’t run so well (i.e., binged). Sometimes I’ve not listened when the “maintenance required” light comes on. (i.e., rest/repair).
Ultimately, we can buy a new car, but we only get one body in this life. It’s ours to treasure or trash, and all the years of disordered eating and thinking have messed up my mind as well as my body–but it’s not too late to change the proverbial “oil” and see a difference in how my “car” runs.
I admit I was surprised to have found a lesson in a routine afternoon gas stop, but it really got me thinking. It actually ties in beautifully with the notion of intuitive eating — fueling well, performing well, fueling enough but not too much.
So this week, my focus is going to be on fueling like a luxury car. I think it will go hand-in-hand with IE and I look forward to taking this challenge on.
Will you join me?