Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How Has Fitness Changed My Closest Relationships? (Fitness Blog World Post)

Today's post is a Fitness Blog World post, we are all writing about this same topic, so please be sure to visit the site to read about all of my sister's experiences too! Our question to ponder was this:

How has fitness changed your closest relationships? For good, bad, or both?

It's a tough one to answer, and I think I need to say:

"The good, the bad, and the ugly"

It's also way too much for one post as it can go in so many directions. I will of course need to focus on my husband, David and my son, Cooper.

I was going to focus in on fitness as opposed to competing as they are two completely different worlds. But I wrote and wrote and found that it is my life now, whether it is "on season" (when I am on a very strict diet and training twice a day) or "off season" (when I am not so strict, but still monitored diet and training once a day.)

David and Cooper love to eat and love to dine out, I do too. I think that my attitude toward a "cleaner" style of eating has impacted this. We do not go out as much as we used to. When it is close to a competition, I encourage them to go out without me, but they tend not to and this makes me feel a bit guilty.

Here the two of them are, we were just at McClintocks in Arroyo Grande when we visited my father. Steak, potatoes, mushrooms, wine, garlic bread, beans.  I had steak and vegetables, Cooper got to eat all the rest of my food!

I think it may be very easy for someone to be very self centered and self absorbed and forget about the people around them. It takes a lot of effort to remember that they probably don't have a desire to eat fish and vegetables all day long, everyday like me.

David loves to go wine tasting and we used to do that quite a bit. Now, it's not on the agenda much. Sometimes I go and drink water, I don't mind at all, in fact it seems to provide people with all sorts of things to say and discuss with me. It's also fun to watch people get a bit high and I am straight as can be.

In the picture below, David and Cooper are at Tablas Creek Winery, this is a very prestigious winery and they have fabulous wines. I didn't taste. In fact, the woman who was assisting us, Mary, immediately asked me if I was a competitor, and said she could spot me as soon as I walked in. She and I ended up having a very long conversation while the boys just kinda helped themselves! She is a runner and a trainer, she was telling me about her accomplishments and asking about mine.

As usual, the question was posed to both David and Cooper: "You must be so proud of her!"

Honestly, they get asked that all the time. I know that they are, yet they also want to tell the people how hard I work for it, how much time and effort it takes, it's not all a bed of roses.

Like wine making (David's hobby), everyone thinks it is so glamorous, well I know it's not, it takes hours and days and months of hard work, usually in cold wet conditions, late at night.

Cooper is having fun, David is enjoying the wine. Cooper decided that he wants to make his own wine now, and that means grow the grapes, harvest, crush, ferment, press, rack, bottle and age. Of of course there is the drinking too.

Here he has selected his "little buddies" to go home with him. 

Fitness has changed our relationship in many ways, and I think it is important  to know that come August 18, 2011 David and I will have been married for 27 years! And we lived together for 5 years prior to getting married.

So, LIFE has changed our relationship, we have both grown up, grown older, grown into things, grown out of things. We have developed our own interests and hobbies, yet we are very much involved with each other. 

Fitness has influenced how I treat myself and therefore how I treat the people I love. I want them to eat healthy like I do, yet they don't necessarily have the same idea of what "healthy" means. 

We have learned to compromise a lot. I have learned to make sure I have the foods I want and need at all times, and I will make meals for the boys, unless I cannot for some reason.

They will eat a different meal than I will, or I will change bits and pieces so that it is more palatable to them and it fits my diet.

David and Cooper know that my training is probably the most important thing in the world to me, besides my family of course. I won't miss my training for anything and they make sure to make plans around it. That's really why I started getting up at 4:00 a.m. That way I could fit in the gym and not impact them as much. I don't go to the gym early to get to work on time, my WORK schedule is arranged around my training schedule!

I have learned to be much less dependent on anyone and less whiny. There was a long time in my life that water had to have ice, food had to be hot, meals always had to have three things on the plate.

I now drink any water, as long as its clean. I eat any food, (as long as it has the correct macro-nutrients), any temperature, and I usually eat out of bowls. God I sound like a dog!

Here is Cooper crammed into the back of the mini-cooper with all our luggage and his 6 "little buddies" Rossanne grapes.

I believe that I have strengthened the respect that Cooper has for me because of my fitness. There are many 17 year olds who wouldn't give their parents the time of day. He will come talk to me about training, about lifting weights, about food and nutrition. His friends will ask me if they should take a certain supplement and how much. I was the team mom for his Varsity lacrosse team and advised all the parents and kids on what to eat before, during and after games, they all listened and so did he. By the way, gummy bears are a great snack during high energy games for them!

I feel that my "fitness" and particularly competing has provided me with an amazing amount of confidence and self love. I LIKE myself, and to be able to love others, you need to start with loving yourself. I am proud of my accomplishments and where I am in my life, I know what I want and I make sure I do whatever it takes to get it.

It has also made me very conscious that I have some extremely particular needs, and both David and Cooper are aware of them and make efforts to ensure they are  met. For instance, they know that I must eat as soon as I walk in the door from work, sometimes David has already heated up the food for me.  I eat, then can help them make dinner. I literally cannot function without my food and they know it.

They have learned that the body is an amazing piece of machinery, they see mine go through so many changes. David will look at me and tell me it must be time to eat when he sees my veins protruding out all over my arms.

We have all learned to respect each other and each others needs, or each others desires and wants.

We have learned to listen to each others needs, whether they are emotional, spiritual, or just the need of "stuff". We have learned to honor our own interest and have each become our own person. I know many married couples who seem to be connected at the hip. That may be a good thing for them, but I don't know how two individuals could actually want the same thing all the time. They must surely have unique desires?

Fitness has no challenges as far as I am concerned, becoming "fit" or leading a life that is 'fitness" focused has only been positive for me and my relationships.

I cannot say the same about competing though. I feel that competing is not particularly good for a relationship, unless both people are into the same thing. When competing, you eat, sleep, train. That's it, there is one focus, and it all varies by the person, depending on their own fitness level year round, their own healthy or not so healthy eating habits year round, and their ability to diet. 

I eat almost the same all the time, I will just add some things in certain times of the year. I never eat nachos, I am not a chip dipper, I have one candy bar after a competition, I hate soda. Dieting is not so hard for me.

However, the intensity of the focus, of the timeline that needs to be met, of the constant pressure to improve does cause me stress, and the people around me will feel it. Food must be eaten on a very tight schedule, sleep cannot be interrupted, training must take place but the energy level sometimes wanes.

This is when I feel everyone wants something from me, something I cannot give, there is not enough of me to go around.

I will break, usually about 4 weeks out. Fall apart really, and it will last a couple days. 

This is the type of thing that every competitor I have ever met goes through, and their partners don't deal well with it, how could they? They can start to resent it all, the time that is taken away from "their" time for all of the silly training and eating and sleeping. They may smile and say everything is alright, what else can they do?

At some point before every competition, (and I have been in 6), I will vow never to do it again. I don't want to have to diet so strictly, to feel hunger constantly, to be exhausted yet still have to go BACK to the gym after work when I was there before work. When I sequester myself so everyone else can enjoy their food and I just don't want to watch, I can't take it. 

At some point, I will figure out what makes me do it yet again. At some point I will feel that I have achieved what I set out to do. 

My family watches me go through this, and never once have they said to stop. They see me struggle, and they support me. They also see me elated when I have  stepped off the stage, always, always with at least one trophy in hand. That silly plastic gold colored caricature of a woman, clutched in my dirty hand, the smile spread wide across my face.

My competing has taught us all to support each other in our struggles, be they externally or internally driven.

Fitness? It has made life better. Competing? It's like Harry Potter, there is a lot of magic but there are also some very frightening events around unknown corners.

Please stop by Fitness Blog World to read what others have to share on this same topic!

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