I get a heavy dose of fitness, from more than one source, every day.
I exercise. I train. I compete. I try and break a sweat every day. When I am not working out for me, I am training someone else, writing a fitness article, or researching a related topic.
Knowing that, you might think that fitness, or being a fitness professional, defines me. But, you’d be wrong. There’s a lot more to me than my exercise routine, my diet, and the last race I ran – or the next event I am preparing for.
There should be more to you too!
Getting fit and staying in shape can be all-consuming. It will take over your life if you let it. First, you begin to plan your day around your workouts. Next, you isolate yourself from good friends who are going out to eat; you’re afraid you won’t be able to find a healthy option on the menu. You’ll only hang out with your fitness friends. Pretty soon every conversation revolves around workouts, race times, and meal plans. You even spend all of you money on supplements and exercise accessories.
Just like that fitness has taken over your life.
It’s a slippery slope. You want to create healthy habits so, in an attempt to build a support system, you associate with likeminded people. You latch onto others who encourage you. You all work together to inspire one another. You exercise and compete together. You’ve got a good thing going on.
Then you reach a tipping point.
You won’t realize it, but everyone else will. You start every conversation with; “today at the gym”, I ran x many miles”, and “My CrossFit coach said… “. Or someone will ask you how your day was and your answer will depend on the quality of your workout. If you had a bad run, you’re having a crappy day. Unbeknownst to you, you’ll pass judgment on people who order a burger or pizza when you’re out. Friends will begin to distance themselves from you.
It’s really difficult to find balance.
Trust me, I know. In high school and college I was Joe the football player. After college I was the triathlete/endurance athlete. Now, most people look at me as Joe the trainer. Everyone wants to talk about their workouts, or what I am doing for mine. When is my next race? They want to know what I eat and don’t eat. Do I drink beer? YES!
I am a pretty regular guy. I don’t think of myself as a trainer. Sure, that’s part of the deal. I tend to think of myself as a bookworm, a wannabe writer, and a small business owner. My friends know this, but no one would if I allowed them to go on assuming that I only care about working out. And that’s exactly what will happen to you if your life revolves around fitness. It will define you.
It defined me
A few years ago when my dad died, I was just beginning to race triathlon. I didn’t know it at the time, but I turned to endurance sports to cope with my loss. I didn’t want to talk about my emotions, so I went running. I didn’t want to see other people, so I set out on my bike. I’d swim for hours instead of going to the weight room, because you don’t have to worry about carrying on a conversation underwater.
I went from a muscular 230 pound football player to a 160 pound twig. My diet was screwed up, my hormones were out of whack, and my personal life was a disaster.
From the outside looking in, I was incredibly fit. I was fast. I was placing in the top 10 at big events. I had sponsors. But, in reality, I was literally running from every other aspect of my life.
It’s a concept we talk about a lot on the Hybrid Blog. You can be happy and healthy. You can lead an active life, without allowing fitness to take over. You should take responsibility for your health. Own your workouts and nutrition. Make them work for you, on your time, your own way. Remember, fitness is a part of your life, not your entire life.
Take a step back and assess the way you’ve been living.
Are you pushing people away because, “you’re on a diet”?
Are you boring your friends to death when you talk about your workouts?
Do you freak out when you miss a workout?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have to regain control.
Make time for the people you care about.
Ease up on all of the diet and exercise talk.
Have a cheat day every once and a while – just relax.
Go for a run without your watch. Just run for the FUN of it.
Skip the gym for a week; workout at home or outside instead.
Try something new. Go to yoga, pilates, or Zumba.
Don’t workout, be active. Go for a hike. Take the bike out. Try kayaking.
Be more interesting
I have a rule: If I am the most interesting person in the room, it’s time to find a new room. It forces me to try new things, meet new people, and step out of my social comfort zone. So, I’d challenge you to do the same thing.
Go to a play or a museum.
Read a book, a poem, or new/different magazine.
Make something; write, paint, draw, take photos.
Take a class. Learn a new skill.
Plan a vacation that doesn’t coincide with a race.
If you set out to be more interesting, you will meet new people and maybe even learn something new about yourself. It will help you regain control. It will help you find balance.