Reading the “Merry Christmas, Bob” article on the front page got me reflecting on how my mindset has changed over my time training. I’m still young in the iron game;20 years old and training seriously for about 2.5 of those, so it isn’t like I’ve been on some lifelong journey to come to these thoughts. I’m hoping that those of you who are older and wiser than me can chime in with your perspectives and thoughts! I hope this doesn’t get deleted, as I am in no way intending to rip on the article, just hoping to create some good discussion and sharing of experiences.
I had always lifted during high school for performance in sports, but didn’t approach training in a very focused or long term manner. It wasn’t until my freshman year in college when I became hooked on training, and quickly found it consuming my mind. I remember having an attitude (I want to say subconsciously, but honestly I was aware of it) that I was somehow superior to or better than those who didn’t lift. I couldn’t understand how anyone could stand to be skinny or overweight, and why they wouldn’t want to train like I was. I remember losing out on a girl I liked to another guy (who didn’t lift, needless to say lol). I actually asked her what he had that I didn’t, and she said something along the lines of “It’s like you think that you’re better than him or deserve more just because you’re bigger than him.”
My obsession definitely hurt my social life and strained relationships with important people in my life. It’s definitely important to surround yourself with people who encourage you in your passion, and sacrifices are certainly necessary at times, but it was definitely a problem that I would pass on going out with friends because I was afraid I’d have to miss a meal that night. I had a relationship end with a great girl last year in large part because of clashes over my “lifestyle.” It wasn’t a situation where she was controlling and didn’t support me in my passion; I just couldn’t stand the thought of ever missing a workout to do something spontaneous, things I should have been happy to trade a single workout for.
Training is and always will be a big part of my life; I will compete in several shows this summer and aspire to be a contest prep coach down the road. However, I’ve become much better at fitting training and hitting my macros into my everyday life, rather than building the rest of my life around training and hitting macros. I no longer feel panicked or guilty about taking an unscheduled day off from the gym if something fun with my buddies or a girl comes up, or I’ll just plan to lift early that morning or later at night. I don’t stress about enjoying an occasional “free” meal (I don’t call it a cheat meal, as that associates feelings of guilt with food; I don’t believe that’s healthy). And when I’m interacting with others, I never even consider the fact that I lift and they don’t; why would a certain hobby of mine make me better than them?
I guess what I’ve been leading into with the background info on myself is that the person in the article sounds an awful lot like I used to be. Honestly, I’d be embarrassed to have a friend or family member read “Merry Christmas, Bob” and know that I am a big fan of the website that produced it. I can certainly identify with the feelings of frustration with people who think training and eating sensibly is a waste of time. And it can definitely be gratifying to know that there aren’t a lot of other people who are capable of performing some of the feats we do. However, I honestly feel sorry for anyone who would actually enjoy going on a rant like the one described in the article. Why would I laugh or be motivated by seeing Bob struggle to get out of a chair? Sure, I might be motivated to not let that happen to myself. But I certainly wouldn’t enjoy seeing that. I wouldn’t like hearing about how he doesn’t have time to train. Thoughts like those reek of narcissism and an attitude of superiority; lifting weights and eating a nutritionally sound diet in no way makes any of us better than “normal” people. A common mindset seems to be that bodybuilders are more dedicated and driven than those around us. While that is definitely true for some, what about IFBB pros who can’t hold a steady job or would rather pay for their drugs than pay their rent?
Determination and dedication in the training lifestyle can certainly teach lessons and enable many to be successful and driven in other areas of their lives. But just because someone doesn’t care about training or their physique doesn’t mean they are lazy. The “Bob” that we choose to look down on could easily be a single parent who has more important priorities than hitting a new PR on squats or hitting his macros for the day.
Sorry for the very long post, just had some strong thoughts on this subject and wanted to see if anyone else had any experiences with their mindset towards the importance of training in their lives shifting as you mature. Merry Christmas everyone, God bless!