University & Bodybuilding – The “Odd” Couple

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Fitness couples have the best relationships. I’m not just saying that because I write for a fitness magazine. I am saying it because I believe it’s true based on my experience. I’ve seen all types of relationships, and none of them are as good as a fitness relationship where the couple lifts together, studies together, meal preps together, etc. It’s good to be in a relationship where both people are disciplined because that discipline can help the partners accomplish their goals, whether it’s at work, school or pursuing personal goals and dreams. Some people may think your goal sounds ridiculous, but to your partner it sounds achievable because they believe in you and know how hard you work when your mind is set. Both of you can pick each other back up when times are tough and encourage each other through the hardest training sessions or even through the most difficult moments in life.

I have never seen a fitness couple fail. However, there’s a type of fitness relationship that either fails horribly or lasts forever. It’s one of those relationships where one person is completely dedicated to fitness and the other one has never seen a dumbbell in their life. They’re called the “odd couple”. That kind of relationship is one of the more challenging ones, but when it works, it works better than most. My past relationships have generally been with women who never set foot in a gym. Needless to say, they didn’t last very long. All of my dieting, training and competing seemed like nonsense to them. While the relationships didn’t work and right now I’m working on just being the best me, I did learn some things to share with the rest of you to help you avoid making the same mistakes. These tips aren’t your basic dating tips. These tips are for the fitness freaks like you and me, so take notes.

1.  Let Them See Behind the Curtain

Suppose you two have been seeing each other for at least a month or two. By now, he/she already has a good idea what your lifestyle is and what you’re all about, but they still don’t know how serious you take it. This is the time that you really need to explain to him/her that this is not a phase; this is not a new trend. This is my life. The only way you’re going to get through to him/her is by sitting him/her down and explaining everything that you do from your meal prep to your training, from the time that you go to sleep to the time that you do your morning cardio. You sacrifice a lot to get where you want to go in life, but get ready to sacrifice a little more just to spend time with Bae. Will you make time for him/her? No doubt about it you will, but you won’t be able to spend every waking moment with him/her, and your partner needs to know and support this. Healthy couples view time spent pursuing personal hobbies as a good thing. Now if they understand your lifestyle, perfect! You’re in the clear. In fact, he/she is probably so impressed by your discipline and passion that your partner might be feeling amorous. Side benefit! Take advantage of it! It will count as your cardio for the day.

2.  Mutual Support

He/She gets it. He/She understands your lifestyle. It feels like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders, no corny lifting pun intended. If he/she didn’t get it and he/she can’t grasp the fact that you lift the weight for a living, then you’re better off without that person, sadly. But, don’t start crying into that bucket of ice cream! You’re better than that, so stop the pity party and do what you do best. However, if he/she supports your lifestyle, be prepared to reciprocate. Your partner needs you to understand his/her lifestyle, as well, and will want and need all the support you can give for his/her own passions and interests. Maybe Bae is a successful ballet dancer or the captain of the debate team. Guess what? If he/she is having a dance recital called “The Sleeping Beauty” that last 4 hours or will be debating the carbon effects in the 3 territories of Canada, you GO! Yes, it will impact your gym schedule. Yes, you might find it more interesting to try out a new occlusion method of training. So what? Train earlier or train later, make sure your meals are prepped the night before your partner’s event, and get your homework done. For all we know, you’re probably the only person that showed up to watch him/her, and you’d make up for every other person that didn’t come. You’re their biggest fan. I don’t care if you have to show your support with banners, flags and air horns, as long as they know you’re supporting them it will make them smile and give them confidence. It may even make them feel amorous again, which leads to Round 2 of cardio.

3.  Have Date Night even if You’re Already “Dating”

Date night should be important for you both as a way to stay connected. You barely get to see each other during classes, maybe just a quick hello or kiss or booty swat, so schedule quality time together into your week. Before you ask, no, Round 3 of cardio doesn’t count as a date night, and neither does taking your partner to the gym. So what is date night? For those in the lifestyle, it can get tricky. We can always play it safe by staying in, eating our prepared meals and watching a movie or playing a board game, but eventually he/she would like to go out on the town. If you’re planning on going out to eat and you happen to be in-season, you can’t bring your meals to the restaurant, so consider the second best option. Order a nice take-out meal from a restaurant, and you two go sit in the park and eat your meals together. If you’re planning on seeing a movie, make sure it doesn’t end too late if you’re training the next morning. Consider sneaking in a protein bar or other simple snack that fits your diet, but not a whole Tupperware container of chicken and rice. Remember you still need to keep the spark in your relationship. Make your time romantic and less about the food than about being together. There will be moments when you can’t go out, but don’t make it a habit or a crutch excuse. You and I both know that your partner isn’t going to force you to eat a cheeseburger or stay up until the crack of dawn. He/She already knows what you do and respects the rules of your lifestyle, so relax and stop being paranoid. Enjoy your date night!

4.  Be Willing to Take the Blame

It was inevitable! You finally reached a rough patch in your relationship. The honeymoon phase is over. Both of you are annoyed at each other, but you can’t remember why. Of course you two still have feelings for each other, but you just don’t know how to express your love right now. Somewhere along the line someone did something to irritate the other. Okay. It probably wasn’t you. I’m sure you did absolutely nothing to deserve the silent treatment, but deep inside you feel it might be you. You know you did something wrong, but you just can’t really put your finger on it. We know it had something to do with your lifestyle. Maybe you spent too much time in the gym, too much time prepping meals, or just too much time talking about who’s going to win the next Olympia. If you’re a guy, you probably talked about Dana Linn Bailey one too many times. Yeah. That might be it. Whatever the possible reason, just apologize for whatever you did. Don’t defend yourself, don’t blame him/her for anything, just say you’re sorry. Hopefully you’ll understand what you did wrong. Hopefully your partner will apologize, too, for giving you a hard time and for withholding “cardio” from you. You two care about each other very much. Now that you look back on it, you don’t even remember why you were angry to begin with. Still, it’s left you feeling amorous again, so enjoy the cardio while it lasts.

5.  Be Nice!

Be nice. Wow! I’ve heard that one too many times. I never really liked my ex-girlfriends’ friends, and they never liked me. Personally, I think I’m charming. They might have disagreed. Anyway, by now you should have introduced the love of your life to your friends, and your partner should have reciprocated. All you’re supposed to do is be polite, nod your head and smile. It’s not that hard. You don’t need to hang out with them and become besties – you just need to know them and be nice. But what do you do if their friends still don’t like you? There’s a good chance that, if your partner has never stepped foot in a gym, her social circle probably has not either, so to them you seem strange. Maybe they describe you as “different in a nice way” or simply “UGH!” For all you know, they could think that Bae is way out of your league or that you’re just plain self-obsessed in your lifestyle. Well, screw them! You shouldn’t worry about what his/her friends think of you. You only need to focus on your partner and making him/her as happy as possible while treating the friends politely. His/Her friends may come up with excuses to get your partner to leave you, but just let haters be haters. Yes, okay, so you’re not normal, but that’s why he/she fell in love with you in the first place. You were different from the rest, and that’s what made you special. Remember there is only room for two people in the relationship – you and your love.

6.  Don’t Forget to Appreciate

This last bit is for the love of your life to read, a little note of appreciation from all of us bodybuilders to our patient, supportive partners who might not share our passion for training:

Hi there. We want to say thank you. Thank you putting up with our long hours at the gym, with eating food at random times of the day, with counting calories, with going through emotional mood swings, and for helping us with our posing routines. You hide cookies from us so we don’t get tempted. You eat clean like us during the last two weeks of contest prep to keep us motivated, and you eat dirty with us at the end. You congratulate us when we tell you that we surpassed our 1.R.M., even though you have no idea what that means. You still congratulate us, and we think that’s sweet. We would pick our gym buddies over you to spot us because they are stronger, but we would rather you spot us with the difficult decisions in life because you’re more important. Don’t you ever think for one moment that we can do better than you. We know you’re not a gym rat like us, but we want to be with you. To us, you’re perfect in each and every way. That actually means something when we say it. As a bodybuilder, fitness competitor, etc, we strive to be perfect physically. We know the definition of perfection. We fight for that. All we want is to have the perfect physique, so when we say you’re perfect, we really mean it. We will have our days when we feel flat, no energy and no motivation. Any other basic bae would tell us “You’re fine, don’t worry about it. Come and eat a bag of chips with me and watch Netflix.” Not you! You shove grilled chicken and rice into our mouths, slap us with a pre-workout drink, and give us a big smooch on the lips for motivation as you send us out the door because you know we will feel so much better after training. That’s one of the many reasons why we love you. You bring out the best in us. When everyone else thought we were a lost cause, you saw a smoking hot body with a great personality. You’re perfect! You never tried to change us, and we’ll never try to change you. You love us for who we are. That’s more than we can ever ask for.

Oh and P.S. – thanks for making cardio fun : )

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