I am currently the fitness/exercise coach for a group of women who live in Canada, Europe, and in the United States. If there is movement involved, I’m the go-to expert.
I like how all three of us are on the same page about how exercise and nutrition are like a good marriage. We don’t cheat on each other. The three of us work like a well oiled machine and it certainly helps that all of us have a desire to help, to coach and to see success. The three of us are everyday women, cultivating a doable health, wellness and fitness program for different age groups and different fitness levels. I’m 55 years old, a grandmother x 4, running about 100 kilometers a month, a cancer survivor, and a certified fitness professional. My fellow coaches are in their 30’s and are mommas, holding down full and part-time jobs while keeping their asses, and kidlets, in check. We support each other, as well as every woman in this group.
Surprisingly it has not been like herding mosquitos.
Each woman is very committed to seeing results from a very structured eating and exercise plan, and I am thoroughly enjoying sitting back and watching them succeed. There have been a few women who doubted their abilities to push through the workouts, but they have surprised themselves and crushed the exercise sessions. Some of them are doing exercises that they thought they’d never be able to do, like chin ups and pull ups!
It’s all about starting with modifications and progressing from there! In fact, during one of the
gossip sessions discussion threads, I told them about a personal trainer that I had a chat with a LONG time ago. I was complaining that I could not do a pull up or a chin up. He asked me how often I did them. I replied “NEVER, you idiot, because I can’t do them”. Kidding, I did not call him an idiot. He was gorgeous. I could barely focus when talking to him.
Anyway, he told me that was the exact reason I couldn’t do either exercise…because I wasn’t doing them. I had given up after a couple of tries. Completely unlike me in my current incarnation, but back then I was younger and a bit more dopey. I started doing them by using a BIG modifier (a chair) and within two weeks I was doing them! Hah…the handsome trainer dude was right! Sigh.
As in all groups, there have been varying issues that have come up but none that got my attention as quickly as Rhonda’s problem. If I’m being honest, I did not think it was much of a bone of contention, but then again at my grand old age of 55, I deal with Rhonda’s type of predicament quickly and efficiently. Rhonda is much younger than me, however, and gobs nicer.
Rhonda has a friend that is not being supportive of her weight loss, exercise regime, nor her nutrition. In fact, it goes beyond not being supportive to being vocally negative about her chances of succeeding. Actually verbalizing her belief that Rhonda will fail. That she is overdoing things, that it will not be sustainable. It crushed Rhonda and she brought it up in our group, which is when I got involved and added my two pennies. Rhonda has since resolved this with her “friend” but it was a tough situation for her to deal with because Rhonda does not like confrontation. None of us really do, if you think about it. Who actively looks to confront someone? Just pompous asses, if you ask me, and yes, I know. You didn’t ask, but it’s my blog and I’ll give my opinion endlessly.
This ONE issue opened the floodgates and pretty soon we had another member, Simone, tell a similar story .She was out to lunch with friends and Simone mentioned that she was excited about joining a fitness group, felt she was really doing well, and explained some of her food choices. You know, things that friends discuss. One of her, apparently, fake friends offered up her opinion that she did not see anything that had improved. Instead of stabbing her with a butter knife, Simone replied that she felt she had less of a double chin now because her neck wasn’t so fat. Her friend responded cheerfully that this was because it was just extra skin that she would never lose and it was called aging. Again, instead of spitting into her drink whilst this friend was in the bathroom, Simone chose to end the conversation, but did NOT directly tell her friend that she was full of shit OR just ask her to stop saying such defeatist remarks. In Simone’s own words, she was “so hurt, discouraged and I felt like shit about myself. I effin worked so, so hard for 3 weeks. No booze, no treats. Nothing but water followed the food, and I worked out everyday, and twice a day this week. I don’t understand why it does not show because I so feel it and I can bend down without hurting, and I can see improvement in my butt, legs and face”.
Mmmmmkay, can I interrupt this negative diatribe, Simone, and suggest that if you can feel it, if you can bend down when you could not before and you see a physical change in your butt, legs and face then perhaps you are right and your bitch-ass friend is wrong?
Why on earth would you allow someone else to define your perimeters for success? You need to either ovary up and deal with this dream crusher or winnow your friends down considerably.
A day later, just when I was about to settle down with an awesome and flavorful
bottle glass of Malbec, I logged on to our private group page and read what one of the other coaches had just posted. Michelle told a story about a friend (who is NOT in the group) whose own husband was being a complete prick about her fitness gains. Apparently this friend is working with a personal trainer. She was telling Michelle that she finally found her motivation to push harder. She asked her husband if he noticed any changes in her body (he’d been away for a few weeks). He said, not really. He said he saw no change in her legs (where she thought SHE did), and told her that she would never have a bum, and he kinda saw some muscle development in her arms, back and shoulders. But he didn’t find that attractive. It was too masculine for him. Ahhhhh…..in the exact words of Michelle: “Sometimes saboteurs can be the ones who are supposed to support and to love us. What a sin”.
So, that is, if you have not already guessed, the topic of this blog post today, my friends. What to do about those frenemies. Those closest to us, even spouses, who can block, negatively opine, and passively aggressively cripple us. The answer is not complicated. Don’t let them. Just don’t allow it. Only you can put a stop to behavior that you don’t like.
Using language like: “When you say this, it makes me feel…..(insert your favorite phrase here…or borrow one of mine for FREE)!….Here’s your giveaway: “When you say this, it makes me feel like I want to take a pitchfork and ram it through your torso, except your own fat would make that nigh impossible”!!! Okay, so you MIGHT not want to use that one, but consider it a template for a much more level headed response.
My point is that YOU need to take control immediately when someone tries to subvert your emotional and mental focus on fitness. And that’s the crux of the matter right there. A casually cruel remark won’t hurt that bicep curl you have been doing or that plank you have been practicing. What it will hurt is your emotional and mental determination. Self doubt can creep in. Your feelings will be hurt. If it is a spouse telling you these things, it could make you quit altogether, or harbor repressed anger towards that person. I’m sad to say that I have heard this same story over and over again from clients in my 24 year career. It is hurtful when a friend sabotages you, but it is absolutely gutting when it comes from your partner. Those kind of remarks can come from being afraid that your partner will become more attractive to someone else and from a need to control. As much as I’ve seen things change over the past two decades,…they can really stay the same. All I can say to you single people out there is to choose your life partner wisely and even then, learn to speak up and say what you feel in an articulate manner.
I had to laugh when our other coach, Danielle, wrote this about a husband not being completely supportive: “That would be a deal breaker for me. I am learning to love and accept myself and to not need external validation for how I feel about my body. Don’t get me wrong – I receive and love compliments from the hubby but I don’t expect or beg for them either. But if he did the opposite … if he watched how much effort I put into this and noticed a difference and commented in a negative way …. something would be flying by his head, he would be sleeping on the couch and my legs would be closed for business”.
Yep….the legs are mightier than the negative comments, so to speak. The legs that rock the cradle, rule the world….OMG, I could go on and on…..but luckily for you, I won’t.
I’m going to finish this post by not using my own words, but by allowing the group members to share their thoughts. Perhaps they will inspire someone who is reading this that is struggling with something similar. You’re not alone.
From Elaine: “Don’t let anyone steal your thunder. You are making amazing changes & progress. I would use that moment to light a fire for your workouts. Walk that toned butt away from the negative bullshit”.
From Rhonda: “Some people justify their inaction by putting others down. We try not to let it get to us, but it does. You are determined, dedicated, and you have us to help you. You’re crying because it’s hard and some parts of your life don’t fit with these changes you’re making. Mourn it, wipe away the tears and sets your sights on those goals”. From Michelle: “You feel like a 5 because you are letting this person make you feel like a 5. FUCK THEM. It doesn’t matter what this idiot thinks or sees. All that matters is how YOU feel about yourself. How YOU see yourself. You know how hard you work. We know it. The people who honestly care about you matter. This ass-hat does not. I know that is easier said than done. But you need to see past what this tit said. You GOT this”.
From Maria: “Project how you feel inside, not the crap they are dishing you! You are worth it. So worth it”!
From Danielle: “Stick with the program – it’s for your mind, body and soul. You are doing this for you – NOT THEM. You feel the difference and if you keep with it, it will show. Don’t you dare let anyone take what you’ve accomplished away. You are doing a fantastic job, and if you keep it up, you will continue to feel better and the results will continue to be there. You got this”.
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