Marriage and Momming Can Work with Bodybuilding with IFBB Figure Pro Sarah Sweeney
Bodybuilding is a lifestyle; which is a very positively skewed way of saying that bodybuilding consumes every aspect of your life. Some would call it obsessive. Others would call it a healthy obsession. Whatever you want to call it – it’s a big force that takes up a lot of space in a person’s life. So how does that affect relationships? Especially if your partner is not a bodybuilder his or herself? And even if you expand that beyond romance – friendships, family, and work relationships may all suffer (or thrive) due to the lifestyle change that is bodybuilding in your life.
Honestly, I have walked on both sides of the line with this lifestyle. I love it. I still very much so aspire to live it, breath it, and be it daily. I have, however, come to learn some very important things about not only how I approach this lifestyle, but how to best make it work for not just myself but also my ENTIRE family. This includes my spouse, my child, and my extended friends and family.
There was a time, at the beginning of my bodybuilding adventure, that my husband and I struggled to see eye to eye on things. Today, I can proudly say that we have walked through the rough stuff and we can now pursue these things as a team.
Is there room for someone else when bodybuilding has such a huge focus on self and self-improvement? Can you bring your whole self to each moment and be fully present without slipping into narcissism?
The biggest thing to keep at the forefront of your mind as you journey through this lifestyle, is that you chose this. In every moment, your choice to be a bodybuilder should not be the focus. Can you participate in family functions, without making your choices to possibly bring your own food, or abstain from certain activities in pursuit of your goals, without making that the focus. Your choice does not become someone else’s burden.
The key that has helped maintain a somewhat functioning marriage for over eleven years, is this personal commitment to being fully present for all the important things. When necessary, I get up extremely early (upwards of 3am occasionally) to get fasted cardio and meal prep done well before my son gets up so that he gets my full attention from the moment he wakes up. I am lucky enough to be able to train while he is in school, but prior to school-age I would make sure to schedule my training when he would have childcare at the gym or when my husband could be home with him.
Having somewhat congruent nutrition plans with my husband is extremely helpful as well. At the end of the day though, I am responsible for my own food choices, as is he. Maintaining a healthy relationship with food is important for everyone in our household as well. Having a young person, and a non-bodybuilder husband, in the same house means there will be food in the house that is not for me and my goals. That does not affect, or create any negative issues for me, because that choice is ultimately mine. My choice not to partake of the ice cream, snacks or anything else for that matter, does not diminish anyone else’s enjoyment of those things. In prep in particular, I have always chosen to speak about my food choices very specifically as such with my son. I do not frame a single thing as something I “cannot” have. I always present it as a choice – I “do not want” something. Basically, I have always approached it as “thanks, but no thanks”. So far I have seen a positive relationship between mt son and food. He does not have a problem eating vegetables, or turning things down that he does not want, but he also understands that treats are sometimes fun, and good, to have. My husband does not have a problem ordering pizza for them on occasion, and I do not enjoy meal time with my family any less as I eat my chicken and broccoli amidst the smell of pepperoni and marinara sauce. The important thing is the moment, not what is going in our faces at the moment.
At the end of the day, communication with your loved ones of what is important, approaching your pursuit of bodybuilding as a choice (a gift really), and choosing to put in the effort to be prepared (which may mean bringing your own food to your momma’s house so she doesn’t have to cook 7 pounds of fish for you, finding a gym nearby and training during times that do not take away from the limited time you have together, etc) will go a long way. The less you make your lifestyle a burden upon those around you, the more your loved ones will support and help you achieve your goals.
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