I Got Your Back

Posted by connie b on

 width=I deal with unsupportive people on a daily basis.  Whether they disapprove of my food choices, how much muscle I carry on my frame, or my disdain for all things processed, I put up with so many sideways, passive aggressive comments.  These comments come from EVERYWHERE: co-workers, friends, acquaintances, and even family members.  Jim will tell you I have a very short temper, but it’s not always appropriate to yell at people in, say, the workplace.  I’ve learned to take a deep breath before I answer questions; I remind myself that most people hear “bodybuilding” and have a completely warped image in their minds, and most simply don’t have the knowledge base in regards to exercise and nutrition.  I try to remember this when I answer questions, and I truly do my best to not let my emotions enter my interactions. My co-workers are typically the most frequent offenders, because they only know “Work Beth;” they have no idea who “Gym Beth” is.  They don’t know the intensity with which I workout, they don’t know how sweaty I get, and they don’t see the strain on my face when I’m trying to do military presses with 45 pound dumbbells. They will likely NEVER see me in my natural setting, and they don’t understand this side of my personality.  Co-workers are also typically the most uneducated group in regards to fitness and nutrition.  The questions that I get at work blow me away: “I heard you’re supposed to eat carbs only twice a day,”or “I heard that eating a banana is like eating a bag of Skittles.” The worst, most ignorant questions pertain to my personal diet: “Whoa, you eat fruit?”  “Wow, you’re allowed to use creamer in your coffee?”  Um, yes!  I don’t get the origin of these questions, because I’ve always eaten fruit around them, and I’ve always used creamer in my coffee.  I eat HEALTHY, not crazy, but it seems that, nowadays, healthy IS crazy.  I do my best to answer their questions with a straight face, and with a non-snotty tone in my voice.  But 9 times out of 10, I am amazed by, and sometimes annoyed by their questions.  I often feel judged for my food choices at work, and that’s just ridiculous to me.  My co-workers sit at team meetings with cake and chocolate and I bring in my grilled chicken wrap, yet I’M the weird one.  Makes total sense. The hardest folks to deal with are my family members and close friends who just don’t “get it,” and likely never will.  My family does not live with me in North Carolina: my mom and dad live up in Boston (go Pats!!), and my older brother lives in Oxford, England.  I love my family: we are a very tight-knit group, and although we all have ridiculously strong personalities, we usually survive the holidays with very few arguments.  My mother was a nutritionist, and my father is a physician, so healthy eating and exercise are well-known to the Polissons.  However, my parents and their knowledge base are a bit old-fashioned and outdated, and they inherently disagree with everything I have to say about healthy eating and exercise. I try to explain why I think strength training is far superior to cardiovascular exercise, I try to tell them that the body doesn’t know the difference between an elevated heart rate from lifting versus that from running on a treadmill, and I try to tell them that they need to be in a caloric surplus in order to gain muscle mass.  I’m not quite sure why I try, because my words fall on deaf ears.  Perhaps the worst disagreements center around what my family considers to be “attractive.”  My mom, dad, and brother do not find an athletic, strong female form to be appealing.  They don’t like skinny, or fat, but they definitely don’t like muscular.  So, I’m not really quite sure what they like, to be honest.  But I know it’s not me, and that hurts sometimes.  I have ALWAYS wanted to look athletic, even before I started competing.  I strived for shoulders and a back that were wider than the waist, and for a high, round tush on which you can rest your coffee cup.  My parents rarely (if ever) ask me about my competitions, and they won’t ever come to see one.  That’s a hard pill to swallow, especially considering they have come to every game of mine since I was 3.  They disagree with my lifestyle so much that they won’t even come to support me when I need it the most.  I am not mad at my family for this: I understand that they simply don’t agree with what I do, and it would be fake for them to come.  I’ve made my peace with it. My family also gives me a hard time about my food, just like my co-workers.  When my dad showed up at my house for Thanksgiving last week, he opened the fridge and said, “You have nothing to eat!”  Keep in mind my fridge was packed with chicken, whole wheat tortillas, hummus, loads of fruits and prepared veggies, tuna, cheese, etc.  But, apparently, because it was healthy, it was no good.  He often refers to my diet as “grass clippings and yard waste.”  It sounds funny, but it gets old, especially when I don’t give them grief about the way they eat.  When they’re shoveling unhealthy food into their faces, I’d love to say, “Hey, how’s that heart-attack taste?”  But I don’t. I have come to the realization that people aren’t always going to approve of my healthy lifestyle and my choices, and that’s fine.   I do this for me, and I do have a fantastic support system here in Durham from my close friends and from Jim.  I no longer discuss competing or my shows with my family: there is no point in spinning my wheels.  If they ask questions, I answer them, but I am never the first to initiate a conversation about eating healthy, lifting, or competing.  I love my family and my friends very much, but I have come to the point where it’s best if my competitive lifestyle is kept separate from those who will simply never understand. So, if you’ve made the decision to better your life by eating healthy and working out, realize that you may face resistance from time to time.  I really do think unsupportive comments are made because people who eat healthy make people who eat unhealthy feel conflicted about their food choices.  In order to make themselves feel better, they try to make us feel like crap.  But, at the end of the day, you do this for YOU, not for anyone else.  Be proud of yourself and of the choices that you make every day, and don’t let others make you feel guilty for those decisions.  At the end of the day, you’ll have the last laugh, because you’ll live longer and feel better.  Rock on!    width=Beth is an NPC and OCB figure competitor and has been competing for 3 years.  When she’s not rocking the stage in her stiletto heels, she’s either at work as Project Manager at a Pharmaceutical company in Durham, NC or she’s in the gym training clients or teaching spin classes.  In her very minimal free time, Beth likes to sleep, eat, play with her dog, and spend time with her boyfriend and friends (who also like to sleep and eat).