Sunday, February 26, 2012

Love 'n Steel

Imagine walking into the gym, down a busy row of store fronts, or just looking up from you empty matini glass - and there she is - your other half. She looks so amazing in this light; she's got long blonde hair, perfect lips, a certain glow all around her, what a pretty smile.. but wait...she's also got guns (arms!), legs (long 'n strong), and she walks with a certain confidence about her - she's 100% feminine, but she's not June Cleaver, she's more like Wonder Woman!

But this is prolly just a phase - this weightlifting thing - will pass. Many men and women who date weight-lifting enthusiasts just don't get it -- it's as much the men dating fit women, as it is average women dating fit guys. And if training isn't viewed as a fad, it may very well be viewed with contempt - and even jealousy. Some [non-training] significant others may feel intimidated to the point they'll make you choose - 'it's me or the gym!'

But enough of what I think. I wanted to know what the champions felt; I wanted to know what they've experienced - in the dating world.

"The gym and being healthy was NOT a big part of my life at all before I met my husband four years ago. He had a much healthier lifestyle when I met him than I did, so when I decided to make health and fitness a major part of my life a little over a year ago, it made it a lot easier because he was very supportive. He has consistently supported me in my fitness journey and rigorous diet/training routine that I have as a competitor. Although he doesn't compete, he closely follows my program (with modifications of course) which makes it sooo much easier for me to stay on track! I have been very lucky to have a spouse who pushes me to be the best version of myself. I do know some women whose significant others are not supportive of their fitness goals, which I know must make it difficult to keep going. If someone you are with is trying to hold you back from bettering yourself, I would seriously consider if it is a healthy relationship. I think women who are interested in competing should be up front about it with the person they are dating/considering dating because it can definitely cause tension if both people are not on the same page!"

Sally Lunsford
NPC Star

(here is a pic of me and husband, Michael)

"When you are single, like me, dating can be very difficult. Finding someone who shares the same passion as you do for working out and eating healthy, can be hard; but my advice would be to not give up what you love and enjoy doing for another person. It might take some time, but to be truly happy with someone, you need to do whatever makes you happy."

Tiffany Reffner
NPC Star

"Fitness has always been a part of my life so it's no surprise that I met my husband at the gym. I'm blessed to have such a supportive partner who will do anything for me. When he and I started dating I told him, there are two things with which i will not let him interfere. My God and my gym and he has been supportive since day one. My advice for single ladies is to be up front about your passion and love for fitness. It's better to find out early on if a man is going to have a problem with your training schedule or your eating habits. Never change for a man. Do what you love and look around while you're doing that...there will likely be plenty of men that share your passion and will support your goals."

Janessa Mitchell
NPC Star

"Fitness has been the biggest part of my life since I was 19. Therefore, it has always been understood how important my own fitness & nutrition are to me to everyone I surround myself with.

If one should date a fellow competitor, there is a great support system from day one to the day you walk on stage. You can lift and do cardio together, and you form a bond that is really special because what you're training for is really special to both of you. However, if one has a bad day and their day is affected, usually yours is too. You simply have to calm that person down and get them back on track. It can be stressful, but only you can decide if it's worth the stress or not. Let's face it--all competitors get cranky towards the end of the show prep, so beware during those last final days! You'll find there are pros and cons of dating another competitor who loves you and wants to see you succeed just as much as themselves, you just have to find a good one!

Then there are those you'll date who don't compete and do not know what it takes to get into that top shape to grace the stage. They truly admire the hard work you put in to look the way you do, and view it as an attractive quality. They see you as a strong, driven individual.

Fitness and nutrition are not just something to do, they are a way of life. My advice would be to integrate time spent together in the gym. Try to help your significant other who could use some tips on form or gaining/losing some pounds. You have to be attracted to who you're dating right? And of course you're concerned about bettering their health because you care about them!

At the end of the day, it shouldn't matter what fitness/nutrition level your significant other is on, it's about the love you share for each other. Try to remember the qualities which you adore about each other, breathe deeply when you're frustrated, communicate, and try to be understanding should silly issues arise. They will understand you're feeling a little deprived and moody as the show gets closer. Your significant other will be your biggest cheerleader,so welcome their support and address the fact how good it makes you feel that they truly care."

Laura Ridings
NPC Star

"My feedback on your post about dating - When I decided to make fitness and competing in NPC bikini competitions a full time lifestyle last year, I assumed dating wouldn’t be an option for me. I was single and living in Seattle at the time, so I had all the time in the world to devote to training, food prep, and myself. I poured my heart and soul into my new lifestyle and embraced it, but honestly felt if I tried to date AND be committed to my rigorous training, I would be thrown off balance and destroy all my fitness goals. I avoided dating like the plague out of sheer fear that I’d lose sight of my goals. Over time I started moving forward with my goals, but was admittedly lonely.

When I joined Team Bombshell I September of 2011, I had the opportunity to attend a fitness camp in Daytona Beach, FL and meet dozens of other women who compete – AND maintain healthy relationships. Could it be? You can compete AND be in a relationship? I spent a lot of time asking these amazing women all kinds of questions and the biggest trend I noticed was one thing – INVOLVE your partner. Make him feel important. Pay attention to him. Appreciate him! It’s hard when we’re so focused on ourselves and our training to remember someone else and their needs. With that in mind, I opened myself up to dating again and actually met a great guy who really supports my lifestyle.

I’ve found success in involving him in food prep (he’s great on the grill!), and working out together has also been a great way to keep myself feeling on target. He’ll attend his first NPC show in March with me – and while it’s nice to have someone around to tan my back, it’s even better to have love and support in the audience. While my lifestyle can be a little hard to take at times, I’ve found a lot of success in remembering SHOW my appreciation for him, do little things for HIM to make his life easier, and never stop being grateful all the love and support he gives me. It can work, you just have to be open with each other about your needs right out of the gate and communicate when you feel things heading south."

Kerri Baker
NPC Star

Marilena EchoHawk Speaks!

"The show was the FIRST ever IFBB PRO Women's Physique show! The Desert Muscle Classic held in Mesa Arizona; the Promoter was Stryker. I Placed 2nd place! My Tan was done by Liquid Sun Rays, Posing /diet was done by my trainer/coach Allen Watkins.

The contest prep was a little more intesnse this show, due to it being my first PRO show and also the new division WOmens Physique. We really were not sure if the judging was going to go on the harder/leaner/more muscular side, or a little softer. so I had to put all my trust (which I always do) in my trainer Allen Watkins. All the girls in the competition came ready to battle and all had great physiques, some were a little more ripped, softer but muscular, leaner but muscular, but OVERALL THEY ALL looked amazing.. The great thing about this show was every single female on that stage was cheering for one another, the camaraderie was like I've never seen before. Being on a pro stage and sharing it with that select group of women is definitely always going to be a good memory, and I made some good new friends out of it!

ALways a special thanks to my daughter, Brooklyn, for being one of my best supporters, and always my family, friends, and all my employees at work for understanding the crazy dieting lol..."

Marilena EchoHawk
IFBB Women's Physique Pro

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