Training through the holidays: Explaining your choices to family and friends

You’re an athlete, and a dedicated one at that. You’ve got a competition in December or January maybe, or perhaps you’re afraid to break your routine that you’ve FINALLY got going (see: the Jerry Seinfeld principle). Needless to say, everyone thinks you’re weird. Except me. I’m here to understand your obsessive desire for fitness.

┬áComplaint #1: “You don’t like my food?” or you’re on a strict diet

To this, my normal response would be “Of course not, it’s full of salt and fat and yet still somehow has no taste.” Then I’d pour a pound of sugar on it. But you need to be diplomatic during the holidays or there’s going to be an incident that you can’t just sit in the corner and drink your whine until it blows over.

Instead, try to pick out what you CAN eat and make up an excuse that your stomach isn’t feeling all that well or that you had too big of a breakfast on accident. If you have to have a rigid food regimen, call a few days before and say you were diagnosed with something where you can only eat fish and kale or whatever. If all else fails, make a grand speech about how it’s your choice and that the true meaning of [insert holiday] is spending time with family and appreciating the things we take for granted. Quote Dickens, if you have to.

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Awkward compliment: “You look so thin/fit!” or you haven’t seen these people in years

Unless you were a gangly male who put on a little muscle, this means they’re afraid you’re on steroids or anorexic. Even if they’re being genuine, it’s just weird. You don’t need your family’s approval of your looks, and they don’t know what they’re talking about. They ain’t ’bout dat life.

Guys, if you’ve bulked up, expect every other douchey man in your family to be asking “How much you bench?” The answer is irrelevant, because they’ll claim they benched more than you before [insert injury here]. Girls, if you put on any muscle, you’ll get called a tomboy or accused of scaring men away. The correct rebuttal to that claim is find the jar no one can open, then do it yourself. Fuck them.

Complaint #2: “You obsess too much about exercise” or they’re secretly jealous of your commitment

Do not mention anything about working out. If you mention it more than once, you’re “obsessed”. They will ask you “You been working out? What diet are you on?” The answer here is to figure out a way to brush it off. “Uh, yeah, I’ve just been going with my friend” or “I just stopped eating so much sugar.” These will alleviate suspicion that you’re on drugs or have a disorder. Note: if you actually have a disorder like body dysmorphia, you DO need professional help and should see a medical professional.

Complaint #3: “Why are you working out?” or it’s “family” time

This can be easy enough to avoid by getting your workout done either before you head over or, in the case of having to travel significant distance, waking up to work out before anyone else is out of bed. Bonus: you get first dibs in the bathroom. You can offset that by going to bed early and mumbling something about “too much food and alcohol”.

On the other hand of all this, try to find a family member that also works out. You get a new workout partner for the week, and someone on your side when people start being irritating.

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