Name: Abby Huot
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Education: St. Mary's University of Minnesota (2004)
Occupation: Athlete, writer, fitness model, bikini/figure competitor
One of the most empowering decisions you can make is to implement a solid strategy to drop fat, gain muscle, and stay consistent. Outlining a plan and following a dream can be an exciting time in your life—and it should be! This is your life, this is your body, and you're taking control of it. Motivation feels wonderful!
I decided to give this "working out stuff" a try when I was 24 years old. I had been an athlete all my life, but I knew virtually nothing about lifting and next to nothing about nutrition.
When I decided to commit to a fit lifestyle and started prepping for my first show in November 2008, I thought I was ready. I was expecting to put in the work, and I was expecting my body to change. The one thing I wasn't anticipating—my social life to drastically shift.
Maybe you're just starting down your own fitness path, unaware of some of the social quirks you may encounter along the way. Perhaps you're a year into your journey, and you're experiencing some of this now.
No matter what capacity you're in—competition, weight loss, general health, or event training—know that you're not alone in feeling out-cast. Many of these experiences are perfectly normal.
Friends May Step Back Or Even Vanish
There is a basic truth when it comes to living out your 20s and 30s: eating and drinking are going to take up a huge portion of your social life. And I'm not talking high-protein, low-carb meals washed down with a couple 8-ounce glasses of water. I'm talking drip-through-the-bag greasy food and a few pitchers of beer.
When you remove these elements from your life because they're contradictory to your fitness goals, it's amazing how quickly your phone stops ringing. Talk about a shock. When it happened to me, I was crushed!
Many of my friends were on board with my vision when I started out. With time, people became less and less available—especially when they saw that I didn't fall off the wagon. Drastic lifestyle shifts make people uncomfortable because they're forced to look at their own behavior.
When you realize that exercise is really just black and white—you do it or you don't—the decision to change becomes extremely simple for you. But making such a clear-cut choice is terrifying to a world of people who are cozy in a flexible gray zone—people who subconsciously enable themselves by surrounding themselves with others who have an "It's too hard to change" attitude.
It's often difficult for friends to see you grab the reigns in your own life and change your behavior. It's not that they don't want to support you; it's just that the majority of people are threatened by change.
The good news: Though it hurts in the moment, new people step into your life and fill the voids—people who understand and share a similar lifestyle. You'll make new friends before you know it.
Many People Won't "Get It"
As excited as you are to be your own success story, you're going to encounter some skepticism. People are bound to question your goals. Some of the most common objections I personally encountered were:
- This seems really extreme.
- There's nothing wrong with you. You're fine the way you are.
- Why would you want to look like that?
- You're crazy. I don't see the appeal in this.
- This seems a little self-centered.
Don't take these things personally. Again, making extreme lifestyle changes triggers insecurity in many people. They're not trying to be mean. Your goals are so lofty that they seem alien. It's not computing yet. Give it time.
My own family didn't understand what I was trying to accomplish when I set out. It scared my mother, and my father was livid. They thought my entire fitness lifestyle—from the modeling and competing to paying for shoots—was the stupidest thing I'd ever done! I realize now that they were coming from a place of concern and love because they didn't know anything about the fitness industry.
Once my parents learned more about what I was doing, how things worked, and what my ultimate goal was, a light went off. Now, they're happily on board.
Sabotage Could Be Lurking
I don't know if people do it on purpose or if it's just a subconscious deal, but you will have people who try to sabotage your goals from time to time.
What does this look like?
- Oh, come on, it's just one cookie. You can have one cookie, right?
- I know you probably can't have this on your crazy diet, but I made triple-layer German chocolate cake. (Puts gloriously fat piece of cake in front of your face.)
- You can skip the gym tonight. Come on! It won't kill you! Come to happy hour instead!
- I don't know why you're bothering with this fitness stuff. It sounds terrible.
- Do you really think you can get to that level? Don't you think you're being a little delusional?
People will try to sway you from your diet. They'll try to persuade you to miss your training. They might even try to make you feel like you're self-centered or egotistical for standing your ground.
I'll never forget the day that I came to work when I was about a month out from my first show and someone had left a random doughnut on my desk before I'd gotten there. No note, no nothing—just a rogue doughnut left anonymously on my desk to mess with my emotions. (It was a Bismarck donut no less, my favorite kind. Ah custard filling, you are the devil!) I avoided temptation because my goals outweighed my sugar cravings. I knew the temporary satisfaction of indulging wouldn't counter the negative side effects. Anyway, it wasn't worth the guilt or water retention.
I never figured out who did it, but I stood my ground. You should, too. Whether it's happy hours, company potlucks, holidays, or parties, there are people who deem it their mission to pick at you until you cave. It brings them satisfaction to see you lose your self-control. Stay strong.
Dating Relationships Could Suffer
I'll be blatantly honest with you: Getting in shape and switching to clean eating and training makes dating more complicated. If you undergo a transformation and your partner doesn't, it might build tension and cause a wedge in your relationship.
The person making positive changes may feel unsupported or resented, and the person who isn't interested in making a shift might feel insecure, abandoned, or judged. Weight loss and fitness are deeply personal, intimate issues for both men and women. Balance, understanding, and support for both people are crucial.
If you're on the other end of the dating spectrum—ahem, Singleville—you've probably already experienced the difficulty of finding true balance between your fitness world and the everyday. The vast majority of people don't understand the lifestyle you live. They don't understand that you can't grab fast food when you're hungry, you can't get buffalo wings on a Friday night, and you choose to work out every day because you want to. It doesn't compute.
It often causes animosity because they feel your priorities are askew. Hold your head high, focus on your goals, and trust that you will eventually meet someone—fitness oriented or not—who will support you in everything you do.
Fitness takes some adjustments, but have no fear—the right people who belong in your life will always find their way into it. Even people who disappear for a bit tend to wander back in. Your network and support system may get shaken for a little while, but ultimately your foundation gets stronger for it.
Don't let social frustration interfere with your vision. Positive people are drawn to other positive people like a magnet for backing and support!