Saturday, 2 January 2016

Breaking the social norms...

I’m already aware that this post is probably going to come across as a bit of a rant so I apologise in advance but the content is still spot on and I feel like a bit of a rant on this subject after the Christmas period.
So what do I mean by social norms? I’m 25, single and got my own place so I should be out partying every weekend and living life to the full right? And by living life to the full I mean drinking, socialising, dating and all the fun stuff that comes with that yes? If you’re thinking no, then thank you I’m in agreement but it would appear the rest of the world does not agree.
It’s something that regularly frustrates me but I feel it more over the holiday period when it’s one party after another, constant social events, copious amounts of alcohol and whatever other drunken antics that come with that. So over the last 6 weeks I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been asked why I’m not drinking at social events. Because that’s just not normal right? Actually I hate the taste of alcohol; if I was picking a beverage purely on the taste of it, it absolutely would not be alcoholic as it’s quite simple; I don’t like it. Just like some people don’t like coffee (me included) or herbal teas or milk but god forbid I don’t like alcohol. That’s just not normal.
Now don’t get me wrong I have the occasional blow out where I admit I drink alcohol purely to get drunk and just release some stress and have a good time (as I did a couple of weeks ago) and each and every time I live to regret it the next day. For me it’s simply not worth waking up feeling like rubbish, feeling horrendous all day, it impacting on my workouts for the next couple of days and my body just overall feeling horrible. Sometimes you do just need to let your hair down though and have a good night out drinking and dancing with friends and that’s ok, which is why I do it 2-3 times per year but that’s it.
I’ve also been questioned whether I’m going to be eating ‘normal food’ over Christmas. Because you see eating healthy, nutritious food like fruits and vegetables, fish and meats, shakes and foods that are high in protein that my body actually needs to function correctly aren’t normal. But if I overdose on pizza and pasta eating myself into a carbohydrate coma and indulge in the chocolates and the foods high in fats and other stuff that makes your body feels rubbish and sluggish, that’s perfectly normal. Now that probably sounds crazy based on the actual facts stated above but in reality that is the general view and response to nutritional habits.
The amount of times I get asked if I’m going out partying this weekend. Which more often than not my response is no. To which I get perplexed responses asking ‘well what will you do instead?’ Now sometimes I really do sit in disbelief at people. What could I possibly do other than go out partying and get drunk on a weekend? Maybe I’ll just hang out with my friends, go to the cinema, go for a nice meal or actually…wait for it…I’ll stay in on my own watching TV on a Saturday night. Shock horror. But that’s not fun is it? For a 25 year old girl to spend her weekend doing that. Especially when you’re single; it’s not like you’ve got a guy to cuddle up to on a Saturday night and watch a film with is it?
Nights spent in the hot tub instead of going out...
I also enjoy my Nutribullet shakes. Often the green ones made up of spinach, apple, kale, banana, chia seeds and water. Granted, they don’t look like the most appealing thing in the world but they actually taste pretty good, have so much nutritional benefit and are a great filling snack to have during the day. Most of the time I have these whilst I’m at work and I’ve lost count of the amount of weird looks I get or ‘what the hell is that?’ questions I get. Now a lot of it is light-hearted banter with my colleagues as they know me well enough by now to know this is the norm for me, but the principle stays the same. If I sat with a big mac on my desk with a side of fries and a large full-fat Coke no one would bat an eye-lid (well they might do if it was me eating it but in general that’s the attitude). And that’s the challenges we face daily.
Now when it comes to dating it’s a whole challenge in itself and I start to line up the coincidence in the fact I’ve been single almost 3 years and it’s almost 3 years since I started training and living healthier haha. You get chatting to guys and standard questions come up as to what you do in your spare time to which I respond gym, train, a bit more gym and a bit more training. And generally guys seem to quite like that at the start with the comments ‘oh it’s so great you look after yourself’, ‘I like a girl that enjoys training’ etc. etc. The most cringe element of this is when guys pretend to be into training and the gym as much as you are and also assume that because you’re a girl you have no idea about training so try and reel off some bullshit about what they do and you know it’s simply that; bullshit. But that’s another story.
And then all of a sudden it’s not such a popular choice when you can’t see them that often because you’re training or you turn down going out for dinner as you’ve already had your cheat meal that week. Or you won’t be out on the weekend getting drunk ready to be someone’s ‘booty call’. Yes I realise you’ve got to have a balance in your life and sometimes you think screw it I’ll go out for dinner twice this week and eat what I want but to be honest there are few people out there who fully understand when you live the sort of lifestyle that I enjoy living. And I think especially with guys if they aren’t into that lifestyle they find it perhaps a bit intimidating that a girl is and maybe off-putting too.
Come on abs...I know you're in there somewhere...
There are all these ‘societal expectations’ all of the time and I feel for everyone in a similar position to me. The amount of times I get called boring or that I’m old before my time or that I need to ‘live a little’ is unreal. And some of that might be tongue in cheek but I just think it’s rude. Don’t talk to me about ‘living a little’ when I’ve spent 10 months this year at the other side of the world doing things that most people will only ever dream of doing and experiencing new things every day whilst people have plodded along in their everyday lives at home just getting drunk on weekends. Now there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what you choose to do but don’t tell me that I’m boring and insinuate that my lifestyle is the wrong one and yours is the right one.
My dad made a comment recently when we were driving to visit family on Christmas Day. We saw someone out running and he said ‘it’s a pity they’ve got nothing better to do on Christmas Day’. Bless my dad; this is a typical dad comment. But I’m sure there are many others who would think the same thing. But what’s wrong with that? Maybe that person loves going out running but due to work commitments never gets much chance in daylight during winter so thought what a good opportunity on a rare day off. Or maybe they got bought some new trainers for Christmas and they just couldn’t wait to get out there and try them. Or you know what; maybe they just wanted to. And that’s as simple as it needs to be. No one would get quizzed for drinking 5 pints on Christmas Day would they? But someone going out running they will get questioned why. And that’s what I find so often frustrates me; the constant need to justify and explain just because of a certain lifestyle I choose to live.
So what does my lifestyle look like on a weekly basis?
Monday to Friday I work office hours (somewhere between 07:30-18:00 generally). I have PT sessions Monday and Thursday evenings, I go to Bootcamp at 06:45 on a Wednesday morning, train Tuesday evenings, often have Friday as my rest day and then train Saturday and Sunday morning. So during the week I make minimal social plans as my job is very demanding so often I’m worn out and training is my priority. I will occasionally hang out with friends who will come to mine or I will go to theirs and we’ll just have a cuppa and catch up but generally I don’t go out during the week.
On a Saturday I will wake up around 08:00 head to the gym, get a couple of hours training in and then Saturday afternoon go shopping, visit family, see friends, go for food etc. Saturday evenings vary in what I do depending on what everyone’s doing and then Sunday is often similar to my Saturday.
Mornings spent throwing these around for fun!
Do I actually enjoy my lifestyle? This is something that people will ask me. I’m assuming they ask this on the basis of me spending a lot of time in the gym and also having a restricted diet mainly. And yes I absolutely love my healthy, active lifestyle. Would I rather wake up on Saturday fresh after 9 hours sleep, raring to go, my body feeling rested and have a productive day doing nice things? Or would I rather wake up about midday hungover from the night before, eat rubbish food all day, nap on the sofa, then curl back up in bed at night desperate to sleep it all off? It’s a no brainer for me. And yes I’m all about enjoying my Friday night too before any of you jump in but again would I rather spend my Friday night with friends enjoying a nice dinner and chat and maybe be in bed for 11pm or would I rather be in a rowdy club with some drunken teenager spilling their drink over me, a middle-aged guy trying to chat me up and finish up with a greasy takeaway at the end of the night before rolling into bed at 4am. Again, no brainer.
Not to mention would I rather look toned, fit, feel good in my clothes, be proud of my body I’m working hard to get or would I rather cover up in jumpers, pose for photos breathing in for dear life and picking outfits that hide my wobbly bits? Again, no brainer. Bit of a pattern forming here.
Another day...another training session.
Because of the life I have it can sometimes be tiring. Not just from training but I have a high-pressured job and I live on my own so have all the usual stuff to do such as washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning etc. And one thing that annoys me as well is if I have a day where I’m tired I will often get the comment ‘you’re doing too much have a few days off the gym’. Ermm no. For me the gym is not a chore, it’s not something I do begrudgingly; it’s something I do because I enjoy it. Work stresses me out and tires me out a lot more than the gym but obviously I can’t just have a few days off work when I feel tired. But again, the gym is something I do to keep fit and healthy and people use that as the first suggestion of what to drop when you’re feeling tired. Forget the other things in your life that stress you out; I know let’s suggest you drop the one thing that keeps you sane and actually healthy. It’s madness!!
And I honestly believe that leading such a healthy and active lifestyle has had such a positive impact on the rest of my life. It helps me so much mentally to be in a good place in my head, to be in control of my thoughts and my decisions and look and feel at my best. Before I started training I was such a worrier and not that confident in myself and felt a bit lost in life. Part of this was down to other aspects of my life and I’m not going to lie and say I have everything fully together in my life right now and never have any doubts etc. because I do. But overall I’m a much brighter and positive person and since this change in my attitude and approach to life, so much good has happened. In the 3 years since I changed my lifestyle I’ve built the confidence to go out there and travel, seeing some of the world on my own, I’ve secured 2 great promotions which for someone of my age are not to be underestimated, I’ve graduated with a first class honours degree whilst I also worked full-time and I’ve gained so many awesome people into my life.
Now you might think this is all coincidence with my lifestyle change and if you want to think that, that’s fine but I know the difference that health and fitness has made to my life overall and I know it has for so many others in more than just a visual look with your body and that is not to be underestimated.
I do enjoy my weekly cheat meal and a couple of days relaxed diet over Christmas or winding down on holidays but I realise that my lifestyle is more to the extreme of living a fit and healthy one and a lot of people don’t get that. That’s ok. It’s not your journey to understand and I’m perfectly happy with my lifestyle. I’ve had the years where I’ve gone out getting drunk every weekend and I’m thankful for those times and have a lot of good memories. But it’s time for me to make different memories now. And I get that my lifestyle does make it harder to meet someone who’s compatible but I’ve never been one for settling for second best and I will hold out for the day I meet someone who shares the love for my lifestyle and who’ll wake up with me on a Saturday morning to go train and then bond over protein shakes haha.
So I realise I have ranted on now for a considerable time but I hope I’ve made my point. Everyone chooses to live their life differently; there’s no right and wrong; it’s individual choice. But let those individuals make that choice without judging them. Don’t question what you don’t understand and don’t make comments on things you know very little about.

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