Toxic People

There's a concept in pop psychology called "toxicity." Usually it's referring to so-called toxic people. These are people in your life who generally make you feel bad, put you down (usually in subtle, sometimes passive aggressive ways), hold you back, or just suck out your good vibes.

These folks definitely exist, and there's a special breed of them that have a problem with your training and diet goals. Some examples:

The New Girl

You meet a new girl. She's not really into working out and eating right, but she likes Game of Thrones and she's cute. Good 'nuff. But soon, a few small issues start to arise.

  • She seems to talk you out of going to the gym. Now, she doesn't tell you NOT to go, but you find yourself dissuaded and start to miss workouts. Maybe she makes you feel guilty for going and not spending that time with her.
  • For some reason, your diet starts to slip. Maybe she makes your favorite cheat food or gets you to go to restaurants you'd normally avoid.

This stuff is subtle. But here's what could be going on. Let's take a trip inside her mind:

"Gosh, I like this guy, but I know what the women in his gym are like. He might dump me for one of those Lululemon-wearing bitches! And you know what? He's in great shape. But he's in way better shape than me! It makes me feel, like, kinda bad about myself. He doesn't seem to mind, but he makes me feel like a sloppy slob!"

She may not even realize this undercurrent of thought is going through her head.

The Husband

You're a married woman with a couple of kids. After devoting an enormous amount of time to taking care of them, you realize you've let your own health decline. You've gained a lot of weight and that sucks too, so you decide to join a gym, buy some better foods and supplements just for you, and maybe hire a trainer.

You do it and things start looking up. You've lost some weight, you have more energy, and you really feel better about yourself. But then your husband steps in:

  • He plants subtle ideas in your head. Are you really neglecting the kids to go to the gym? Are you being selfish?
  • He drops little barbs about the cost of the gym membership, healthy foods, or supplements.
  • He always seems to find things that need to be done when you have a workout planned.
  • He tempts you, usually in a joking way, with foods that will set you back. And sometimes, you give in.

What's really going on in his mind? Maybe this:

"Damn, she's looking good. In fact, she could do better than me! And that handsome-ass trainer of hers looks sketchy. He probably has eyes for her. And if she's working out and eating better, does that I mean I have to? I need to, sure, but she makes me feel guilty."

What To Do About It

For the dedicated lifter, bodybuilder, or athlete, this stuff is important to you. It's a big part of your life and you enjoy every aspect of it. It's part of who you are. At least the very least, it's a hobby you're not about to give up. So how do you deal with the toxic saboteurs?

If it's a girlfriend or boyfriend, or even just a friend that seems to be trying to hold you back (that jealous skank), you have two choices. You can talk to them and get it all out in the open. Smile, be cool, try to avoid phrases like "You're wrecking my gains, jerkface!" Remind them that part of the reason he or she likes you is that you look good, and you display strength and discipline. Those are good traits, yeah?

Tell them it makes you a better person and that you want to be better FOR them. Even if this is horse-pucky, remember that you're dealing with someone who's probably feeling bad about herself, so wear your kid gloves, but be firm. If you can get her involved in the gym, go for it. Hey, you watched The Notebook for her, right?

If that doesn't work, well, there are lots of fish in the sea. And some of them do hip thrusts and know what EMOM stands for. Plus, she isn't THAT cute. Maybe you're just horny.

For the married person, the same approach will work, but hopefully without the kicking-to-the-curb part. (Those fish might look tasty, but they're full of heavy metals. And due to over-fishing, they're probably not even the kind of fish you think they are. Also, you're just horny.)

But the real lesson here is to be aware of the vampires and understand what's really going through their minds. Don't let them hold you back, but don't be a dick about it either.

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