Surviving Love & Fitness with “Dr. Ruth Barbell” #1

The purpose of my advice column is to shed some unique perspectives on love and relationships in regard to nutrition, fitness and competitive bodybuilding.  I believe that the truth needs to be heard, whether it hurts or not, and sometimes the blow is lessened when it comes from a stranger.  So, please ask me anything and everything – I want to hear it all, you don’t have to use your real name, use details, specifics and receive honest, unfiltered feedback.  I do hope you share, enjoy and participate! And now, the very first question…

Dear Dr. Ruth Barbell,

I fell in love with bodybuilding about ten years ago.  Throughout my journey, I have participated in numerous local shows and have had fun with the experience.  My husband is a completely different story.  He thinks the sport is ridiculous and has zero interest in becoming a part of the bodybuilding community.  He will allow me to prep by watching the kids more while I do cardio and he does show up on show day with his sour puss face.  But, what I want to know is how supportive should I expect my husband to be?

  • The Lonely Prepper

Broward County, Florida


Hey Lonely Prepper!

I think expectation and attitude is 90% of the battle in this situation.  Setting appropriate expectations is the trick to having the appropriate attitude with your husband.  Like every other relationship on the planet, we all do things we do not like to make our spouse happy.  For example, I’ve gone to a preseason baseball game in sweltering heat to make my significant other happy (you’re welcome).  For me, he LET ME compete.  Oh my goodness…yes, I said ‘let me’.  I say this because he has the perspective that I think most men have.  Their wife is for their eyes only.  Competing puts it all on display! The largest bikini I’ve heard of is twenty-five percent coverage and then there’s Pro Cut.  Let be honest, the smaller the better.  So please, spare me the nonsense logic that the tan covers like a costume or second skin.  Women are practically naked when they are on stage for an entire auditorium to view.  It is the rare man that will enjoy other men admiring his wife’s glutes – sport or no sport. 

Assuming your husband falls into the majority of men, I think you need to express your gratitude that he swallows his pride for you on show day.  Perhaps something fun for him on that day like a kind gesture or gift (you’re welcome, sir).  Make the experience as fun for him as it is for you.  Appreciate where he is coming from and attempt to turn what he views as negative into a positive.  You might want to try “Show Night.”  You and your husband have sacrificed the last sixteen to twenty weeks of your lives for the physique that you will have for THAT DAY ONLY.  Why not put on a special display of that physique for him? Get some amazing lingerie, or none, and give him something for his eyes only! Give him something to look forward to and you can even start a count down together.  You’re involving him in the prep process to make it exciting and as much fun for him, as it is for you.  Point being, make it more about both of you and less about just you.

This begs the question do you recognize just how selfish you are being? In case you have forgotten, bodybuilding is quite possibly the most narcissistic sport that exists – a vast majority of weeks or months are spent perfecting a competitor’s aesthetics of their physique.  Prep is practically a full-time job on top of a full-time job.  The sheer amount of time added to a schedule on top of normal life is astonishing – food and meal prep takes at least five hours per week (if you’re quick about it), at least an hour of cardio per day, at least a half hour of lifting per day, about seven hours of posing practice per week…these are all conservative time measures and irrespective of the astronomical costs of competing.  In short, a conservative prep is taking an additional twenty-five hours per week away from your husband and family.  And how is your attitude when you’re hungry?  Because hunger does not mesh well with my personality.  Dieting takes the wind out of my sails too, how are your energy levels during prep? This might be a difficult question, but do you have a sex drive when you’re depleting? I most certainly do not and I’ll be VERY impressed if you do.  Do you see where I’m heading with this?  This poor guy has about sixteen weeks of a moody wife, hostile takeover of his refrigerator; hidden sweets around the house like he’s an alcoholic, excessive babysitting hours, no sex and more chores in his home than he ever wanted.  That man deserves a medal.

The moral of this story is that you need to appreciate multiple perspectives to have the appropriate expectation of your husband.  Over your years of competing he has sacrificed just as much as you have for you to get on the stage.  He takes on more reasonability than he ever wanted, he accepts that he gets less time with you, he deals with the mood swings you have hourly and he is even front and center on show day (with his sour puss) when he hates every second of it.  Expectations should be met through actions and not from words.  And darling, your husbands has exceeded them.  Cut him some slack, he has shown you that he supports you even though he dislikes the whole idea of bodybuilding.  Show him your gratitude for what he does and his ‘sour puss’ might disappear.  A man that is willing to go through prep and show day for you is, for sure, a deserving recipient of a ‘Thank You.’

Think Dr. RBB is wrong? Please by all means, comment! Responses will be given with each question.

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