My friend Greg once told me he likes to draw an imaginary circle around himself and every person with whom he has a relationship—his wife, kids, friends, co-workers (you get the idea). As often as he remembers, he takes a little inventory of his life to make sure he’s keeping all the right stuff inside each of those circles. He reminded me that everything we do within a given circle has the potential to strengthen the relationship therein. And sometimes when we leave things out of certain circles we ultimately make them weaker.
Thinking about all this made me realize how important health and fitness are to my overall wellbeing, not just my physical health. How they’ve helped me establish and deepen a number of relationships in my life. When my husband and I met, we shared a passion for the outdoors and a passion for running; and each year our marriage grows through some shared physical activity including these things (i.e., running the Grand Canyon, sailing trips, camping).
Many of my closest friends are also running partners, riding buddies or fellow gym rats. Those that don’t share my passion at least appear enthusiastic about my goals and accomplishments. And it’s okay if they’re just faking interest, to share a circle with me means to share my interests no matter what. And I share the things that make them tick, too (even when I don’t find them interesting).
I’ve had a couple of friendships that haven’t fared so well over the years; there have been times I’ve let fitness get in the way of a relationship by simply not sharing it with someone else. Greg got me thinking that maybe I can use my passion for fitness as a means to rekindle those old friendships, repair relationships that might need tending to or strengthen an already strong bond with a loved one. It even works with people who don’t quite “get it,” who don’t understand that it’s fun to work up a good stinky, sweat.
I can keep circles intact by sharing what it feels like to be me, and that doesn’t necessarily mean running a marathon (though it’s always nice to have some company). There are plenty of other options—a short walk with an aging parent, a leisurely bike ride with my kids, a lake swim with a friend who usually hits the beach for a tan. If fitness is a big part of your life, find some way to share it with those people who are most important to you. Let it bring you together instead of tear you apart.
We all know that good relationships can be the best, most challenging endurance events out there. And as a mom, having a good support network is a sanity saver. So when you think the finish line is in sight, loop back and keep going. Sometimes running (or walking, biking, swimming, etc.) in circles can be a very good thing.
An active lifestyle keeps me physically and mentally fit, better able to handle the demands of motherhood. How about you? Does fitness keep you strong in more ways than one?