Hobby vs. Lifestyle vs. Obsession: Towards a Model of Balance

I was reflecting today on how many different hobbies I've had over the years and how many have actually stuck. 

Triathlon is the only one that really has.

Maybe this is because triathlon teaches me something new about life every single day.

It seems that people move through levels of engagment with sports like triathlon. There are 3 distinct phases: hobby, lifestyle, and obsession.  All of us flirt with one of these 3 stages during our training.  We don't always go from one to another - we often hop back and forth.

When most people begin doing triathlons or marathons or cycling events, it is just a fun new hobby. It may or may not stick; they may or may not train consistently. My first two years of racing, the sports were absolutely just a hobby for me. The rest of my life continued and even took over much of the time. Training was not a priority.  I knew I needed to do it to PR, but that didn't push me too hard to do it.   If I missed a workout, I honestly didn't give a shit.

As the years wore on, I had a lot of tough stuff going on in my life, but I clung to training and racing like my life depended on it, even though I neglected some other priorites to do so.  I hadn't found a healthy balance; I didn't realize that sometimes you don't need to (or shouldn't even try to) train.  At this point, it was more like an obsession.

I realized when I was making my Christmas candy (and checking the scale to make sure my holiday transgressions and lighter workout schedule haven't sent it through the roof) that I have finally reached that glorious balance where my training and racing is my lifestyle.  Going back to traditions, and to the holidays (hell, it's that time of year), one of my traditions is going for a run or bike ride on holidays. Easter, Thanksgving, and Christmas are my 3 big fitness holidays - I will spend my time outside, thinking of what the holiday means to me, reflecting on how grateful and happy I am to be alive and active and healthy.  It is something I like doing.  It doesn't matter if I'm training for anything. 

The nice thing about this is, I never have to worry about "starting over" if something else in my life needs to take priority because I'm so consistent with my workouts that it never becomes a matter of "all or nothing."  I won't have a huge "ohmyGodIgainedtenpoundsovertheholidays" moment - but I also won't start eating cheeseburgers and sitting on the couch all day.  My sport is just something that keeps me happy and healthy.  And that's exactly why I will work to make sure I have the balance I need to keep my lifestyle from becoming just a hobby or an obession.

Enjoy your holiday week and wherever it takes you.

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