True love is eating a clandestine stash of cashews late at night so your partner isn’t tempted to break her diet.
It’s not exactly something Hallmark would put on one of its greeting cards, but for Huntersville resident Randy London, that’s exactly how he shows girlfriend Amelia Speaks he loves her.
Speaks is a professional bodybuilder who must follow strict dietary and fitness standards year round. London frequently works out with her – not only to meet his own fitness goals but also to encourage her through the more trying months of her training.
Despite their different motivations for entering the gym, the couple is commited to helping each other attain their fitness goals, no matter what, says London.
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It’s the kind of supportive relationship Speaks longed for in her early days as a professional bodybuilder. Her love and devotion to the sport hasn’t always been understood by significant others.
“It was hard to find someone who understood that lifestyle,” says Speaks, who works as a commercial real estate analyst. “This is definitely a selfish lifestyle. It consumes your life and you have to be mentally ready for that.”
For several months out of the year, the 30-year-old Huntersville resident is in virtual isolation – no staying up late or hanging out with friends at bars for her.
Instead, the majority of Speaks’ spare time is either in the gym working out or in the kitchen preparing one of her seven strictly regulated meals a day.
Overweight as an adolescent, Speaks started doing cardio and lifting weights in college to slim down. Eventually, one of her friends suggested she pursue a bodybuilding career. Speaks says she found her passion when she began competing in 2004 and she recently won the 2010 N.C. State Overall Figure Champion title.
But London, an assistant meat manager at a local grocery store, doesn’t seem to mind Speaks’ strict diet or many hours spent in the gym. In fact, you can usually find the 45-year-old right there next to Amelia to help her – whether it’s to cut up slabs of meat for meals or to help her bench press at Elite Fitness, the gym they go to daily in Huntersville.
Given the circumstances under which the two met, it’s rather fitting that fitness plays such a big role in their relationship. The two first struck up a conversation together near a weight machine at another Huntersville gym in 2005.
“I was getting ready for a competition,” says Speaks. “You tend to isolate yourself a lot. I was looking to make friends with people who would be more understanding of my lifestyle.”
London knew what it was like to be married to the gym. When he graduated from high school and team sports came to an end, he felt a void in his life. He turned to weight lifting for the cathartic relief he’d felt before.
“It’s some sort of therapy for me. It’s the one thing I can do to get away from everything,” he says. “Once I got over the age of 35, it became even more important to stay in shape.”
A few days later, Speaks and London went bowling with a mutual friend from the gym. The pair began to regularly work out together and, over time, their friendship developed into a romance.
Five years later, fitness is still a major unifying force in their relationship. London frequently trims steaks and turkeys for Speaks when she’s trying to bulk up for competition. He’ll also do what he can to help her attain her fitness goals, even if it means keeping his guilty pleasure – peanut butter – out of the house so that she’s not tempted to break her diet.
“He doesn’t have the same level of cravings that I have,” she says.
Speaks’s bodybuilding schedule isn’t always easy on their relationship. Her eating, sleeping and workout schedules are vastly different throughout the year depending on where she is in her training.
In the fall, Speaks is focusing on building muscles and therefore eating a lot of fruits and carbohydrates. But by the New Year, she’s spending more time in the gym and working on leaning down by eating a heavily restricted diet of protein and slow digestive carbohydrates like brown rice and oatmeal. Speaks also gets on a more regimented eating schedule of five to seven meals a day, which she must prepare at specific times.
This year is particularly important for Speaks. Not only does she have to defend her state title, but she’s moving to the national arena to compete.
And the closer Speaks gets to a competition in the spring, the less free time she has to spend with London.
“There are times that it’s tough for her and she wishes she could go out with everyone else,” says London. To help her, London gives her verbal encouragement every step of the way. He also helps her indulge in one “cheat meal” each week, which they plan and cook together. Speaks says that meal is often a highlight in her week.
Erin Beller, a mutual friend of the couple, says that while the disciplined lifestyle of a bodybuilder might tear some couples apart, it’s made them a better couple.
“It takes a strong personality type to be with a female that competes because all eyes are on you all the time,” she says.“But Randy loves fitness too so he’s been a good support system for her.”
No matter if couples are trying to lose five pounds together or become professional bodybuilders, Speaks and London say it’s important to be communicative with and supportive of each other. If you are, say Speaks and London, you stand to get much closer as a couple.
“We tend to play off of each other’s motivation,” says London. “There are times when it’s tough but for the most part, training together has made us a stronger couple.”
Tips for couples who work out together Couples should be committed to achieving a similar level of fitness. Communication is key. Discuss any dietary restrictions with each other so you can hold each other accountable. Have a third party that you can go to for an outside opinion on your fitness progression so it doesn’t put extra strain on the relationship. Offer verbal encouragement. Be patient with each your partner.
For anyone who wants to get in shape Set dietary goals and stick with them. Plan a cheat meal once a week to reward yourself for the rest of the week. Don’t be consumed by the scale – it’s just a number. Follow your exercise regimen and switch it up every few weeks to keep it interesting. Start slowly. If you’re trying to lose weight, cut out one unhealthy thing from your diet at a time, whether it’s sodas, candy, etc. Drink plenty of water. Clean up your diet. Cut out excess sugar and sodium. See a nutritionist for specifics on your diet. Eat more meats and protein. Try to cut out processed food from your diet. Eat more meals and smaller meals. Attaining a healthy weight is about both diet and exercise. Visit fitness websites such as www.musculardevelopment.com and www.rxmuscle.com.