I stopped at my local organic grocery store on my way home from work. It is located on a fairly busy road that cuts through town. As I am waiting for traffic to clear, I notice a woman jogging. She is not a small girl. She is definitely bigger than I am now, and probably bigger than I was when before I started losing. I can tell because she is wearing the tight spandex running gear. And my first thought when I see her is an enthusiastic “You GO girl!!”
But then I felt a little conflicted. I took a moment and checked in with myself on why, exactly, I was cheering her on. Was it because I thought she needed to lose weight? Was I being judgmental? I’ve been a plus size all my life, who am I to judge how someone chooses to live their life?
I thought about how I felt when I saw her and I realized that wasn’t it though. Now that I am newly learning to run, I notice runners all the time. This gal looked like she knew what she was doing, and not only that, she was out there doing it on this busy street. My feelings were nothing but admiration – she had a lot more guts than I ever had, and my mental shout out was just in pure appreciation.
Why does it matter what I think in the quiet and solitude of my own head? Because attitudes matter. We’ve all met those people who have recently stopped smoking or drinking and now feel it necessary to tell everyone else they are doing it wrong. Those sanctimonious know-it-alls that have found something that is working for them and now feel they need to tell the world – whether or not the world wants to hear it. I don’t even want to open the door to those kinds of attitudes.
I believe that people have a right to chose what is right for their own body. Just because I have lost weight, doesn’t mean I think it is right for everyone. There are so many issues around weight loss. Not just the physical act of losing weight, though there are tons of issues there too, but the emotional issues. None of us know what the other person is going through. I want to maintain my neutrality.
Of course, if someone asks, I am happy to share with them what works for me. But I am also trying to be cognizant of body language – stopping when I see the glazed eyes or the slumped shoulders of bordom. Yes, they just asked what I have been doing, but realizing when it was formulaic, a common verbal convention, like asking how long someone has had a pet or how old their child is. They don’t necessarily care, but it seems like the thing to do. Unlike pet ownership or child age, which are fairly cut and dried, this one has a lot of sensitivity built into it.
So yeah, I am keep a watchdog on my thoughts. There are enough trolls and negative Nellies out there, I don’t need to add my name to that list.
And for those of you on a path that feels right and is working for you, “You GO!”
EDIT: Just after I wrote this post, I saw a couple out running that solidified this for me. They were running with their dog, a miniature pincher who was going for all he was worth. He was also the only one that looked happy. The guy looked like he had run before, but not in a long time. He was wearing jeans, brown loafer style shoes and a couple of sweatshirts. His body language said “resigned but determined” to me. The gal, who was a larger gal, looked miserable. She was wearing old sneakers, sweats, a sweatshirt plus a winter jacket and two hats – a knit one tied over the top of a baseball hat. She was hunched over, shoulders pulled in tight, with her back arched in a question mark. My first though, “Oh goodness! I hope she doesn’t hurt herself!” My next thought was that she was going to overheat – it wasn’t that cold out. I wasn’t happy for her – I was scared for her. It clicked for me then – I love seeing people joyously getting healthy, I fear for those who are pushing themselves to do something they hate.
Photo credit: fireflythegreat