There was a long post on the Facebook about a year ago that that has been resonating with me for a while. Not necessarily about the post itself, but the context of the original subject. The originator spurred great debate by bring up the “Fit Mom” discussion that has been running rampant. I am not going to go into detail about this issue here, because to be frank I got sick of hearing about it. I have come to the conclusion that what started out as a motivational ploy has turned into some serious hate speech back and forth between the “Thin’s” and the “Heavy’s”, to the point that, much like Conservatives vs. Democrats, the net net is that they are all idiots.
And, NO, I am not calling you an idiot.
Anyway, after all that mess some good can come from it if you’re willing to look at yourself and how you think. I have a bad habit of that, to a fault sometimes. Andrew and I have spoken a few times about it on the podcast, so I do find it interesting that, as a fat guy, what my own views are toward other fat people. You would THINK that I would have sympathy, and or empathy for them, but more often than not I find that I look at others with the same disdain that the thin people do. It’s an interesting conundrum isn’t it? My biggest issue with that Facebook thread was people (well, not “people”, just three people) judging the Curvy Girl based on how she looked. One comment was “if she only tried harder she’d be happier”. My question was, how can you tell how hard a person tries by looking at a picture?? You can’t. There are many people walking around that appear thin and in shape that never work out or eat healthy, and likewise there are people walking around that are overweight that eat healthy and work their asses off (me being one of them). This is the “Jillian Michael’s” thought process in action. If you eat healthy and exercise daily you will not be overweight.
And that is just not true …
So, when you see the fit mom sitting next to the curvy girl, the immediate reaction is that one doesn’t try as hard as the other, and you cannot make that conclusion based on that alone. Case in point, one of my bad habits during a race is staring down the field before the swim start. You know what I mean don’t you, looking to your left and right and determining who you should be able to beat?
That guy is built, so he’s going to beat me easy, but THAT guy is heavier than I am so I should be able to beat them …
And how many times does that work out??
Not many …
I remember a Crystal River Sprint in my first season. There was one guy I saw quite a lot at my gym swimming. Nice guy. Huge gut, even bigger than mine at the time, so as we big guys tend to do, we started talking about trials and tribulations over “training heavy”. “This was a guy I should be able to beat”, I kept thinking. “At least I can beat ONE person.” Then on race day he blew by me like I was standing still. I did better than he did on the swim, but his bike was over 18 mph and his run pace was 9:30.
So much for appearances right?
So the bottom line is that I am just as guilty as others when it comes to judging by appearances. When training in Clermont to get hill work in I routinely get passed on climbs by people that I know I train more than. Even my partner Jennifer, whose career takes precedence over training during the week, beats me with ease when we train together on the weekends. If appearances and effort was the deciding factor I should beat most of the people I train with or communicate with, so it is proof that we cannot judge by that alone.The reaction of a few people to the Fit Mom vs. Curvy Girl television appearance was right along those lines; assuming that because Curvy Girl was heavy that she didn’t put in the effort, or enough effort, to be like Fit Mom. To be honest, they were both overly judgmental of each other, so there is no right/wrong in that argument, except for the fact that you cannot judge by appearance alone. Let’s say, for example, you saw a picture of me next to Ben Greenfield. The assumption, using this paradigm, would be that Ben worked out all the time (which he does) and I didn’t work out at all (which is not true). The mere fact that I am overweight is not indicative of my effort or ability, it’s only indicative of the fact that I have issues other than what appears to be the issue.
Clear as mud.
What makes me look at others that might be in the same boat I am in with initial negativity? I am just as guilty as others in this regard. This is something I need to really look at closely and grow from. It’s probably the fact that in them I see myself; as I was and as I am. When I started eating in a new way and getting results I was guilty of fat shaming myself … looking at others and trying to get them to acknowledge their bad habits and change. I have since altered my ways thanks to others helping me see myself as the person I was being. The bottom line was that I was truly concerned about them and was trying to help, so that’s where my intentions are different than some of the others sending out these messages of loathing.
In the string another person was quite vocal about the fact that obese people “Are Not Healthy and Are Not Sexy”. The first part I can agree with, because obese people are not healthy as a whole. Yes, as an obese person I can and have finished 70.3 mile triathlons, but I cannot, and do not, consider myself healthy. I am healthier, but not healthy. Where this person (let’s call him Brandon … ‘cuz that was his name) oversteps is declaring that no obese person is sexy. This is where the line is crossed from being concerned to just being hateful. “Sexy”, and “Beauty”, is a subjective thing; what I find sexy is not what someone else may agree with, and neither of us is wrong, so to declare that ANYONE who is OVERWEIGHT is NOT sexy is a stupid statement (yes … I used the word “stupid”). It reminds me of the argument my friend Gary and I used to have when we were growing up. Although we were friends, we had very different tastes in women. He liked big boobs, I liked small. He like model types, I liked tomboy types. He was a Ginger guy … I was a Mary Ann guy. Neither of us is wrong, though he was more wrong than me. :-)Listen, the bottom line is that “fat shaming” does not work and more often than not has the reverse effect. Personally, someone calling me fat or telling me I am unhealthy is not going to be any worse than what I tell myself each morning when I look in the mirror. As I got fatter and fatter it wasn’t until I looked at myself on May 10, 2010 and was finally disgusted to the point of making a change that mattered. We are our harshest critics and always will be.
In the end, I’ve come a to a point where I know what I do, what my faults are, and where I need to get better … I am fine with myself. If you (the royal you) have a problem with me or how I look, well, I can’t help you. At the age of 51 I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, and I certainly don’t answer to anyone but myself.