May 152012
 

Something happened at the gym recently that saddened and angered me. Let me paint the picture for you. I was working in the free weight section doing my routine and saw an overweight guy with a personal trainer. I overheard bits and pieces and it was apparently his first session. I smiled at him to be encouraging as he struggled to do a plank.

Later, I was doing my stretches on the mat and the same trainer was talking to his next client but what he was saying stopped me in my tracks. The trainer was making fun of Client #1 to Client #2. He was laughing at how the client couldn’t do a plank.

My workout was done and so I left. But as I was walking to my car, I was kicking myself for not saying something. In my mind I practiced what I SHOULD have said to the trainer, calling him out on talking smack about someone who was DOING HIS BEST.

Why do I bring this up? Because it really bothered me. You may wonder why I care. Well, I was that guy once upon a time. I was morbidly obese and totally terrified of people at the gym or pool making fun of me. I had to get my 250+ pound body in a swimsuit and walk to the pool with my thighs rubbing together, feeling self-conscious about my body, thinking that everyone in the pool was laughing at the “fat girl.”

You know what helped me? Encouragement from people. My friends and family were all supportive. My neighbor and close friend Star was enthusiastic about my progress. I also made a friend at the community center’s gym. Christian, a personal trainer there, was a true cheerleader.

Maybe I was spoiled. Christian was such an awesome trainer that I’ve compared all others to him and they have fallen short. But truly, I think he was great. For example, I worked out a few days a week in that tiny gym and every time I was there, Christian had a kind word to say. “Good job, Lisa” and “I’m seeing progress” and “Keep at it!” They may not be anything special, but that encouragement made me feel good about myself and good about what I was doing. It kept me going. It made me work harder when the scale got stuck. And you know what? I wasn’t even using Christian’s personal training services. It was over a year before I finally paid for 3 sessions with him.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad personal trainers out there. Be picky, ask questions, and if you don’t like the trainer find a new one.

Don’t ever let someone diminish your efforts. There are haters out there everywhere that are just waiting to tear you down. It could be a so-called friend, a jealous coworker, a family member; it could be an internet bully, or a complete stranger. (The event made me think of a post a blogger wrote, When People Say Mean Things.)

Discrimination against overweight people is nothing new. But it still hurts. And I may be 100 pounds lighter, but I still have the wounds of hurtful words and embarrassing memories somewhere in me.

It doesn’t matter if you have 100 pounds to lose or 10, if you are working towards your goal you should be proud of yourself and your efforts and never, ever let some jerk discourage you from trying!

QUESTION: How do you deal with the haters, the bullies, the Negative Nancys?

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Mar 272012
 
holding-doors-open

When I was 250+ pounds I felt invisible most of the time. There were a lot of social situations where I felt like I blended into the wallpaper compared to the “skinny” girls–and even most of my friends. They got all the attention and I felt left out.

One of my big pet peeves as an obese girl was the open discrimination I felt. There were a lot of things that happened in the 10 years that I was obese that made me feel less than, not good enough, because of how much I weighed. A lot of those things were open and harsh. Other discriminating events were quieter.

One of those types of things that made me really angry and made me feel bad about myself was how no one ever EVER ever held the door open for me when I was fat. Ever. I’m not exaggerating when I say ever.

It was always awkward and I’d feel resentful and irritated when people were rude to me like that. Just because of how much I weighed. One of the most vivid memories I have of this discrimination was at a job I had where I had to push around a bunch of files and papers from the mailroom up to the floor I worked on in one of these mail carts:

It was a huge pain and near impossible to steer. In the two years that I had that job, no one in the building ever opened a door or held it open for me when I pushed this cart. I would struggle to steer it, struggle to open a door and hold it open to get the cart through. It was an ordeal and day in and day out I struggled with no help.

Did that change when I lost the weight? Oh yeah. It changed big time. I was shocked when people–usually men–started opening doors for me. And not just holding the doors open for me to walk through behind them. No, I’m talking about the chivalrous men going out of their way to rush to open a door, hold it open, give me a smile and wait for me to walk through.

It’s the most bizarre thing! I remember when it first started happening –I weighed around 165 pounds  and it was the most shocking and encouraging thing. I felt so GOOD about myself. Like I’d been ushered into “That World.” Finally.

It happens all the time now. When I go to the gym, the door is held open (that could be because I’m walking very fast with determination and a vibe of “don’t get in between me and my workout!” ;) ). It happened the other day at the bank. A guy was coming through and I was going out and he made a big production about rushing to open the door for me. I was tickled and embarrassed at the same time.

If I’m being totally honest with myself, there is still a little part of me deep inside that feels angry when someone holds open a door for me now. It’s a small part and it’s buried somewhere I don’t acknowledge very often, but it’s there–it’s the old me that’s wondering “Would you hold open that door if I didn’t weigh 144 pounds right now?” I smile and say thank you, and try to ignore the little voice that wonders “Where were you 100 pounds ago?”

Could it be the weight loss? Could it be that I was dressing in a more attractive way because I had clothes available to me in a smaller size that were cute? Could it be that I was smiling and happier about life in general because I had accomplished something great? It could have been any of those reasons.

I don’t know why there was a switch in the universe and I was now deemed worthy of chivalry. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it a lot. That simple act goes a lot. It’s just nice to feel noticed and acknowledged.

QUESTION: Did you experience this? How did you feel?

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