For years my mother used to embarrass me in front of my friends’ parents telling them how hard it was to buy me pants. She always admitted that finding the “husky” size designation at Sears was one of the best things that happened when it came to buying me jeans every summer before school year started. I was kind of a thick kid growing up. Not really “fat” by most standards, but short and stocky and buying clothes that fit was a challenge. My mom was also an amazing southern cook. Big breakfasts (the most important meal of the day!), sack lunches the other kids envied and family dinners where extra helpings were always an option was the lifestyle we lived. We were also expected to finish everything on our plates. She also liked to dress my brother and I alike even though we were three years apart. But, I guess that leads to a whole other set of issues I’ll have to figure out how to address somewhere else. Despite being “husky,” I was never bullied or teased. I was a pretty normal kid, comparatively.
When I met and married my amazing wife, we discovered that she is also an amazing cook. But, she was always a “better” eater than me. She turned her nose up at McDonald’s cheeseburgers I craved in favor of salads and grilled chicken sandwiches. But, she cooked what I liked and we compromised some when it came to dinners at home. At restaurants, though, the waiters could always tell which meal was mine and which one was hers. (The fatty MUST have ordered the burger, fries and soda…and the pretty, petite girl got the salad and water.) They rarely had to ask whose was whose.
Eventually, her habits and lifestyle became part of my wakeup call. Making conscious choices about what I ate and how that impacted my daily life became second nature after seeing my wife put it into practice for years. This may sound weird, but I think it was her constant, silent judgment that finally got to me. There really was no judgment. Not out loud, anyway. But, when you eat meals together for ten years and one of you is skinny and the other one keeps getting larger, after a while you have to wonder if the skinny person might just be judging the fat person for what they decide to put in their mouth. I used to think that the love of my life would never judge me. Until I lost my weight and she admitted she was on the verge of telling me I needed to a get a “man-sier.” I guess I’m glad she waited till after I was skinny to tell me that. But, it did make me realize that the judgment definitely exists. But, in America, we accept people for who they are. And, its not really polite to go around telling people they’re fat. Especially if you love them.
But, I know the judgment exists, because I’m guilty of reverse-judgmentalism. OK, I just made that up, but I’ making a point. When I was wrong about my own lifestyle, and refused to acknowledge that maybe I could stand a little change, I would make fun of the health nuts. The gym rats. The muscle-heads. Those crazy people that made green smoothies and snacked on protein bars and kale chips. They were the “deep-enders” in my book. And, I was normal. I think we all approach other people and their differences as if we’re the normal ones. I guess that’s our nature. But, now I have perspective. And I’ve noticed some interesting things. I’ve noticed the impact that living differently can have on others…without even saying anything.
People make fun of CrossFitters because they swear all we ever talk about is CrossFit. There’s a lot of truth in that. But, when the new-ness of my CrossFit lifestyle wore off and I stopped talking about it (as much) something interesting started happening. Some people actually wanted to hear my “fitness secrets” anyway. Even though I wasn’t talking about it. Don’t get me wrong, some people will never want to hear me talk about it…but I’m not talking about them today.
One day, I was eating lunch at my desk and a new coworker walked by and just said “shut up, I don’t want to hear it!” She laughed as she said it, but I was curious. Turns out she noticed that as I was eating a huge salad, she had walked in with fast food and a soda. No biggie. I didn’t care. But I thought it was interesting that she did. Other coworkers would stop by and tell me about how they’d started running again. Or, they’d want pointers on their weight-lifting technique. I even had several folks come in and shut the door to ask me questions about diet and confess they’d been trying to lose weight for years. They surmised that since I was in shape, I must have some secrets to tell.
Turns out fitness is contagious. And, I guess I can say I caught it from my wife, who always urged me to eat a little better.(While silently judging me?) And, it’s cool to see it spread to others one little step at a time. But contrary to popular belief, I am not really judging you. I know better than most that you have to come to fitness on your own terms. You have to want it for yourself, more than your spouse may want it for you. You have to want it more than how good you think it feels to have a burger, fries and a soda at most meals. But, I suppose it does help to have important people in your life who want it for you.
So, now when I’m sitting at a restaurant eating my salad and I look across the room to see an overweight husband with his petite wife…no, I’m not judging him. Not really. Not like I used to judge the fit crowd. There is nothing about being in shape that makes people better than those who aren’t. But, I sincerely hope someone close to him is being just a little “judge-y.” And, I really do hope he wants it. If not now, then later, on his own terms. And, I can’t wait to hear how much better he feels when he finally figures it out.