Like a lot of other people, I joined a new gym this month. It’s been rather interesting. Let me assure you, dear reader, that this gym is awesome. It has every kind of equipment I’ve ever seen, awesome classes that I can’t get enough of, it’s clean, and every staffer I’ve met has been quite pleasant.
If I weren’t this far along in my fitness journey, I’d have stopped going already. Not from lack of motivation, but from the sheer intensity of unpleasantness from anyone special enough to have been a member of this gym before January. I’ve been there 3x/week minimum since I started, and only one of those nights did I manage not to hear some sort of unpleasant comment about the January influx of new gym goers.
I don’t like to rant on my blog. I don’t presume my opinions are better than yours. But if you are someone like this, please, knock it off already. If you have never struggled with being overweight, insecure, or unfit, I can only assume you’re unaware of the amount of nerve some of us have had to work out to even walk into a gym. I’ve cried in cars outside gyms after workouts, before workouts, and sometimes even just in the parking lot, fully dressed for the gym before driving away without managing to work up the gall to walk into the door. I’m not even dealing with major limitations or a 100+lb weight loss goal. I can’t imagine the struggle for others.
I also don’t like to judge. I prefer to give you the benefit of the doubt. I prefer to think that you’ve never considered how a casual comment you make can so profoundly affect someone else. I like to think that you would feel really bad if you learned that your joke about the January crowd was the jenga piece that made the whole tower of motivation fall for someone.
Maybe by this point you think I’m a fat crybaby wimp sticking up for other dumpy lame crybabies who are just looking for excuses to not “get over it”, and move their asses already. Maybe you think if I was serious, I wouldn’t let those kinds of comments bother me. You could be right. I don’t have any particular proof that it’s better to encourage a stranger than to roll your eyes and anxiously await the day they fail so you can have your gym back.
What I AM sure of, though, is that my mother taught me the most important lesson I’ve ever learned, and it is this: Your life is made up of a series of choices. Some are good, some are bad, and some are that puzzling shade of grey. Any way you choose, you live with the consequences. Those consequences, all piled up and twisted together for you to examine when you can’t sleep–that’s your life. My mom is a smart lady.
You’re free to feel any way you want about a person’s size, looks, or life choices. You’re free to express that opinion any time you want. Freedom of speech, though, isn’t freedom from consequences. When you choose to make a fat joke, a snarky judgement about how people should live, what they wear, or any old thing people judge each other for, you’re accepting the consequences for that, whatever they may be.
I’m not perfect. I say mean things sometimes. The consequence for me is playing those moments of meanness over in my head at 2am sometimes, and thinking about how to be a nicer person. I’ve learned, in my own life, that making the choice to be kind, even if it means I keep a strong opinion or two to myself, has never ever resulted in a sleepless night or the guilty ache of regret.
January is the month of resolutions. I very truly hope all of you who resolved to make 2014 the year you get fit keep at it, don’t get discouraged, and reach every goal you set despite any obstacle. It’s also not too late for any of us to resolve to make this year the year we think a little more before we speak, and consider helping a stranger before tearing them down. Every moment of our lives is an opportunity to make a better choice.