Okay, okay… I’m sure you’re all getting tired of my fitness posts by now and I promise they are almost done… I’ll probably write one more next week to close out my 6 week challenge once it’s over and leave it at that, but today I had a few thoughts I believe are worth sharing here.
So have you ever noticed how when you make a major life change, you always seem to lose people in the process? When I got into a serious relationship with my husband, I lost a few “guy friends” who were clearly not “friends”, but opportunists waiting in the wings for the open opportunity to slide in. (Dane Cook did a sketch about this very thing and it was awesome. If you can find it, watch it- it’s hilarious and TRUE on every point)
Then, when I got engaged, the rest of the stragglers that hung around hoping it wouldn’t work out stopped talking to me. After that, I got married and suddenly, my single girlfriends distanced themselves, as did most of the rest of my single, guy friends, however more of my male friends who were also married, came back into my life.
Of course, when I had children, most of my single friends, married or not, distanced themselves. Some, the close ones anyway, did it pretty subconsciously and very slowly over the course of the last four years. It started with not being invited to certain gatherings, or being invited, but being told, “I know you probably can’t come, but there’s a BBQ tomorrow night” like some sort of afterthought that clearly says, “I don’t want to feel guilty for not telling you about it, so I am telling you but not exactly inviting you”. Then, invites like, “if you can get away for a few hours, I’d love to see you” which translates to, “I don’t want to see your children, so don’t bother unless you can dump them off with someone else” started coming in until people just started telling me outright, “no small children please”, showing me that I was literally not welcome if I had my children present. (This is super fun, by the way, especially when you know other people who have children the same age are NOT given the same direction for the very same gathering)
So, all of this is leading up to the reality that is the exclusionary behavior that comes when things change and how I discovered another area that dropped a few friends off my “close buddy” list.
Fitness. Better health. A consistent positive attitude. All of this is just too hard for some people to handle. Negative people who don’t want to support you because what you are doing makes them feel bad about themselves, cannot stand to watch you consistently stay focused on a fitness/health goal. It literally makes them angry. Angry and even sad, because you are doing something for yourself that they cannot fathom doing for themselves and to them, you’re flaunting your ability to be more focused than they want to be. You’re waving your resolve in front of them, making them feel guilty 24/7.
When I started this challenge, I was warned. He said, “You may lose friends over this- people who don’t want you to succeed” and each person who had entered the challenge talked about “the haters” who refused to support them. I thought that was a little dramatic, but turns out he was right. See, part of the challenge is to check in on Facebook every day and tag the manager of the Camp in your post. It’s part of the process and was something they told me to do every day. So I did.
Then it started… not directly on facebook, but in side comments in random conversation like, “so, I see those posts… you’re sure going a lot, aren’t you?” With an attitude of “snarky cynicism”. Another one I got was, “so how’s that going? You’re sure “excited” about it what with all your posting online, it must be going well.” Another snarky, sarcastic comment with a backhanded tone of voice. It keeps happening in small ways over and over and it ranges anywhere from disbelief that I can accomplish this goal and trying to help me “prepare for the reality that I won’t reach the goal” to “I’m just not like you, I can’t do that” after I encourage friends to join me. On the other side of things, the amount of “OMG you look SO GOOD” and the “WOW you look so much BETTER! This is really paying off!!” made me think… wow, so then, all that time before when you said I looked fine, you were just lying? Hmm… I also keep getting the, “you really think you can do this? Is it safe? What kind of exercise are you doing? You’re not pushing yourself too much are you? This diet sounds hard, dangerous even, are you sure this is a good idea?” UGGGHHHH… I’m so tired of people underestimating me. I’ve dealt with it my whole life, you would think I was used to it by now, but it still gets to me.
The last straw happened this week and proved to me that it’s time for some more weed cutting in the friend department. I won’t got into the gory details, but lets just say I’m done playing the nice guy role for people who refuse to better themselves and look down on me for making my health a priority.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m cool with people and their limitations. Everyone has them, I don’t judge. I have plenty myself, trust me. But I’m not one for allowing my limitations to bar me from opportunities and I don’t bind others to their limitations just to make me feel better about mine. I want to see if I can do something, THEN find out if it’s a real limitation or something I’m just making up to keep myself from having to do it. I don’t like when fear dictates my choices and if I’m deliberately NOT doing something active because I’m afraid it will hurt me, I would rather do it, find out and then decide based on the results. In fact, when I am presented with a “you can’t possibly do this” attitude from ANYone in my life, my first reaction is to walk right out there and prove them wrong.
I have way too many people in my life who are just the opposite, even though I have never been able to relate to or understand that mentality. They want to stay inside and believe something is too hard so they never have to bother trying and when others do those things, they think, “wow that’s crazy” or even look down on them, making lame assumptions about how they are only doing that thing to prove something. (Because apparently, it’s not possible to just want to be healthy and fit and look great for it’s own reward) When I was super lazy, going through a depression and never did anything, all of those people kept telling me I was doing everything right, it wasn’t my fault, it was okay to not be active, it was okay that I sat at home with the kids all day and didn’t feel like doing anything and it didn’t really matter anyway because I “looked good”. Now that I’m not like that, they all seem to be up in arms, either worried for my “safety” or just not talking to me anymore. Strange, right? Well, not really… misery loves company and when you’re not miserable anymore, those who still are, get bitter because they no longer have a bitching buddy.
It’s interesting how it can start with a relationship, a marriage, children then self-care and each of these amazing, powerful and life changing events are ones you WANT to have good friends share with you. Interesting because those are the moments when we end up losing people… not through any fault of our own, but because their limitations can’t allow them to be happy and supportive. Those moments hold up a mirror to their stagnation, fear and rejection of action in their own lives.
I went into this challenge with only a hint of understanding of what I was in for. They told me to trust them, to commit fully and to allow it to work. So, I did. I had EXACTLY 20 pounds to lose before getting back to my optimum weight for my height. I thought it was impossible, but I signed up anyway. I’m still too far away from the goal right now to know if I’m actually going to reach it, but I’m doing all I can to get there and won’t let anything get in the way.
I have found a new resolve through this program that transcends the challenge and has filtered into every aspect of my life and has made me realize that while I’ve been speaking about the importance of standing your ground with decisions for your children that you know are right, when it comes to my own, personal health and wellness and the choices I make for MY OWN benefit… I allow much too much interference from those around me. I’m not going to give up what I know the right thing to do is for my family, NOR my own good health just to satisfy someone else’s limitations and that’s just the bottom line.
The people around me… they don’t have to come with me and I will never think less of them if they don’t, but if I see they are going to try and hold me back or make me feel guilty, or be outright unsupportive, I think for the first time in my life, I won’t have a single problem saying something, standing my ground and even cutting them from my life if I have to.
My new resolve feels strange. Like opening a hope chest I sealed nearly 14 years ago, full of all my favorite things that I’d put away when I left that part of me behind, the part of me that was committed to personal, physical excellence.
I won’t be made to feel bad or guilty or afraid about doing what I need to, to take care of myself NOR my family and I am done feeling like I have to justify my good habits to those who chose a different path.
Long before I had children, I knew one of the lessons I wanted to teach them was to stand confidently against bullies, against negative people who would tear them down, to boldly continue their work even when people laugh at their creativity and learn to cut ties with anyone who would try to keep them tethered to mediocrity. What I am doing now, is the best way I know how to teach that. Through my example, they will learn that anything is possible. As long as I keep fighting, keep proving the “them” wrong… I am showing my children that it can be done.
If that’s not the most excellent motivation to keep going, I truly don’t know what would be!
I hope each of you reading this can think of those activities in your life that you let go, that you allowed excuses to take over and those things that made you who you are to fall away under the weight of too much to do, no time, no energy, no money, no options… and strike up a new flame of passion, put them at a level of priority to get them done with the courage and WILL to go back to them and pursue them with all you have. By embracing the limitations you’ve given yourself and empowering yourself to overcome them, you are teaching your children to do the very same in their own lives.
Never give up, never give in and always, always keep moving forward. Or, in the famous words of Dorie;