• What people think about when they're exercising

    Mario is probably not consumed with unkind judgements of others right now...

    Some years ago, when I was fat, depressed and deconditioned, I decided to take up running. I don't remember details, but I am sure I got myself a little outfit. (This was pre-Lulu, so probably nothing fabulous.)

    What I do remember is being slow. Everyone out there ran faster than me. (Of course, I was only looking ahead; I never turned around to see anyone behind me.) But even the walkers walked faster than I was running. In fact, even I walked faster than I ran.

    And I remember my "running" getting easier, but it never really became fun. It was always a run full of shame, a gauntlet of humiliation and embarrassment and rubbing thighs and self-loathing, imagining what all these fit people were thinking of my efforts:

    • what a spectacle
    • why even bother?
    • never gonna get there
    • blah blah blah

    I thought of this time when I was joined recently in my empty stadium by two overweight people, who I was glad to see. Company! I greeted them cheerfully, and they did not respond. 

    I was fixing to take it personally when I wondered if they might be feeling like I used to. Imaging that people like me (ha! good one) were judging them.

    And those runners I used to fear were judging me? Now I understand that they were probably thinking things more like "breathe breathe breathe ok almost there breathe God help me out here.

    If they registered Slow Me at all, I know now it was not with ridicule in mind. I know from the other side how much I admire unfit people who are willing to get out there. I know how much physical and mental discomfort you have to overcome to do it. The fear of being laughed at for being fat. The fear of doing something clumsy because of your size, and having it be observed. The sheer pain of starting up when you're out of shape. 

    Obviously, I have nothing but respect. 

    So if you want to start training, please don't let your projections of what other athletes think of you get in your way. If they can think about you at all, they are totally cheering you on.

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    Photo Credit: david_a_l via Compfight cc

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