I’m a big dude. Always have been. Some call it thick, others big-boned, but I remember being embarrassed when my mom would take me downtown to shop for clothes. She would say it very loud, “Derek get over here. You know you need you need to be in the husky section!” My heart would sink, because I felt like now everyone in the store was now looking at me, the big guy. So I resented my weight, and I felt like everyone else did too. I can recall all my paranoid moments, when I felt like the whole world was looking at my waist size get bigger and bigger every year. I felt like people were condemning me, because I wasn’t the perfect size 32. So I found my comfort in the one thing that didn’t feel condemning: junk food.
Fast forward to about 30 years old, and my doctor tells me I have hypertension. He gave me meds to bring my numbers down, so I asked the common question; “how long do I have to take these?” His response was very cold: “For the rest of your life.”
I knew I needed to change my lifestyle, but I was afraid. Afraid that if people saw the big guy exercising, they would laugh. Afraid that if the big guy was seen struggling through a workout they would point fingers. So I hired a personal trainer. I was still mortified of what she might say, thinking of the harsh drill sergeant trainers I had seen on TV; but at least it would be just one person. But to my surprise she was very motivating and patient. She kept telling me to push myself and that I would be surprised at what my body could do. AND I WAS.
But when our time came to an end, and it came time to join a gym and do it on my own, I was again quite reluctant. Once again, I was afraid of what the gym rats would say about the big guy in the gym. I remember powering through a set on the bench press. There was not a lot of weight on the bar, but I was getting weak, but the guy spotting me, a complete stranger who was pushing twice as much as me a few minutes before, was saying “come on! Push push push! You can do it!” Even though I still couldn’t finish the set, even though I was dissatisfied with my performance, even though I was embarrassed in front of this guy; he still lifted his fist for a bump and said, “Man, good job. Way to power through!”
What I’ve discovered, is that while I was bracing myself for the barrage of judgment from the world, I, myself, was more judgmental than I thought. I assumed that my personal disdain, was felt by those around me as well. I gave no one a chance to be supportive. I gave no one an opportunity to be encouraging. I assumed that everyone was thinking what I was thinking, all the time, being more judgmental than them.
Let me encourage you. While there are terrible people in this world who will rain on your parade, and crush your dreams, there are dozens more who will encourage, motivate and inspire you to push through. There are plenty of people who want to see you reach your goals. There are people who think more of you than you do yourself. So hear them, trust them and lean on them. I’m still not the perfect size 32 (no where close), and I’m still sometimes my own worse enemy; but now I know, the world is waiting for me to win, not judging me like I thought. So get out your own head and make it happen!
(BTW – Even though I’m not a size 32, I HAVE lost enough weight to normalize my blood pressure without meds!)
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