Don’t Be That Guy (Or Girl)

November 30, 2010

DISCLAIMER: I wanted to save this post until I reached my goal, and initially I envisioned it as a triumph story rather than what it ended up being, but after what I witnessed tonight I felt it was important to get out now.

I’m a huge advocate of the gym. I try to go as often as possible, fitting it in whenever my crazy schedule allows. A year ago I was extremely overweight, a result of gross negligence for personal health while dealing the crazy stress from school. Poor eating habits and excessive drinking led to me ballooning up from 200 lbs to 286(!) in about a 20 month span. After realizing how far things had spiraled out of control, I decided to try to regain control and get back to a respectable weight. It took a lot at first, because as much as I said that I wanted to do this, that motivation was not enough. I felt great trepidation at the idea of going to the gym. Not because I thought it would be tough, which it was, but because I was very embarrassed at the state of my body, so much so that I didn’t want to go to the ideal place to help me deal with the issue (the ultimate Catch-22). I thought I would be subjected to ridicule from the other patrons and would never hear the end of it. I credit my friends who went with me and my family who kept me motivated to help me get over these feelings and get me to go to the gym. Once those first 5-10 lbs came off and there was a noticeable difference, it filled me with the confidence to continue working on it, realize that the change CAN be made, and become at home in the gym, knowing I was working towards a great goal. Here I am, 11 months later, and I stand at 220, almost back to where I want to be.

Some Before/After pictures:

March 2008

December 2009

Tonight, 12/2/2010 (Sorry, BB camera sucks). At the gym, obviously.

Some people, however, don’t have a strong network to build their confidence and keep them motivated. And yet they still try to go to the gym. They realize the problems they have and want to do something about them. It’s sad to see, then, that more often than not, other people try to tear them down when they are only trying to better themselves. Case in point, what happened earlier tonight:

After finishing with my lifting, I went to the row of ellipticals (yeah I use an elliptical. Get over it) to do the cardio portion of my workout. there was only one available machine at the end, so I hopped on, programmed what I wanted to do, and set off. The two people next to me were obviously gym regulars, in good shape and working hard on the ellipticals.

Then, on the bike in front of us, was a short, stout girl. If I were to guess, I would put her in her early 20s, about 5’2″, probably about 225. She was working diligently on the bike, building up a good sweat, trying hard to burn the fat. It was clear that she was putting in a concentrated effort.

The people next to me were talking to each other but I didn’t really pay too much attention to the conversation they were having. After all, I had my music to keep me company. By chance, I happened to skip a song and I heard the one guy say to his friend, “Look, shes jiggling everywhere!” I look up and I see him pointing at the girl on the bike in front of us. His friend chimed in with “Haha her fat ass just needs to give up. She’s never gonna get in shape”. Immediately, the girl stopped pedaling, jumped off the bike, and made a mad dash to the locker room. I sat there dumbfounded, trying to process what I had just seen.

My heart broke for the girl. Here she was, trying HARD to get in shape, only to have two dumbasses ridicule her. As soon as I came to my senses, I immediately lashed out at the two douches next to me. “What the fuck is your problem?!? Why would you say some ignorant shit like that?” I went back to where to locker rooms were to see if maybe I could catch her walking out. I just wanted to comfort her and tell her not to let the comments of some idiots get to her. Unfortunately, after waiting around for 15 minutes, she never emerged. Hopefully someone sat her down and talked to her while she was in the locker room.

Being fat, especially in a society that glamorizes the skinny, often lends a frail sense of self-worth to an individual. Comments like the ones above can prove to be soul-crushing and make someone stop trying altogether. When it takes a little bit of time to see the fruits of your labor, one can easily be deterred by someone else’s remarks. I hope to see this girl at the gym again, but I fear the damage may have already been done.

The point in relaying this story, I guess, is to try and change the idea that the only people who deserve to be at the gym are the people who are already in shape. I wasn’t aware that fat people should be ready to be ridiculed when they enter an establishment who’s sole purpose is to help people be healthy. If people were less ignorant and more understanding maybe we’d see the obesity epidemic wane.

Next time you see an overweight person at the gym working hard, maybe shoot them a smile, or a word of encouragement. A little can go a long way. Just please, don’t be that guy.

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15 Responses to “Don’t Be That Guy (Or Girl)”

  1. Priya Samuel Says:

    Great post. My heart broke for that girl and I would’ve done the same thing you did. I hope most people would have done so as well. Very sad how ignorant today’s society still is. So many intellectually and artistically gifted people are restricted from pursuing dream careers because they’re not tall enough or skinny enough or pretty enough. Just sucks…I really hope that poor girl comes back to the gym. That…would be a truly triumphant.

  2. Ami Says:

    It really is sad when people are ridiculed for taking care of their health. I hope the girl has someone in her life she can talk to that will give her the confidence she needs to come back. Nevertheless, it was really nice of you to try to talk to her! Not many people would do that for a complete stranger.

  3. umberc Says:

    Apparently my comment didn’t post so here’s another try…just for u Norm ;)!

    Actions DO speak louder than words, hence, I applaud your efforts for not only being her champion, but also going after to see if she was okay. Simply, it takes guts to be a considerate human being. It’s such moment like these that make us realize how important motivation/support system is and how often it’s usually taken for granted. It builds our character and reinforces our faith within. Sincerely hope that girl finds the strength to be strong against future ignorant rubbish! #LifeLesson: If you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all!

  4. Radhika Says:

    definitely a really good and inspiring read. great job on standing up for the chick!

  5. Indiandiva Says:

    Great post. Inspiring. So sad how people these days still get made fun of for trying to do something positive.

  6. cheta Says:

    Stressors and other factors in our lives unfortunately manifest themselves physically and as you all know, our metabolism and body’s ability to process fats slows down as we get older. We have to push ourselves harder and often times, past our perceived limits (barriers), which is where we tend to give up because we don’t think we can make it through. Like Norm said, when there is an observable and measurable difference, we realize we can do it. Our bodies can handle more than we think it can. *high five* for your journey. keep it up – truly motivated after reading this.

  7. Justin Says:

    Good work sean kingston!

  8. ChaiChatter Says:

    Being an ex fatty (atleast it seemed that way to me) I can relate to the ridicule and snarkiness experienced by that person. The outward, physical beauty of the people that were making fun of her was completely masked by the ugliness of their attitude , comments and only showed the callousness of their heart. Great post!

  9. Nimz N Says:

    Truly inspiring. ope the girl comes back and doesn’t give up.
    In this day and age, ppl are constantly looking at the negative side of life and positivity has been lost. If we all take a step back and say something positive to our friends, strangers- even ourselves, the difference in the world would be great.

  10. phillygrrl Says:

    Exactly why I avoided the gym as an undergrad. Mad props for writing this post!

  11. karan Says:

    dudeeee amazing

  12. navSOneet Says:

    Wow, I can only imagine what that girl must have felt. People don’t realize sometimes the effect that their words have on others, especially those who may already have self-esteem problems. The people who ridiculed that girl probably had their own self-esteem issues to work through. I gained a good 20-25 pounds in the last few years and didn’t think much of it until people started pointing it out… Not to me of course. It was more like a game of telephone where one person saw me and called someone else and was like, “she got fat.” And that person called someone else who called someone else until it got back to me that I was apparently the size of a house. Anyway, I got my ass back to tthe gym and I’m back to my old weight and the funny thing is the losers who said stuff about my weight are out of shape themselves. Anyway, enough of my sob-story. Great post 🙂

  13. Dapo Says:

    solid post homie

  14. Anon Says:

    Really liked this blog post esp since someone close to me is overweight and has been writing hard to lose the weight. We are all extremely supportive and almost always accompany him to the gym and eat healthy as a family. So far he has lost about 65 pounds and is trying to achieve his goal weight. We’re so proud of him too!

  15. Anon Says:

    Sorry for the spelling error. *working* hard


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