Do unto others
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Lately, I've discovered something about myself that I *really* don't like. It's a terrible habit, and one I absolutely must stop.
I'm very critical of other people's weights. While I never, ever say anything to anyone, and would never attempt to hurt them, I still *think* it, and often say something to my husband about it in private. It can be as simple as commenting on how a certain celebrity has added a few pounds, or how one of my own friends has just "let herself go."
It's UGLY. It's nasty, and it's NOT ME. I don't do that. It's doubly hypocritical because while I'm healthy and active now, I've gone for 6 years and more being unhealthy, lazy, and FAT. Did I get "that big"? No. That was honestly more luck than some kind of superior personality trait.
It's worse when I see a parent with an overweight child. The thoughts that go through my mind are usually something along the lines of "how could you do that to your kid?" You know, because I have slender, active children, I'm a better mom than they are.
Except for the fact that I have slender, active children *in spite* of the fact that I'm overweight and lazy. They have watched me eat like a pig and sit on my butt their whole lives. I'm very blessed that they listened to what I said, instead of following what I did. That's not me being a better mom, that's me being incredibly blessed with good luck.
Slender people aren't immune from my scathing glares, either. Someone who is slender but clearly "weak" or unfit gets the same derision, because I lift weights and they don't. They're not immune because they're skinnier than I am... in fact, I'm more harsh, because they're lucky to be slender, and they're wasting it on higher body fat percentages and laziness. I resent them for squandering what they have. I always think, "They'll figure it out when they get older and their metabolism slows down like mine did." It's so rude and unfair. It's petty, and nasty.
I don't like this part of myself. Even if I never breathe a word of it to these people, it's not okay for me to think these things. Because they're not true! I'm not somehow better than they are because I woke up and started doing something. When I was a teenager, I was those people. I was naturally active, but I ate terribly; it wasn't unusual, for example, for me to come home after school and grate myself HALF A BLOCK of cheese. For a snack.
I have been the soda-swilling, cheese-burger chomping fat girl. So I didn't get to be 220. Or 250. Or 300. That doesn't mean I'm better than someone who DID get that weight. It just means I was blessed with an awareness before it got too bad, and even then, I've struggled so hard with my own willpower. I should have lost MUCH more than I have, but my own snacking and lack of ability to say no to myself when I want something has sabotaged me again and again.
I've made great improvements in my physical and nutritional health. I eat SO much better than I ever have. NOw, I think it's time to make some improvements in my mental health.
Instead of tearing people down in my head, I'm going to start building them up. I can't stop myself from noticing weight, it's a part of my everyday life and I think about it a lot, but I CAN stop myself from being nasty and crude about it. I don't have to revel in my own imagined "superiority" anymore.
I KNOW how hard it is to get started. I spent more than 6 years sitting and wallowing in that self-loathing that comes with being anything other than perfect. I know what it's like to stare at that plate of food I shouldn't eat, but I can't stop myself. So I don't binge on sweets. But I've gone to Krispy Kreme and devoured three donuts in less than a minute, just because I "deserved" it. I've been there when I threw caution to the wind because I went over my calorie range and figured I might as well blow it to hell and back.
So I want to say I'm sorry. To every one of you who had the nerve to be alive and have imperfections and issues. Because I've been a complete ass. I may never have seen you on the street, personally, but you here represent all those people I've been so judgmental of. None of us are here because we're perfect people with no problems. We ALL have weight issues, we ALL struggle with being healthy. I have no right to be so judgmental, and you don't deserve it. So accept my apology in lieu of those here in my own hometown, for my stupidity and jealousy.
And walk with me as I commit to shelving such attitudes and being a more positive, loving person. Because no one deserves abuse, even if it's just in someone else's head.
*Image courtesy of Tobyotter on Flickr.
Member Comments About This Blog Post
I wrote a blog post about this back in May but I put it on my livejournal because I wasn't sure it was positive enough to be on sparkpeople. I don't know why I'm like that. I guess in other online forums I like to keep the random stuff in the random thread, and the lunches in the lunch thread and keep out of the hipsters talk about music thread altogether.
It was when I had lost 19 pounds, so I was about 188, and I wondered if the way I was looking at the morbidly obese was a rejection of who I used to be and whether my subconscious was cool with what I'm doing. So it kind of went beyond whether it was positive enough to be on sparkpeople, more at whether I'm sane. :P
1643 days ago
Thank you for the post. The same little voice has invaded my head lately. I dunno if it is a side effect of placing so much focus on my own efforts, or some very excusable bit of biochemistry, 10,000 half empty-fat cells screaming out in bitchy unison. So nice to know I'm not alone.
1644 days ago
As a Christian, we are constantly told that our Bible says we are NOT to judge others. But that is not completely what is meant by those words in the Bible. I won't get into that, but I will say, that as HUMANS, we are not perfect and our thoughts are not always able to be controlled. Our tongues can be though.
Yes, we do judge others and ourselves. The only time I think it is wrong is when it is done in a hurtful way. When I tell my kids they need to eat better, exercise or study harder, it is with love not in a hurtful way. Why would what I think and say to my kids be any less helpful if said to a stranger? Only if do it in a hurtful way or without knowledge of that person's plight.
I have helped many family and friends find their way to doing better in many aspects of life. I try not to offer until they ask though. Now that so many see how much I have lost and how healthy I have become, they make comments and ask how I did it. So I tell them.
Fact is, even the skinny ones need educated on how to become healthy and fit, so it is not just directed at fat people. Even average folks that appear healthy are not necessarily healthy. So if they ask, I try to help them stay on track.
So don't beat yourself up for looking at others and seeing they are headed for disaster. That's just human. But in the same way one would stop a stranger from stepping in front of a moving car, shouldn't we try and help others that are also in danger? We just have to be kind and caring when doing it.
With that being said, I feel that anyone that has accepted they need help and have asked for it and/or are on this site trying to do better should be treated with respect and as an adult. But they should also be ready for tough love and not apologies for trying to help them. Be tough my fellow sparkers, and shut up and sweat. ;-)
1645 days ago
What a very honest and thought provoking blog !
I'll be honest too. I've certainly been judgmental about other people's weight in my day. I've found myself staring at people and wondered why they let themselves go. But then I ask myself the exact same question. When I was overweight, why did I let myself go ? Why do I think I'm better than them because I lost weight and they didn't ?
Well, I'm not better than them. We are them. We have been those people. Why do we criticise ? To a certain extent, I think we were in denial about our own weight. At least, for many years, I knew I was in total denial of my own weight. Figured I wasn't really overweight. I just need to lose a few pounds. At my highest weight, I was morbidly obese for my height with a BMI over 33.
Today, I'm trying to look at people with a more positive attitude regardless of their weight or appearance. Considering how bad the economy has been, a lot of people are in reduced circumstances. People may not have the extra money to afford a gym membership. They might not be able to afford the food they need for a nutritious meal. They're doing the best they can. We all are.
What do I do ? These days, I'm trying to be more polite to everyone. Trying to say,"good morning, hello, how are you". A little kindness goes a long way towards curbing my own judgmental attitude.
How would I feel in their shoes ?
1645 days ago
It happens. Often we don't see ourselves the way we should and we criticize other people with the very same problems that we also do have. Many people fall for that, not just you. The point is to realize that and do something about it: Either find another flaw that only they have, and still keep criticizing them, or do something about the problem we have and still keep criticizing them. Being critical of others is hard to get rid of.
1645 days ago
I was a little overweight through grade school - until I got on the football team, which took care of that. But I took a lot of scorn from some of the other kids, and learned to consider that the rest of the world is out of step with me before the fat went away, so I never have considered how other people look. I have been irritated at how they act sometimes, but looks never were important to me.
You are lucky you got started at your age - younger than our youngest daughter, so you have a chance to avoid all the health problems that a bad diet, lack of exercise, and overeating can cause. I slowly (over 40 years) kept gaining until I nearly wrecked my body, and the results are still with me. I have been stable for six years, but the damage has only been partly undone. It's a lifetime challenge to stay with the program. Everyone is on their own. Good luck.
1645 days ago
Comment edited on: 8/19/2012 5:53:47 PM
1646 days ago
I think we all do the same thing-or at least I do. But you recognise it and are willing to change, which is an admirable thing.
1646 days ago
Paradigm Shift. Google the term. Then apply it to your attitude.Better yet, read Steven Covey's book.
When we look at other people, it's so easy to imagine the worst... because by comparison, it makes us feel better about ourselves. Do a Paradigm Shift. Realize you may not know the whole story just by that one look.
Surprise! We're each unique! Incomparable with each other! Each on our own journey. Each with separate Points A and Points B.
I think it's an inevitable and unavoidable human tendency to place ourselves at the center of the universe--and it's therefore unavoidable that we judge everything and all those around us according to this very personal scale of measure. But remember... everyone you meet is also judging you by their personal scales, as well!
So, isn't it comforting to accept that there's a bit of perfection in every single one of us--be it mental, physical or spiritual. Look for the good in everyone, and you'll be more likely to find it.
1646 days ago
Did you notice how much you compare yourself to those who you think poorly of?
Reading this blog it seems to me that the behaviors you find most disturbing are those that you indulge in or have previously indulged in. As amateur shrink here, I think you are really angry and upset with yourself. Seeing your own behaviors in others just makes you more aware of them from an external perspective; especially when those behaviors reach a conclusion beyond where you have ventured (aka, people who are extremely obese). It seems like you want to "rescue" these people from the mistakes that you have made; which is not a bad feeling, albeit acting on this feeling is culturally unacceptable.
1646 days ago
Personally when I see bigger (I mean REALLY overweight) people I feel bad a tinge of sadness for them not disgust.
Being overweight sucks first of all. I don't think anybody wants to be overweight. Weight issues are often times emotional problems and/or poor knowledge. I don't know how that could disgust you. It's sad.
I was an overweight child. My brother and I started gaining weight around the time my mom was going through Chemo therapy & radiation. She was in no way a bad mother...
I can't relate to your thinking at all. But it's easy to think like that in today's society which stresses so much on artificial qualities. It's okay...Nonetheless I think that's good you want to change it. The obsessive relationship you have with being overweight is negative. It's not good for you. Let it go.
Just to add I'm really into art & painting so when I look at somebody physically I always see something interesting. Something I like. Nobody's truly "ugly".
1646 days ago
Are you inside my head?? I do the same thing often and I wish I didn't.
1646 days ago
It is so easy to do that, to think that we are remarkably different than others and made a change, why can`t they?
True is most people are just doing they best they can with what they know. I know that is not entirely true, but is generally true. Environment, genetics, accidents of parenting, etc. contribute to what people think, what people do, how their bodies, brains, and spirits respond to various things coming at them.
We can do things to change, but often change is more difficult for some because of their history. I endeavor to give people the best hearing I can. (That is to interperate peoples behavior in the best possible light, however, it is easy for me to see thought a set of filters that do not always allow my best possible to be very kind. So we are each a work in progress and as we discover something that we would like to change, we must endeavor to find the things that will help us to do that. If we each work on our own stuff, the world will gradually become a better place for all.
1646 days ago
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