Judging: It's a Four-Letter Word in My Book

By , SparkPeople Blogger
The informal definition of judge is to form an opinion or evaluation, or to act or decide as a judge.  Why is this on my bad word for the day list?  I’m tired of people judging, including myself as always, because when we judge we’re forming an opinion with very little evidence to go on.  Case in point at the gym recently:

Last year I was a regular at a Zumba class at my gym.  I loved and still love Zumba, but I had to take a long break due to shoulder surgery.  There was a woman in this class at the time, who just like me, was working on getting healthy, toning up, and losing weight. (Notice how I put losing weight after getting healthy?)  Anyone at the time could have judged us both as overweight, and in my case, slightly uncoordinated at dancing. 

Now fast forward to last night – I was at the gym doing my leg weights as assigned by Mr. Squat Police, my demanding yet gentle trainer.  I was using the Roman Chair that I fondly refer to as the chair of torture, which happened to be right in front of the glass window to the aerobics room.  Zumba class was in session, and guess who is teaching?  You guessed it, the lady I talked about above.  Weight down, toned up, and instructing others on how to have some fun while burning calories.  You should have seen how happy she was to be teaching.  I actually crept into the back of her class for a little more than 10 minutes just to dance and enjoy the experience.  Her enthusiasm made me genuinely happy.

My story since last year’s classes is that I’m fully rehabilitated from major shoulder surgery, now an ACE Certified personal trainer and still maintaining a 90+ pound weight loss despite surgery.  A year ago people probably wouldn’t have written that future out for me while they watched me doing the cha-cha. I was writing that future out for me in my thoughts, and making plans to execute it. 

Cue up the third person in the story, a friend who was in that same class.  She lost quite a bit of weight but then dropped out of the picture for awhile.  She got busy with her family, a new job, etc., and I just didn’t see her for awhile.  She was in class last night, up in front, working hard with everyone else.  That also made me genuinely happy.  She took a detour but got back on track and that is refreshing.

I joked around with my husband about going to the gym and battling it out for a chance to use equipment with the New Year’s Revolutionists, but this year I felt different about it.  I walked around and tried to say hello to people I knew weren’t regulars.  I hoped as I watched that they wouldn’t quit.  That they would see and write a new future for themselves, instead of falling prey to hopelessness and defeat once again.  I thought about when I joined the gym three years ago – would anyone have guessed my fitness future?  Why should I presume then to judge anyone else’s chances?  When people met me when I was 50 pounds down, because they didn’t know me, would probably judge and say "geez, woman, lose some weight."  So this goes through my mind when I see people now.  I don’t know this person or their journey.  Encourage them where they are at and see a better future for them that you can share if they give you the chance.

So my point is stop judging others about where they are in their fitness journey.  Unless I missed the memo, there is no one currently living in the world that is perfect.  (P.S. that includes you and me.)  How about we spend that time and energy encouraging someone we see that needs it?  I think I’ve probably freaked a few people out at the gym actually.  I’ve been known to walk up to a woman who is walking in my old shoes and introduce myself out of the blue.  I generally start with "Hi, my name is Michelene, and I want to encourage you.  I’ve lost xxx amount of weight and I’ve got this great free resource that you can use at www.sparkpeople.com.  Have you heard of it?"

As usual, send me a message @michelenecleary on Twitter and tell me how you tried to #EncourageSomeone today.

So my challenge for you today is to look in the mirror and ask yourself, do I encourage people or do I inappropriately judge others?  Is there someone in my life that needs my encouragement instead of my judgment?  Do I judge myself in a negative fashion?  Do I need to let that go and encourage myself?