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A controversial Facebook Post and Response - how we view and encourage others

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Maybe some of you saw this post on Facebook from a man who was "praising" a "fatty" for running. It starts out with insults but then the tone changes. As I read the initial FB post, even after the initial paragraph, where things were supposedly getting "nicer," I felt funny. Then I found another article - a response to the post. That is what I'm linking to below. (The original post is quoted in the article.)


This post and response made me think about how we encourage others. I really can't judge why the original author wrote the piece as he did. He may genuinely admire overweight people for making a lifestyle change, and perhaps just wanted his article to get attention (hence, the "fatty" reference and other insults in the first paragraph). Perhaps this was his own experience - perhaps he himself was a former "fatty." Or perhaps he makes judgments and assumptions about overweight people, and doesn't realize it... giving what seem to be condescending, backhanded compliments.

Maybe what we can take away from the whole exchange is this: some self-reflection. Do we find ourselves making assumptions? Do we find ourselves assuming that we know the reasons behind someone's weight gain? The responding man reminds us that we do not. And how can we encourage people?

I feel it's important to actively encourage people to continue on a fitness journey when we know from our own experience how difficult that can be. Whether you have only 10 pounds to lose or over 100, it's hard to make that first change, and even after you've made it, motivation can be seriously lacking some days.

When I'm running, if I pass someone (whether I'm running by them because I'm faster, or because they are coming at me), I say, "Hey. Good job." I say it to all of them, no matter what their fitness level. I wonder now if the very overweight will think I'm singling them out. After all, they don't know that I say it to everyone. Well, I think I will continue my habit anyway. We're all in this together.

Perhaps the original author would have done better to simply say something like, "You're no different than any of us. We get out here and do what we need to do. Welcome to the club; we're glad to have you among us."
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • GABY1948
    This is a GREAT blog! Thank you for posting it!
    1308 days ago
    When I come up on another runner or pass a walker I always speak ...... can be as simple as "Hey" or some joke phrase like "who put the hills in here?" or "It's a little icy up ahead"....................aren't we healthy folks a little like boaters and bikers' we are all members of a like minded in some way group.......there are an awful lot of people who would appreciate it ...........and you will get back 2 fold.
    1501 days ago
    Wow, we must be psychically connected this morning. I just got back from a walk to town (4.7 miles total) and was very conscious of holding a perfect 15:00 min/mile pace.

    On my way back I passed an older man walking very slowly. We exchanged greetings as I passed him, and then I noticed that he was still talking.

    I stopped and fell in beside him as he described his efforts at rehabilitation after heart problems. We walked together until he reached his destination, the hospital (about ½ mile further on). We shared stories of different physical challenges and ways to improve lives, both ours and others around us.

    I hope I was encouraging to him and even though my first thought was “I can’t stop. I’ve got to hold my pace,” I reached home surprisingly encouraged myself. I had been stressing about some minor challenges.

    We never know how anyone we meet reached that point in their lives. Sometimes we don’t have to actually walk in their shoes, just walk along with them awhile and share the journey.

    1501 days ago
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