I’ve talked a LOT about perceptions. Whether it be how I look or feel in my own journey, other’s journeys, how the media forces us to think that we will never be beautiful enough… ya, ok, I’ll start going on a major rant if I don’t get to my point.
We all have perceptions of ourselves and of others. Even when we are on our own healthy journey, we still look at others and instant create an image in our heads of where someone else is in their journey.
If you have been on Facebook recently, I’m sure you have seen an example of this come across your news feed in the last week or so. Someone was at a track and noticed an overweight man running, and penned what I believe to be a means to give encouragement to the overweight man. I truly believe that was the purpose of his post. You can read the full article here: “To the fatty running on the track this afternoon” Here is a screenshot of the post that has been making the rounds.
The writer assumed that this man had only just started his journey, because he was still so overweight. Well the man he was talking about found this post, and decided to respond about it. The full article is here: Inspiration: You’re Doing It Wrong I’ve cut and pasted his response which reads:
To the man who judged me on the Westview track,
I see that you wrote a Facebook status about my journey and me. It described me on the track and from what I gather it was supposed to inspire after a little insult. It went viral.
So let me tell you what I think of your post…
First off I would suggest you not judge me at all. You have my journey all messed up. My journey did not start twelve days ago. It started over a year ago. You see me at 300 pounds but what you do not know is I was over 400 pounds. You did not know this because I was embarrassed to run in front of other people. So I would come to this track when no one else was around. Sometimes I would go for a couple of minutes. Sometimes I would go for four minutes. It all started when I went for 48 seconds my first time running. Yes, I timed it. Yes I was upset. And yes, I promised it would never happen again.
When I was over 400 pounds and decided to make the commitment to change my life I would wake up and look in the mirror. I would find at least 100 negative things about my body. All the descriptions you made about me…I was even harder on myself.
Then after losing a few pounds I looked in the mirror again. I did not look at my body. I looked in my eyes. I saw determination and character. I saw a man who did not want to be an inspiration for others but one for himself. I was that man.
Your whole post insults me like no end. I do not eat midnight snacks or drink beer. You probably think all “fat” people do this. Well, we do not. I ate better than most at 300 pounds. In fact, I have not had a drink in well over 20 years.
I look down because I see you stare at me all the time. I do not want to give you the satisfaction of looking into my eyes. There are people who were supporting me all along. Not people who made up fictional parts of my life.
I also do not listen to music because I hear everything. I hear the laughter and I hear the snickers. They are never about me except they always are. I have been overweight my whole life. I have not had my blinders on for some time.
There are no mantras going through my head. When I run it is clear. I have no anger or happiness. I am there to complete a task. I am good at that.
You fooled people on Facebook but you have not fooled me. You do not have respect for my journey because you do not know it. I have told my story to thousands of people. I have been told that I have inspired many as well. Not because of the way I run but because of the person I am. Not because of my 200 pound weight loss but because of the words that I have had inside for years.
Many of us have been that person being judged and then twirled into some weird inspirational story. I was judged at the gym at 400 pounds. I was laughed at in Panera at 350 pounds. I was embarrassed at 300 pounds and honestly I was the same person at 195 pounds as I was at 420 pounds.
I tell people now that weight loss should not make you love yourself more. That is the mistake I made.
So next time you look at me on that track do yourself a favor. Look away. I do not look like I once did. I do not want to be your inspiration or your motivation.
I am a runner. I was a runner at 420 pounds and I am a runner today.
And runners do one thing.
They run. Not write about other runners.
Talk about changing our perception… The original thought was that this man had only STARTED his journey, when in fact, he was well into it. If nothing else, I actually give BOTH writers. The first for TRYING to give him instead of being a douche and being vicious, which I personally have experienced, many times. To Tony … for clearing the air and showing that just because you are still carrying extra weight, doesn’t mean that we are JUST starting.
Something else I want to touch on. It is really hard… and I mean REALLY REALLY hard for those of us who are overweight to go out in public at all.. let alone to work out. Whether it be at the gym, the track, or even to walk / run around the neighborhood. People talk behind our backs making comments about how we are fat and take up too much space. I’ve written about some of those experiences before. ( My favorite situation is still when I actually stood up for myself. However, I made perceptions in that situation also. ( Ahh Rude! ) )
I have to admit, that the “running” community in general has been very supportive and encouraging. I have rarely seen a runner out on the streets who hasn’t given me a smile or a nod, or said something like, “Hi! Keep it up.” I can see why Tony doesn’t want to look at others though when he is out there. Why? Why can I see what he’s saying even when I’ve had great interaction from runners? While I do need to hear that I’m doing well, and to keep it up, and to see the look of encouragement on their faces, there is that insecure part of me that doesn’t hear “Keep it up. You’re doing great!” I hear “Hey fatty, keep running. You need to get all that fat off as quick as possible.” or “Why did you let yourself get that bad?” or “You can do it fatty!”
Perception. No those aren’t the words coming of their mouths, and no I don’t want the running community to stop giving me words of encouragement. We need it. I need it.
We also need to change our perception on BOTH sides. We heavier folks need to stand proud on the fact we are working on making our lives better, and this is part of it, but those much fitter folks handing out the compliments, please remember that for some of us, our journey didn’t just start. For some of us have been on this journey for a long time.