Everyone has a decided image of you.
A way in which they define you and what you are — good, bad, or indifferent.
The rich guy.
The drunk girl.
The dude with all the watches.
The basketball player.
The overweight guy.
It doesn’t matter what you say or do, what others think will likely never change.
Not exactly fair in some cases, but ironically it’s the way it is.
You haven’t gotten drunk since college parties back in the day.
You quit playing basketball 17 years ago in high school.
You lost 100 pounds and are no longer overweight.
The reality is, just as it’s very hard to change someone, it’s just as hard to get someone to change their image of you.
Have you ever been in a relationship where you said to yourself “if I can just change X about him/her, they will be the perfect partner?”
Same goes with a friendship. If I can just get them to stop doing X, they could really be a great friend”.
Not only does that thinking not work 98% of the time, it will tend to cause more problems than it’s worth.
You start dating a new guy and he plays basketball 3 times a week after work. This makes you mad because you want him to spend time with YOU those days. Tread carefully. You are probably on your way out.
Your new girlfriend is awesome. She is exactly what you want, but she happens to have a few pounds she could lose. You better shut your mouth or you are going to be sitting alone on your couch watching Full House re-runs wishing you had Uncle Jesse’s hair.
Your desire to be with someone romantically or as a friend should be based on your interest in them as they are. Not what you can do with your magic wand of awesomeness into making them who you want them to be.
Granted, if they truly want to change something, great. Help them as needed, but your vision of change should not be the goal.
Getting Others To Accept Your Change
Okay, enough Dr. Phil.
The flip side of changing others is the point you need to understand.
What happens when YOU change for the better and others do not want to accept or support it?
From the health and fitness angle this is a scenario that I hear about almost daily.
Be it in conversation with clients or in an email from someone who found me online, I constantly hear stories of people being harassed, mocked, hounded, etc., by people who simply can’t accept the changes they have made with their body.
Let’s be very clear. We are talking about healthy changes to benefit individual’s lives for the long term. Weight loss, fat loss, lean tissue growth, everyday strength and so on.
Things that will allow these people to play with their kids and grandkids into their 50s and 60s. Not sit in a lawn chair watching them in the backyard yelling “nice job Bill, nice job Myrtle.” (Obvious name choices)
Things that will allow someone in their 30s to be as active as they want and not back down from a 5k or a mountain bike ride through the woods.
The things that build self-confidence and pride that took months or years of hard work to attain.
These are the things that can and will happen when you adopt a life of physical fitness, but ironically they are also the things many people may give you a hard time about.
Others have spent years defining who you are and now you have thrown a wrench into their definition.
You used to weigh 300 pounds and now you weight 165? You MUST be unhealthy!!!
Someone works their butt off to lose weight and get down to a healthy body fat and overall size. However, their extended family has known them as the overweight size they were for their entire adult life, but now that is gone.
I have heard this story hundreds of times over my years in fitness.
They show up for Christmas dinner and BAM!!
“Are you feeling okay?!”
“You must be starving yourself!!”
“Take this extra serving of potatoes, you look like you need it”
“Do you have an eating disorder?”
See, the family has seen the 300 pound person for 15 years and now they weigh 165. The kicker is, they are a 5’9” male.
Take a minute and look up a healthy height and weight chart on google. Not that I use this regularly, but for the sake of shutting up family members who don’t have a clue what normal is.
165 for a 5’9” male is HEALTHY. What the family defined this guy as was where they were comfortable. In their heads 300 pounds was who he was and that was that.
He was defined.
It took 18 months of hard work and he dropped to a healthy weight, is muscular, strong, and has more energy than ever. Yet all the family can do is be NEGATIVE.
People fear change.
It’s an age old thing.
Smartphones, ordering pizza online, a new boss, a new position at work, dogs riding tricycles, it can all be scary.
But it doesn’t mean it’s your job to resist it.
If You’re Making Changes
You know full well that you are doing something amazing with your health and well-being, but you are going to encounter people who can’t accept that.
This may come in the form of others ignoring the positive changes you have made, to them questioning what you are doing as if they know better themselves.
You will find this perpetuated by those who have made no physical strides in their own life. Those individuals are often the worst offenders.
It grinds their gears that you have done what they do not have the will power to do. You have separated yourselves from them and they don’t like it.
Unfortunately I do not have the ideal advice for how to handle these people.
I tend to be far more abrasive because of the stories I hear so often from those who have done so well yet get harassed for their efforts.
You should probably just smile and ignore them, but if someone tells me “gees, you can have a hamburger”, I’m probably going to tell them “maybe I can, but you’re the one who probably shouldn’t”.
Kind of a do as I say not as I do situation.
Harsh? I don’t know, is it?
Would you tell a pregnant woman that she’s really packing on the pounds?
I hope not. So what gives you the right to get into the business of what I eat or don’t eat?
Is it somehow more okay if the person isn’t overweight for someone to butt in with their opinions?
If You Know a Person Who’s Making Changing
There are two groups of people who are reading this article. Those who need to prepare for the narrow minds of others and those narrow minded folks who need to get their head screwed on straight.
For the latter.
I get that you want so bad to have your say into what someone is doing with their body, but it’s not your business.
Be happy for them.
They are trying to better their lives. Do you have a problem with that?
Your only concern at this point should be with getting yourself on the health train along with them.
My suggestion is that you support them. If you want to be a good friend or family member tell them that they are doing a great job. What they are doing is not easy and takes tons of hard work and willpower.
Give them props, don’t try to correct what you think they are doing wrong.
Also, do not try to justify to them why you aren’t progressing your health.
This is a sign of insecurity.
You do not need to tell them that you would work out but *enter excuse here*.
Or that you would eat healthy, but *enter excuse here*.
Stop. That is on you.
Years ago I used to work at Sears. I know, awesome. “May I put this on your Sears card?”
At least once a week I would be helping a male customer and they would randomly say, “back when I was younger I was even bigger than you.”
1. I don’t care.
2. The fact that you feel like you need to tell me this says you probably weren’t.
People are so concerned about making sure you know why they are unhealthy or out of shape.
Look, I am fine with you being the way you are, but stop concerning yourself with the way others are.
I get fired up about this topic because it happens so often and quite frankly it is unfortunate.
When people come to me they are looking to better their lives.
They lose body fat, gain muscle, get stronger, feel better, and have more energy.
It would seem reasonable to say these are all positive things, but unfortunately many of them hear negative responses from insecure folks around them.
Such is life. The positives to staying healthy and fit definitely outweigh the negatives.
So push on!
If you are one of those just watching, let’s get started! Whatever changes you want to make, they can begin now!
If you have any questions or have any awesome stories to tell me, shoot me an email. I’d love to hear them!