A Long Hard Look in the Mirror

What is going on with me? I’ve noticed a change in my personality. I’d like to think that it is subtle, but I fear that I’m wrong. I know I’m wrong. I’ve been noticing it for a while now and something happened this morning that really drew my attention to it. I’ve turned into a judgmental health/fitness snob and I don’t like it.

Case in point: We had a fire drill in our office building this morning at 9:15am. I was driving up having just finished eating a peach in my car and was craving my kashi/berry/yogurt medley that I make pretty much every morning. I had completed a pretty decent swim workout this morning and feeling good. They finally let us back in the building and as a result of our patience, there was Amy’s Ice Cream in the lobby for those that wanted a morning snack! I hopped on the elevator with a bunch of people who were now eating bowls of Mexican Vanilla ice cream at 9-freaking-30 in the morning. I literally shook my head and sighed out loud at the deplorable disgust that I felt for those people. And that’s when it hit me. I’m a bitch.

I’ve been over 40lbs heavier than I am now. I know what it’s like to feel powerless over food and fitness fatigue. I remember what it was like when I didn’t give a crap about diet or exercise. I would make fun of people who would work out every day. I remember distinctly telling myself, “I’ll start tomorrow” or “What’s another piece of pizza? They ate it, why can’t I?” Heck, when you’re 25 years old, you’re not thinking about training. You’re barely getting to bed at night. I remember when I joined Weight Watchers nine years ago when I first moved to Austin. I still have some of my weight loss booklets and can still recall the number of points for most foods (Margaritas are poison!) You’d think with the total recall, I would’ve succeeded in the W.W. cult. It certainly wasn’t the program’s fault. I would weigh-in on Wednesday at Noon while my friends drove around the block. Then, I’d completely skip the lecture portion in favor of heading to the nearest Mexican restaurant for some chips and queso. Nice, real nice. Nothing says health and fitness like a vat of cheese.

…and here I was passing judgment on these people this morning like some self-righteous health freak.

Losing weight and going from a size 14 to a “perfect” size 4 was unfathomable in my brain back then. It all seemed so complicated because it involved (or so I thought) giving up EVERYTHING that I loved…alcohol, sweets, etc. I just didn’t know how to get motivated and stay motivated. Of course, working in the media industry with concerts and happy hours every night didn’t help either.

And then, I changed thanks to Austin Fit Training Program who coached me to the Finish Line of my first full marathon in 2002. I had run two half marathons in Columbus before I moved here and remember distinctly finishing second to last in one of them. Even my parents had retreated to the warmth of their car heater while they patiently waited for me to reach the finish line. I wish I could remember what that time was, but it was pre-chip timing.

Even though I’ve been at it hard for five years now, I have always had empathy for those that struggle with their weight because I’m so intimately aware of the pain and frustration people feel. I know it goes so much deeper than just physical appearance. There are also so many emotional factors involved with being overweight. Not a day goes by STILL that I don’t look in the mirror and say “ick.” I swear.

When Shawn and I first started dating, we would argue a lot about this topic. He’s in the health profession and sees the devastating effects of morbid obesity every day. He understandably has a low tolerance. I told him that he was insensitive and didn’t get it. He told me I didn’t understand the implications. We were both right, but he took the clinical argument and I took the emotional one.

So why on earth have I become this way?

A few months ago, even a co-worker called me out. She said she felt like we didn’t have a good rapport and was there something she had done to piss me off. Man, that hit me because I fancy myself an easy, friendly person to be around. Hell, my blog is “tri to be funny” after all! I have a positive attitude and do my best to share that with others. After some soul-searching about her feelings, I realized what was happening. I do sometimes avoid her and cut our conversations short. Why? Because I perceive her to be a negative person and I try to avoid negativity at all costs. It’s kinda that whole “Debbie Downer” thing. I’m not unrealistic about life, but I choose to take a different approach. Instead of the fatalistic, “Bad things always happen to me” attitude, I try to approach life from, “Bad things happen, they totally suck, but that’s life. Now, move on.” I guess I have a low tolerance for the whole “Woe is me” attitude to living. Now, with that being said, I also haven’t had to face any horrific disasters either and I do get in total funks and bad moods (I am a woman after all). This person is not a bad person. In fact, my co-worker is amazing, self-less and hardworking. My attitude towards her has been unfair and it keeps coming back to this nagging, “I’m better than you” personality that I’ve somehow picked up along the fitness road.

I’m not even sure of my point in this entry. I’m truly blogging my feelings right now because I’m just a little upset with myself. I guess I just want people to experience the joy that I feel by living a complete life with health and fitness as a priority. It’s frustrating when I see the apathy in most people about pursuing their passions or happiness. It’s not as hard as I thought it would be. There will always be excuses or reasons NOT to do something. I just look for the reasons to do it. In fact, living this way is so much easier. It just puts everything else in perspective. It’s like we’re already starting from the top of the mountain instead of the valley. I want these people that frustrate me to know that you can drop over 40lbs and go from a 12-min miler to a 7-min miler. You can go from 2nd to last place in a Half-Marathon to 1st place in your age group in just a couple of years. You can get to a point in life where ice cream for breakfast sounds disgusting and berries sound irresistible. You can wake up wanting to run, jump, ride and swim. That becomes the gauge for how your day will be.

Bottom Line: I need to become more accepting of people’s decisions on how they choose to live THEIR lives. Qualifying for Boston, lowering your PR, managing your daily protein to carb ratio and completing an Ironman are not the “be all end all” to everyone else in the world. I never thought they would be daily thoughts in my life, but here they are nonetheless!

Carrie—you’re not perfect. You’re far from it. You’re also not better than anyone else contrary to your own popular belief. Come down from your pretentious fitness soapbox and realize that there will always be someone skinnier, tougher and faster than you.

Bottom Line: just shut up and eat the damn ice cream.

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8 thoughts on “A Long Hard Look in the Mirror

  1. I guess we all have room for improvement and should never be complacent about ourselves, but I have to say that I read your blog regularly because I try to avoid negativity and look for positive things and I haven’t found anything more positive than your blog yet. It’s inspiring and fun and cool. Somehow you manage to talk about all these great things you do every single darn day (how do you do that?!) but you don’t sound judgmental or full of yourself at all. Maybe I can’t blame you for your faults because I have the same ones (ha). I guess we just do what we can for our mental and physical well being and wish others would do the same. I appreciate your blog and your positive mental attitude and think you should be nothing but proud of yourself. (sorry for the novel – just thought you should know)

  2. Great post Carrie. We have traveled the same road to fitness over the past 5-6 years (60lbs for me) so I can appreciate your thoughts. I find myself being a snob at races and workouts and have to remind myself that I too was a beginner at this fitness game and just quietly wish the newbies well and hope they stick with it and achieve their goals too. Being positive is another story…that is an area that I am working on and I enjoy being around positive people. I know people like you have had a great influence on how I look at the world and attack each day. Thanks for being you!

  3. As Casey Kasem says, “Keep your feet on the ground, but keep reaching for the stars!” Congrats on all the accomplishments you’ve created for yourself! (12 min/mile to a 7 min/mile??? Really????)

  4. as always i find a lot of positive things and honesty in your postings.however i am one of those people that would not have thought twice about eating the ice cream.hello???? it’s free freakin amy’s ice cream.hence the solid 10 minute mile on my part. 🙂 j

  5. This post really touched me because I’m finding that even though I still have another 80 pounds to lose (lost 60 so far) I’ve started becoming judgmental about the diet and exercise habits of others. I’m working SO hard to better my life and health and it’s been such an incredibly positive change for the better it’s started to really bother me when I see others being lazy and self-destructive. Like, I just want to shake them and scream “why are you doing to yourself?!” I need to take a lesson from you and let it go.

  6. I just came across your blog… I really enjoyed the honesty in this post… I think you have a great attitude, as shown by calling yourself out on this. I think, at times we can all be a hypocrite. I hate when I catch myself in those moments, but we all in fact, all human!

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