When you choose to live fit, you inspire and motivate many others to do the same, which is one of the many benefits of doing so. However, along the way, you will also agitate plenty of people who will go out of their way to let you know.
I can remember going to a friend’s holiday party where I reunited with a number of former work colleagues I hadn’t seen in years. One of these former co-workers greeted me with, “Hi, Jaime. I saw some interesting pictures of you recently.” She ended the statement with pursed lips and a disapproving head tilt. In the moment, my heart dropped, and I starting scanning my “wild child college days” memory bank for anything that may have surfaced. She continued, “Yeah, I saw those pictures of you in your green swimsuit on Facebook. Must be nice to have so much time to work out and show it off to the world.”
Those statements were wrong on so many levels. My ego was chomping at the bit to respond aggressively and defensively. However, doing so would have given those statements confirmation, allowed the negative interaction to continue and taken away from a fabulous evening with my husband and friends. So, I took control of the conversation and said, “Oh yeah, I love competing and my fit lifestyle. So, how are you?” That conversation ended quickly.
While I don’t always handle such situations gracefully, I’ve adopted a few strategies to help me stand proud when facing fitness sabotage:
Dump Their “Junk”
Whether people claim you waste too much time at the gym, call you self-absorbed, say they don’t like the way you look, tempt you with goodies, help you rationalize just one bite or diminish the importance of your lifestyle choices in general, all of these comments and actions are grounded in a saboteur’s own “junk,” as I like to call it. Specifically, how people view the world has everything to do with their own life experiences, including their upbringing, belief system and insecurities. We cannot take their comments personally or let it derail us from our goals, because their “junk” should not burden us. We must throw away their junk and keep moving toward our best.
Before You React, Take a Breath and Smile
Whenever someone makes a snide remark, the typical initial gut reaction is to snap back or shrink back. In either case, you are allowing this person to control your emotional state. I always take a moment to take a deep breath, smile and assess the person and comment further. (By the way, it is really fun to see how someone reacts when you flash a big smile in response to his/her sabotaging remark.)
Diffuse the Saboteur By Responding With Humility, Honesty and Heart
In almost every situation, saboteurs are coming from an insecure place. They want you to feel bad about yourself, fail at your goals or respond negatively in some way to help them feel better about their own situations. While it’s tempting to respond to them with a self-righteous comment and easy to give your power away by underplaying the importance of the lifestyle, both of those strategies fuel the saboteur. To diffuse them, I have found the most success when I approach a saboteur with the following:
I never respond in a way that suggests I feel that I am better than him/her because of my fit lifestyle (e.g., “Well, at least I have discipline and don’t have to squeeze into my jeans”).
I am honest about how important the lifestyle is to me and about how I feel about it. I never underplay its value to my life by saying things like, “You’re right, I hate working out. I just do it because I have to.”
I present my response with compassion, even when it doesn’t feel warranted. If possible and/or appropriate, I will offer them some sort of encouragement or offer advice/help.
A Few Examples
If someone says, “Your husband must hate living with you since you eat such boring food all the time.” I respond with, “Actually, we share the lifestyle and we are pretty creative with fixing our meals. Let me know if you ever want a recipe.”
If someone says, “Wow, you must be really obsessed with your appearance to put yourself through all of that.” I respond with, “You know what? I feel great about how I look, but living fit also makes me more effective in all areas of my life by increasing my energy, elevating my mood, keeping me from getting sick. It’s pretty amazing.”
If someone says, “Just eat it. You know you want it. One bite won’t hurt.“ I respond with, “No thanks. I’m good. You enjoy it.”
While I am not always successful at doing this, when I approach it right, the results are pretty incredible: The situation is diffused, the person rarely makes another unsupportive comment and he/she often eventually asks for fitness advice. You have to love that.
Push Toward Your Best
Whether we think we can or we think we can’t, we’re right. Our success is largely dependent on our own thoughts and beliefs, and yet we don’t always harness the power of our thoughts. Let’s change that. Every day, proclaim your goal, envision yourself achieving it and remind yourself of every reason it’s possible. Doing so will keep your mind positive and motivated and will drown out the thoughts threatening your confidence. Think strong. Be strong. AND— Push on!
Keep pushing— your best is waiting.