Have you ever gotten that up-and-down look when you tell someone you’re a runner? That look that says ‘Really? You don’t look like one…”
Or maybe they’re brave (rude? insensitive?) enough to actually say it out loud.
It’s happened a few times to me. Actually, more than a few. Most recently, yesterday at the doctor’s office.
I had to get a test done, and the well-meaning nurse started with “Oh, you’re a big girl, I’ll get you a larger gown.”
Then a few minutes later…”You’re a big girl – do they usually use the large blood pressure cuff on you?”
Then finally, while we were waiting for the doctor, she asked me what I did for a living. And I proudly said “I’m a personal trainer and a running coach.”
Dead silence. Then I got the raised eyebrows, the up-and-down, and finally “Oh. That’s…interesting.”
I was there for a stress test, and proceeded to surprise everyone in the room when I stayed on the treadmill MUCH longer than they expected. The best part was when the nurse said “I guess you really are a runner.”
Why am I telling you this? Because this was an opportunity. Not just to educate someone else on how fitness comes in all shapes and sizes (and believe me, that nurse got SCHOOLED yesterday) – but to choose my own response to someone else’s opinion.
It would have been easy to let her words fester in my brain all day long:
How dare she call me a big girl?
Who does she think she is?
All of those thoughts were available to me, which would have resulted in me feeling hurt, offended, and pissed off. My inner mean girl could have had a field day with it.
Here’s the thing. People are gonna think what they think. There’s absolutely no way to control other people’s opinions of me. Any attempt to change someone’s mind is a waste of time, effort and mental energy. So why bother?
Besides, their opinion in no way reduces my accomplishments, fitness, or opinion of myself. In fact, I love it when people underestimate me. It’s fun! It’s also taught me not to judge others by their appearance too – just because someone at the gym is thin, doesn’t mean they are super-fit, that they feel great about their body, or that they have a lot of confidence. And just because someone is overweight, doesn’t mean they are embarrassed about how they look, or that they’re out of shape.
My body, and how I feel about it, is MY business. By the same token, other people’s opinions about me are THEIR business. I like to stay out of other people’s business. And when I do, those opinions can’t hurt me.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever had someone comment on your runner’s body? How did you respond?