Beware judging a BIG GIRL

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“If I feel good about my parenting, I have no interest in judging other people’s choices. If I feel good about my body, I don’t go around making fun of other people’s weight or appearance. We’re hard on each other because we’re using each other as a launching pad out of our own perceived deficiency.”
-Brene Brown
This week I read an article written by a yoga instructor that detailed her experience as a larger person beginning her yoga practice and the adversity she sometimes faced based on her size. This is an area I am quite familiar with, but maybe from a slightly different perspective. However, the concept is the same—don’t judge others by the way they look. Simple.
I have been a larger girl since I went through puberty, so for over 30 years I have dealt with carrying extra weight. I was raised in a loving environment where there was never any judgment about weight and where you were encouraged to do whatever you set your mind to. I was teased a little in high school, it hurt, and I got over it. Once in my adult life did someone call me “fat” and it was extremely upsetting but that loser is out of my life too. So other than a few minor setbacks, I have a strong self-esteem and a positive view of myself. What I also have is a love of exercise.
All through high school, college and to the present day I have exercised in one fashion or another. Remember the old aerobics shows on TV? I did those. I walked around the block, rode my bike, used my parent’s Nordic track ski machine, you name it, I did it. When I moved out on my own I joined a gym. I went to step aerobics classes and lifted weights, all while being a BIG GIRL. I used to joke that it was a good thing I liked to exercise because I also liked to eat!
After I moved to Cincinnati I became a certified Spinning instructor, certified BodyPump instructor (group weight lifting), certified Yogafit instructor, and member of the American Council on Exercise—all while being a BIG GIRL. So not only did I do the workouts, I TALKED during the whole class. My students adored me, we created an amazing community, and I had the satisfaction of bringing something I loved to others for their benefit.
When my gym stopped having group fitness classes I transferred to another gym. Some of my students transferred as well. But I ran into something I had not before—judgment. Now I have to say it was never spoken out loud, but I got a clear vibe. I wasn’t getting the prime time classes even though my students kept asking about me and I was asking the coordinator for them as well. I went to some of those classes and the instructors were not as good. My sense was that because I didn’t LOOK like the “ideal” instructor, I would be relegated to the late hour classes that were not as well attended. Eventually I lost my passion for teaching because I could not create the community I once had. It became a job, not the fun it once was.
I became a student again, and found a great gym and an INCREDIBLE personal trainer (actually 2—my first one moved away and I transferred to another trainer). My goal was to get really strong, not necessarily to lose weight. I trained hard. Out of fourteen people on my trainer’s hardest program, Athlete, I am the only woman. And I can damn near lift as much as most of those guys! And guess what? I am still a BIG GIRL.
But this girl is HEALTHY. I take no medications and my vitals are all in good standing. I have amazing power and stamina in all physical work I do. And I have pride in my accomplishments at the gym.
So the next time you see a bigger person at the gym, or anywhere really, withhold judgment. And if you find yourself judging, you may want to refer to Brene Brown’s quote above—especially the part about a launching pad for your own perceived deficiency. It might be time to do some exercises of the soul searching kind.

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