***In the interest of maintaining anonymity I have forgone the use of gender specific pronouns in the following post and replaced them with a plural collective pronoun when speaking about my client. I am aware that this is a grammatical error, but that shit doesn't matter when it comes to respecting others. So chill out about it.*** I train some of the coolest human beings on the face of the planet (and I am not just talking about my mom).
"Hey c'mon Stevan! What about me? I am cool!"
No doubt! I am not saying you aren't one of the coolest people either I just want to impress upon you how highly I think about the people I work with on a daily basis.
I mean the single fact that they are willing to admit they struggle with their weight and health than are willing to ask and pay for help in addressing the struggles is enough for them to earn my respect outright. Many people aren't willing to do either and instead are content to just keep existing in mediocrity. Not these people though.
They take their life by the horns and choose to own everything in their life and take themselves to where they want to go.
I am not saying they don't make mistakes or fall off the path now and again, but more often than not they are charging forward to conquer their demons and become a better person.
I really respect that because it is what I am about. It's the message I want to demonstrate to others through the way I live my life.
But yeah their pretty fucking awesome and I take the trust and respect they have placed in me really seriously. I want to see them be successful and I would do just about anything to help them.
This also means that I care for them as people and I don't like it when people fuck with their heads or down play their accomplishments both in the gym and out of the gym.
This is what today's post is about.
At the beginning of this week a client of mine told me about an interaction they had with another peer at church the day before (It's kind of a habit of mine to ask clients about how their weekend was and stay up to date on any life stuff they have going on).
This client of mine is involved in their church and helps lead worship each month. Specifically they help support the worship with their musical abilities by getting up in front of the church and singing.
Keep in mind that this church has a rather large congregation so this isn't a small feat and is even more mind-blowing when you consider that most American's biggest fear (above death) is speaking in front of people, forget about singing.
Not only is the shear act of getting in front of a large audience of people and singing your heart out awesome, but to do it in spite of being not totally 100% comfortable with the way you look or your current weight is just flat-out courageous! We could all learn a thing or to from this person about pushing outside of our comfort zone and facing our fears.
Anyways this past weekend was this client's weekend to help with worship, meaning it was their turn to get up and sing in front of the congregation. They proceeded to tell me about how they had worn a pair of nice dress shoes to church, but had brought another pair to change into because the nice pair can get uncomfortable after a while. As they had planned the additional pair of shoes came in handy rather quickly and they decided to change out of the uncomfortable nice pair for the rest of the service.
Here is where the good part (or shitty part depending on your opinion) happens.
As my client goes to sit down next to a fellow worship leader the guy notices she has changed shoes and asks why. My client responds by telling him that the other pair of shoes were bothering their knees. This is when this fucking guy says the following to my client (or something to the effect of):
"You know if you would exercise and lose some weight your knees might not hurt as much."
Oh did I mention the fact that immediately following this my client stepped on to the stage to sing?
Yeah great timing.
I mean really dude?
I mean seriously. You got to be fucking kidding me.
When my client told me this they said at first they were kind of taken back by his comment, but after thinking about it they understood where he was coming from. They knew he was trying to be helpful and not malicious. This reaction again speaks volumes to the kind of human beings I get to spend my day around. I mean someone told them to lose weight and instead of becoming super defensive they become understanding and empathetic.
I however am not as good of a person and when I heard this it really pissed me off. I care for my clients and I don't take lightly to other people saying shit like that to them. They don't deserve it.
I mean here is my client who at times can struggle with self-consciousness about her body, is constantly aware of the fact that she is overweight, is exercising three times a week for an hour lifting heavy ass weights and busting her ass to try to correct her weight problem, and working on her relationship with food and then this fucking guy comes along and says that.
Don't get me wrong I know this guy probably didn't say it with malice or even really mean anything negative by it, but just think about how this statement might have made you feel if you were my client.
I can imagine how it would have made me feel as someone who has struggled with being self-conscious about my body since the time I was twelve.
It would have felt shitty.
It would have made me completely distracted from what I was about to do. The only thing I would have been able to think about is how everyone is thinking how overweight I am.
In addition what does this guy think that my client just doesn't care that their overweight or that they are unaware of this fact? Think again buddy they are plenty aware of it and are taking steps to fix it.
Do you really honestly think that my clients problem is that they don't exercise enough? Nutrition is way more important for weight loss and my client is addressing their issues with food. And if you have had to ever do this yourself you know how much of a struggle it can be.
Why didn't he ask them about their exercise program first to see if they are in fact not exercising instead of just assuming that they don't?
Again I understand that he was trying to help my client and provide some kind of useful advice, but really he accomplished nothing with his statement except for making my client feel self-conscious and diminishing all the work they have put in into losing weight and improving their health.
His intentions were good, but as a fitness professional I understand that there is a right way and a wrong way to approach someone about their health and weight issues. Intentions are great, but as the old adage goes "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."
Does my client still have progress to make and things to work on? You bet your ass they do, but so do the rest of us.
Instead of making assumptions about other people and offering unsolicited advice and counsel to them based on these assumptions how about we start being human toward one another.
How about we start a dialogue and begin by getting to know the other person by asking questions first.
I am not just picking on this dude either because this isn't the first time I have heard this kind of story. I have observed such interactions many times over personally. I have been in such interactions before. I see it quite regularly in the break room at the hospital I work at on the weekends.
You have to understand that what you say affects others and a lot of times in ways you never even realized.
Words are powerful and if we really want to start having positive interactions with others and stop discouraging others form positive life changes we have to start treating each other with love and compassion, speaking honestly and understandingly, and being our authentic selves.
I am not saying you have to hold your tongue or censor your speech for fear of hurting others feelings.
What I am asking you to do is consider how what you say and the way in which you say it affects the other people around you then after doing so decide on what you want to say and how you want to say it.
I'll leave you with my top three rules for communicating with others:
1. Demonstrate love and understanding in my actions and words.
2. Consider the other person's feelings and perspective.
3. Say what I mean and mean what I say.
I have found that if I follow these three rules I have the most positive interactions with others. It doesn't mean I always agree with them or even say things they necessarily like, but it does mean that I treated them with respect, consideration, and gave them my genuine and authentic self.
And it makes sure that I don't discourage someone from working on themselves or diminish their efforts.
Happy moving and heavy lifting!
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training