I want to share with everyone a less than awesome experience that I had at a recent holiday dinner with about 35 people that took place in the private room of a restaurant. When the owner and head chef found out that I am plant based, they took it upon themselves to make a mockery of my personal choice by presenting me with a plate featuring one brussel sprout and laughingly said “I present you with a gluten free, vegan, organic brussel sprout” and then everyone at the table laughed, pulled out their cellphones to take pictures and claimed that this was the funniest thing ever. To add insult to injury, the owner later stated that at least their chef has a sense of humour which is so rare; as if I ought to feel privileged to be ridiculed in front of and by my group of dinner companions. The evening ended with the presentation of a cheese plate placed far from my end of the table so that those sitting close to me would be “punished for sitting next to the vegan”, which was of course followed by even more laughter. Needless to say I was not amused, in fact I was completely humiliated that everyone at the dinner had several laughs at my expense. It is astounding to see what is considered to be acceptable behaviour these days. The following day when I brought it to one person’s attention, they tried to rationalize with me that everyone had been drinking and this sort of thing happens all the time, it was only a joke blah, blah, blah (basically the usual song and dance of well what do you expect when you differ from the norm) and when those at the dinner were told that what they did was actually offensive and disrespectful apparently they were very remorseful. I however have yet to receive a single apology or acknowledgement from anyone, further proving that their so-called remorse is only an attempt at covering their asses.
This all took place about 2 weeks ago and I have been so angry since, and then something very interesting happened last night. As I came home from work and changed into my workout gear to get ready for some serious weightlifting (chest and triceps), I looked in the mirror and realized how grateful I am for that evening and all of those comments. I can safely say that this was a great reminder for why I choose to live a fit and healthy life, and it has been the best motivation for me push even harder and lift even heavier each time I exercise. While those at dinner were complaining about how bloated they are, how they need to lose weight, hit the gym and started making their usual new year’s resolution to finally “get in shape”, I am already there. I’m already in great shape and I am already strong, I am actually doing what very few people can. The food that I choose to eat nourishes me and fuels me for each day and each workout; it helps to build me and better myself. So now the only thing that I wish to convey is gratitude: thank you for reminding me that everything that I am already doing is working and continues to work and that I not only look great, I actually feel great too. While others complain about their muffin tops, their cellulite or their jiggly arm fat I can truly say that my stomach is flat, my ass is firm and I can bench press more than what I weigh.
Since that evening my fiancé says to me every morning that it’s a good day to be fit, although he has also been through his fair share of judgement from others and he continues to be subjected to it. As I’ve mentioned before, he is a big guy and many times when he goes out people stare, leer and whisper, making him understandably uncomfortable. I always say to him “let them stare” because those that do don’t and never will understand the work, the discipline and the courage that it takes to be that strong and to stick with that regiment for the long haul. I remember once when someone very close to me said that they noticed how uncomfortable he gets when people stare, but what do you expect when you look like that? Well I expect for him to be treated like a human being and remarks like that are truly awful.
All of this is to say that it is really terrible to judge a person, regardless of what they look like or how they choose to live their life. Whether a person is super fit or obese, it is unacceptable to treat people poorly and to make comments or “jokes”. If you are comfortable in your own skin and you feel great, then good on you because it is the most important thing for each of us to feel that way and to have confidence in ourselves. Block out what others may say and take the high road whenever you can, although sometimes I must admit that it feels good to put a person in their place when they totally suck. Remember compassion, kindness and empathy; treat others how you want to be treated, as hard as it may be. If however, you are the person who is passing judgement on others for whatever reason, remember this quote: “When you judge someone else, it doesn’t define who they are, it defines who you are”. Do you really want to be that person? That cynical, bitter, impolite person? Do you really want to attract that kind of negativity into your life? What goes around, comes around.
With the New Year right around the corner, try to take a different approach to resolutions and this year focus on doing the things that you actually enjoy. Spend time with your loved ones, learn new things and try out some new hobbies, because when you do engage in activities that you like, everything will be not just bearable, but also nice and fun too, letting you feel great about your life and your personal choices. If you want to make a change, a real change, then go for it! You can make it happen, you can live the life that you have always dreamed of, whether it’s making peace with how you look or striving to become stronger, you have what it takes. Everybody that scoffs or laughs or says mean things are just projective their own weakness and lack of faith on to you; it’s really just a bunch of noise from a small minded person who is attacking what they do not comprehend. In the words of Taylor Swift “haters gonna hate” and in the words of me “suck it haters!”
As for my resolution, well I’m going to continue on with trying some new things as I do every year (in 2014 I stared taking ballet and hot yoga classes and in 2015 I joined a book club and took a 12 week fitness challenge). I am going to finally join a gym. If I want to take my fitness up a notch and keep moving forward, then I will need to start lifting heavier with machines and not just free weights and adding back in a little bit of cardio a couple times a week. Also, working out at home is starting to become distracting with my fiancé always chatting with me as I’m trying to finish a set of 30 weighted v-ups, so I think this will be a good thing. Although it is a big expense, it’ll also be a big benefit for me and something new that I can get to experience.
I hope you all have a super awesome happy new year and a great year in 2016! Make it a great and memorable time for you and your loved ones!
Start It, Finish It