Most of the emails or comments I’ve received from people about my fitness pursuits have been overwhelmingly positive and for that I’m sincerely appreciative. What I find slightly harder to respond to with any tact and dignity are the more negative assertions, as well as the questions that appear to imply that my choices are problematic in some way.
“Why are you doing this to yourself? It can’t be good for you.”
“You’re almost 40. What’s the point? You can’t be seriously hoping to achieve anything athletically at your age.”
I have had several people either message me or say these exact phrases to my face and it caught me rather flat-footed. You see, part of my journey has been to surround myself with supportive people, people who, if they don’t understand what I’m doing, at least accept that it’s my choice. When I encounter the negative these days, they’re in the minority and it startles me.
Then there are the other, slightly nosy, questions.
“Paying for a personal trainer is expensive. You must have a tonne of money.”
“Of course you can afford to get in shape. You’re married to a lawyer.”
“Must be nice to be able to throw money away like that.”
“Losing weight is so easy for some people.”
Again, rather judgemental questions that seem to imply that I have gobs of money that I burn on bonfires in the backyard and that magically appears whenever needed (If only that last part were true!).
At first these really stung, firstly, because they imply a futility and pointlessness to a process that I enjoy very much and secondly, because they assume that money and hard work are in no way connected.
Nothing of what I have that’s worth having has been easy. I have a superlative marriage. That has taken 20 years of consistent work. We own a business. Again, the years of work that we have both put into developing our skills has started to pay off. We have relative financial stability, but for years we lived like paupers to achieve that. Any weight I’ve lost has been shed with sweat, tears, occasional blood and months of falling down, staggering to my feet and trying again. We have fought for where we are now and continue to struggle to improve.
The only question that actually makes any sense to me is this one:
“Where on earth do you find time?”
And it was in answering that question that I found responses in my own mind to the others.
I make time for things that matter to me.
I make time for my husband and child.
I make time for my exercise and meal preparation.
I make time for my job in our business.
I make time for creative pursuits, ranging from painting to photography.
I make time for friends, family, doing nice things randomly for people, photography, hanging with the cats and dogs, hiking and any of the other components of my life that matter to me.
I make choices. My choices have consequences.
I choose to use my money for a personal trainer. I am happy with that choice. I choose it over a new car, larger house, fancier toys and more expensive vacations. I understand that there are consequences to my choices and that not everyone shares them. I am content with that.
I choose to spend some of my time exercising. This means that I don’t engage in as many volunteer activities and that I say no to other activities regularly.
I choose to put my effort and energy into pursuing this activity because it makes me happy.
It makes me happy to pursue being the best I can be. That anyone else doesn’t see a point in it is immaterial. I am in love with the process of getting stronger, faster and better. This happiness is about me and my life. It has nothing to do with anyone else. The foods I eat are about me. The comments I make about my body are my own self-assessments. Calling myself obese was honest. I’ve been told in emails that I was being “overly brutal” with myself, but it doesn’t feel that way to me. It was honest. Denying it felt wrong to me because I knew it deep down anyway, so not only was I unhappy with my body’s state, I was unhappy with lying to myself.
But that’s me.
Other people make their own choices. Other people control their own bodies and food and can make completely different choices than I make about nutrition and exercise and be utterly happy with them. Other people choose to spend their time gardening, shopping, baking, travelling, making music and doing other remarkable things that are joyous and important to them. This world is made up of billions of individuals and each one can contribute something unique to the lives they touch. That I choose to eat a certain way and live a certain way is not a judgement, but a celebration. I’m celebrating what I can be, but there’s nothing that says that your party has to have the same decorations as mine.
So why am I doing this? Because I can and I want to.
Do I hope to achieve anything? Of course.
I already have.