You know, one of the hardest aspects of trying to get/stay in shape, is judgement from others. Let’s be honest… We can say we don’t give a shit what others think until the cows come home. But the reality is that having someone else, even a total stranger, tell us that we’re out of shape or don’t look “ideal” is always a bit of a downer. Which is why I don’t understand why people do it.
The most popular example of this, would be a particularly heavy-set individual going to a public gym in the hopes of losing some weight and improving themselves. Then having one and/or many assholes, in their ignorance, point and laugh, thereby discouraging the person from going to the gym again. It’s a nasty cycle of behaviour against one’s fellow human, and you’d think we’d have surpassed it. Especially in a modern society where everyone is so damned sensitive about the least of things. But I digress…
Last Saturday (May 2nd) I took to the streets for a quick run on my bike. I like biking. Those of you following this blog have likely come to be VERY aware of this. And today was not an exception to that rule, as I decided to go rack up some mileage. As I have been trying to maintain a minimum of three fitness session of any kind every week for my year-long resolution, I had little choice but to do something as I only had two workouts on the books. I know, I know… Bad me!
I was about 10 kilometres in when I decided to do a lap of Mount Pleasant. Now, Mount Pleasant is a rounded hill of grassed landscape that is surrounded by soccer, baseball and football fields. It’s one of the nicer parks of its kind in Regina. It also has a reasonable elevation for someone cycling around its trail. Usually, I cut straight to Mount Pleasant from my home and do a circuit, sometimes two, immediately at the beginning of my journey. On this occasion, I chose to wait until halfway through my intended distance in order to be closer to exhaustion when I climbed the hill. This allowed for a deeper burn and when I cycled down and around the trail back towards the streets, I was bushed. And breathing hard.
As I come around a corner, I spot to young girls sitting on a park bench on the edge of the trail. As luck would have it, the song I was listening to ended just as I passed them and I heard one of them say, “Wow, listen to him gasping for air! He must really be out of shape…” I rode on without commenting, but something deep inside me resented being told I was out of shape, especially since these two little brats had no idea how far I had travelled at that point.
I know I’m not. I’m no 80’s Schwartzenegger, but considering I do multiple bouts of martial arts, cycling and circuit workouts every week (not to mention keeping up with a hyperactive 5-year old), I would hardly fit the standard definition of being out of shape. So why do we care? Why would anyone care what someone else thinks about their physical shape? It all comes down to aspects of social acceptance, being included and feeling valued by the people around us. It stems from an evolutionary need to be included in the pack, or face dying alone.
But the reality is that it doesn’t matter. Breathe hard if you need to. because I’ll tell you something: If you’re not breathing hard, if you’re not sweating buckets and if you’re not struggling to finish that workout… Then, my friend, you aren’t working out hard enough. Even if you are working harder than two little snowflake brats with their yoga apparel that’s likely never seen a drop of sweat and their off-the-cuff opinions of others… But once again, I digress… ☯