I Get What You’re Saying, But Can We Find a Different Way?

At social events I’m always tempted to lie about what I do. Something that doesn’t have a ton of follow-up. I’m thinking Marine Ophthalmologist or something along those lines. Something without a ton of follow-up conversation. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE talking about the intricacies of fitness, behavior change, strength, and conditioning. I started a podcast so I could jibber-jabber even more.

What’s really been bothering me lately is peoples’ reaction to finding out I work in fitness. More specifically, their almost-instantaneously descent into negative self-talk upon learning what I do. What’s worse is that there’s no amount of convincing that pulls people off that ledge of negativity and self-destruction. Here are some of the more recent “conversation starters”

  • I’m way too fat to work out.
  • I tried working out once but…
  • I’m too old for that.
  • I’m sooo busy.
  • My knees hurt.
  • I like chocolate WAAAAY too much.
  • I’d be the slowest one in the room.

Ugh. What a buzzkill. But, I’ve been thinking about these conversations a lot lately. What’s really beneath all that negativity. What are you really saying? 

A good friend, member of the gym, and physician really opened my eyes to what’s beneath these negative statements. Her approach to her patients losing weight is one of the best I’ve witnessed. Instead of lecturing and giving orders, she asks (I’m sure I’m butchering this): “How is smoking/gaining weight/drinking/whatever serving you?”

I love this approach because it is non-judgemental and helps people reach their own conclusions. After thinking about this question, I finally realized why people react to working out with such weird negative self-talk. When they say “I’m too old” they don’t really mean they’re too old. Hell, I saw a 74 year old woman do an unassisted strict pull-up yesterday. So what are we really saying?

I’m not ready to change.

AND THAT’S COMPLETELY OK. There are so many things I’m not ready to do – and it’s completely fine that I’m not ready to do them. Would you ever recommend that someone have kids when they feel they’re not ready to do so? Of course not! While not as life-changing as parenthood, adopting healthy habits is nothing short of fully pervasive.

So my plea is that we change our language to be a little less self-hating. Stop speaking such negativity about yourself and be honest – you’re not ready to change certain parts of your life. That’s OK. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be ready someday but, in the meantime, be kind to yourself.