Monday, March 12, 2012

Penance and Absolution

I've spoken before about why I try to avoid telling people what I do when I go to a social function - like golf pros, doctors, tennis coaches... people inevitably want to "pick your brain", which is a roundabout way of saying "get your professional consulting services for free". Actually, in all seriousness, I don't imagine people realize this - they simply don't understand the value of our time.

That aside, there's another reaction people have that, I think, is probably unique to personal trainers. Maybe it happens with doctors, but probably only if the individual is really inflicting some damage (ie. smoking).

Let me give you an example. Last summer, I was sitting at dinner with a group whom, for the most part, I didn't know. There was one couple sitting at our end of the table, and after some casual conversation I excused myself to go to the washroom. When I got back, out of nowhere, the guy looks me over and says "So - what do you weigh?". I shot a look right at my wife that said "You told him what we do, didn't you..." and she just shrugged helplessly and said "I panicked... ". And that's when the unique phenomenon that I'm talking about kicked in.

Immediately, he started saying that they don't normally eat meals like we were eating, that they don't drink that much regularly, that they try to exercise 3 times a week... and so on. For the next 30 minutes, I took on the role of a fitness confessional - listening to this guy talk about all of the ways that he doesn't take care of himself, as well as what he does to try and counteract all the abuse.

To anyone who might do this in the future, I have news for you: I don't care.

Now, I don't mean I don't care about your health (I care about everyone's), or that if you were client, I wouldn't happily listen to your efforts at absolution and try to help direct you to a better lifestyle. What I mean is that, sitting there at that dinner table (cocktail party, business lunch - whatever), I am sitting with another adult, capable of making decisions for themselves. I'm not judging you, nor can I tell you that what you're doing is okay - in fact, I'm probably just enjoying my meal and the company, thinking about where I'm going next... your diet and lifestyle is probably the last thing that would cross my mind.

It's probably a reflection of how guilty the person feels, and they place the judgement they're making on themselves to me - hoping that I will say it's alright, and they can continue with their poor choices guilt-free.

Not going to happen. Your body and your health are the reflection of your choices - justifying what you do isn't going to change anything. My suggestion?

If you feel badly because you know the choices you're making are wrong - find a professional and commit to making the change. Stop looking for someone to tell you what you're doing is "alright" when you, and your body, know it's not.


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