Stranger-supporters and how I loathe them.

I’ve written about this topic before, but I can’t find the post so it must have been on the old blog. Oh well, I wanted to expand on it anyway, so I guess we can all just forget that maybe I’ve ranted about this before.

The other day I was wasting time on FaceBook, because I cannot seem to help myself, and I came across this Distractify Article titled: To the Fatty Running on the Track this Afternoon; which was apparently supposed to give me warm fuzzies about how supportive this jackass was being. Luckily because of creepy internet ways, I was directed to this other article: To the Man Who Judged me on the Westview Track, from the person who the original post was about. The Distractify article even adds some found photos of a couple walking and a woman running on a track, none of these people have anything to do with the original post; and was even confusing, because I originally assumed the woman in the second picture was the person that “rocks.”

I bet when that guy wrote that article he was patting himself on the back for being such a supportive person. When Distractify decided to make their article about it they probably did too; urging us at the bottom of the article to “Share this powerful message and inspire others…” blah blah social media buttons. I love the response to the original post. I wish more people would think about his words. Especially, “you do not have respect for my journey because you do not know it.” Exactly. You don’t know where I’ve been, you don’t know how I got to where I am, so keep your encouragement to yourself. It is counterproductive.

This is something I am very familiar with (which is why I’ve written about it before), but something I had not experienced in a while. I read these articles a few weeks ago and found myself kind of relieved that nothing like that had happened to me lately, even though I have been going to the gym fairly regularly. Turned out I spoke too soon.

There I am, early on Thursday morning, at the gym working with my trainer. I am very pale, which means it does not take much physical excursion before my face is lobster red. I am also highly skilled in the art of sweating, so I don’t have to work out very hard before I look like I am halfway through a marathon in Death Valley. This red face problem can last so long that coworkers have been known to ask me about my sunburn when I’ve arrived at work in the morning. Nope, no sunburn here, I just worked out an hour ago…give it another hour and I should return to normal face color again.

Sitting at the chest-press, red-faced and sweaty (but just sitting there), this woman walks by and gives me a thumbs up. But not just a walk by “good job” thumbs up. She swerves so she walks closer to the machine I am on, leans down a little, and puts her thumb in my face. You know, in case I am unaware that she is supportive of the sweaty fat girl. I mean, I should be honored that she paused in the middle of her own workout to stop and acknowledge the incredible feat I was accomplishing…you know…going to the gym…like I have been for years. But hey, she gets to feel better about herself for the rest of the day for being so kind to a stranger. I bet she told people her side of the story with some smarmy “hey, I just hope she pays it forward” line. Heck, if she gets to decide I need a stranger’s encouragement, I can imagine her douche level.

The thing is, I find that crap incredibly DIScouraging. She’s not giving a thumbs up to everyone in the place. I’m getting singled out because she takes one look at me and thinks that I am not that fit. I don’t think I am either, but my trainer has told me I am the most fit of all of his current clients. My doctor has given me a perfectly clean bill of health, and let me know that I have an impressive amount of muscle hiding under all this fat (this is not the wording he used). I have never had any indicators for any obesity related illnesses.

When people put their thumbs up in my face (or any similar kind of encouragement), I want to workout somewhere private, or nowhere at all. That chest-press machine I was about to use, yeah, it didn’t even have any weights on it. I still couldn’t do all the sets we were doing, even with no weights. That lady thought she was lifting me up, but she put me down, and that damned machine was kicking me while I was down there. Because of an issue where there was no water at the gym, I had to cut my workout off early so that I could go home and get ready for work. The water ended up coming back on right as I was leaving. My trainer asked me if I wanted to finish my session now that I could get ready there. I said no and continued walking out of the gym. Part of that decision had to do with looking forward to using my own awesome shower, but part of it was the thumbs up. I was done with the gym for that day.

I wouldn’t let that one lady or chest-press machine get me down. I returned to the gym this morning to meet with my trainer. He decided today we were going to work on building some strength. I joked about that having something to do with me not killing it on the chest-press last time, but he claimed that wasn’t the reason. Suuurreee. We’re just working on my upper body strength because that’s a good idea… whatever.

After completing my entire workout (no leaving early today) I walked my sweaty, red face out of the gym. As I walked towards the parking lot there was a guy walking towards the gym. I was smiling because that’s how I roll, and I accidentally made eye contact with this dude. I realized he had been looking at me, and I had a brief moment of wondering if he was checking me out (which is ridiculous at any time, but see above for the “sweaty, red face” description) until he opened his mouth and said something along the lines of: “Nice job.” I don’t remember the actual words, but it was something along those lines. Could’ve been “Good work” or “good workout” but I really am not sure. I had to stop myself from answering, “Go fuck yourself.” Which I would have said in a pleasant manner, I assure you. Not only does this dude definitely not know my journey, but he hadn’t even been inside the gym to see any part of my workout for the day. Maybe I had a sunburn and had just spilled a bucket of water over my head. Maybe I hadn’t even worked out at all. He doesn’t know. He wasn’t there.

Thanks dude. Thanks for wiping the smile right off my face. Thanks for irritating the crap out of me. Because I doubt that you are saying that to every person you see walking out of the gym. You aren’t going to be congratulating every stranger in the gym on the workout that they are doing. I certainly don’t. But, you know what, I might start. Maybe if people see how weird it is to congratulate a stranger for no reason, they will stop.

Or, I’ll just start telling my stranger-supporters to go fuck themselves. That seems easier.


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