Confession

08Aug08

I have a confession to make.

It’s not something I’m proud of, but I do it.

Comparing. Judging.

It can be taken too far, I know that it can, but I can’t help but feel a twinge of pride when I see my coworkers guzzle down caramel popcorn, take extra bagels, stampede downstairs for donuts.

That used to be me, says I.

And I feel a warm glow that I can say “used to be”.

For the most part, I do not think “oh em gee, what a fat cow, no wonder they’ve got that gut”. Anytime I start down THAT road, I curb myself very sharply. Not only is that None Of My Business, it’s counter productive and leads very swiftly into the trap of Holier Than Thou, which is territory I hit once back in High School and I never ever ever want to hit again.

Ever. Period.

But I do get some motivation from the fact that I can resist the call of the ever-present sweets at my work. That I no longer join the stampede to the breakroom on donut days.

I’m not exactly proud of this part of me. I’ve thought about deleting this post more than once instead of publishing it. But you know what? That’s what I made this blog for, so I can be honest. You don’t know me and I don’t know you, but I do know that everyone who has ever gone on a diet has DONE this.

We do. It’s human to compare ourselves to the people next to us. It’s human to judge, to wave our newfound sense of health and right-ness flags proudly.

I think it can be healthy, but it’s a dangerous path to spend very much time on. It’s like thyme – a little bit goes a long, long way, and if you add too much, before you know it you’ve ruined your meatloaf. (I made a C+ on analogies in College).

If the person next to me on the treadmills is doing a seriously kickass job, it’s good to look at that and feel a spurt of pride and competitiveness. I can do that. I’m not going to wuss out.

So you work harder, and you feel good.

If the person next to you on the treadmills is obviously out of shape and having a hard time, laboring, it is NOT good to look at them and give a smug little smile. Look how awesome you are. That cow next to you is just pitiful, you’re much better than them.

Stop.

No. You SHOULD feel pride FOR THEM. They’re making the effort. They’re trying, and they’re obviously trying very hard. How easy to go to the gym and work out when you’re already in good shape. How simple, to push yourself past a mile, past three miles, when it feels like a liberating exercise.

And how difficult, how impossible when just walking up a flight of stairs winds you.

I would like to think that I might stop them and show them how to pace themselves – alternating light jogging (they’re running too hard, they’ll exhaust themselves sooner) with a brisk walk while they catch their breath.

I would like to think that they wouldn’t take that as criticism or poking fun.

I don’t know what I’d do, but I hope like hell I wouldn’t just sit there smugly and do nothing, feeling self-righteous.

And yet. And yet, here I sit at my desk, being grateful that I’m no longer the person who runs downstairs to get some of the caramel popcorn before it’s all gone.

What’s the difference?

Is it as simple as just not thinking horrible things about the other people? Or is it something larger and more complicated? They know the caramel popcorn isn’t good for them. Nobody thinks “Mmm, now I don’t have to eat that side salad with dinner! Thank goodness for caramel popcorn!”. They know it.

They just haven’t made a commitment to themselves to not eat it. They’re not looking for health advice – if I were to suggest they have some carrot sticks instead, they’d be offended, and rightly so.  Again, that’s None Of My Business.

If they’re a friend, and I know they’re struggling with the desire for the snack weighed against their decision to try and eat healthier, I will speak up – either convince them to not have any, or to take just a few pieces and enjoy them instead of a whole cup.

So where is the line? Where does the pride I feel turn into something sick and ugly?

I’m not entirely sure. I know when I cross it, and I squash those thoughts as soon as they appear, because thoughts turn into actions, and I know very well just how seductive Holier Than Thou land is, and just how horrible the landscape is once you get there.

Another long-winded and rambly post without any real point or neat little bow to tie it all together. Maybe someday I will know the answer, but for now, maybe someone will read this and feel relieved to know that they’re not alone in sometimes turning into a viperous harridan.

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4 Responses to “Confession”

  1. I’m with you on the fine line between pride and self-righteousness. It’s tough and I’ve felt it too – when out for lunch with colleagues who choose the pizza instead of something healthier, or the muffin everyday for breakfast.

    It’s not something I can easily switch off but instead I have to remind myself that I’VE made the choice to be healthy, not them.

    And at the gym? The only time I allow the people next to me to influence me is when they’re either much fitter (and I feel jealous and then motivated) or they start talking to me (and I shoot them death stares). Otherwise I try stay in my world :)

    Great post btw. You’re in my brain. Please move over. :)

  2. @Gemfit
    No way! I like it here. This recliner is perfect, and those curtains are adorable. Have you looked into feng shui? I really think the whole place would open up if you’d paint the south wall yellow.

    *winks*

    Thanks for the comment!

    I’m also with you on the death stares. Can’t people see I’m trying to work out here? Good grief, it’s worse than the dentist asking a question before diving into my molars. Seriously. If my breathing is unlabored enough that you feel I’m available for a chat, then I’m obviously not working out hard enough. =P

  3. hmmmm.

    interesting thought.

    is it ugly when it becomes schadenfreude?

  4. @MizFit
    I had to look that word up on Wikipedia, how sad is that?

    But yes, I think so.


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