Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

This is Tiffany and Chrystal. We both run 5ks. We both eat healthy (most of the time – hey, nobody’s perfect). We both work out regularly. We have both been told we inspire others to be more fit. However, people’s perception of us varies greatly. Here, we tell our own personal story. The funny thing is, we’re more alike than you can possibly imagine!

TIFFANY
People have told me (and my husband) that when they first meet me, they think I don’t like them, or that I’m stuck up.An old co-worker of mine actually told me she thought I was prejudiced when she first met me.Not because of anything I say, but just how I look at them.Obviously, this is not something I intentionally do.Quite the opposite.I’m SO worried about what people think of me when I meet them because of my weight.I think a lot of people see a heavy woman and think she is lazy, or eats a lot of donuts and ice cream.They would be wrong – about me anyway.

I do have my moments of weakness with food.When I do have those moments of weakness, and order a Big Mac or a donut, I wonder if people are looking at me and thinking, “Gosh, she shouldn’t be eating that.No wonder she’s fat.” I work out 5-6 days per week, sometimes every single day.I’m training to run a half marathon.I have run three 5Ks and completed a Warrior Dash this year.I LOVE to exercise.I don’t lock myself in my bedroom and eat bon-bons and watch TV all day.

I haven’t always been heavy.I was actually asked in high school if I was anorexic because I was so thin. (Of course, I thought I was fat at the time.) I was NOT anorexic.I didn’t become part of the obese crowd until after I gave birth to my son.I gained 65 pounds when I was pregnant with him.I finally lost all of that weight when he was 4 years old, only to get pregnant with my daughter the following summer.I gained 70 pounds while pregnant with her.I’ve lost 33 pounds so far, but the journey is far from over.

The problem is, if people look at me right now and don’t know that I am Workout Girl, or see me running at lunch time, they would make an assumption that I’m lazy.I’m not.You never know where someone is in his or her journey just by his or her current size.For all you know, I could’ve already lost 200 pounds.Don’t judge me.

CHRYSTAL
When I walk into a room, people notice. In fact, I usually get stares. No, no, no. Not what you’re thinking. Not the slow motion, hair blowing back, and my theme song is playing kind of stares. I get the “Who the hell does she think SHE is” stares. Other women usually automatically assume I am a bitch. Or at least that’s how I feel. This puts me on guard and generally shuts me down. Small talk seems impossible because I’m not even sure how to approach them. So, not only am I a bitch; now I’m a stuck up bitch. People watch to see what I’ll eat. They’ll give their friend a knowing glance if I pick up something healthy (Of course, she eats healthy. She probably had an iceberg leaf wrapped in a romaine leaf for lunch. I bet she’s hungry.)If I pick up something unhealthy instead, it’s a different kind of glance (Oh, look she can eat whatever she wants. She must have a high metabolism.) Neither of these assumptions about me are correct.

If I’m in the locker room, I also get looks. These REALLY suck because these are women I KNOW I have something in common with. We’re both at the gym. Obviously we’re both interested in our health. But they look at me like they’re daring me to say something to them. I DO want to say something to them. I want to scream, “Girl Power!”. Or ask them what their work out is going to be. Or if they’ve tried the new spin instructor. Or what did they do to get those beautiful shoulders. But I don’t. I offer a half ass smile and move on.

Here’s what you don’t know about me. It’s just as hard for me as it is for anyone else to turn down a donut. Or not order the cheese burger. I do not have magical will power. (Although I sure wish I did. Wouldn’t that be fabulous?)I don’t always want to work out. Or eat healthy. Sometimes I don’t do either. However, most of the time I do.

I haven’t always been thin. I’ve lost 30 pounds the old-fashioned way. Diet and exercise. Yes, diet and exercise. The two words no one wants to hear but the only true formula for success. I feel like people think I don’t have to try. Boy, how wrong that is. Maintaining is just as hard as losing was. You don’t get to stop when you get to your magic number. Don’t get me wrong. I jumped up and down like a ten-year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert when I saw “the number” on my scale. But you know what? I still have to work out. I still have to watch what I eat. That doesn’t stop.

This is not a sad tale where I’m garnering for your empathy. Quite the contrary. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’m secretly cheering on every girl I see who’s working out, regardless of her size. I remember what it was like to “run” (more like a fast walk, slow jog type of thing) when I was heavier. It sucked. It was hard to breathe and my knees hurt. Now when I run, it also usually sucks. The thrill comes when it’s over. So you think I’m staring at you while you’re running? I am. I’m giving you a mental high-five. I think you rock because you’re doing something that most people aren’t – getting off your ass and doing something good for yourself. So like I said, I’m not looking for your empathy. I’m saying don’t judge a book by its cover. We may be more alike than you ever could imagine.

* For more info on Tiffany, AKA Workout Girl, please visit her fabulous facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/goworkoutgirl

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25 thoughts on “Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

  1. Oh yeah! This blog rocks! I love the 2 views and thanks for putting it right out there. I have been both of you and still am. I thank you for your great words, your thoughtful insight and courage to write all of this! You’ve empowered me and I’ll be a better woman for it! Thank you!

  2. My best friend, who lives in another state, introduced me to this blog and I just love it. She and I are in the same place (brain wise/struggling w/weight wise) and your thoughts are just what we both need! You are so honest and soooooo fricken funny. Thanks again!

  3. Beautiful ladies, just beautiful… I gotta tell ya, I’m a little misty… You both rock…

    I can completely relate to both of you.

    Tiffany – I used to be so incredibly self-conscious that I too, was thought of as stuck up (I know, right… me!?!? LOL!). And when I was 70 pounds heavier, I used to feel so self-conscious about my weight that it would shut me down in certain social situations… And I got the looks… like “what is she doing eating that?!? Shouldn’t she be having a salad??”

    And Chrystal, I see those looks too when I’m out in public and have my swagger on… the “who the hell does she think she is…” And, I get self-conscious about what I eat too… ya have the healthy thing and people think “Oh of course… and here I am eating THIS…” Or, ya have the unhealthy thing and you’re damned for that too – just last week people made such a big deal because I had a beer out at a networking event… seriously people?!? I don’t live in a healthy CAVE!

    But, believe it or not, the looks that hurt the most are the ones who are intimidated by me (yeah, I see those too…) And intimidating is the LAST thing I want to be.

    I hate being judged. I was judged as a size 2 dancer in high school and college, I was judged when I was heavy, and I’m judged now. It sucks.

    As women, we should be lifting each other up, be accepting, open, loving and compassionate toward each other – we all need each other A LOT.

    That’s why I’m so glad all of us found our way to each other… this is such a strong, loving community… we DO lift each other up, and we DO support each other, and are accepting… and I love that… if only we could reach all the women that feel intimidated and inferior and we could convince them that support and compassion is right here…

    Sorry – I know that turned into a long rant – but you ladies, you moved me 🙂 Love you guys!

    • Jenn, thank you so much for those comments. It is so true…we should be lifting each other up. Unfortunately that is not the way of the world. Hopefully the few people we are able to reach with these blogs might make a tiny little impact somewhere.

  4. Love it! Seriously love this post. I can’t say enough about the power mis-perceptions have over all of us. It’s so nice to read through your tales and know that both of you are helping break to break the mis-perceptions down.

    This is a post that needs to go viral!

  5. I love Tiffany and have followed her for a while. I really relate to her. I am probably one of the most active people that I know-I have run 3 5 K’s and a 10 K and am scheduled to ride a 50 mile bike race in June. I logged 75 miles between running and biking in that last 2 weeks. I still am 97 pounds heavier than I want to be, but you know what- I am trying. I have to be honest that I am one of those people that get a little offended when skinny people give me the “you go girl look.” It feels patronizing to me. Truthfully, I think people are probably just trying to be supportive and are happy that I am out there doing what most people don’t even try. It is good to know that they are not judging me, they are probably just wanting me to succeed-which I am going to do this time. 24 pounds down and 97 to go!

    • Joy, that is fantastic! And those “skinny” people might have been in your same situation before and they KNOW how hard it is. I’m so glad we were able to give you a different perspective. 🙂

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