Elyse and I talk daily about the content we are going to share on Fairburn it Off.
Our goal is to have Fairburn it Off be a reliable resource on fitness and nutrition so that our members can realize a truly healthy lifestyle. From time to time, we also include personal stories in hopes that it can show you real examples of both success and struggle that occur in our daily lives. We have received great feedback on these personal stories and have decided to make a greater effort to get real with you about our general thoughts on living well. Therefore, for this month, we will be sharing more about our day to day eating and activities, any obstacles we may face, and all of the good, bad, and ugly.
We will still be sharing the usual fitness and nutrition tips, workouts, and recipes, including your Weekly Burn, but we will also be sharing with you more of our broader thoughts. We hope you enjoy this different content and learning a little bit more about why we do what we do.
Now to the subject of this post.
A longstanding area of focus for me has been trying to not take things personally. For those of you who know me, you know I can have a tendency to be reserved. One source of this tendency comes from a feeling of worrying about how what I say will be received. As a result, I am usually not the loudest in the room and instead tend to default to internalizing many of my thoughts.
Common advice that people receive when they are worried about what others think is something like “screw them, live life with a f*** it attitude and don’t worry about what others think!” While this kind of advice is usually presented with good intentions, I don’t believe that this approach is any better than the alternative – it is simply the other extreme. Showing compassion by caring what others think is an admirable quality that should not be completely stifled. Alternatively, you should not be afraid to stick up for your own core values when they are challenged.
So how does this relate to what we are doing? I want to share an example of how I have tried to deal with this issue with a middle-ground approach. My Goal: Still care and take others thoughts into consideration, but do not back off from how I live my life, specifically in regards to the way Elyse and I eat.
Nutrition is an area that is so deeply personal and emotional for many people. Recipes are literally handed down from generation to generation, and gatherings with friends and family often center around food and drink. As a result, since Elyse and I have started to eat a plant-based diet, we have been on the receiving end of many negative comments and skepticism from others. We have also been on the receiving end of many positive comments, and even neutral comments from people who understand that it is our business what we decide to eat or not eat.
As someone who has a tendency to take things personally, I found myself bothered and feeling under attack from anyone who would question my personal choices. After all, it is my choice, and despite being a nutritionist, I make it a point to avoid giving advice on nutrition unless I am specifically asked. However, as I have thought about this issue more, I have come to realize that negative comments, even when directed right at me, often have nothing to do with me at all. Some people can perceive a personal attack on their own beliefs just from the presence of an alternative belief, especially when it is in such a hot button area as food and nutrition. So just by me simply not eating meat in the presence of someone who does, it can be perceived as an attack on how they eat, even if no words are exchanged. As a result, the way I have been dealing with negative comments is by doing the following:
1. I take a second to try and be aware of where others are coming from.
2. I will usually explain in a very quick and non-confrontational manner why I do what I do.
3. Sometimes this opens the door to a meaningful conversation, which I am happy to have. Other times it does not, in which case I will try to disengage from that topic and move on to another topic or conversation if it turns very negative.
This approach has brought me a few huge benefits:
1. I take the comments less personally because I am occupied with trying to understand the real meaning and source of the comments.
2. Understanding where people are coming from can bring me new perspectives and lead to meaningful conversations and stronger relationships.
3. I am generally more at peace with these situations and avoid getting overly worked up.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have my moments where I struggle with this. However, by taking a more thoughtful approach, I have started to take a lot of the reactive anger out of my thought process and can move on from these situations with greater ease and understanding.
In general, this kind of struggle is something I know a lot of people face when they make a lifestyle change in regards to fitness or nutrition. In fact, we hear it from our members all the time. While many of you have support from friends or family members, it hardly ever happens that you receive 100% support, and expecting it is unrealistic. Those who do not support you (and even go out of their way to not support you) are doing so because of their personal beliefs and struggles. Trying to understand that can bring you greater awareness, peace, and perhaps most importantly, greater resolve to continue on your personal journey.