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The cliche “fitness is a journey”, “life is a process” or any other tooling of that moniker has been so overused and out stretched. So much so that whatever remains is sheer ambiguity. That being said, please bear with this hypocrite as I milk the expression one more time for the sake of this article.

When it comes to exercise, wellness, nutrition, etc., everyone is at different points along their own path. What I mean to say is that we all have a process for adopting healthier versions of ourselves. Some of you are absolutely steamrolling down this highway in a nonstop, righteous pursuit of excellence (kudos by the way). Others, you haven’t even thought about approaching the start (we love you all the same).

Personally, I picture something akin to a never ending, two way yellow brick road (obviously sans flying monkeys). We are either:
1. Moving towards a better version of ourselves
2. Away from a better version of ourselves
or 3. Enjoying a nice detour among the poppies now and again.

Nice thing about this analogy is we’re all in this together… Kind of the point of the whole blog.

They say, “Variety is the spice of life” and that couldn’t be truer with the current state of fitness. Your cube mate is into marathons, your spouse eats paleo, and your mother walks the dog every day. If I borrow the previous “OZ” analogy, each and every one of these individuals is at a different point on that yellow brick road. They started at different places, they want to travel at different speeds, and they’re heading to different destinations. I for one am challenged and enriched as a coach as I get to work with a variety of people who hold differing motivations and separate abilities all under one roof. It is a pleasurable conundrum, making me a better professional for it.

internet-commentsFar too often I see internet comments or entire blogs dedicated to shaming, judging, gossiping, or de-constructing another person or group of people’s process or path. What this does, frankly, is it makes light of the point at which that mocked individual resides on their “journey”. It is unfortunate that the anonymity of the world wide web removes a filter of decency that would exist if we were expressing opinions, you know, face-to-face. In a Facebook comment section you’ll always find someone ready to tell you that the workout plan you just started after five years of inactivity is an abominable blithe on the tapestry of fitness. Or better yet, proceed to inform you which foods you absolutely cannot eat, guilting you for feeding them to your kids.

Whether online or in person, people will find ways to take swings at others whom they presume have it all figured out. I recently had an extended family member negatively question my motives for eating my mother-in-law’s caramel rolls when we were home for a holiday. First, they’re delicious. Second, did I mention they’re delicious? Okay second, a mindful and temporary detour into the poppies (last OZ reference!) doesn’t erase years of triumphs and hard work along that yellow brick road.

Witness the wisdom…

Starting today, be aware that there are those in our midst who run the extreme risk of being knocked off their path, or at least slowed down in the pursuit of a better version of themselves. Don’t be the individual at the baby shower, break room, or online platform who spouts off opinion-based anecdotals regarding someone else’s new fitness/nutrition regimen. As much as I am the first to cringe at poor form, ridiculous diet habits, or improper exercise selections, I’ve taken the approach as of late that if it’s not inherently harmful, and my opinion would be more deconstructive than constructive, I keep my mouth shut and keep doing me. I would feel absolutely terrible if my mindless knee jerk reaction set someone back, even for just a day, as they chase the completion of their goals. Yes, as a professional, those of us in the know have a responsibility to teach, correct, and promote change when change is needed. Even so, I hope that in lieu of being a journey-wrecker, we can ALL choose to be bright spots of encouragement to the folks around us.

Wrapping up…
• Let’s be travelers on this fitness journey who discuss topics with empathy and intelligence.
• Don’t judge the method, the form, or the motives until you have the whole picture.
• Challenge yourself to be the person who builds up, seeking out the good in another’s pursuits.
• Eat a few caramel rolls now and then (poppies, poppies, poppies) and spend less time reading internet comments.

Taylor Gish is an Exclusive Coach at MSP Fitness and Lead Instructor to the Strength+Endurance Program. His individual training focus is on the sport of Olympic Weightlifting where he has been competing locally and nationally since 2013. Taylor enjoys cooking, eating, and spending time with his wife and kids — in no particular order.

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