Lighten Up People (No Pun Intended)

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I am truly blessed! I mean I get up each morning and have the opportunity to get out and exercise. Run, bike, walk, weight train; I can choose and I do.

I am not an uber-elite athlete, in fact while I do like to participate in events like marathons; I do not consider my self a competitor.

I also have the good fortune of living only about a mile from a path that whisks me some six miles away to the Pacific Ocean.

A few weeks ago my brother happened to be in town for the day because my sister-in-law was attending a seminar not to far from my home.

When I found out they were coming I suggested he bring his bike (his mountain bike, not his road bike… he has both) and we could cruise to the ocean for some quality brother time and a little exercise.

This happened to be a Saturday and so there was quite a bit of traffic on the path. We rode along enjoying ourselves and getting a light workout.

About half way to the ocean we both noticed something that kind of bothered us at first and then became a game. Maybe it's because we're Midwestern boys, but I don't really think so; every time we passed someone going in either direction we always greeted them.

Let's put this together:

"We were enjoying ourselves.
"We were getting in some exercise.
"We were being our natural self which is to say we're friendly.

What do you think the typical response was?

I can tell you that if we passed one hundred people that morning and the number was likely much higher, we got any response from about ten.

And the fewer the responses the more energetic we were with our greetings! As I said it almost became a game to see which one of us could get a response from people.

We had both finally come down to… whatever!

I was ready to let it go, but it happened to me again this morning! Anyone who knows me will tell you that it takes an awful lot to get me riled up, but now I am!

I mean come on folks!

The worst were the cyclists! Do you really think that because you put on some goofy looking weird fitting shirt and a pair of "God should forbid most people from wearing them" spandex shorts that suddenly you're a world class athlete?

I've got news for you, you're not! Quite frankly and not to discourage you, but if you are the typical cycling enthusiast who rides three, four, five maybe even six days a week and you think their should be any word in your vocabulary that even closely resembles "elite", you are sorely mistaken. That rippin' time you posted in you last century race the one you lost by only a mere five minutes, doesn't even come close to a practice session in the big leagues.

That being said; why do you have to be such an (fill-in-the-blank), to every person you pass out on the road?

And runners, in case you thought you were getting off as the friendly bunch! If you're not pushing five to six minute miles on your long slow days, shut up and stop snickering at the cyclists.

What could possibly be so important out there on the road that you can't even acknowledge your fellow human beings?

Now in case you're thinking I'm nuts; this is not for me!

I don't need your reassuring nod while I'm out there training! I've got great friends and family and I've met a lot of world class athletes (most of whom are pretty nice). If I'm looking for support while I'm out there training, I'm not looking for it from you!

But let's get back to the serious issue at hand in this country and how you can actually help out without having to raise a finger (I figured you might like that).

There is a serious problem with obesity in this country. I don't think anyone would disagree with that, am I right? It gets reiterated almost every day in the media, (which may explain my ire today since I watched a special report on it last night).

Every day around this country there are lots of people working very hard at trying to get America off its butt "so to speak". We know we have a problem and a lot of us are trying to do something about it. Who knows maybe I'm misjudging you and you're one of those people encouraging others to be active. Maybe!

OK, so let's say I'm wrong and you actually encouraged a friend or family member or co-worker to go out and do something… anything. You tell them about this great path where they can go and be out of city traffic and yet still be relatively close to home.

Day one, there they are just trying to get a few miles of walking under their belt and looking for all of the reassurance they can possibly find because it's not going to be easy and they are probably a little self conscious to boot.

Nervously, they say "Hello" to every passer-by, just looking for a little reassurance. The first people they come across are your rival cycling gang (gang just seems to fit better than club here) the "Think We're Better than You Boys" who proceed to snub your friend like he's the guy wearing overalls at a black-tie affair. This happens over and over again until what is really only a three mile walk seems like a hundred mile death march.

Let me ask you something;

What are the chances your friend is going to return to that path ever again?

How positive is your friend going to feel about going out and doing it again anywhere?

What hypocritical statement are you going to make to your friend about how you would never do such a thing?

Let's go back for a second and unwind everything I said about your competitiveness and assume that you really are a competitive athlete.

I would then also assume that you have a general concern and interest in the health and well being of others. World class athletes fully understand the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle.

As such, you should be one of the greatest ambassadors in the world for fitness. I know that every professional athlete is not a super role model, but you know what; the majority of them are!

Maybe you just don't understand that a few kind words, a smile, even a simple nod can be so encouraging to someone trying to get started that it will cause them to go out and do it again just simply because they feel acknowledged.

You have to understand that most obese people are not getting tons of encouragement to get fit. They are instead getting debilitating humiliation. They are being told they are losers who will never amount to anything or that they have a disease that causes them to be that way so they should just accept it. I won't write the words I want to say about that here. It's really the topic for a whole other article.

Maybe you're just shy. In which case I'm truly sorry for calling you out on the carpet, however I'm not going to let you off the hook. When I was in the fifth grade, my homeroom teacher sent a report card home that said I was so introverted that if I didn't come out of my shell soon, I would have serious problems in life.

I don't know a single person at this point in my life who would accuse me of being shy. A simple smile communicates a whole lot more than those words you can't find anyway!

Maybe you're just a "Jerk"!

What can I say? If you're a jerk you're a jerk! Nothing else to say here but good luck with the whole karmic balance thing! (Look that up if you don't know what it means!)

Bottom-line:

All I'm really asking for is a little help here! I'm not asking you to change your training routine. I'm not asking you to take your training any less seriously! I'm just asking you to realize that the person you snub out on the road because you're too self-important to acknowledge them may die of a heart attack one day because you as a jerk discouraged them from wanting to get out and move. Maybe you don't care about other people because you don't think it's your problem but remember this; that person you snubbed could be the ER Nurse who's going to be treating you when you have that cycling accident. What now?

We have got to start encouraging each other to get fit and it's got to be sooner than later and for crying out loud; is a smile going to slow you down?

Lighten Up People!
Self Improvement and Motivation
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