I wouldn't call myself a "gym rat", but I do enjoy the occasional new and interesting exercise option. Last month, I took a Tai Chai class on the Highline in New York City. I thought I would do a little stretching, center myself and prepare for brunch--an urban must-do on summer weekends. However, as I moved into what I assume was supposed to represent a crane, I heard a shout from above-- "What you people doin'? You looking crazy." The entire class turned to see a couple of rowdy construction workers, which I assume traveled in time from the 1980's with their comments and attitude. After a few minutes of heckling they returned to their constructing and we returned to our slow motion Chinese dance, but it got me thinking. My patients are always telling me how hard it is to get healthy because friends and family will mock their attempts. Myself, being quite familiar with haters, got to thinking about what tips I can give to help deal with the weight-loss hecklers. Here are three:
Let them see you sweat. Usually we are told not to let people know they are getting to us; ignore them and they will go away. Well, that might work in an after-school special, but in the real world, I suggest you let them know it does bother you! Taking inspiration from the American Journal for Health Promotion, let them know you're pissed about their lack of support and attempt to sabotage your plans for wellness. Tell them how hard you are working and that the jokes may seem funny, but they are hurtful. Remind them that if you can't count on your family and friends to support you, who can you count on? Most people, once they know you're serious, will turn from a bully to an ally in a heartbeat. Vulnerability and honesty can be a handy tool.
Take it like a mammal. Burn off the frustration and learn to use your body as tool. Unlike those cold-hearted snakes heckling from afar, mammals burn a standard amount of energy. This is your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and it is the amount of calories your body uses to keep you alive while at rest. The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your BMR. By taking up weight resistance exercises, you can build a leaner and more muscular physique that will increase your calorie burning abilities 24 hours a day! That means that by putting on muscle, you'll burn more calories while doing nothing at all. Work for your body, and it will work for you.
One man's torment can be another's treasure. My third piece of advice for dealing with the haters is to use it as fuel. Take the negative and spit it back at someone in the form of relentlessness. They think they can break you? Never! Make the last 20 sit-ups for that time you ran into your ex, your evil uncle, or the person at the office that always says, "Do you really think you should have another piece of birthday cake?" Imagine yourself at your goal weight and how awesome you will feel when you have proven those haters wrong.
Be fearless, be full and let those haters hate.