“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing” –Teddy Roosevelt
I heard this quote some time ago, and couldn’t decide how I felt about it. Then, an event happened that made it all make sense. For quite some time, I have known a girl. We will call her Susie for the sake of anonymity. Suzie was morbidly obese for as long as I can remember. She was also the nicest girl I believe I have ever met. Everyone I knew went extreme lengths to make sure she was included and the inevitable attacks the world lobbed at her. It was one of the first cruel truths a lot of my friends and I learned growing up: the world will point out your flaws.
Over the years, I would watch her become increasingly overweight. She first hit the 200lb mark, then the 300, then the 400. We stopped bringing it up after that. On the occasions I would see her, she would smile and tell me how proud she was to know me, and how well I am doing in my fitness goals. I would like politely and change the subject. Something about that interaction never felt right.
It wasn’t a topic of small talk or gossip. No one talked about her weight. We didn’t want to hurt her feelings. We wanted her to feel accepted and loved, because she was such an accepting/loving woman.
And here’s the sad truth: she died. She died before 30 because I was too much of a damn wimp to offer her the help she needed. I wouldn’t have opposed the work pro-bono, as she was truly a joy to be around. Nope, I simply said nothing because I didn’t want to deal with potentially hurting her feelings. So I stuck my head in the sand and let her slowly kill herself. I had all the education in the world on the topic. Certainly literature fully supports that her death was imminent and yet, I pretended there was a better use of my time. There wasn’t. And I’m done.
I am done ignoring blatant health risks. I never set out on this path to tell people what they want to hear. I always wanted to help people. “To change lives” I have said. Specifically, I wanted to help people by way of properly applied nutritional support and exercise prescription. I have done every formal education route I could logistically afford to do so, and have successfully turned SEVERAL peoples picture of health around. However, I did it mostly passively. They came to me, I did as they asked. If someone didn’t asked, I didn’t help. Hell, I have seen people obviously struggling with health related choices, and bit my tongue because I didn’t want to step on any toes. And while we can sit here and replay all the success stories, the truth is that its the fumbles that make you lose sleep at night. I don’t stay away thinking about client so-and-so’s lowered BMI. I stay awake thinking about how I should have said something…ANYTHING…to people like Susie.
So maybe I will come clean on things I have watched, and said nothing:
–Morbid obesity that led to a slew of heath issues and ultimately death
–overuse and abuse of PEDs
–extreme social isolation
–Eating disorders, ranging from binge eating to orthorexia
I am done turning a blind eye to these issues. If you are looking for a coach to turn a blind eye to things you are doing that can shave years off of your life, I am not your girl. If you are looking for me to tell you that everything will be fine and that behavior modification is a walk in the park, you will be disappointed. If you want to abuse yourself and those around you for the sake of some instant gratification, I will object. At the end of the day, I never set out to be Coach Feel Good. I set out to make your life better in a real way. Because when I can, I want to do the right thing and help you. At times, I believe I need to do the “wrong” thing: hurt your feelings with the truth. But I am done doing nothing.