When Choosing a Healthy Lifestyle Leads to Alienation


  • Author Cass Boutilier
  • Published August 11, 2021
  • Word count 841

Oh, Covid. You've tossed us all upside-down. Like anything in life, we can focus on highlights or lowlights, and today I'm choosing to focus on one highlight:

I've started strength training in January, and this is the longest I've stuck to a workout routine!

I'd like to think this recipe for success was equal parts 'motivation' and 'being home all the time'. Either way, I'm very proud of my progress and how I've been feeling, physically and mentally. (I said it before and I'll say it again - exercise is a mental-boosting process, which just happens to have physical benefits as well!)

Remember when you would rush home from school to show off the sticker you received on your work? My journey has felt a little like that, except instead of sharing my accomplishments with those I love, I share them with...strangers. Now, it's not as sad or unfortunate as it sounds. These strangers are people who are part of public and private forums that I've joined on platforms like Facebook, for instance. They are on their own wellness journey, we share similar goals and values, we motivate one another. It's really quite a constructive relationship - I just don't happen to know them personally and we will likely never meet.

So why do I turn to strangers?

My wellness/fitness tribe will ask questions such as, "How do you get up so early in the morning? I really want to, too! Inspire me!"

My personal tribe of people?

"You're crazy for getting up so early."

"But it's the weekend. Don't you take breaks on the weekend?"

Don't get me wrong; everybody has their own set of values and interests, and some people simply enjoy sleeping in. I think part of the disconnect lies in the fact that people assume wellness is a Monday to Friday position, when in reality, it's a lifestyle.

A style of life.

It's meant to be ongoing.

It's not a summer camp for kids, or a 21 day diet. It's your norm.

So, where does the alienation come in?

In my personal experience, it slowly trickled in when people learned that I was serious about incorporating wellness into my life. It started as, "Wow! Good for you!" then gradually transitioned into less-positive remarks like, "It must be nice", or "Well, that's easy for you to do, because you have/don't have (blank)..."

Which is why I want to throw a reminder in here:

You are not responsible for how other people feel about themselves.

If people are feeling threatened by your journey, that's their feeling to feel.

If they compare themselves to you, that's their comparison to feel.

How people perceive you is none of your business.

Back to the main point...

Even though I was still maintaining my social life with my friends (where and when covid permitted), I was still chastised for my decisions. I would eat the same greasy burger as a friend, but because I chose a salad as a side instead of fries, that was something for them to comment on.

I would still have a few drinks with friends, but because I would have 3 or 4 and stop rather than having 6 or 8, that was something for them to comment on.

I would still meet in the park for a socially-distanced visit, but because I would leave at 7 p.m. rather than 9 or 10 p.m. (to support my early morning routine), that was something for them to comment on.

My family? Same.

When I would bid everyone good night during our family video chats, I would be met with a thunder of, "What? It's only 10 p.m.! Oh, Boo - you suck!" ('Boo' being my childhood nickname, not the expression they used, although they sure could have!)

Most times, I just shrugged off the comments.

Sure, I could have defended them with health articles and statistics and the whole shebang, but if a person is not receptive to what you're saying at the start of your conversation, they likely won't become receptive throughout.

But the toughest part?

I actually thought about dropping my healthy practices and routines so I could fit back in, and "gain my spot back in the friend group."

Wait, what?

It's true. Looking back, I am beyond glad I chose my wellness over other people. It sounds selfish, but hear me out:

You - YOUR BODY - is the only one guaranteed to be around for the entirety of your life.

So when something makes you feel good, energizes you, makes you wanna dance and high-five yourself, you have to do it.

Despite the pushback from peers.

And you have to remember that you're doing it for you.

As for my friends? Yep, I still have them, and we still share some similar interests. When it comes to wellness, however, I have other people, other avenues, I choose to share my accomplishments with. I know we've always been taught not to talk to strangers, but sometimes you need to move out of your circle to find your tribe.

Cass began her self-guided health and fitness journey in response to being perpetually underweight during her youth. Coming from the 'rarely talked about' opposite end of the body-shaming scale, Cass seeks to share her personal development and growth with others who can benefit from her story.

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