Assumptions: Why they’re usually never good.

This week, I saw my amazing friend Alan at Sweating Until Happy post this on his Facebook page:

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Do you know Alan? You should! He’s lost over 140 pounds, and is doing a triathalon soon! He’s an awesome athlete. It’s ironic that Alan posted this this week because I’ve also had several innocent assumptions this week come at me in the wrong way. I had a doctor’s appointment with a new practitioner, and after discussing my weight loss goals, he looked at me quizzically and said, “But do you exercise?” It was really hard for me not to pull out the sassy-snarky-sarcastic card that I play so well and be like “Nope. Not at all. In fact, I only move about 12 feet total each day, when I wake up in my bedroom and commute down the hall to my office for work.” However, my face probably showed some irritation as I patiently explained that yes, I hike, I do yoga, I run on the treadmill, I walk, I zumba… I am active. I know that it’s his job as a doctor to make sure I’m getting some physical activity, but I more resent the idea that just because I’m heavy, it’s assumed that I must not move. In the past, I’ve actually whipped out a business card for this blog at doctor’s appointments, just so I don’t have to explain the whole history of my ridiculous weight loss/gain/medical maladies. I may do that next week when I meet with a new endocrinologist… or maybe I’ll just get a t-shirt made that says “YES. I exercise at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes. YES, I am still obese.” (but I’d probably add a smiley face to the end of it, cuz that’s how I roll.) 🙂 (This same doctor told me to lose 100 pounds. I actually did laugh (politely) in his face and said “Yeah, not gonna happen. I’m cool with just 55 more.”
(Underachiever? Nah. Realist? Yah.))

Big girls climb mountains!

Big girls climb mountains!

Then, as if once this week wasn’t enough, I also tried a new fitness class at a new studio. While this comment wasn’t so direct, I got more of the “Oh, have you ever done this before? Is this your first time trying it?” all the while being corrected about the moves. Innocent questions, but perhaps because I’m already sensitive about the whole weight/exercise thing, I felt a tad annoyed as I explained that I’d done this particular type of exercise several times for several years, but that I just like to try different classes. These things come up all the time for all kinds of different people. I know that my single friends hate how people always assume they’re lonely or unhappy. There are a million different assumptions we make about people at any given time, and that’s fine, because it’s human nature. But maybe if you’re going to assume something, pause for a moment before verbalizing. I have to work on this too. As a chronic sufferer of foot in mouth disease, I definitely have said things I shouldn’t have, or made assumptions, or reinforced stereotypes… and I’m workin’ on it. And that’s fine. We will never be perfect at never offending anyone or hurting feelings. But, we can work on an awareness, a type of “sympatico” that you gently roll around in your mind, reminding you that next time you want to blurt out something like “Good for you!” to the heavy person huffing and puffing around the block, they may not need those kudos. AND, those words of encouragement? Might actually be kind of a downer for the person on the receiving end. While the intentions are good, of course, remember what Alan said. You never know where someone is at in their journey.

Where have you experienced an assumption that didn’t quite jive with you? I know it happens with career types (like assuming because I’m a social media manager, I update my Facebook and watch YouTube videos all day), body types, ethnicities, hair color… you name it! I guess any trait could create an unwanted assumption, couldn’t it? 🙂


9 thoughts on “Assumptions: Why they’re usually never good.

  1. This is real talk. I get the assumptions all the time, mostly people saying “you have to start somewhere!” Well, yeah, back when I started. And I’m still going. I’ve done this before. I’m still doing it.

    Innocent or not, assumptions are maddening and many times offensive. One thing I disagree with is that assumptions make an ass out of “you AND me.” Lol

  2. Great post! A good reminder to all to keep assumptions in check. I’ve dealt with many assumptions myself, like anyone, but most recently around my Chron’s disease. People can be particularly ignorant with “invisible” disabilities. I get, “well you look so healthy!” – ok, thanks but I’m not. Or, “why don’t you just watch what you eat?” – um, why don’t you do some @&$ research, then you’d know it has nothing to do with food. Listen more than you speak. Pause before blurting. I also like being brash sometimes but my own experiences have softened my approaches and caused more self-reflection. Thanks for getting the convo started Lyss! Xo

  3. great post! I love Alan!

    I always get the assumption that I want to lose weight because I work-out and am vegan. I just smile and say, “not dieting. just thriving!”

  4. So you went to a class you’ve never done at a place you’ve never been and when someone asked you (helpfully) if you’d tried it before, you assumed they were judging you because of your appearance?

    Way to over-project. People who go to a class or gym regularly recognize each other and when they see a new person, it is POLITE to welcome her and see if she has any questions about the class.

    When I walk into a shop, often a sales person will ask me if I’m familiar with their merchandise.

    EVERY restaurant server asks if you’ve dined with them before.

    So it’s okay for YOU assume they’re asking if you’ve done this kind of workout before because of your appearance/weight…but you get irritated that others (allegedly) assume you’re not active because of your weight.

    • Hi Michele,
      Those are all valid points, and I even mentioned in my post that I was likely being overly sensitive to these innocent questions. As this post points out overall, I’m working on MY assumptions… a process that clearly will take time 🙂 Thanks for the alternate perspective.

    • Whoa with the judgy! Yikes. It’s just a blog and her point of view. And she’s clearly trying to have a sense of humor about herself. Shhhhhh…. have a cookie.

  5. People always assume I’m sooooo unhealthy because of my size when actually, my health problems are all genetics. The issues a “normal” overweight person has – blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. – not a problem for me.

  6. I ran 6! miles this weekend with some guys from church. They held back at my pace so we could all run together. It was a great run and I did hear a couple of times “well, you might try xyz…” or “when I first started running…”. Which, they didn’t know any better, this was the second time I’ve met them, first time we’ve ran together, and I’ve not told them that I’ve lost over 80 pounds from my highest. I did manage to sneak in a couple “well, a few years ago, I ran xyz trail and was so excited when I could run that first mini loop – 4 whole minutes without stopping!” and we had clearly just done 6 miles (aaaand I walked/made them walk about 8 times over those 6 miles, but we got it done!).

    Sometimes I find it easy to roll with the punches like that, especially with guys. With women – sometimes its like “was that an innocent comment or intentional” – while giving them the side-eye 🙂 Truth be told, I was having a bad day a couple of months ago and I was at the doctor and the nurse asked if I was pregnant – a routine question, but I took it as I looked pregnant and tears literally welled up in my eyes. basically – sensitivity levels vary!

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