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Once upon a time, I was overweight and out of shape. And then I started running, and my life changed. I lost 35 pounds and was in the best shape of my life. I went from a very sedentary lifestyle with unhealthy eating habits to a very active one with healthy eating habits. It was so easy to do, and the results were so worth the efforts. 

Why doesn’t everyone do this? There’s no excuse for being overweight and unhealthy, right? Right? Judge, judge, judge judge, yup, that’s what I did, because I changed my life, that meant everyone else could certainly do so as well, they just had to want to do the work. I might not have said it, but I certainly had those thoughts.

Then I had two kids within two years and gained a bit of baby weight, nothing extreme or out of the ordinary. Once the last baby was born, I went back to running and eating properly, but nothing worked out like I had planned. In fact, I gained weight, and gained, and gained. I’m now 30 pounds heavier than I was at my overweight and out of shape pre-running life. Except now I still run, hike, and bike, and I’m pretty active.

I’m obese, quite possibly morbidly obese; I haven’t asked for an official label though, and I don’t understand it. What is wrong, what isn’t working and why isn’t it working? We haven’t figured it out yet, but that’s not the issue that’s weighing on my mind. 

Why are we (or is it just me?) so quick to judge others? Does their appearance affect others? Does it matter if someone wears clothes that show off cellulite, are too tight, too loose, wrinkly, worn, mismatched, or out of style? Does it matter? What are their stories? Would it matter to know they had been struggling to lose weight and finally lost a few pounds, that there was a medical condition preventing them from gaining weight, that the clothes that don’t fit well were a gift from someone close who recently died, that all of their possessions were destroyed in a home fire, or that the faded purple shirt makes them feel fantastic and reminds them of a happier time in life?

When I hear personal stories, it changes how I feel when I see someone. Even if I know someone personally, it doesn’t mean that they have chosen to share every detail about their life. That one small detail could offer up an explanation to the very thing that I judge them on.

So here I am, overweight, thinking that I’m being judged by those who know me and by those who don’t. I do not have the desire to share all of my personal struggles with everyone, but I do have the desire to not be judged. Instead of worrying so much about being judged by others, I’m striving to spend more of my efforts not judging others. I still notice the appearance of others, but unless given observable actions showing a person’s character, I like to just support those around me. You like hot pink stripes with orange plaid? If it makes you happy, more power to you!

If they have tattoos on their neck or if they have those earrings with the big hole in them (I really want to use one like a monocular), it doesn’t impact me, so I let it be and try to see who they are as a person. And maybe I’ll meet someone new who says “Hey, Teri, you should totally peek through my earring!”

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Teri Gray

Teri has a bachelors degree in German and Mathematics and a master's degree in Education. She spent eight years teaching at Boys Town High School for at-risk youth before moving to Germany, where her husband was stationed with the military for almost five years. She has three children 10, 5, and 3. Teri knew everything there was about parenting before she had her second child, who continues to shatter every mold ever created and test her on a daily basis. Teri hails from Omaha, Nebraska, but currently resides in the Seattle area. Her favorite forms of therapy are baking, cooking, and running. Honesty and hilarity are integral parts of her personality.

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