What I Learned From The Man In The Gym

September 13, 2011

I was completely moved, inspired, and brought to tears today.

This feeling of… inspiration we’ll call it, started when I was speaking with a man at the gym. He and I had just taken a kickboxing class and for some reason we ended up outside of the room talking. I have no idea how the conversation started but he ended up sharing some pretty deep stuff with me. The man had had a heart attack and that became the catalyst for a life change. This life change was directed toward exercising regularly and becoming vegetarian.

“I realized how selfish I had been with my health. I was selfish by putting meat and dairy and unhealthy foods into my body. Because of my selfishness, I could have made my wife a widow and my children fatherless,” he told me with pure honesty and regret. He was so struck with emotion while telling me his story that I too was overtaken with my family’s story with my dad.

He talked about how he really had to reflect on his life thus far and how much regret he had for consuming meat and sugar and processed/chemical-laden foods. At that point he started tearing up when he said how selfish he really did feel when his diet and lifestyle (mostly diet- meat, dairy, etc) choices could have caused him to abandon his wife and children.

He said that being on that operating table had opened his eyes and that now he is eating healthier and exercising. He gave up meat and dairy and lives primarily on a plant based diet and is thriving in every aspect of the meaning health. He lost 60 pounds in 3 months and now feels great. He was advocating a plant-based diet to me, not knowing I am a plant-based-diet lover and have a little affair with healthy eating (hello, What Runs Lori isn’t about sitting on the couch and eating potato chips… although it IS about eating only good, nutritious food and enjoying life with whole foods… and the occasional cookie.)

As he teared up, I teared up! We both stood there with tears in our eyes feeling the same emotions. I have gone through this a few times with my dad. He has had 3 heart attacks and thank Goodness, survived. But he hasn’t really changed his eating habits. For the most part, I blame sugar for it’s strong addictions and his lack of knowledge on what really is the healthier choice. My dad tries so hard to eat healthy most of the time but with all the commercial products out claiming to be “enriched” or “whole-wheat” or “reduced sugar” he’s pretty lost.

There’s only so much blame you can place on external sources. And there’s only so much you can do to try to make someone see your way or change their actions. Most of the time it’s a lost cause because when change comes, you are the one who has to facilitate the change. You are the one who has to want it bad enough to see a different outcome. Or you are the one who has to go through something (like a heart attack) that makes you wake up and realize things could and can be different.

The man I met in the gym inspired me to work harder toward making my community healthier, making the ones around me healthier. If even just by me showing more love, support, and patience, every little bit helps. He inspired me to examine my own diet and just take notice of how I feel when I eat certain foods. I guess my 7 day detox has come at the exact time it needed to to open my eyes to a few different things… And he most certainly helped reconfirm my thinking that foods can heal (or create) almost any illness or disease. I stand by that fact.

The man in the gym helped me to look beyond myself. My actions do effect those around me, definitely. Nothing I do or say goes without some sort of action. And things I do can make tears flow in with joy or tears flow with pain.

I guess I learned a lot from that man in the gym. He showed me that even strangers can share deep, moving stories. He showed me that love is everywhere. Inspiration and gratitude, selfishness and regret, help and knowledge are needed for growth as a person. He also showed me to be me at all times.

What have you learned from the man at your [insert place here]? (That being a very open-ended question- what have you learned from others around you? Your friends, children, parents, sisters, brothers, etc?

Ready for the 7 Day Detox post?! Tomorrow!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Ela September 14, 2011 at 11:57 AM

Wow, I’m so glad you had that connection! Amazing. I hope the man realized at the end what a wonderful resource you could be for him, and I’m happy for you that it inspired you so much. Sending prayers for your dad.

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Katie September 13, 2011 at 7:48 PM

This is he exact opposite of my experience with “the man at the gym”….

What an inspiration though! And yes, even if you don’t preach or even talk about what you are eating and doing, actions speak much more loudly than words. Walk the walk, and people will follow.

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Pure2raw twins September 13, 2011 at 5:54 PM

oh man, what a story! and how great that you two shared something so special and important in so many ways. Happy to hear he is at a better place, and like you said try to help others around us.

Great story, thank you you so much for sharing. so inspirational!!

xoxo
Michelle

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Sable@SquatLikeALady September 13, 2011 at 3:58 PM

Oh Lori this is beautiful! I’m so glad you had such a wonderful, positive encounter 🙂

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ella September 13, 2011 at 12:52 PM

If I wasn’t ready for your detox post tomorrow I am now for sure. this is a really great story, thanks for sharing.

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lindsay September 13, 2011 at 9:46 AM

its funny how life brings us answers just at the right time. What an INSPIRATION< just like you!

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Daniella @ Runner at Heart September 13, 2011 at 7:29 AM

I just head tears in my eyes while reading this. It is so amazing how much your diet and lifestyle can really impact not only you but so many loved ones.

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