Saturday, March 16, 2013

On Compliments, Confidence & Self Image

Confession time!  I have never been good at accepting compliments when it comes to my appearance.  I am confident about many things, but looks aren't one of them.  It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately.  I have a three year old daughter, and I worry about how my lack of confidence in this area will affect her.  I want both of my children to grow up to be be healthy, strong, confident and happy individuals.  So I guess I'd better do my best to be a good example, right?

I got the greatest compliment at the gym about about a month  ago, and was all ready to come home and write a blog post about it...but then I started to worry that might come across the wrong way.  Will I sound full of myself?  Will I sound arrogant?  Gah!  I started this post, re-wrote it, let it sit and re-wrote it again.  It's taken me weeks to actually finish it, and I'm still feeling weird about posting it.  So here I go...sharing a moment of pride in myself.  Tooting my own horn...and hoping it comes across the right way ;)

Almost a month ago at the gym a woman stopped me and asked, "What have you been doing? You look great!".  I recognized her as someone I've seen around the gym, but we've never talked before.  She went on to say that she had been on vacation and then too busy to get to the gym so she hasn't seen me in about a month, and now I look "'totally different".  I explained to her that I have been lifting weights more instead of just doing a lot of cardio and group fitness classes.  I explained how I've been eating clean as much as possible (aka avoiding processed foods).  I told her about the trainer I worked with last Fall, and how his direction helped me get started lifting weights.  She went on to ask a lot of different questions, and I hope I was able to encourage her to try something new at the gym.  About a week later I saw her sitting with my old trainer and signing up for some personal training sessions...I may need to hit him up for some kind of referral fee or something ;)

Now, I realize that this isn't a huge deal, but it was a little validation that I am making noticeable progress.  It means a lot to me that a stranger would stop me to ask what I'm doing because she wants to do the same.  It was NOT easy for me to get out of my comfort zone (cardio and group fitness classes), and venture into the free weights area of the gym.  It was mostly guys over there, and I didn't feel like I belonged there.  Plus I had bought into to the whole "tons of cardio and light weight" protocol that so many women fall for.  Now I am so glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone to try something new.  I was lucky enough to find a workout buddy who was willing to venture into uncharted territory with me, which made it a little less intimidating.  I am hoping that seeing the two of us over there with all of the "meat heads" will make other women at our gym feel more comfortable working out in that area.  Maybe I was just figuring things out at first, but now I can walk in there with confidence....and to be honest...those meat heads are actually pretty nice ;)

I realized the other day that most of my self image issues come down to my perception of myself...and the fact that I am a little crazy ;) When I picture myself I don't really picture me NOW. I still see the old me.  I see the problem areas that I've already worked hard to improve. When I look in the mirror I am surprised by the progress I've made.  I'm having to really get used to a body I've never had before.  So if you're a friend of mine who has tried to give me a compliment recently...I apologize if it was awkward....or if I changed the subject.  I really do appreciate the compliments, and I am working on getting better at accepting them graciously ;)  And's getting easier because I do feel proud of the work I've put in.  I'm proud of myself for breaking bad habits and making healthy choices.  It feels great to be going into Spring and Summer knowing that I can wear shorts for the first time since high school, and not dreading wearing a bathing suit.  I may not be at the "hey look at me I look great" stage, but I think I've finally gotten to the point where I am comfortable in my own skin.

I know I'm not the only woman who struggles with self image.  I really think that we could all do each other a favor in this area by giving sincere compliments to one another, and really making a point of not letting our own insecurities come out as negative comments towards others.  What better way to teach our children than by leading by example?  Just a thought ;)


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