The power of a compliment

You never know what a compliment might do!

I will keep this short. I received two powerful compliments in the last two days – during a time of heightened insecurity and self doubt. The first – a compliment from a coworker about how amazing my arms look. The second – a compliment from an older, physically fit gentleman at the gym where I teach and train. He mentioned to the gym owner and staff while pointing at me – “You don’t see a lot of women who can do the full straight leg raises like she was doing. It’s very impressive!

I replied, “Thank you, I train hard and appreciate the compliment.” He said a little more about it, but I was too busy thinking positive thoughts to hear him!

I have been known to be significantly self conscious about my appearance. There was a period when I received a lot of comments like, “Oh, you workout?” Really, I do not look like I workout? That frustrated me – I worked out so hard and yet it was unnoticeable. I was told that only the naive and ignorant would look at me and not know that I workout. But – it has happened a lot!

I have this issue when it comes to my torso. Despite the fact that I can physically perform exercises that most women cannot – I feel that my physical appearance does not display this. How come I do not have washboard abs – like some women I know who are not able to do half of what I can. I sometimes allow myself to become defeated by my physical display of imperfection.

So with this man’s comment – he noticed something that I had felt was unnoticed and unnoticeable. He showed me an error in my thinking.  He validated all of my hard work! And all he had to do was verbalize a compliment – something many people may have thought but never thought to say. And now….all I want to do is go to the gym and do more hanging leg raises.

How can you compliment others today?

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We cannot choose our imperfections

As those who follow my blog may know, I am overly concerned with my torso. I am concerned with the imperfect appearance. And more than that, I am concerned with the pain and impaired quality of movement associated with my rotated rib cage (I do not think I have mentioned this before). I have overactive muscles throughout the right side of my body that pull on everything, making me uneven. I do self myofascial release, active release technique (ART), I poke and prod my psoas and sarratus on a regular basis…

Last night, I was gently massaging my sarratus. My wonderful roommate began to comment that my imperfection makes me ME – assuming I was analyzing the imperfection of my torso. I explained that I was massaging. And I said, “If I have to have an imperfection I would rather have cellulite on my butt.” Would it not be awesome if we could choose? Now, I am sure that those with cellulite on their butts would likely choose something else, but that is besides the point. The point: we cannot choose.

No spot reduction

And just as we cannot choose our imperfection, we cannot choose to perfect an area of our body. It is unfortunate, but there is no such thing as spot reduction. I regularly have individuals ask me what they can do about thighs or tummies – the honest answer is workout. More importantly, a program of fat loss workouts. (Quiz: Are group fitness classes designed for fat loss?) Can you emphasis an area for toning and muscle building? Yes. But we have ZERO control over where fat sits on our bodies. Annoying? I believe so.

It is genetics

As I thought more about how each of us is imperfect in a different way, I got to thinking about the role of genetics on our physical structure. “My calves are awesome and I rarely work them; whereas, my torso is my ‘weak point’ and I work it nearly every day.” This is the truth. It seems counter-intuitive. It is incredibly frustrating. But it is what it is. Some of my friends have never had tummy area troubles. I have never had leg, thigh, or butt woes. We can thank our mothers for this, and grandmothers – it is in our genes.

NOTE: Do not mistake this for a genetic explanation for overweight or obesity. Genes control how easy or difficult it may be to lose. Genes influence where on your body you hold fat, muscle, etc. Genes influence hormones – which effect our weights. But genes do not make someone overweight.

I do have nice legs – truly always have. While I do work hard to maintain them, I have never focused on my calves (like I have my torso and biceps – my weak points). Maybe it is because I am 99.9% German. Maybe it is because I come from a long ancestral line of farmers – who needed the strong legs for bailing hay and working all day. Regardless – it is out of my control. Does it feel to you like I am talking myself into believing it?

Acceptance – the hard part

So, how do I come to terms with the fact that I may not have the flat stomach that I desire, but I have the great legs that others may desire? We all have something – true or perceived – and this is real. I know the science. I know that there is very little I can do. But I still fight the acceptance. I still cannot find satisfaction.

The bottomline

Our imperfections make us beautiful. Our imperfections make us individuals – lovable for precisely who we are.

We do not get to choose our imperfection – but we can choose to embrace them. I am working on this, are you?

Do you embrace your imperfections?