I am a pretty sensitive person and I will admit that I am over-sensitive about specific topics.
One of the topics that I am overly sensitive about and rarely discuss with anyone other than a few select friends is my weight. I have had body image issues since what feels like forever. I don’t hate myself, I never have, but I have always felt “big”, even when I wasn’t. Even when I was swimming and playing water polo for 4 hours a day. Being insecure about my weight is something that has just been a part of who I am for my whole adult life.
I have said many times that I am working with a trainer and working out a lot. I am watching what I eat, hitting the gym 5 times a week and on the days that I am not at the gym, I make sure to do something active. Gone are the days of feeling good about sitting on my hide all day (RIP lazy days).
I have been frustrated by the movement on the scale in the last few weeks, but I have seen big changes in my strength at the gym and in my muscle definition. My trainer compliments my discipline in getting workouts in and he says things like, “I can really see that your back is getting stronger.” My measurements tell me that I am doing things right. I feel good when I go to the gym. Compliments from my trainer fuel my desire to continue — I see small changes and he points out simple but important changes. It’s a nice combination.
Last night I was out to dinner with some family members (trying to protect the innocent here) and one of them said something along the lines of, “I can tell you’ve been working out, you look better.”
Say wha????? Better?
It was intended to be a compliment and trust me, I appreciate compliments, but there was something about the delivery of the message that hit me the wrong way.
Hearing something like, “you look better” immediately brings up insecure feelings and images of looking worse. It, unfortunately, has the opposite effect of a compliment. Of course it’s always nice to hear from people that love me and see me often that they can see changes taking place as a result of the hard work that I put in at the gym, but depending on how that message is delivered, it can also make me question the compliment. Better? Did I look horrible before? How rude! (<– Said in my very best Stephanie Tanner voice.)
Why did that comment unintentionally make me feel…. I don’t know… kind of crappy?
I know that I much prefer to hear that I look strong or healthy than “your butt looks smaller” or “you look better”. But why?
I know, I know – over sensitive much?
We tend to surround ourselves with people who make us feel good, right? So in sticking with that theory, what’s the difference between when my girlfriends see me and offer compliments, my trainer offers compliments and other people offer compliments? They’re all well-intentioned, right?
When I tell my best friend that I am working out a ton and watching what I eat she says, “That’s amazing! I am so proud of you.” When she sees me, she might say something like, “That dress is so cute, I can really tell that you’ve been working out!” I don’t think that she’s just trying to be nice, I think she means it. If she didn’t mean it, I don’t think that she would say it. I have pretty honest friends.
When my trainer tells me that I am stronger or that he can see more definition in my back, it’s amazing. It’s something that I can understand and digest. It makes sense.
On the other hand, when someone tells me that I “look better” or that my “butt is smaller”, what does that mean?… I appreciate it, but it comes with such an initial negative picture. it might be better for them to say nothing at all.
Again, I know, over-sensitive…
I KNOW that no one means to imply that I looked horrible before (or maybe they do, but that’s a different post and I prefer to assume the best), but that’s where my overly sensitive mind immediately goes with those types of compliments. If someone mentions that my butt looks smaller, that’s awesome, but they should know that I am going to assume that they think that I was carrying a wide load before and the compliment is likely lost.
If you’re like me and are over-sensitive about this topic, I think you’ll agree that all of this said,no matter what, the compliments shouldn’t stop. Even the bad ones are good. I might get initially offended but later I’ll probably reflect on it and think, “heck ya, my butt is getting smaller and someone noticed!”
Yes, that’s a little double standard for you.
For those of us who walk around feeling insecure more often than not, please think about how you deliver your messages. If my butt looks smaller, maybe you can say something like, “Wow, you look really good, I can tell that you’re working hard – your butt even looks more toned!”
With that type of compliment I can say “thanks” and mean it, secretly give myself a pat on the back and continue my day.