Posted by connie b on
I am fortunate enough to belong to a gym that has not only a compassionate and educated staff, but also caring and supportive members. So, it should have come as no surprise, when a classmate approached me one day to commend my effort, and obvious fat loss. Instead of basking in the glow of a hard-earned compliment, though, I immediately launched into a litany of supposed flaws. Embarrassed by my reaction, I shuffled off and got on with my day. But it got me thinking… What is it with us women that makes us so thoroughly unable to accept a compliment with grace? I appreciate, no; EXPECT, a well-timed compliment from my husband. I take pride in my accomplishments in the gym, and my dedication to a sport in which my only opponent is me. Hell, I’ll go so far as to admit that I was, in fact, checking out my reflection that morning, and thinking the same darn thing! So, I ask again. Why can’t I accept something that I know to be true, if it’s coming from another woman? As a general disclaimer, I am a girls’ girl. Far from a hater, I am totally at ease in the company of other woman. I’m trusting to a fault, and trustworthy, as well. That eliminates the possibility of this phenomenon stemming from some deep-rooted animosity toward the estrogen clan. Whatever the cause, I’m definitely not alone. My friends are beautiful, successful, and all faithful gym rats as well. But compliment any one of them, and you will hear about cellulite, stretch marks, and bat wings, all of which, invisible to everyone but them. Recently, a friend, quite literally, compared herself to a draft horse, after adding about 3 pounds to her 125-pound frame. Solid muscle, I might add. At first glance it could appear that our deflection is actually a plea for more praise. “Oh, that sub-2.5 hour marathon? It was nothing” (“please tell me at least 4 more times how amazing I am”). A nagging thought persists; the explanation is just not that easy. It’s something deep inside that tells us, even if we know it isn’t true, that we don’t deserve to be proud of ourselves. We give away a little of ourselves every day, to family, to friends, to careers, and educations. It takes a special tenacity to add an athletic discipline to that list. To say to ourselves, “I know I’ve got a little bit left, and I’ll give it all I’ve got, too.” We are training when others are sleeping. We turn down cocktails and hors’doeuvres, in favor of glutamine and chicken. We stretch to reach our goals, only to raise the bar even higher once we do. We should be proud, and we should also shout it out sometimes! Psychobabble notwithstanding, I think it says a lot about character to be able to not just dole out compliments, but also to take some. I’ve decided that I’m not going to hide my hard work under a cloak of false modesty anymore. I’m also going to stop letting my girlfriends pummel themselves, at least in my presence. I implore each of you to do the same. Maybe I’m idealistic, but I can’t help thinking how much we could accomplish, if we started taking credit for what we already have. So spread some love to the women in your life, and don’t let them talk you out of it! Erin stays busy pursuing her own fitness goals, and helping to educate and inspire those she loves to live healthier lives. A hair stylist by trade, she manages a salon, and is chipping away at a degree, ultimately in dietetics and kinesiology. She lives in South Florida with her husband and a “pound puppy” named Pedro.