I finally know when to shut up. A few weeks ago, I was with my daughter and new baby and saw someone I hadn’t seen since I was about 7 months pregnant. He commented on how big Lola’s getting and how funny she is. He gushed over how beautiful my new baby is and then he said, “You look great!”
I said, “Thank you” and I then I just stopped talking…. For the first time in my life, I just said thank you and then shut my mouth. What I wanted to say was: Oh wow, really? I feel pretty fat. My jeans still don’t fit very well and I’m working out as much as I can but can’t do that much still because of my weak core. I have an ab separation. Have you head of a diastsis recti? It’s really common and a big problem after a woman has a baby…and what do you know about the pelvic floor? Mine is really weak and I can’t lift anything all that heavy so my workouts aren’t as intense as they should be for more fat burning. And I even have a bit of a uterine prolapse so I can actually feel my uterus and cervix falling into my….well you probably don’t want to hear about that, I mean that’s a little weird huh? I’m sorry, what did you say to me again? I wanted to excuse away all the squish around my middle. Explain why I wasn’t in perfect shape. Divulge my rationale for not have more muscle definition. Justify my current body by saying, “I’ve been pregnant or nursing for 4 years and that’s why I don’t look better.” I wanted him to know I wasn’t lazy or oblivious. I wanted him to know that I was trying. I was tempted to educate him on how my lack of estrogen is making my insulin resistance worse and how the lack of sleep is wigging out my cortisol. But all the dude did was pay me a compliment. And I think he meant it. So why didn’t “thank you” feel like enough? We do this as women. A man would’ve said, “Thanks dude, appreciate it.” No clarifiers. No apologies. No excuses. But us women, we always feel we don’t really deserve the compliment. Or they don’t really think I look good, they are just being nice. We think, sure I look OK but I should look so much better. If it weren’t for X, Y and Z we’d be thinner, leaner or whatever. We feel almost as though we’re disappointing everyone (and ourselves) by not looking better than we do. This seems to be all too common with the women I coach and still at times, with myself. We’re constantly feeling we come up short and either need to shrink down and hide so we don’t need to explain ourselves or we excuse away the current state of our body instead of simply owning, “This is where I am today, but today I am BETTER than yesterday.” To thrive during the process of working on your body or your health, you have to have acceptance without resignation. You can want something more for yourself without hating the body you’ve got now. Instead of apologizing, shrinking or excusing it away, try this: Simply take the compliment. Say thank you. Then shhhhhh….. Thank you is all that is necessary when someone says, “You look great.” For the first time (maybe ever), I took this route. I chose to be grateful for the fact that someone cared enough to say something kind to me. I chose to appreciate that I am working hard. I’m eating great. I’m being creative with my time and making sure I’m doing my workouts. I’m committed to my rehab. And for once, I’m having a little grace and patience with my body. But honestly, he didn’t need to hear all that – that stuff is just for me. He simply needed to hear thank you. I, on the other hand, needed to choose not to make excuses for myself. That while it is reasonable for my body to be where it’s at 3 months after a baby, I don’t need to defend it or spew those reasons to defend why I’m where I’m at. And if you’re in a place where your body isn’t where you want it to be yet, neither do you. Just check in: Are you better than yesterday? Did you make some good choices for yourself today? Are you learning to have some grace during the process? Then you need not make excuses. Simply say, “thank you” and then just stop talking. Thank you is enough. Your efforts are enough. Don’t demean them by defending. By the way, “You look great.”. What’s that you say? Thank you. (A genuine, stand alone, no-excuses-needed thank you.) You’re very welcome. Keep being BETTER.