Is it a Compliment?

So I was going to write this blog today on a totally different topic, but I experienced something that kinda got under my skin, so instead I’m going to share it with you. I welcome your comments and perspective.

You know the feeling when someone attempts to compliment you and your body and mind freeze up for 3-4 seconds trying to figure out if it actually was a compliment or was it some type back-handed judgment or criticism?

I know full well from my eating psychology training, experience, and my ongoing studies that we all have a choice in how we choose to hear words spoken to us and how we translate the experience. I genuinely believe it’s a choice and work to practice it daily.  I’ve also found it’s helpful to be mindful of who it’s coming from and perhaps consider they might be projecting their beliefs and baggage onto me when it really has nothing to do with me…I get it, really I do.

So with that full blown disclaimer, hear me out on this one.

Here’s the setting: so I’m dressed in workout clothes, cute black sweats, bright pink top and a black casual hoodie; I’m having a good hair day and my makeup looks lovely…I got a bounce in my step…life is good. I’m in a place where I see this same person about once a week…so it’s not been long since we last saw each other.  We bump into each other…and she says:

“Oh my, look at you, you must be losing weight, good for you!”

What? Huh? My mind raced for a moment not knowing how to react because first of all, I don’t think I have lost weight (don’t really know for sure because I don’t weigh myself – I tossed out that torture device a couple years ago; but my clothes and what I see in the mirror appeared the same when I got dressed this morning, thus my belief I hadn’t lost weight), but even if I have lost weight, why does she assume it’s good for me or that I need to?

Whoa howdy, the roar of defensiveness that raged in my mind was fierce and sudden. It was also very familiar having had this experience many times in my life.

I could feel my heart race and adrenaline rush and I was fully aware of it, so I attempted to pause before responding.

I paused briefly (translation: I reacted too quickly) and in an apparent nonchalant way, smiled sweetly and said “oh it must be all the black I’m wearing…flattering you know.”

To which she responds: “no no no, I can tell, you look smaller, keep it up.”

Then to dig my hole deeper (if you could see me typing this now, you’d see me shrugging and shaking my head like ‘why Rusti, why?’): “well, thank you for the compliment, I’ll take it.”

What the!!! Uuugghhhh, right then, I was disappointed with myself…after ALL the life experience, inner work on self-acceptance, and professional training I have about the psychology of attaching value or worth to your external appearance/weight and knowing where body acceptance really comes from (within self) – that’s how I chose to respond?

I mean really…I played it off that my clothes were slimming and I appreciated her compliment?

No, that is not how I wished I had responded. In hindsight, if I could get a do-over, I would have saidI wouldn’t know if I’ve lost weight because I don’t weigh myself. I’m blessed to love my shape and size just as I am.’

I would have stood in my power, spoke from that place deep in my core…you know…it’s that place inside you that’s unshakable, all-knowing and you can trust yourself without any reservation.

I would have used the opportunity to respond in a way that might have opened up the conversation about body acceptance; one that is sadly missing in our society.

I’m convinced that if more men and women of all shapes and sizes hold their heads high, show genuine self-love, confidence and body acceptance and not cower to society’s definition of what appears healthy, attractive or externally acceptable, we would all be better served.  We would all enjoy our lives more.  We would better honor one another through all phases of life.

I don’t believe she intended her compliment to be a judgment or criticism, but it certainly affirmed her belief that I should be trying to lose weight. I don’t blame her, it’s what we’ve all been taught – if you’re fluffy like me and don’t fit in the BMI scale range of thin or normal weight, then you should lose weight right? And surely anyone like me would desire to lose weight, right?

NO NO NO! I do not share her belief.

I used to be skeptical of anyone overweight that said they were genuinely at ease, comfortable and accepting of their body and they were healthy.  However, having walked the journey myself and found my “healthy & happy place,” I now know it to be truly possible.

And it’s not just possible, but something I am passionate about teaching others how to achieve.  It is what my coaching practice centers around.  From the place of self-love and self-acceptance, your food, weight, body and health challenges can be overcome.

The Lesson in This Experience

So back to how we have a choice in how we choose to hear words spoken to us and how we translate the experience – I take from this experience an even deeper commitment to helping others find their healthy & happy place, at whatever size and shape and health status they are looking to achieve.

I passionately want the opportunity coach more men and women how to overcome the dysfunction and suffering they’re experiencing in their relationship with food, weight and body acceptance so they too can have a more meaningful, fun-filled and healthy life.

A critical component to this is teaching men and women that we are not all supposed to be the same size and shape. It’s ok. Health really can come in a variety of sizes.

Science backs me up on this too. Being thin or of “normal weight” does not guarantee health and happiness; nor does being overweight guarantee poor health and unhappiness.  Read this NY Times article for some additional perspectiveOur Absurd Fear of Fat.

How can you begin to Unlock Your Healthy Self and find your healthy & happy place?  Start by learning to listen to the signals and symptoms your body gives you on a daily basis and stay open minded to learning more about nutrition, psycho-physiology, fitness, motivation, challenge your beliefs and better understand the mind-body connection when it comes to your relationship with food.  HINT: This is where hiring an experienced eating behavior coach to guide you to these discoveries can be remarkably helpful, shorten your learning curve and get you where you want to go faster!

You have the power to use your mind to create beliefs, habits and thought patterns that will support your efforts in living the most meaningful, joyous and health-filled life you seek.

Especially how you interpret life events.

By taking intentional, consistent action – both physically and mentally – and having a willingness to endure the struggle of change…your healthy & happy place awaits you.

I’d love the opportunity to help you find your healthy & happy place if you’re not there yet in your relationship with food, weight, body acceptance and overall health.

If you found this article valuable, please share it with others. And even better, I’d love to hear from you by leaving a comment or contact me directly.

–Rusti Q


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