Give Yourself Some Credit

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One of the main reasons I started this blog was to create a positive space to discuss running, fitness, healthy living and healthy body image.

For years as a competitive figure skater the thoughts of weight, body size and food consumption were the center of my universe. I looked at every girl in ballet classes or on the ice and constantly compared their bodies to mine. I ate healthy meals and later felt guilt for perhaps eating just too much. I remember laying in bed at night and praying for control over my eating and to have a more fit body. The sad part is that like most everyone else, when I look back at pictures from then I had a great body. Good grief was I hard on myself!

It is a horrible cycle. I never felt I was quite good enough and my legs were the center of my concern. I saw other girls with much thinner and less muscular legs and yearned for that. I never sat back and considered that my level of athleticism was far more advanced than many of those girls with what I saw as much skinnier legs. I never gave those legs the credit they deserved for allowing me to complete triple jumps.

Over the years these thoughts have faded as I have found confidence in myself and my running. But I would be lying if I didn’t tell you I seriously had hoped running would bring me those thin runner’s legs!

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I have to say that I am really proud of myself and I have made great strides recently. I took nearly a month off from running due to injury and I ate well and didn’t freak out too terribly much about my weight.

There was minimal gain and I did feel a bit heavier but I kept my mouth shut and didn’t whine about it for the most part. It was still there though in the back of my mind.

And then Monday night came. As we are preparing to head back to Chicago I was helping the girl who sublet us her apartment find a new renter. The first woman who showed was petite and cute and I immediately noticed her tiny legs in skinny jeans. I will admit it, there was some envy.

As I was admiring her she blurted out, “I just have to tell you that your legs are amazing. They are just beautiful.”

I was shocked and thrilled!

The next person who came by walked in and took a seat and immediately said, “You are so toned!” Sometimes I love how blunt New Yorkers are (although usually not, because it typically doesn’t involve compliments!)

You can imagine my pleasure and surprise by all of this. It was like someone was celebrating Pay Sarah An Awesome Compliment Day. And I gotta say I love that day!

It also made me sit back and think. Perhaps those things I nitpick about myself aren’t quite as I see them. If others see these things shouldn’t I take the time to appreciate them too? After all it’s all that darn time I spend running and working out that got me here.

For as much as I wished my legs were different, that person I was admiring was feeling the same way about me. It is just as important to remember that we all have our own inner struggles and dislikes. Keep that in mind the next time you want to complain about something you aren’t loving at the moment. Odds are there is someone who would love to be in your shoes and they may even be the very person you are complaining to.

The same thing happens with my hair. It is a curly (aka frizzy) mess. I look at girls with naturally straight hair and am a tad bit jealous. The other day my curls were doing their own wacky thing and I joked about it. The person next to me said she had always wanted curly hair but hers was stick straight. I laughed because I said that was what I had always dreamed of and even considered paying to have my hair do just that.

(As a side note I thought it would be fun to cut my hair before my husband and I went to Aruba this past spring. I didn’t take into account the humidity and when we got there my hair went in every direction and was too short to pull back. Anyone remember Monica from Friends when they went to the Caribbean?!)

It is funny how the grass is always greener on the other side. Perhaps this is a good lesson that we need to step back and see how beautiful and awesome we all individually are.

Take a moment and appreciate the amazing you. Remember that there are always people who would love to be in your situation. Find some time today and look for the awesome in you!

On the flip side, keeping in mind how awesome it feels to receive a compliment. If you see something you like in someone else tell them. Whether they are a friend, a relative, or a complete stranger I guarantee it will make their day. Take some time today and find someone to share a random compliment with.

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33 thoughts on “Give Yourself Some Credit

  1. My husband (who is a saint, let us remember–he puts up with me, after all!) often makes a point to compliment people on things that he knows others overlook. He did this a lot in med school, and would be so proud to tell me the stories of how he complimented a girl’s shoes, or pashmina, or whatever, because he knew that they wore it for a reason, and that most people overlooked those details. The pashmina girl actually said something to the effect of “you obviously have a girlfriend” after accepting the compliment. I’ve taught him well 🙂

  2. Great post. I think everyone has issues with the way they look, men and women (but obviously women more then men). It seems we try so hard to keep improving ourselves that we never actually look at ourselves. I want to lose another 15 lbs, but my 100 lb heavier self would have been more then happy at where I am now. Great hair by the way. 🙂

    • I think everyone has issues regardless of male or female or whatever size you may be. It certainly helps to celebrate each other in all of our journeys and realize everyone has their struggles.

  3. Great post! At some point we need to just stop wanting to have what other people have and love what we’ve got. Easier said then done of course but it’s so freeing to just accept yourself. I also like the idea of complimenting others, what’s obviously beautiful to you might not be so obvious to them.

  4. Oh I couldn’t agree more! I love giving compliments now because I remember how great even the smallest compliment made me feel!

  5. I agree!!! With having 4 girls of my own I have decided from the very beginning never to say my thoughts out loud of the negativities I feel about myself (I do complain in front of Corom but not the girls). We also don’t own a scale in our home because I don’t want my girls to think I run because of weight or that I am worried about my weight. Great message!

    • I absolutely love this. If I could change one thing about me it would have been to not grow up with such a focus and concern on food and weight. There is too much of that out there already. Your girls will be better off for this!

  6. I have the same problem – I am in no way fat but I find myself constantly comparing my body to others’! It’s so frustrating! I’ve just recently learned to become more accepting of what my body looks like! I also have curly (frizzy) hair too, lol! I finally just let it do it’s thing. 🙂

  7. What a great post! It’s always a surprise to me when someone compliments some part of me that I usually hate. Recently it’s been my legs too, people saying they look strong or toned, or my mom saying “You look so fit!” when I feel like I have thunder thighs. I need to remind myself to go easy with the criticism!

    And Monica’s hair!! I was just telling a co-worker about that… I recently chopped my hair short and we’re going to a conference in DC this summer, which made me think of Monica’s amazing humidity hair 🙂

  8. I agree with the previous comments – we are all like this. When I look in the mirror I see a gut I cannot get rid of. Then people say how thin I am. I always think to my self that they are crazy. But when I look at other people my age, I am thin. I may never see my six-pack, but I have to deal with that and be happy with the level of fitness I have been able to acheive.

  9. It is funny how often this comes up for all of us – and it is so true and NECESSARY each and every time! As parents, we do our best to help our kids have positive body images … but they also see us with our own issues. It is a real challenge – and I definitely agree with the comments that we can quickly look and point out our flaws … year from a different perspective (maybe heavier, or before running) we’d look and say ‘are you effing kidding me, you look great!’ Such a great reminder!

  10. I seriously love this post and the message behind it – love ourselves and what we can accomplish! I definitely get a case of the envies sometimes, but it is never productive (and always makes me feel worse)! Definitely working on recognizing what I can do and have done instead of what my blogger next door did!

  11. OMG I LOVE this so much! I think most people can relate to feeling self conscious about a part of their body. It’s so freeing when you learn to love your body and stop comparing it to others. Haven’t quite got there yet but so much better than when I was young! And I’m late to Pay Sarah An Awesome Compliment Day, but I have always envied your toned legs (in a totally non-creepy way) 😉

  12. i’ve had the exact same thing with my legs — i’ve always had really muscular legs and in high school and college they drove me nuuuuts and now they are still super strong but look way more toned and like runner’s legs and i get comments all the time too and now, i appreciate them rather than despise them. 🙂

  13. Awww, love this post and I totally agree that if you love something about someone else, tell them!!! I definitely do!!! It will definitely make their day!! Such a great message!! Thanks for writing such a beautiful post!!

  14. I totally get your feelings about your legs! I feel the exact same way about mine! In fact, when I’m in good shape and running regularly, half of my pants become too small because my legs bulk up. I’m trying to take it as a good sign that I don’t fit into my jeans because I need strong legs to carry me through all of my long runs, but it’s tough to remember that sometimes… I just remind myself that I need those legs to get me up hills and it makes me feel better. 🙂

  15. Good god, I have had this leg hatred with myself too. I am short and “condensed” and my runners legs are really just big muscular meat hunks which I can never look at as a good thing! For one day I wish I could be outside my body and see what others see…I bet it looks a lot better than what I am looking at in the mirror!
    P.S. I share you hair. Love it in the winter but summers in the heat and humidity of Charleston are quite a challenge!

    • Your point about what you really look like in the mirror is so true. Every time I see a picture of me from a few months ago I think that I looked so good back then! Good grief.

  16. LOVE this! I notice the exact. same. thing. about other girls. I look at their thin legs and am super envious. I’m a curvy girl with muscular legs. My body will never be a size two. It’s taken me a long time to embrace my big butt and big hips and like you, when people compliment me, I kinda stare back like, “Me?”

    I love your hair!! Curly seriously is the best 🙂

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