One of my best friends is currently staying in my guest room. Let’s call her Becky.
Becky is in between apartments, fresh out of a long term relationship, and I was adamant about offering up my guest room. We’ve been friends for almost 15 years, and I was excited about the opportunity to help her through a difficult time.
From a bit of a selfish standpoint it’s been really nice having her here; I’ve got someone to take walks, hikes, and bike rides with regularly–and being active is always more fun with friends.
When she first moved in, however, being active together wasn’t on Becky’s radar. Instead, we spent just about every evening drinking wine on my patio, listening to Fleetwood Mac, The Doors, and even some Art Laboe oldies (SoCal peeps know what I’m talking about!).
At some point we decided to get our shit together and take a vino break. Naturally, I gently suggested that she might consider exercising, and invited her to come on walks and hikes and do yoga with me. We walk every morning to see the sunrise and share the silence.
I wrote Becky a very simple beginner’s training program that includes goblet squats, glute bridges, and kettlebell deadlifts.
She’s loving it.
She’s even eating a Fonooni approved diet, consisting of lots of protein, healthy fats, and tons of produce. As a result, this chick is already getting leaner, stronger, and more confident. She’s intimated several times that she is thrilled and energized by changing her lifestyle, her body, and her mindset.
I’m filled with so much joy and gratitude when I see how much her life is changing and how deeply she is growing. So when Becky told me that a woman at work made an unproductive, unsolicited comment about her body, I was livid.
“Are you losing weight? You were sexier before.”
I mean, wait. What?
Becky is in a very vulnerable place–the kind where she isn’t quite sure yet how to embrace vulnerability. She’s just starting out with exercise and she has a lot of questions, looking to me for guidance. She often doubts herself and confidence is something she is steadily working to develop.
The absolute last thing she needs is someone making negative comments about her body. And just so we’re clear, let me state where I stand on this topic: I find it completely unacceptable to comment on other people’s bodies unless it’s either POSITIVE, or they solicit you for your opinion or advice.
Your physique is no one else’s business. That’s all there is to it. But the unfortunate truth is that when you embark on a journey of health, discovery, and self-development, YOU WILL HAVE HATERS. They might not be trying to be haters. They might not even realize it–but the effect will be the same.
You will get unsolicited advice and comments from people who don’t understand your journey. You will get comments on your body, your eating habits, and your training preferences, even when you don’t want them or invite them. You will even get colleagues, friends, and family members who try to derail you because, well, misery loves company.
This might happen to you, and rather than allow it to affect you negatively, I want to help you develop the strategies to deal with it.
A family member tells you that you’re are getting “too muscular.”
A coworker says that you “shouldn’t lift so heavy” lest you become “masculine.”
A friend gets annoyed that you won’t join them in constant nutritional debauchery and urges you to “just relax.”
These things will happen. While on this journey, you won’t always receive positive feedback from the people around you. Don’t worry. Don’t stress. Don’t let it derail you. Don’t allow it to darken your heart.
Instead, consider the following steps:
Hit pause. Don’t react. Take a deep breath and just sit with it for a second. In that quiet moment remember this: Nothing anyone else does or says has anything to do with you. That’s their shit; don’t let them pile it on you.
Have a quick internal dialogue about why you’re on this journey and what it means to you. Reaffirm your purpose and maybe even repeat a mantra that helps you stay centered. If you’ve chosen a lifestyle that serves you and is helping you live empowered, that’s your prerogative and no one else’s.
Shake it off
Smile. Be kind. Respond with grace and authenticity. And then shake it off. Sometimes the best thing you can do when someone comments about your body is simply say, “Thanks for your concern and you’re entitled to your opinion. But I would prefer not to field unsolicited comments about my body.”
Do your best not to allow anyone’s ignorance, negativity, or dissatisfaction to derail you from your journey into yourself.
Pass it on
Consider taking a look at your own behavior. Do you make unsolicited comments on other people’s bodies? Have you ever found yourself encouraging a friend to blow off their workout or “just have one slice” when they’ve already refused?
It’s okay. We aren’t perfect. But I implore you to be aware of those comments and try to come from a place of love and understanding instead.
And, if at all possible, use your journey to inspire and educate others–because spreading the light is always a good thing.
Be courageous. Be confident. Be gloriously imperfect and unafraid to show up, just as you are. Believe in your radiance, your strength, your worthiness. Own your actions and write your own story.
This is YOUR body, your life, your journey, your heart and soul–don’t let ANYONE take that away from you.