Just the other day, I heard a young woman (let’s call her Caroline) complaining about “hail damage” on the back of her thighs. It took me a minute to put it together, but I soon realized what she meant. She is desperate for a solution to her problem, because a Caribbean holiday filled with bikinis and beaches is coming up in a few short weeks.
Caroline talked to her friends, all of whom suggested expensive creams, ointments, and one even mentioned plastic surgery. Finally, she did some research online and found a DIY recipe for smooth, tight skin that involved coffee grounds, kosher salts, olive oil, and some type of clay. After a smearing the mixture all over her legs, stomach, and upper arms, she wrapped herself in Saran wrap for a night of fitful sleep.
The next day after cleaning off the sandy mixture she stood in front of the mirror and found that little if anything had happened. The only benefactor was the dog who happily ate the coffee-flavored Saran wrap and then left in on the carpet later that day. Caroline said that her next step was to buy an authentic, and more expensive solution, from an online retailer, even if it that meant less money to spend on vacation. Listening to this woman share far too much, I did what any smart man would do, I said nothing.
But, I felt bad for her. And I know what it’s like to feel awkward about your appearance. I shed a whopping 60 pounds during my first 18 months as a runner. But, that’s not what she wants to hear. Hard work, discipline, and perseverance are free, but they require time and effort.
The other thing that struck me is how unhappy she seemed based upon such a small imperfection that most people probably wouldn’t even notice or care about. Running has taught me to feel really good about myself. Exercise is good for body, mind and soul.
If you know someone like Caroline in your life, please urge her to be more confident, to stop worrying about the small stuff, and to take the long view on self-improvement and fitness. Weight loss and self esteem are so closely intertwined. Maybe it starts with a friend and a walk around the block. You could be that friend.