Mental fitness

My fitness column today has nothing to do with physical fitness, but with mental fitness. It is based on observations from 30-plus years in the fitness industry.

Ladies, I am talking to you.

Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why do we always compare ourselves to other women?

Have you ever noticed that when you give a friend or coworker a compliment and they are of the female variety, they almost always come back with a rebuttal instead of a thank you? I have done it myself many times.

The other day, I was in a store I frequent, and spoke to the woman who usually waits on me. I noticed her hair was styled very differently, and I told her that I liked her hair that way.

She came back with one of those rebuttals. She said wearing her hair that way made her feel like a fat old lady. WOW. That was harsh.

You wouldn’t talk to someone else that way, so why talk that way about yourself?

This is what women do to themselves. We cannot just say "thanks" when offered a compliment. We usually have to preface it with some sort of excuse, some sort of self-sabotage.

This kind of behavior is unattractive. The voices in our heads are always telling us we look fat, or old, or tired or whatever. Ladies, we have all been guilty of this.

Years ago, I made the decision to stop doing this and just accept myself as is. I guarantee you, the significant other in your life is more attracted to a smart, confident woman than one who constantly puts herself down. (Am I right, fellas?)

Confidence is a beautiful thing. It can show in our walk, in the way we carry ourselves and — best of all — it can be contagious to our kids, especially our daughters.

No one sees the tiny imperfections we blow up in our heads, especially not the ones who love us. In fact, it seems a little crazy to point them out to people.

Because of genetics and body type, an apple-shaped body is never going to look like a long, lean model type. So quit trying to attain these unreachable goals.

We have to work with what we have. No fads or gimmicks or false promises will make you something that you are not. The ladies in the magazines are just genetically blessed — and airbrushed, of course. They know all the tricks.

I mean, look at Christy Brinkley. She looks amazing for a 60-something. But remember, she was born genetically blessed and has had every advantage to help her stay that way.

I promise you she has faults, and I also promise you she doesn’t go around pointing them out to people.

Because she exudes confidence, we don’t see the wrinkles or the cellulite. She is a master at knowing how to hide these things. She also takes very good care of herself, and she is confident.

We have to do the same. We have to do the best we can. And we have to quit comparing ourselves to others.

No one is like us. We are unique. All of our bodies respond differently to exercise and diet, so we have to go on our own journey to see what works. Not someone else’s journey.

We have to stop beating ourselves up with the little voices saying we are failures or we are not good enough.

Clear the negativity in your head, grow some confidence and get out and try new things. Sometimes the roadblocks in our heads can keep us from discovering our most amazing abilities.

Ann Angell is a certified instructor and personal trainer and manager of the Oxford YMCA. "Fitness over 50" is published the third Sunday of each month.