There is an issue I have wanted to talk about for some time and that is: comparing ourselves to others in the world of health and fitness. This can involve people we personally know or people on social media. This is something most of us are guilty of, myself included. So I am speaking not only from my encounters as a health and fitness coach but also my own experiences.
It is a problem that can severely halt our progress in improving ourselves. We get downhearted and begin pointing the finger at others, asking questions and making statements like:-
“I wish I could lose my fat as quick as her”
“I have been exercising consistently and eating well for 6 months and yet she drops the weight off in a month!”
“That person eats whatever they want and they still look fantastic!”
“He just seems to build muscle so easily”
You get the picture? Have you ever felt that way? It is an unhealthy and unproductive mindset to fall snare to. But the reality is that we have no idea what is happening behind the scenes, even more so with social media. There is nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from fitness models etc., on Instagram and Facebook, but that is all it should be, inspiration and never comparing. We don’t know what other aspects of their life they have sacrificed for their appearance. We don’t know if they are on a drastic diet, have a different body type, how long they have been training or on performance enhancing drugs. We are only seeing a glimpse of their lifestyle. We don’t know if their hormones are whacked or if they feel exhausted all the time. Perhaps their relationships with friends and family are suffering because they dedicate so much of their life to their appearance or unnecessary strict way of eating. Keep in mind for some people it is their job and it takes that single minded focus to look the way they do. Even these ones may never feel content and fall into the trap of comparing themselves to their peers. Someone will always be fitter, leaner or stronger. It is a never ending cycle!
So what can help us to stop comparing ourselves to others and overcome negative thoughts?
We are all genetically different. While we may hate where our body stores fat, the person across the room feels the same way about where they may store fat. We have to remind ourselves that we don’t have the same genes as the person next to us. Don’t compare to another person! Rather, be grateful for the body you have and what it is capable of.
We live in a world where everything is instant. We have become accustomed to living in a world with modern technology and day to day life is becoming so fast, that we may actually forget that achieving results in an area like health and fitness does take a degree of time and dedication. Be patient.
We have different lifestyles and available resources. Obviously a mother of 3 who works will not have the same resources available compared to a single male who only has to look after himself. Rather than focusing on what time or resources we don’t have, be thankful for what we do have and take advantage of it.
We are our own worst critics! Our own flaws appear bigger to us than what they are. We see them, stare at them and focus on them. It can be like that is all we see, but those around cannot see it. Instead they may be focusing on their on their own flaws compared to us, that we would never notice. How often do we compliment those around us but cannot compliment ourselves? Perhaps be kind to yourself as you would a good friend.
At the end of the day, body image is just one piece of us and doesn’t define us as a person. To define our worth on appearance with no consideration to every other aspect of our life is meaningless. Take into consideration our qualities, traits, gifts, talents and characteristics. Think of your role, for example; as a partner or parent, as a good friend, in your successful career, with community work you may do or with your talents as a musician or artist. These are all valuable and we deserve to recognise their worth.
Only compare our self to our self. Strive to be better than what we were yesterday, not better than someone else. If we are doing everything we can to improve our self then we won’t even have the time to compare ourselves to others. We know within ourselves that if we are putting our best effort in, then that is good enough. Try to focus on that, rather than on what others are doing around us. Stay true to yourself, your beliefs and your values.
I specialise in 12 week online personalised training and nutrition programs. I’ve successfully helped many achieve their goals with health and fitness being a PART of their life, not their ENTIRE life. I would love to work with you in achieving your health and fitness ambitions while helping you develop and maintain a healthy respect of yourself.