Comparing ourselves to others in fitness, wellness, and life in general
You do it. I do it. We all do it.
We use other people to make ourselves feel better or worse about our own progress, skills, talents, and situations.
Some will say that there's nothing wrong with a little "healthy" competition to spur us on....but I would have to disagree. I don't know many people that made happier through their comparing themselves to others.
Competition with anyone besides ourselves often leads to bitterness, resentment, and dissatisfaction with our own progress.
Even we make leaps and bounds in our own lives, if we aren't as good as or better than the object of our competition, we won't celebrate all the progress that we ourselves have made!
And what if we "win". What if we out-compete someone else? Are we happy now? Do we just stop working or do we have to find someone else to beat?
The mental game of comparing ourselves to others encourages us to brush over the many qualities that make us unique and special and instead focus on all the the things that we are not.
We begin to feel hopeless, sometimes even self-pity and neither of these mindsets help us to grow to be the best version of ourselves!
I recently read two articles by fitness professionals that talk about this habit and I wanted to include them below for you to read!
Here's the first one from FITBODY HQ
6 Reasons to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
The comparison game is something we all play. We look at fitness models on the cover of magazines. We see Instagram posts of healthy dinners that someone made. We compare our arms to the girl next to us at the dumbbell rack. We get jealous. Our self-esteem receives another lowering blow.
We are consistently shown that the grass is greener on the other side. We want to believe that if we can change one thing or achieve this look that we’ll finally be happy with our lives. However, the comparison games get us into trouble. Everyone is a unique individual. Everyone is made different, thinks different, and looks different.
From the health and fitness focus alone, we do a lot of comparing ourselves to others and it’s not always healthy to do so. Here are 6 reasons to stop comparing yourself to others.
Let’s start with the basics, we all have different genetics. This may seem like an obvious reason, but it’s something we tend to forget about it. Seeing women’s bodies on magazines makes us want to work to look that way, aside from the photo being edited you may not have the same body type as the person you admire. While you may hate your legs for being thicker than you like, the girl across the room hates her waist for her tendency to gain fat there. Some people can easily get muscle definition, while others may struggle at doing so. We have to remember to be realistic and remind ourselves that we don’t have the same genes as the person beside us.
Be grateful for the body you have and what it’s capable of.
Though we wish we could control our results we can’t. It may take some people only a month to lose the extra weight, while for others it can take months upon months. We live in an age where we can get most things instantly or within a couple of days. It distracts us from the fact that achieving results takes time and dedication. If only working out and eating healthy worked that fast, then everyone would look like magazine cover material.
We think that if we can just get those perfectly defined abs we’ll finally be happy with our bodies. Ultimately we’ll only end up wanting more and wanting to push ourselves further towards our idea of perfection. Just because people have six pack abs or perfectly defined shoulders does not mean that they are instantly happier than you are.
Not everyone has the same access to resources. That celebrity who you stalk on Instagram may have hours to be at the gym training. They could have a personal chef who can cook them the healthy food they need to eat.
Some people can afford a heftier gym membership than you can. Others don’t mind splurging their money at the health food store, while some would prefer to spend their money on a new purse. Working 60 hours a week will make it harder to have time to spend at the gym and eat healthy, so you may have to take a different approach to a healthy lifestyle. Everyone has a different set of resources available to them. Take advantage of the opportunities you have and be thankful for them.
We have to remember that every one of us is on an individual journey towards different health and fitness goals. One person may have begun their fitness journey in high school. Yours may have started only a year ago. It’s a continual journey towards becoming a better version of who you were yesterday.
You Are You’re Biggest Critic
It’s a quote we’ve all heard, but there is truth in it. People are always harder on themselves. The biggest opponent in your way of achieving your health/fitness goals is yourself.
Celebrate Your Progress
Think back to where you were this time last year. Even last month. What types of improvements or changes have you made? What accomplishments can you celebrate?
Maybe you can now run one mile non-stop. Or you checked a marathon off your bucket list. You can squat 20 pounds heavier than you were able to 6 months ago. Often we forget about the little steps of progress we have made. Those are things to celebrate and get excited about.
You’ll never get anywhere wishing your body looked like that or wishing that you lived closer to a Whole Foods. Everyone is on their own personal journey towards progressing towards their health and fitness goals. Once you stop comparing yourself to others, you’ll start recognizing your achievements.
-Skylar Starbuck, FITBODY HQ
And here's the other article!
August 10, 2015
I joined a CrossFit gym last week.
Yes, I do love training in my garage and I actually enjoy training alone most of the time, but the truth is…I’m sort of lonely.
Over the past two years (since moving to Santa Monica) I’m noticing that I have a huge hole in my life where my lifting/strength community used to be. I crave group energy. I want to be pushed. I’m ready for someone else to tell me what to do instead of always writing my own workouts.
So I joined this great gym in Venice and went in last week for my initial assessment–including a baseline bodyweight workout, in which I was tasked with doing the following as quickly as possible:
- 400m run
- 40 squats
- 30 sit-ups
- 20 push-ups
- 10 pull-ups
I finished in just under 7 minutes without using any modifications (unassisted everything, unbroken sets), and as it turns out, I’m already 3rd in pull-ups on the leaderboard (yay!).
When the coach gave me that news, he also called me a rockstar, and other such amiable terms. So, of course, I deflected the praise, abased my physical prowess, and downplayed my overall performance, because I’m new to CrossFit so I’m probably going to suck–right?
Instead, I beamed with pride and simply said thank you, before running home to share the news with my husband. The thing is, I earned that feeling of accomplishment. I worked for those pull-ups. I owe it to myself to actually believe this guy when he calls me a rockstar, rather than qualify my performance in an effort to be “humble.:
This kind of behavior didn’t come naturally to me.
In fact, I have caught myself, on several occasions, qualifying, abasing, and belittling so many of my impressive skills and abilities. Over time and with much practice, I’ve finally come to a place where statements such as these don’t exist in my vernacular:
“It might not seem like a lot to other people, but for me it’s a huge achievement.”
“I know it’s not that impressive, but it’s step in the right direction.”
“It’s only one pull-up, but it’s progress for me.”
“I made some progress, but I’m still not as strong/fast/smart/successful/talented as other people.”
Any of that sound familiar? Ever find yourself qualifying your accomplishments and simultaneously putting yourself down? Do you feel the need to explain that while you’ve earned accomplishments, they aren’t that grand in comparison to others?
Like I said, I’ve done it. I’ve deflected compliments, shrugged off praise, talked about my victories with a hint of abasement.
But can we please stop?
Seriously? Can we?
The thing is, most of us don’t feel comfortable simply saying we did something worth noting, without tailing it with a downgrading qualifier of some sort. And rather than serving from us, it’s actually stealing from us–and everyone else.
But does being proud of my accomplishments make me a brag?
Many of us are afraid that if we don’t qualify our brags, we’ll be seen as arrogant of narcissistic. We’re afraid we’ll be judged for owning our rockstar status, and I get that.
In our society, humility is a more admirable quality, which often leads us to downplay the importance of our efforts. And while it’s quite normal to want to be seen as humble rather than cocky, diminishing our own success might not be the best way to go about it.
Ultimately, when we abase ourselves, we don’t actually accomplish what we think we’re accomplishing; instead, we wind of making other people feel uncomfortable.
What if I’m just not comfortable saying nice things to myself or about myself?
Secondarily, (and likely more destructively), many of us are so accustomed to speaking to ourselves negatively, that we don’t even notice we’re doing it.
We are so comfortable with the constant disavowing voice in our head that we don’t realize we’re robbing ourselves of celebrating our accomplishments. Qualifying, comparing, downplaying, and negating our victories takes from us the opportunity to bask in the warmth of our own success.
And when we can’t see our victories for what they are, we will continue to feel “not good enough.”
While it might seem harmless-and even preferred-to belittle our efforts, we’re missing out on so much when we do this. We’re missing out on the incredible feelings of accomplishment and pride.
Not only that, but we’re likely deterring ourselves from further progress.
Those positive feelings that come with honoring our own accomplishments will actually help spur more creativity, and more drive, to facilitate more progress and deepen our impact. Feeling the success, owning it, embodying it–this will only help us further manifest it.
And can you imagine how much putting that positive and productive energy out into the Universe will ripple and expand? It’s not just for you–it’s for all of us.
If you always downplay your progress, how far do you think that will take you? If you’re constantly comparing yourself to others and what they’ve accomplished, how will you ever forge your own path?
My challenge to you this week is to take genuine pride in your progress, fighting the little voice in your head that wants to scream “it’s not enough!” I want you to practice feeling more comfortable saying nice things to and about yourself, allowing yourself to fully embody your talents and celebrate your success.
I want you to give yourself a big effing pat on the back, without qualifying or abasing your efforts. Because the truth is, sometimes you’re just a rockstar.
Own that sh*t.
If it feels uncomfortable, that’s good. Sit with that discomfort. Get intimate with it.
And then pass that energy on.
So let's all just knock it off. When those thoughts come into our brains, don't entertain them. At the end of the day, we have no idea of what it is to be anyone but ourselves. What other people do with their lives is none of our business.
"Don't cheat yaself, treat yaself...to a new way of thinking."
We've been blessed with bodies, souls, personalities and lives that are unique to us!
Let's try to focus on getting the most out of our own existence because we are all "fearfully and wonderfully made!" -Psalm 139:14