August 20, 2018
Health & Fitness
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You Can’t Play The Comparison Game

Joe Bocek
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May 3, 2018

How interesting we are as human beings. We are incredible social creators by design. We tend to thrive, for the most part, in groups and like our circle of friends and tribes we belong to.

This can be incredibly powerful and beneficial. We can thrive in groups because of their support and our willingness to try new things or work a little harder when around other people. In situations like this, we meet goals because we share them with a group or conquer a fear, like diving from a cliff into a tropical pond below because our friends did it first.

As the saying goes, we are the average of the five to 10 people closest to us. So if we surround ourselves with people who embody the person we strive to be, we are more likely to achieve those goals by using those other people as a comparison. This can be powerful and effective.

But there is also a challenging aspect with regards to who we are surrounded by, and that’s when it comes to our fitness and self-image.

The Comparison Game

I had a conversation with my business partner recently about how prevalent the comparison game is in fitness. Most of us do it. Do the following thoughts sound familiar?

“How come I do the same workouts as her and she looks like that, but I look like this?”

“He eats whatever he wants and yet I watch everything I consume. It’s not fair.”

“All my friends look a certain way, but I don’t.”

Here we are, still comparing ourselves to others, but this time we might be unfair and overly harsh on ourselves. We are not all the same in terms of our body type, metabolism, hormones, etc. Additionally, we are all wired a bit differently, and in some cases, we may experience tastes and calories differently.

One person can eat bread and their brain says, “Hey, bread. That’s nice.” While it’s possible that other people eat a piece of bread and their brains say, “Wow, I love bread! This is the best thing ever created! I want more.”

It’s simply unfair to assume we are all composed the same way and experience things similarly.

A Most Dangerous Game

Playing the comparison game when it comes to our physical appearance not only is dangerous but also can work against us. Because we all are so unique and different, we end up overworking or hurting ourselves trying to “be like” so-and-so.

Sure, it’s good to try new things, and if your friend has had a good experience, feel free to give it a shot. But be sure to go into it without expecting the exact same results. This way you understand if you respond differently and you are pleasantly surprised if you respond the same.

Our relationship with ourselves, and our body image, should be an important and cherished one. Your body is the greatest instrument you will ever own. Constantly comparing ourselves to others can also have a huge psychological toll. Shaming ourselves, harassing and talking with self-hate don’t usually get us far and is horrible for our mental state. This can actually have an effect opposite of the one we desire while leaving us demotivated and less inspired.

Focus on Acceptance and Overall Health First

Life can be difficult, and we often focus on priorities other than self-care. The key is to recognize the significance of self-care and begin moving, however slowly it needs to be, in a direction of positive energy. That way, long-term change is more likely to happen.

Additionally, the comparison game often derives from an aesthetic and physical idea more than a health and feeling-good idea. We are more likely to say, “I wish I looked like Barb” instead of “I wish I felt good and slept well like Barb.” The truth is, in many cases, the workouts are the same that produce both weight loss and health benefits. Focus on the benefits first; be healthy and enjoy those benefits. Then make weight loss a progressive and long-term focus.

Unlinking thinness and leanness from health is crucial. Health doesn’t look any one particular way. Remember that the next time you exercise and feel that if you aren’t losing weight you aren’t getting healthier. That is not the case.

You are one of a kind, and that’s a good thing. No one else is you. You bring so many great and unique things to this world. And that’s awesome.

Your path and progress is your own and may not happen at the same rate or in the same way as your friend in your fitness class. And that is just fine. Embrace the wonderful benefits of exercise. Focus on feeling great and being healthy. Look for progress but on your terms and at your pace.

Enjoy your social time and friends and remember to keep physical comparisons out of it. You are, after all, an incredibly interesting human being in your own way.

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