Comparison is the Thief of Joy – Theodore Roosevelt
When it comes to health and fitness, it’s so incredibly common to compare. “She has lean thighs.” “HOW does she have those abs?” “They can eat fruit loops and cake all day and still be thin (crying emoji)!!”
These thoughts and forms of self-talk do not help. While sometimes comparing ourselves to others can push us forward and be motivating in a healthy way, often times it becomes self deprecating. This is the question, then, isn’t it? Is comparing helpful?
There are clearly two sides to this coin, and I want to explore them both.
How Comparison Can Hurt
First up, let’s talk the bad news. When we’re thinking about our healthy lifestyle, comparison can shed some pretty negative light on things. Being jealous of others’ ability to stay thin, eat whatever they like, and workout minimally get’s us no closer to our own personal lifestyle goals.
Additionally, HUMANS ARE VARIABLE. This is a motto I teach in my Sports Nutrition course. In that class we discuss how two men, same size, age, ability, and both competing in the tour de France, still need different nutrition and tailored meals. We’re talking apples to apples here: but each apple is unique.
It’s easy to watch your friends when you’re out to dinner and wonder “geez, how can she eat that and be so fit?” or alternatively, “maybe I should have ordered the salad, too.” Neither of these is helpful because guess what? You’re two different people. You are different size, age, build, body composition. You’ve eaten different things throughout that day, you’ve worked out differently. YOU are different.
This can be most easily seen when observing siblings. My sister and I could seriously not be any more different. We could never share clothes, even at similar sizes because we aren’t shaped the same! We enjoy different foods, opposite types of workouts. We’re just not the same person.
Then WHY are we comparing? Ditching this negative comparison is one major step to healing your relationship with food.
All of this to say #knowthyself
How Comparison Can Help
It’s easy to see how comparison brings out all the negatives, but just like everything else in this world, it’s when things are put to extremes that they become damaging. If we take comparison to the opposite extreme, never comparing ourselves, or holding ourselves to any standard we can sometimes become a lazy lump on a log that literally does nothing. This is a fixed mindset. And I promise you don’t want to get there.
Whenever you’re feeling down, you CAN use comparison to pick yourself up. If you can find others who are succeeding, this can compel you to think “what am I doing?? If they can, then I can too!”
I will caution that it’s easy to assume everyone has it all together. Like “geez if that mom can get fit then so can I for crying out loud”. But maybe that mom has three nannies watching her kids and someone following her around with a camera. This isn’t knocking nannies or cameramen (even instagram husbands….love you baaabe). What I’m saying is that we don’t see everything, so be sure to understand that for everything that someone gives time to, they take time from something else.For every thing that someone gives time to, they take time from something else. Click To Tweet
Yes, comparison in a healthy dose can give us a quick boost. But overall, I’d say sticking to who YOU are will be the most fun, most fulfilling life.