In my line of work I am frequently exposed to the negative impacts associated with people comparing themselves to others. These can range from unrealistic expectations, demotivation, lower self esteem and poor mental health.
I’m not immune to this either.
Not only can I be susceptible to comparing myself to others in the industry, but I sometimes find myself comparing my life to those around me, including my clients!
Full disclosure, I have felt negative feelings towards people having days off and holidays while I work 7 days a week in my business. Buying new houses and cars and enjoying other things that at times I’ve become accustomed to missing out on because business bills come first.
It wasn’t until I checked myself that I realised something about comparison. If I’m not prepared to do the things that they do to enjoy those benefits, I shouldn’t compare my situation to theirs.
The thing is, that they trade off things that I’m not prepared to in order to achieve those goals.
In almost all cases they trade off their time for a wage. They trade off autonomy on how and when they will get tasks done. They often trade off working in situations and with people that don’t align with their personal values for a regular wage.
I’m not throwing shade on anyone for doing these things.
The thing is, when there’s a reward, there’s almost always a trade off. My reward is working within my own values systems. For this I trade off the things most wage earners enjoy, like a regular wage, holidays/sick leave and set hours. That would be too much for some, and vice versa.
In the words of Mark Manson, choose your suffering!
In summer I have people come and lament that they would love to be like my fit clients (who have been consistently training for years now). I ask them to show up 2, maybe 3 times a week, but that’s too much of a sacrifice for some of them.
I once had a client on the verge of tears comparing her results and how hard she works to some random internet post. I asked to see the post. Yes, this lady was visibly lean and claimed to work out only 3 x per week….. read between the lines and she goes on to say that she “eats carrot salad every day”. I asked my client would they eat the same thing every day for those results? (I knew the answer). Not to mention, I’d personally only be working out 3 times a week max on daily carrot salad. Make mine a carrot cake thanks!
Turns out, I’m a personal friend of another attendee of that gym (in another state), who confirmed she wasn’t prepared to follow the meal plan this lady was, and that her impressive results shared in the post were in fact, the exception rather than the norm at that facility #normalisenormalbodies #iwonderwheresheisnow
The lengths that bodybuilders will go to to lean up only really hit home with me, as I’d never been exposed to that fitness subculture before doing my Mac Nutrition course, when Martin MacDonald joked in a lecture about “chasing the last grain of rice around a tupperware” during the final weeks in the lead up to going on stage…. How many people do you know that would be prepared to go to the lengths of precisely measuring a serving of rice and savouring every last grain because it is your last meal?
That image has really stuck with me, as it’s something I’m definitely NOT prepared to do personally.
The point is this, if you aren’t prepared to trade off something – whether it’s your time, food choices, some of your values or your freedom, then don’t compare yourself to people who are.
These are the behind the scenes of the images you’re routinely exposed to online, and it’s important to take a critical eye to your feed. If you can’t do that, unfollow and limit your scroll time.
In my opinion, it’s more important to ask yourself what you’re prepared or not prepared to sacrifice for a particular outcome, how you like to live your life, and what reasonable improvements you can make towards realistic health and fitness – and be proud of yourself for doing the work.