Comparison is said to be the thief of joy. This is especially true in the fitness sector. Comparison and pursuing perfectionism are two of the most typical habits I see people engage in. Both go hand in hand and frequently work together to keep people from achieving their true potential.
While using someone as an inspiration can be motivating, it's important not to compare ourselves to the most elite physiques because everyone's journey is different.
Although normal human impulses that we've probably all been guilty of at some point in our lives, comparison and aiming for perfection will not help you get closer to your goals. In practically every situation I've observed, they wind up producing more negative than beneficial outcomes.
The search for the ideal body is unrealistic and wastes a significant amount of our mental, physical, and financial resources.
People strive to achieve ageless, smooth, hairless, lean, perky, tanned bodies, including laser treatments, diets, tanning, lotions, injections, and chronic exercising. But, the joy thief is out in full force. Despite our best efforts, we frequently feel like we fall short because the standard is too high to meet.
The trouble with comparing ourselves to perfection is that it's mostly an illusion—a mirage that appears in glossy magazines. So much of what we compare ourselves to have been created by teams of personal trainers, sports nutritionists, and photographers, then edited in postproduction, with Photoshop eliminating any blemish, wrinkle, or lump that may be considered imperfect. It's just not an accurate representation of the human form.
Comparison is costly, depriving us of the joy and success we deserve. However, when we've become accustomed to doing something, it might be difficult to break the habit.
When you notice yourself comparing yourself to others, use the four strategies below to refocus on what matters most: yourself and your goals.
1. Keep in mind that social media feeds are nothing more than highlight reels
Thanks to social media, it's all too simple to compare ourselves, our lives, and our physical achievements to those of others. The truth is social media is nearly always the highlight reel of a person's life. We usually share our happiest memories when we're looking our best. Filtered, tilted, and changed posts have made them look fantastic. Unfortunately, these posts ignore all of the challenges and realities that lie beneath the happy times.
Don't compare your life to someone else's highlight reel—their portrayal of perfectionism is simply a portion of their story, not the entire tale. Keep it in mind.
2. Recognize that everyone's life path is unique, and yours is the most important
We are unaware of everyone's path. I still wonder how some of the G.O.A.T.s of bodybuilding got there when I compare my own physique to theirs. However, upon further investigation, I discover that they have been working on it for years, if not decades. Looking at someone's life from the outside gives us no indication of what path they've taken (especially if we're judging them on social media). They may have spent years working on anti-perfectionism or developing self-acceptance and self-esteem on the inside.
We are turning outward for answers and diverting our attention away from the work that needs to be done on the inside as long as we are comparing our lives to others. Unfortunately, comparing yourself to others may be a tremendous distraction from your own internal work—if you spend too much time focusing on what they're doing, you're fooling yourself.
3. Commit to loving and respecting yourself daily
In my twenties, I remember desperately attempting to shape my body into the ultra-lean models I saw in magazines, and that many of my friends possessed. The difficulty was that I had to work extremely hard to attain this, and I was never satisfied with how I appeared. For years, this contrast took my joy. The truth is that my body has always held a lot more fat than my peers, and I've always struggled to lose weight. These are my genetics. I've accepted that I am who I am and that my body will require more consistency in terms of nutrition and training, which is perfectly OK. My suggestion is not to fight your genes. Stop comparing yourself to others and start appreciating your own body.
When we fully accept and love ourselves, we no longer feel the need to compare or pretend to be someone we're not. We are content and confident in ourselves. Our quest to be like others is over. What's nice about getting to this point is that you can use all of the mental energy previously occupied by perfectionism and comparison to further your goals. Self-acceptance is a work in progress for many of us, so you'll probably have to work at it every day—but it'll be well worth it.
When you find yourself comparing, remember that the thief of joy is on the loose. You're drifting away from self-acceptance and diverting attention away from your own internal work, which isn't getting you any closer to your goals and objectives.
4. Make realistic and attainable goals for yourself
When it comes to fitness goals, I've worked with many folks who struggle to keep going when things don't go as planned. Due to ill kids or job pressures, their four days a week at the gym became two, or their body isn't exhibiting the high-standard results they expected, and they want to quit. Our standards are frequently set excessively high because we base our aims on the flawless standards that surround us—and when those standards aren't attained, many people abandon their efforts to develop. This is something I see all the time.
When we make objectives for ourselves, we must be practical and achievable for our bodies and lives, not for the lives of others. While it's fine to draw inspiration from others, comparison is a thief on your trail.
Do not succumb to comparison. We must roll with the punches and keep showing up for ourselves because life isn't flawless. However, your dreams and goals are well worth pursuing, and with determination and focus, you will succeed.
Remember that progress, not perfection, is the goal.