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The Comparison Trap

Updated: Jun 27

We all do it.

We spend our days mindlessly scrolling through social media or looking around our social circle, and start comparing ourselves to another's life. We don't really see the nitty gritty of that person, in terms of their relationships; with food; partners; alcohol; training; sleep. We only see what they choose to show us and then we fill in the gaps. Often, creating an illusion of what or who that person is rather than the true reality of their life.

If you are already creating new healthier habits and building in fitness into your day to day life, then this is for you....

Both from my own standpoint as a personal trainer and from the views of what clients and friends have told me. I recognise how hard it is to not get too despondent about ones aesthetic or achievements when seeing aesthetics which seem to be, in equal terms, "out of reach" whilst also, supposedly, a typical standard that the average person should be achieving.

Whilst the boon of subtle lighting, camera angles, skin, teeth, hair and body changing filters may be no surprise, the introduction of AI and life like "people" is simply making real life even harder.

I feel incredibly saddened by how social media has denigrated the meaning of health and fitness in some places, by suggesting you aren't doing enough, that if only you worked a little harder you too could be <<acceptable/aesthetically pleasing/attractive>> enough for a photo shoot or indeed, be seen in real life. That what you need is to take a multitude of supplements (as promoted by fitness / nutritional influencer), inject your face with a ton of botox and fillers and then maybe just maybe people will look at you and why oh why don't you have a 6 pack...well, clearly you aren't fit enough. Not all fitness influencers are like this, I hasten to add, but if you are new to the fitfluencer scene it is easy to get caught up with loads of unrealistic body images and information.

What is the true meaning of good health and fitness?

Your health and fitness, is about being able to operate as a human in the best functioning way possible.

  • Not being out of breath the moment you get to the top of the stairs.

  • Being able to lift your kid/shopping/gardening with ease.

  • The ability to tie your shoes without struggling.

  • Understanding how to eat a balanced diet that nourishes your body, not listening to some fuckwit telling you about the latest fad diet for rapid fat loss, only to rapidly gain twice as much weight after the initial loss.

  • And the added bonus to all this; fitting into clothes comfortably, not looking flabby and feeling generally confident in ones skin.

With the rise of fitness culture, orthorexia and the crossover of the bodybuilding aesthetic into normal day to day life, the expectations of what we consider healthy have been skewed. It's no longer enough to be all of the things above (which to me seems a pretty extensive list in itself) now we have to match an aesthetic (think 5% body fat, six pack, all muscles popping) that for the majority is actually unattainable to sustain long term (and anyone in the BB world would tell you that) or even achieve due to such variations in people's lifestyles. It's also miserable.

When did an aesthetic become more important than real happiness?

And this is where many of us fall into the comparison trap. We compare a snippet of someone else's life and attempt to compare it to our own and choose to believe that these people are happier and more fulfilled than us.

As a single mum, in her 40's with 2 kids and a business to run (and I don't have health complications which many of my clients do), comparing myself to the 18 yr old girl who's only responsibilities in life are potentially turning up for work, the reality is she probably has both more time and frankly more energy than me. Or the mum in her 40's who's husband provides for everything and spends time with the kids so his wife can focus on her fitness and side hustle.

These people are not me. In turn I choose what I view on social media. I choose the things that inspire not depress me; the things that bring me joy outside of fitness; I ultimately choose what visual media feeds my soul rather than defines it.

In turn, I do the best version of me that I can be on social media. I choose to be authentic and honest as a personal trainer. I am upfront when I am struggling because I think it's important people know I am as human as them. I will invariably always be on camera with no make up (mostly, because i rarely wear it, but I also don't want to hide the wrinkles and lines on my face which to me is a face that has lived, rather than devoid of expression/experience, but each to their own) and yes I want to be strong and look like I train but I also want to have a life outside of the fitness space and that will mean indulging at times in the "bad" food/drink if that means creating memories with the people I love. And that is probably true for the vast percentage of the population who are keen to take care of themselves for longevity.

We all have the ability to change our bodies and minds. Choosing a sustainable plan of training, nutrition and sleep that fits your life is the key to ensuring that the mental, physical and social outcome is to your betterment and overall success.

So, stop comparing yourself to others.

  • Compare yourself to the version of you who decided to start the process towards being a happier, healthier and fitter individual.

  • Look at all the progressions you have made, whether in weight lifted, length of time you can walk/run, improved sleep, reduced anxiety, nourished skin and hair, a more positive outlook on life, a mindful approach to food, the handful of people you have chosen to keep in your life because they make you want to be a better person.

These are the things to compare yourself to.

These are the things you should be proud of achieving.

If you have found yourself down the rabbit hole of social media, are finding yourself in a constant negative head space about your body or are simply looking to make changes to your body in a long term sustainable and want to have a chat. Book a call with me. It's free and who know, it may be the best call you make for you.

Book a call for a no obligation chat about your physical and mental health and fitness.

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