Ever feel like the body you want is out of reach? Feel frustrated that you aren’t lean enough, strong enough, muscular enough? Or do you feel like somehow everyone else looks better than you?
The comparison game can be dangerous to play. You spend hours on Instagram scrolling through the countless fit chicks who seem to be shredded all year round. This only makes you feel frustrated that you don’t look like them and makes you start hating on your body.
Ever hear the saying: The day you start lifting is the day you become forever small? There’s quite a bit of truth to it.
Once you start hitting the gym and fine tuning your diet something funny happens. None of the progress you make ever becomes good enough. Reached your 20kg weight loss goal? Now you want a six pack. Reached your 100kg squat goal? Now you want 130kg.
This is simultaneously one of the best and worst things about fitness. The best part is that hunger for more continually drives you to better yourself and keep improving. The worst part is that you end up constantly comparing yourself to others that are already where you want to be and then you feel like shit.
You stop appreciating how far you’ve come and only focus on how far you have to go.
This friends, is the comparison game.
If you’ve been there or if you are currently stuck there now then you know how absolutely soul sucking it can feel.
The good news is you don’t have to play this game forever. In this blog I will be discussing 5 ways you can get off the merry-go-round of comparison for good.
Before we get into that, I want to let you in on a dirty little secret: everyone is playing this game. It’s human nature to compare. Comparison is one of the ways that we gauge if we are where we should be in life. We look around at people in our similar peer group and compare income, family status, buying a house, etc.
Usually these are friends, family, colleagues but sometimes a complete stranger, such as an Instagram influencer, can fall into this category.
It’s all in how we think about ourselves. When you start out in the gym with the goal of squatting 100kg you might think of yourself as someone who wants to get stronger. Then you hit that 100kg.
By the time you’ve hit 100kg, maybe you’ve started following some powerlifters on Insta, maybe you’ve bought a lifting belt. Now you identify as a powerlifter (whether you’ve competed or not). You’ve put yourself into a new category, a category of people who are already stronger and leaner than you.
Because it is common in powerlifting for a woman to have a 150kg+ squat, the comparison game starts over and now you feel inadequate with your 100kg squat.
First and foremost, regardless of where you’re at right now, it is completely normal to feel:
Like you aren’t where you want to be.
Like everyone else is doing better.
Like no matter how hard you try, it just isn’t good enough.
Strategy 1: Focus on actions, not the end result.
Whether your goal is to have a six pack or squat 150kg, we often use these types of goals as an objective benchmark for how far along we are in our journey. These types of measures show how we stack up against everyone else.
Did you catch that? We use these measures to compare ourselves to others.
The other thing, these measures we don’t always have control over. We can’t fully control how our bodies respond to a diet or training program.
When all of your goals are based around a specific outcome, such as having a six pack, if you fall short of that goal is a fast track way to feel like a failure.
The solution is to focus on habits that you can do everyday that take you one step closer to your goal. For example, if you want to squat 150kg, there are things you can do to get there.
Make sure you get your training in each day.
Ensure that you are eating for performance.
Prioritize getting 8 hours of solid sleep every night.
These are things that you have direct control over and if you are consistent with these actions, you WILL get stronger and each day you will be one step closer to that 150kg squat.
Thinking about these actions, and not the outcomes, shifts your mindset away from comparison and allows you to celebrate your wins and stop thinking about how far you still have to go.
It might be difficult in the beginning to shift your thinking but eventually it will start to feel natural and you will be so much happier for it.
Strategy 2: Remind yourself EVERYDAY that there is more to life than looking like a fitness model.
It’s easy to look in the mirror and pick out what you don’t like about your body. Maybe it’s the cellulite on the back of your legs or the way your stomach looks in low-waisted pants. The miracles of high waisted leggings amirite?
No matter who you are, you can probably pick out a couple of things that you don’t like. These thoughts often take up more of our thought space than they should.
By reminding ourselves what truly matters to us in life, and it is NOT looking like a fitness model, we can take away the power of some of these negative thoughts.
Take some time each day to write down what you are grateful for, what great things happened to you today, something you are looking forward to, etc.
By doing this, you will be able to shift your mindset away from the way you look being most important, to all the other incredible things life has to offer being at the top of your priority list.
It’s hard to get stuck in comparison when you have a true appreciation for how full and valuable your life is.
Strategy 3: Cleanse your social media.
This one is definitely easier said than done. Often times we use social media as a source for inspiration. We see other women lifting heavy shit with visible abs and it inspires us to get our asses in the gym and keep on track with diet. That is, until it doesn’t.
There is that fine line when inspiration turns into a negative thought binge of why we don’t look like her or why we aren’t as strong as her.
If you follow someone on Instagram that makes you feel worse about yourself, unfollow that person. It doesn’t mean you can’t re-follow them again in the future but your mental wellbeing is more important. You won’t be missing out by not following that person.
The same goes for friends and co-workers. If Karen from sales is always posting about how fit she is on Facebook and it’s driving you mad, unfollow, unfriend, do what you have to do. Your wellbeing is more valuable than whether or not you offend someone by unfollowing them on social media.
Strategy 4: Stop your triggers.
Although we already talked about social media and how it can influence comparison, stop and think if there are any other behaviors, environments, social groups that make you feel crap.
Do you weigh yourself everyday? Does this lead you spiraling into a pit of despair?
If the answer is yes, STOP DOING IT. Find another way to track progress that doesn’t trigger you. Progress photos, dexa scans, girth measurements, caliper measurements, are all great ways to track progress that is not the scale. Yes, the scale can be a valuable measurement tool but if it ruins your mood for the rest of the day, it’s not worth the trouble.
Now back to Karen from sales. Maybe she started a weight loss group challenge at the office and you joined because fitness is your jam and you thought maybe having a group would be helpful. But see Karen did one bikini comp and now she thinks she is an expert on fat loss. Every time you meet with the challenge group you end up walking away feeling frustrated and inadequate. Maybe this isn’t the best place for you to be.
Think to yourself, is there a specific behavior, person, place that makes you feel not good enough?
If you can identify you triggers, it gives you an opportunity to reassess. Maybe it’s best to remove yourself from situations that make you feel like crap.
Strategy 5: Surround yourself with people that support you.
I can’t say it enough but having a solid support network can make all the difference.
For example, If you’re into powerlifting and you feel like no one around you gets it, find a powerlifting gym.
Don’t be afraid to share your struggles with your community. I can almost guarantee that you will be flooded with support. Not only will you no longer feel alone, you will help others by reminding them that they aren’t alone either.
By communicating openly, you will be able to build genuine connections with the people around you and build an open, supportive community. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we want? To feel heard and supported?
If you are struggling to find your tribe, hop on over to my Facebook community where it’s all love.
There will always be someone leaner, stronger, and more muscular than you. The day when you realize you couldn’t care less, that you’re happy just doing you, that’s when you know you’ve beaten the comparison game.