For those of us invested in health and fitness, getting in shape is more than simply lifting weights and eating right. Getting in shape requires mental fortitude, a series of daily checks and balances, and the ability to refocus. A strong body is the product of a healthy mind and a healthy mind requires upkeep. In order to stay focused and motivated, we must be vigilant in our search for new sources of inspiration and take care to ensure that we always view ourselves in a positive light. There are a number of things that can stand in the way of that process, roadblocks that rob us of our inner drive and cause us to question our every move. If we are to continue to successfully fuel the fitness fire, we must identify those factors and actively work to reduce their negative influence.
Jealousy, envy, and insecurity can all be products of comparing oneself to others. Comparison will lead many straight into self-doubt. The moment we stop believing in ourselves is the moment that we lose faith in the process that would ultimately yield transformation. Every day that we lose to faulty thinking is a day added to the length of time required to reach our goals. In this article, we will identify areas in which comparison may be affecting you without you even knowing it.
Let me begin by saying this is not something that I myself have mastered; it is something that I am becoming more aware of as I mature as both a woman and a competitive athlete. My strategy for combating the inevitable urge to compare is balancing it out with positive affirmations. For every questioning thought that arises, I counter it with a reassuring one. I am learning to make mental note of the many areas in which I shine, rather than the few areas in which I may be lacking. Showing gratitude for the progress that I’ve made makes way more sense than trying to rationalize why I’m not where the next girl is. Every day consciously devoted to personal development is a successful one. We’re willing to sweat our guts out, eat the right foods, and maintain good form in order to make our bodies grow. Why then is it sometimes difficult to understand that we must think harder while actively capturing negative thoughts in order to grow spiritually and intellectually?
A holistic approach to fitness (mind, body, soul) is something that makes perfect sense yet something that very few are able to balance well. The focus tends to migrate from one aspect to another, rather than center on all three simultaneously. If any one area of this trifecta is my primary focus, the other two areas suffer. The key is to meet yourself exactly where you are, not where you want to be or where he/she is. Celebrate your uniqueness and recognize that your path is your own. Take it one day, one step, and one victory at a time. Don’t let setbacks or comparison bog you down; they are an inevitable part of life. Slow and steady wins the race, and like it or not, there isn’t a finish line. There is only where you started and where you are today!
Comparison is a battle, even for the strongest women. We must realize that comparison has no end, shows no mercy, and doesn’t discriminate. There will always be someone you perceive as better, being further along, or more important. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There is no such thing as better when it comes to people. God created us all as equal. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be on the path he set forth for you, and the most important thing is recognizing the numerous gifts he’s bestowed upon you. Your talents and what you have to offer to the world are unique. You cannot be compared to others! I think of myself as a strong and independent woman but I am also guilty of comparing myself to others. I recognize both the strengths and the faults, and that they each have their purpose. The flesh is full of faults but thankfully the spirit is strong enough to overcome them.
I have a very type A personality and with that comes the desire to reach perfection. As an athlete and owner of a makeup business, I follow and friend others via social media. Among those whom I follow are people who inspire me, people involved with my business, and fellow athletes. There are times when it can be trying because with every post I view, I am at risk of playing an active role in the comparison game. Many of the posts I come across are by professional athletes with nearly perfect bodies and women in the makeup business who are extraordinarily beautiful. I mean who does not want to look like Amanda Latona or Jamie Eason? Given that I started lifting weights about a year and a half ago, I view my journey into the fitness world as primarily introductory. Don’t get me wrong, I have poured countless hours of time, energy, and thought into my approach to fitness. However, I am still well within the limits of the active learning stage and realize that achieving my desired physique will take time, especially as a natural athlete. I have always been athletic and participated in sports, but targeted lifting was not historically part of my routine. I am a student, someone who takes note of any and every way in which I can improve, to include not comparing myself to others.
The fact is comparison causes self-harm. It gives rise to jealousy and envy, which reinforce the illusion that whom you are comparing yourself to is better. Comparison proves destructive to your character by means of tricking you into thinking that you are less than. It blinds you from seeing the hard work or sacrifices that you have endured and can have you convinced that someone else’s life is better than yours. You must remind yourself that the life you’re imagining someone has is not yours, may be ten times worse than yours, and looks vastly different to the person living it. One of my favorite quotes by Theodore Roosevelt is “comparison is the thief of joy”. Don’t let comparison leave you powerless! Recognize it for what it is, a faulty way of thinking that has little to no factual basis. “There are lots of horrible books out there with wonderful looking covers.”
I have found that expressing gratitude is essential for me. It makes me far less likely to compare myself to, or be jealous of, others. Gratitude brings you back to all that is good, centers your thoughts around abundance, and forces you to recognize your blessings. While being grateful, it’s nearly impossible for you to think of how you are lacking or the disparities between you and the next person. A grateful heart is representative of the practice of self-love. A grateful heart will also make you more inclined to give. Who knows, you might even give the compliment that the person actively comparing themselves needs to hear. I find when I am grateful my ability to uplift, validate, and empower others is heightened. Mature women show support, not just to those who obviously need it, but also to those who may not be aware they need it. What we learn as sisters, we share as family!
Written by; Allison Florence