Theodore Roosevelt was right when he said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Nothing kills my joy faster. Comparing ourselves to others has always been a battle, but I believe it’s harder now more than ever. Social media gives us windows into other people’s worlds and they almost always look rosier than our own. You log on and start to feel like everyone takes better vacations, has smarter, more athletic kids, a more thoughtful spouse and a prettier house. Am I right?

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Even worse is the anxiety we feel when it comes to comparing our bodies and our fitness levels. You’re feeling pretty darn good about getting off the couch and running 3 miles today only to see that Susie Q. just completed her 5th marathon of the year. Oh and she broke her own best record and placed first in her age group. It’s enough to send you right back to the couch with a big bag of Oreos. Double Stuff Oreos. Ever felt like that?

I’m not trying to blast those who tout their fitness accomplishments on social media. I understand the excitement of reaching a goal, but I do believe it can lead to comparisons and that never ends pretty.

Of course, social media isn’t the only place that tempts us to compare our bodies and fitness levels. Walk into any gym and the urge to look around and see how we size up beckons. I have constantly heard, “I want to try your class so bad, but everyone looks so fit. I’m intimidated.” It’s an easy trap to fall into, but we’re only hurting ourselves.

I don’t know about you, but for me, life is too short and precious to waste it feeling anxious and unhappy from measuring my shortcomings with other people’s bright, shiny packaging. Something that has helped me when the urge to compare strikes is to remind myself that every person has problems, issues and difficulties. Things may look perfect on the outside, but we all have struggles and I’m good with mine. No desire to trade.

Remember your goals. When you are comparing your body to what you see on social media, stop yourself and remember your goals. Often, those bodies we admire on social media fitness pages are fitness/body building competitors who get paid to look that way. Do you have the time and energy to devote hours and hours to look like that? I don’t. My goal is not to be a fitness competitor but a fit, healthy ME.

Finally, if comparing yourself is keeping you from trying something (such as the group exercise class I mentioned earlier), know that the person losing out in this battle is YOU. Most people aren’t going to judge you or obsess over every little move you make in the class. Gym goers are there to improve themselves. They aren’t worried that you aren’t super fit or that your push-up form isn’t that great. And chances are, the people in that class started out just like you- intimidated, unsure and not in the best shape. Don’t let the comparison monster win. Push him aside and go for it. Your outlook and your life in general will be better for it.

 

3 Comments

  1. Sarah Sonnemann Winkelspecht on December 12, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    This is exactly why I love your classes. Not only are they challenging but I never feel judged. I am not the strongest person in the room and I probably never will be, but you and the class make me feel supported. I’m motivated by my stronger classmates and I do my best to encourage those just starting out. You have created such a perfect atmosphere that no matter what our fitness level is we know we are a little stronger at the end of each class. My sweat sisters are on my team and I appreciate every one of them, especially you.

  2. DeAndra on December 12, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Susan,
    You are so right! Comparison just destroys contentment and it wrecks friendships. I’m glad you are pinpointing this issue. I really try hard to be happy for others because life is short. People face so many struggles and illnesses, that I try hard to see all the blessings God has given me. I think this topic is toughest for me with friends who are competitive. Thanks for once again sharing your heart and wisdom!

  3. Lynn on December 12, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Great blog! My daughter is going through this very thing right now. It starts so early and challenges us each and every day throughout our lives. This is one I will have to have her read! Thank you!

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