Being part of the amazing health and wellness community is wonderful. But there are times when it’s not so great. Especially when it causes people fall into the comparison trap – and the scary thing is that you won’t even know it’s happening.
It begins when you start eyeing the treadmill speed of the person next to you in the gym. Next, you might start wondering why your dinner plate looks piled high while your friend’s is not even half full. Maybe you then stop ordering dessert because you’re self-conscious. Following a dessert-less night, you go on a run the next morning with the girl just down the hall. You don’t consider that this is your seventh workout of the week and this is her second. See where I’m going?
Being healthy is about eating foods that make you feel good, moving your body in a way that makes you feel good, and creating relationships that make you feel good. Notice a trend? It’s about YOU and nobody else. And it’s important to remember that.
Feeling good is different for everyone. Just because some foods and certain fitness routines work for other people, it doesn’t mean they are going to work for you. So let this community be a source of inspiration, not a recipe book.
The person on your left may be Paleo and the person on your right may be vegan. Your roommate lifts twice her bodyweight and your best friend is training for a marathon. What they do is great, and it should motivate you. But it doesn’t have to motivate you to do those things. Instead, let it encourage you to find what works for you. You don’t need to be paleo, vegan, a weight lifter, and cardio bunny all at once. In fact, it’s almost impossible. Some days you’ll eat all the veggies, and other days it’ll be pasta, pizza, and cake and that’s okay. It’s called balance.
So eat what makes you feel good, move in a way that makes both your mind and body feel good, and just do things that make you happy.
For me, this all transpired slightly differently from the traditional way of falling into this trap. I sort of got into fitness by accident and was a competitive swimmer for ten years. My fitness routine was pretty standard, and to be completely honest, I didn’t really think much about it. But since coming to university, I’ve had to make time, prioritize, and find a new workout schedule – one that works for me.
Recently, however, I’ve cut back on cardio and other intense workouts because my mind and body were sending me signals that they need a break. I am redirecting my energy towards pilates, yoga, and walking. It’s nice to step back and really think about what my needs are and stop thinking about what everyone else is doing.
Here’s where the comparison trap makes an appearance. I really love moving my body and getting fresh air. So it has definitely been hard when my friends are going for a run or trying out a new spin class, and I have to restrain myself from joining them. Then I stop, think, and (try to) smile. I know I’m doing what’s best for me. Do I still feel fit? Yes. Will I get back on the cardio train? Yes, when I’m ready. Am I okay with this? Yes, mostly (just keeping it real here).
We all have different bodies that respond differently to exercise at different times, and it’s important to respect that.
Don’t get me wrong – this community is about getting inspired and motivating each other. But that’s really where it should begin and end. So make sure that you don’t lose yourself in the process and just do what works for you!
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