The comparison trap

The comparison trap

When one embarks on a journey of ‘healthy living’, it is easy to become bombarded with information. Between blogs, books, Facebook and Pinterest, it is hard to know who to trust and what to believe.

I shared this post on Facebook the other day, and it is so important I want to share it again. Like John Berardi, I do not believe there is one specific style of eating that will magically transform your body forever.

When I first became involved in fitness, I was so confused. Some people promoted short full body workouts three times a week, while others credited twice-daily workouts for their success. Some ate very few carbs while others ate more carbs in a single day than I did in an entire week. Some people refused to do cardio, while others swore by it.

It's all too easy to jump on board with the latest craze

It’s all too easy to jump on board with the latest craze!

Thankfully, I’ve learned that what works for one person won’t necessarily work for me. I take the workout and nutrition advice given by fitness models and competitors with a grain of salt, as these athletes are being paid by their supplement sponsors to promote their products. Besides, do you really think they’re going to be honest about their training and nutrition when they are competing to be the best? It doesn’t make much sense to give away all your secrets for free.

Given that bloggers supposedly document every aspect of their lives, it is difficult not to compare. When you see someone running every single day, you can easily convince yourself you should do the same. When someone survives on an extremely low calorie diet, you might feel embarrassed about your own dietary intake.

I receive a lot of emails from readers who are overwhelmed about where to begin and who to believe. Usually the first advice I give them is to stop reading blogs and stop following any fitness-related social media pages – I know that seems contradictory seeing as I am a blogger, but helping people get healthy is more important to me than growing my readership.

I have worked with some bloggers that I know for a fact lie about what they eat, how they train and how they feel on their blogs. You cannot compare yourself to anyone, especially without seeing the full picture.

comparison-is-the-thief-of-joy

Over the past couple of months I have been posting a weekly workout and nutrition recap. I don’t do this hoping that people will compare themselves to me, but rather because I want to show people that fat loss can be done in a sane and healthy way while still building strength. Posting calorie counts and weights lifted will always ruffle a few feathers, but I trust myself enough to not let negative comments get to me.

After we watched Phil Learney’s speech on metabolic damage, Rob asked me if listening to experts causes me to doubt myself. Although I respect the man and value his opinion a lot, Phil said two things in particular that I didn’t agree with: that you absolutely have to eat six mini meals a day and that overweight people should never have cheat meals.

I’m not going to go into the reason why I disagree with these statements, but generally I don’t think it’s good to make blanket assumptions for the entire population. Although I am confident enough in my own beliefs to disagree with Phil in these instances, I will still admit he is a million times smarter than me when it comes to these things.

van cliburn quote

I’m always learning and willing to try new nutritional approaches. Heck, a year ago I bagged the Paleo diet and told myself I would never do it, and yet I have now been loosely following that way of eating for seven months. Yet that doesn’t mean I force Paleo down my clients’ throats. In fact, I will often discourage someone from trying Paleo as I still firmly believe that unless you have a medical reason to do so, there is no need to eliminate entire food groups from your diet.

(For me, there is no denying that wheat and dairy have a negative impact on my hormones. After going over a year without experiencing a period, I’ve now menstruated twice in six months and my skin has improved dramatically after throwing away all facial products and focusing on healing from the inside instead.)

It has taken me years of experimentation to reach a point of nutritional happiness. Having now worked with more than 100 clients, I have yet to find two that are the same. Everyone has different nutritional needs, and there is no reason you cannot achieve your physical and strength goals while being vegan, Paleo, gluten-free, an intermittent faster, or a mini-meal lover.

Remember that everyone responds differently to macronutrient ratios and training styles so you cannot take a general nutrition/training plan and assume it will work for you. Experiment to find what works best for you.

Do you compare yourself to bloggers or fitness models? Has it ever helped you or, conversely, negatively affected you?

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