There was a time not too long ago when I would compare my body to every other woman’s in the room. In the building. In my line of sight. Most of this was due in part to my ED but another [small] part is simply because I’m human. Part of being human is that constant drive and need for validation – from ourselves and from others – and while I no longer have the urge to compare myself to every woman I see, I do sometimes struggle when it comes to comparisons in the gym.
Given I just talked a little bit about this topic with Emily last week, I was inspired to really dig into more of this topic and share some of my thoughts and feelings on it with you. It’s something that I dealt with for a really long time and still find myself struggling with on certain days, but I think it’s really important to share posts like this so that as a community we can come together to support each other and maybe even learn from one another.
How I Avoid the Gym Comparison Trap
Stop looking around you, start looking within you
The second we start looking around us and comparing our bodies, our workout or even our situation to anyone else’s is when we run into trouble. Guys – no one has the same body, workout, issues, etc as you do. We are all uniquely made and thus cannot be successfully compared to one another. So why do we do it? Because we’re human.
Piece of advice? Instead of looking around you for validation, look within you. It’s something that I’ve started doing lately and it has really helped to keep my focus on the reason why I’m at the gym in the first place – to further improve my health.
Remove yourself from the temptation
There is this girl who comes to the gym at the same time as me almost every morning. If Barbie were real this woman is how I’d imagine her. She’s tall, lean but still muscular and has the most beautiful long blonde hair that is never greasy or sweaty looking regardless of how long she’s on the stair climber. Needless to say, her presence pretty much drives me bat sh** crazy.
Which is why I leave the room whenever she comes in. It might seem immature or childish but it’s what I have to do in order to hold on to my sanity and I’m not going to apologize for that.
As soon as she’s out of sight I give myself a little pep talk.
“You’re better than this.”
“You’ve got this.”
And just like that, the temptation is gone. Sometimes all it takes is a few positive words from yourself to snap your brain out of whatever dark hole its slipping in to. Never underestimate the power of a few kind words, even if you are giving them to yourself.
Remember that everyone has a story
I touched on this lightly during Emily’s podcast, but something I always try to remember at the gym is that everyone has a story.
That woman over there with the killer body? She suffered from bulimia for 4 years.
That man who’s barely lifting any weight? This is his first day back in the gym after surgery.
The woman sprinting as hard as she can on the treadmill? She’s desperately trying to prove to herself that she can do it.
That man who sits on the weight bench and only does a set every 5 minutes? He’s lost in his head thinking about his wife’s cancer treatment.
Everyone has a story. Remember that the next time you go to compare yourself to the person next to you.
Falling prey to the comparison trap doesn’t make you weak – it makes you human. As someone who played the game for a long time I can honestly say that the triggers will always be there. What determines whether you fall prey to the game again or not is how you respond to those triggers – and that decision is entirely up to you.
How do you fight comparisons in the gym?