This is a quote from Theodore Roosevelt. I seem to be quoting it quite a lot recently.
You may have seen similar memes, such as:
“Don’t compare yourself with anyone else in this world, if you do you are insulting yourself”
“Don’t compare yourself to others…that’s a battle you can never win”
“Happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to other people”
“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle”
Now the latest prompt for me to quote this was a question I had from a client. As with a lot of my clients in the private group that I host, the client themselves become friends and confidants, and will for the most part keep themselves accountable and motivated. Which is exactly what I want to happen – when women do this, I get the best out of them. But in the most recent case, it seemed to have a negative effect.
“Why am I not losing as much weight as <name>? I eat less and our diets do not differ much, I’m confused!”
We are part of a world where things are better explained when they are black and white. And when I think about this in religious terms, we can often think that praying to God means that he will answer our prayers. When I ask my children to pray, they will ask God for an Xbox game, or 10 out of 10 on their next spelling test, or that Luton Town will win their next match. And if what they have prayed for doesn’t happen, they ask questions, and are sometimes left with an attitude close to “what’s the point?”. And I get that. What they don’t get that their prayers do get answered, but in a way they don’t expect. Such as being asked to earn the money for their Xbox game, meaning God intends for them to learn a lesson that you get what you work for. The same would stand for the spelling test. They would perhaps get 7 out of 10, meaning they had to learn by their mistakes to get the 10 out of 10 mark they prayed for EVENTUALLY.
So lets look at the black and white of the weight loss industry. We are told, that in order to lose weight, we need to EAT LESS AND MOVE MORE. Simple. So scientifically, by doing the maths, someone who normally has 2500 calories a day and doesn’t exercise, should lose weight by eating 2000 calories and walking half an hour each day.
And it could be that this is the perfect formula for one person. If they continue to do this, and reduce their calories and increase their exercise, the weight loss should be steady.
But things are never that simple. That could of course work for one person. That person could have 3 stone to lose, have a very inactive lifestyle to start with, and any negative change in calories and positive change in exercise will have the right impact. But what happens when another person has 10lbs to lose, is active anyway to a point, and has an autoimmune disease. What if that person has an intolerance to certain foods and has suffered from an eating disorder in the past, meaning their metabolism is affected. Extreme, I know, but they walk among us, and when it comes to getting ANY weight loss from someone who is suffering a high amount of stress from all areas of their life, it is very hard.
So what happens if the person who loses weight from the black and white method, compares their weight loss to the person who is suffering from all of the above?
They get very different results.
And this is just TWO people that I am comparing. We live in a world full of billions of people, half of which are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #bodyimage and #abs as their hashtags. And it is these people that we tend to compare ourselves to. And this is wrong.
I want to refer you to another meme that I posted to my group yesterday:
Look at yourself. Take a good look and ask yourself what you want to do, where you want to be, and why. Because, I bet if you ask the person standing next to you, the answer will be very different. In the same way that when you are kneeling next to that person in Church this Sunday, your prayers will be very different – and answered in different ways.