Though your health goals are uniquely yours, it can be easy to fall into the trap of comparing your progress to others. Here’s how you can stay in your own lane.
BY: COURTNEY FERREIRA, MS, RD, LDN
You have heard ‘comparison is the thief of joy’. It’s especially true in the age of social media, where the constant comparison of our lives to others can easily bring us down.
Most of us are aware of the harm this can do, and hopefully, take measures to avoid that spiral.
However, there’s another type of comparison that can be just as toxic –
When people compare their behaviors to others as a way to justify why their behaviors “aren’t that bad.”
First and foremost, it’s also important to not shame anyone for their food or lifestyle choices. It is a choice.
However, when you are actively trying to take better care of yourself, improve your health, and support your goals through eating more nutritious foods and moving your body, the act of comparing your habits to someone else’s ‘worst’ habits to justify your inaction or misaligned choices are not helpful for anyone.
This type of comparison is often used to make one’s self feel better about not doing the things they told themselves they would do.
It helps them justify why their choices ‘could be worse’.
It’s a similar thought process as an excuse to not follow through with goals that have been set. Some examples include:
- You set a goal to move your body four times this week. You don’t do it. Instead of evaluating what happened and taking steps to try again and succeed at your personal goal, you focus on Susie in the office and how she is never ever active and justify your behavior because ‘at least you are not like her’.
- You know your reliance on and constant intake of sugar is contributing to your rising blood sugar levels but you say, “At least I am not eating donuts and candy every day like my uncle Bobby does.”
- You have a new diagnosis of prediabetes and are feeling resistant to giving up soda. You know you want to get your blood sugar under control, but you also know you will “never let myself get to the unhealthy place my cousin did”.
Here’s a reality check – your health has nothing to do with how someone else chooses to take care of him or herself.
We are all unique, and our health is determined by genetics, environment, stress, lifestyle factors, and more.
We all respond differently to food, exercise, and other health-related behaviors, positive and less productive.
This sort of comparison is negative, judgmental, and none of your business.
So take a moment to reflect on how you make your health decisions. If you find yourself going down this thought cycle, recognize it and ask yourself whether you’re benefiting from it.
The people in your life don’t deserve this kind of judgment, and your health will not improve from it. If you have a true desire to take better care of yourself, then own it, do it, and stay in your lane.
Remember – health is built on consistency and self-awareness. Stay clear in what you are trying to accomplish, and take it one day at a time.
And for goodness sake, leave other people out of it.
Adapted from the original post.
HEADER IMAGE: PRISCILLA DU PREEZ
Courtney Ferreira, MS, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian based in Baltimore, MD with a passion for helping individuals reach their health and wellness through flavorful whole foods and freedom from counting calories, fat, and minutes on a treadmill. For more insightful tips on living your healthiest life, visit Courtney at the RealFoodCourt.