> Self-compassion

Dodge the comparison trap

Whether you’re just starting your weight-loss journey or are at your goal weight, show yourself some kindness and quit comparing yourself to other people. Here’s how to make it work.

3 ways to overcome comparing yourself to others

Be honest. When did you last look at a friend, a celebrity or even a stranger and think, 'Why can't I look like that?'. Was it last week, yesterday or 10 minutes ago? It's normal to feel occasional pangs of envy but experts believe we are more prone to this negativity than ever. “Envy can be a good thing,” says psychotherapist and self-help author, Gael Lindenfield. “It can motivate us to move forward and try harder. But it becomes unhealthy when we compare ourselves constantly to others, and today we are bombarded with images of super-slim celebrities, which makes this easy to do.” Read on to learn how to overcome three common comparison scenarios. 

Comparison trap #1: The ‘never gains a kilogram’ friend
You've lost 1.2kg this week and you’re feeling pretty good. You're meeting a friend and she turns up in tight white jeans. She's tall, a size 10 and always looks amazing. You're working hard, but you'll never have legs like her. Your mood slumps so you order an extra-large glass of wine and some peanuts. 

What to do:
Focus on your plan. Don't let a meaningless comparison steal your joy. Losing weight and seeing your body change shape is exciting, so pat yourself on the back and resolve to continue eating healthily so you'll feel even better in the weeks to come.

Also, tell your friend about your weight loss and see how pleased she is for you. “Reminding yourself of your successes is a very effective way to deal with envy,” says Lindenfield. “You might never be as tall as your friend, but you can reclaim control of your weight.” 

Comparison trap #2: The weight-loss buddy
You bonded when you joined Weight Watchers the same week, both with 10kg to lose. But while you've plateaued, she is still losing 1kg each week. You can't understand why you haven't had the same success. 

What to do:
Remember that every weight-loss journey is different. Weekly losses depend on a whole range of factors, such as physical activity and even your monthly cycle. So, providing your weight is going in the right direction, you're on track – and the odd plateau is normal.

But, to kick-start things again, perhaps you need to focus on tracking or moving more? Are you eating more than you think you are? Have you had a few special occasions that you haven't budgeted for? Do you forget to track snacks or drinks? Remember that tracking accurately is the only real way to work out what's happening, so if you bite it, write it! And if you're still struggling to understand it, talk to your Coach, who’ll be able to analyse your weight loss and give you practical advice.

Comparison trap #3: The complete stranger
You've managed to get to the gym for the second time this week and are starting to enjoy it. Then, in walks a woman who you've never seen before. She smiles and chats to everyone, gets on the treadmill and runs for 15 minutes without stopping. You lose heart and head for home. 

What to do:
You came to work out, so take a deep breath and get on with it. If you feel distracted, select a track from your playlist that's sure to lift your spirits, and remind yourself how you've improved since your first workout.

Why not ask a friend to come to the gym with you next time? You could even share the cost of a training session with one of the gym instructors to make sure you're getting the most out of the gym equipment. 

Finally, if you do find yourself quitting your exercise plans quite regularly, instead of beating yourself up about it, try asking yourself what it would take to help you succeed, and be realistic. Nobody's perfect, so try not to expect too much – if you're doing your best, you're well on your way to a healthier, happier you.

Article first published 1st of January 2017