You may have heard the phrase “comparison is the thief of joy,” and often it’s used when people are comparing themselves to others. But what if you aren’t necessarily comparing yourself to others… You are instead comparing your current self to your old self.
As a trainer, I often hear something along the lines of “Oh, I was 10-15 lbs. lighter when I got married. I want to be there again.” Then I have to go into a lecture about how much their lives have changed in those 10+ years. Oh, you know, just reminding them about the numerous kids they gave birth to, the lifestyle changes, the cross-country moves, the stress of their jobs, the hormonal changes brought on by age…the list goes on. These are important factors that DO play into the current status of your body.
I also ask them how much they were working out when they were 10-15 lbs. lighter, and it’s usually a lot more than they are now! Why? Because it was easier to set aside more time for exercise at that point. They didn’t have a husband and kids to chase around at that time. They might have had fewer responsibilities with regard to their job at the time. Our priorities change throughout our lives, and getting to the gym is not always going to be #1. And you know what? That’s okay! And it should be that way!
Yes, staying healthy is very important. It’s important to keep yourself in shape so that you can bring your best-self to the world. Being healthy makes you a better spouse, a better parent, a better employee/employer, whatever your title is, it makes you better at it. By exercising and eating healthy you have more energy to push yourself through life. You’ll also have less stress and get sick less often. You’ll look and feel better, thus pushing your confidence through the roof. So yes, your health should be one of your priorities, especially since no one is going to take care of you better than you can take care of yourself. But at busier stages in your life, you may have to get a bit more crafty with finding the right balance of exercise + work + family + personal time + whatever.
I really think we should be more compassionate with ourselves. Many of the women I work with beat themselves up on a regular basis. Why aren’t they giving themselves credit for all of their accomplishments? They’re all intelligent, independent women but then they spend so much time talking crap to themselves in the mirror because of some extra fat on their stomach or thighs. I have to admit that I’m guilty of this as well. And I haven’t met a single woman that isn’t that way. But when you look at it as an outsider, it really does seem ridiculous. We’re way more than just our bodies. We have much more than our physical attributes to offer the world. It’s time to put the old you to rest and embrace the new you, whether you prefer its appearance or not. If you don’t like the appearance of your new self, then work to improve it, but there’s no point in comparing it to your old appearance. That’s just simply not fair to yourself and you’re not giving yourself credit for all the things that have happened between now and then.
We’re not plastic. We’re complex beings that are affected by age and we wear with life. Comparing ourselves to our 20 year old selves is just like comparing ourselves to 20 year old strangers. It’s nonsense and doesn’t do us any good. Where ever you are in life, you have to work with what you’ve got and just do the best that you can. Do your best to stay healthy. Do your best to stay strong. And do your best to stay happy, despite not looking like your 20 year old self. Besides, at this point I know I’m smarter, wiser, happier, and I have waaayyyy more muscle. 😉