Sunday, 20 March 2016

The reasons why I don't do comparison

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel”
It’s so easy these days to compare our lives with the lives of those around us. We’re surrounded by and influenced by social media daily. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest…the list goes on. And we all know that what we see on there isn’t the reality of someone’s life but sometimes you can think it is.
For example, when I was travelling last year I had days where I was homesick and cried or the day didn’t go too well for one reason or another. Did you see me posting that on Facebook? Generally not. You saw me swimming in the Great Barrier Reef, having the time of my life swinging from a bungee in New Zealand and laid on yet another beach on the Fijian Islands.
Or I sometimes post progress pictures on my Instagram. Do I post one at 9pm when I’ve had a day of food (granted it’s not much food) and 5 litres of water and my stomach is looking a little bloated? No I post one that’s taken at 7am after fasted cardio when my body is looking more shredded.
Similarly, if I post a selfie, do I post one taken at 8am on a Sunday morning when my hair is not brushed, my face isn’t washed let alone got any make-up on and I’ve got my fluffy dressing gown on? (Yes, this is my current status) No, I post one when my make-up looks on point, my hair is styled and I’m in good lighting.
So you see my highlight reel. Snapchat gives a bit more of a raw look at my daily life and I’ve made an effort with my blog posts to include the lows and not just the highs but essentially 90% of what you see of me on social media is the good bits.
But we seem to forget that when we look at other people’s sites and seem to think that they’re always that beautiful or always that toned or that they’re always doing nice things. And it’s not reality.
Don’t get me wrong I browse Instagram and Facebook daily and particularly on Instagram I follow a lot of fitness pages so I see fit girls and think ‘wow awesome abs’ or ‘good booty’ and use these as motivation but I definitely don’t compare myself. And I’ve found this to be more important for me not to do in the run up to competitions.
A few weeks ago when I committed to entering my first competition in May I did fall into the trap of spending one weekend browsing a lot of social media looking at girls from last year’s comp or just looking at girls entering comps around the world. And whilst it worked in one sense in that it kind of shocked me into thinking ‘right, absolutely no more slip ups now in terms of diet, you HAVE to be on point’ and that’s helped as I have stayed on track since then. But it also had me in a bit of a panic as I was looking at girls on stage who had had months of comp prep, some who had had years of bodybuilding, they were tanned to the max and they’d had their peak week where there’s certain things you do in the week leading up to comp to create this illusion on stage. How they look on stage is not how they look every single day when they’re walking down the street or at work. And I have to remind myself of that quite often.
And whilst it’s nice sometimes to talk to other girls going through comp prep and it’s reassuring to hear of the same emotional rollercoaster I’ve learnt that I actually don’t want to know too much about the details of their prep. As soon as you start learning of people’s progress, what they’re eating, what training plan they’re doing, what things they’re not doing etc. you can’t help but compare what you’re doing. Everyone’s going to be doing things slightly different as we’ve all got different body shapes and types and our bodies react to different things.
I’ve made a conscious effort this last couple of weeks to not get too involved in looking at people’s progress or reading on people’s stories as I had this conversation with my PT and as he pointed out we’ve all got different strong points. He recognises I’m not going to have the biggest muscles on stage as bodybuilding is a relatively new concept in my life, particularly on my upper body. Whereas some girls have had years of bodybuilding and gradually building their muscles up. But I’ve got strong points of my own which we will be focusing on.
I went through a stage when I was about 20 years old, as we all have no doubt at some stage in our lives, where I was pretty insecure with my body. This was before I started working out and whilst fortunately I’ve never been what I’d class as properly overweight, looking back I was untoned and because I’m only small in height this soon shows on me. And I always used to be comparing myself to other girls and it made me so miserable.
As time has gone on I outgrew this phase and particularly as I started training I gained so much more confidence in my body. This was knocked during my last few months of travelling last year when I put on about 5kg and lost all my muscle tone. I HATED how my body felt and looked but I’ve worked my butt off since I got home in October to get back on track and at the moment I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in and I feel brilliant.
I have my body hang-ups just as much as the next person and I don’t mind putting that out there. I wish I had bigger boobs, I wish I was a little bit taller, I would love to have flawless olive skin and it would be awesome if I naturally had abs and didn’t have to work so hard to maintain definition on my stomach. But I accept all that and appreciate my good points instead. I think when God was deciding on boobs or bum for me he got carried away with the booty and completely neglected the other but as a result I’ve been left with an ass that does not take any growing at all; a few squats here and there and it’s bursting my jeans haha so I’m grateful for that and a number of other things. So I challenge you to find anyone out there who’s got the ‘perfect’ body as it doesn’t exist. As what might be perfect to me, isn’t perfect to someone else.
My approach in the last 9 weeks to competition is purely to focus on me, as it has been from day 1 of getting back to the gym and not allowing my eyes to wander onto other people’s progress. It’s a hard concept for me as naturally this is a competition and as soon as that word is mentioned my competitive nature kicks in and naturally I want to win. That’s just who I am and who I’ve always been. I know it’s probably very unlikely that I’ll win given it’s my first comp but my adrenaline kicks in and that hunger for success kicks in. So I’m having to stop myself thinking about that as otherwise it will get inside my head and ruin the whole concept and experience for me. For now I’m putting my faith in the process. I have a diet plan laid out in front of me. I have a training plan drawn up. I know every day what I need to do and if I do that every single day then the results will come. I track my own progress weekly and that’s all I can do; push myself to keep improving in these last few weeks.
So for anyone out there who’s reading this I want you to stop comparing yourself to so many others out there. Whether that be in body image or lifestyle or profession, whatever it is. As cheesy as it sounds we’re all on our own journey and no one’s is right or wrong. You have to do what makes you happy and be true to yourself and appreciate yourself.
It took me a long time to fully appreciate myself and be confident in who I am as a person; not allowing people in my life who disrespect me and pull me down and not feeling like I have to conform to normality. Maybe this is just something that comes with age and a few different life experiences but I hope everyone out there reaches that point if you haven’t already as that’s what the world needs more of.
There’s so much pressure around us every day and I don’t know whether it’s from society, from social media, from friends and family or maybe it’s in our own head and it can be difficult sometimes to think you know what, I don’t care what everyone else is doing, I’m doing what’s right for me. And this is something I still do battle with occasionally. Now I’ve reached the age of 25 I look around at a lot of people my age, who I’m friends with or who I went to school with and it’s fair to say the majority are settled down, some married, some with kids. And that’s great for them if that’s the life they’ve chosen. But sometimes it can make you think oh jeez I’m so far away from that. And then I remind myself of everything I’ve done since I was 18; how much I’ve travelled, the experiences I’ve had that no one can ever take away from me that I’ve had whilst I’m young and carefree and I think of the education I’ve had and the career I’ve built for myself. And I wouldn’t change one bit of that for the world. And I’m not saying I’m any better than any of those people for doing what I’ve done, I’ve just chosen a different path, and that’s ok.
One day I hope to have all of that stuff; a family of my own and to settle down and I really hope that happens for me. And if it does it will have happened in the way that was right for me. I’ll have had my selfish years in my twenties where I’ve done exactly what I’ve wanted when I’ve wanted. I’ve taken a career break and experienced life at the other side of the world, I’ve had countless holidays, I’ve indulged in having nice things and spoilt myself, I’ve been able to dedicate a large proportion of my time to building a successful career that will now hopefully serve me well throughout the rest of my working life. I’ve invested in my health and fitness spending a lot of money on the experience I’m having now and in a couple of months I’ll be able to say I’ve competed on stage too. I’m going to America for the first time in June which I’m so excited about and then I’m back to Australia for a couple of weeks in September so 2016 promises to be a great year of even more wonderful experiences.
And then who knows; hopefully Prince Charming will walk into my life any day now, sweep me off my feet and we’ll live happily ever after (LOL – here’s hoping hey?)
Thanks for reading. Enjoy your Sunday.

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