Let’s face it — we’d probably all love to have a bangin’, fully-stocked home gym. But that requires space and money, so, as sad as it may be, it’s not always practical to buy (or store) all the weights. Still, it’s hard to get away with just one. Probably the biggest challenge I see with my clients is that it’s almost as if your upper body and lower body require two different sets of weights, with the upper body requiring anywhere from 5-20lbs and lower body needing a heavier and much bigger range of weights. And I’ve also run into this…
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“Why can’t I look like them?” How the comparison complex makes you hate on your body—and 5 ways to beat it for good.
Ever feel like the body you want is always just out of reach? Like you’ll never quite be lean, strong, fit, or healthy enough? Or that there’s always somebody “better” than you? Here’s how to stop hating on your body, and free yourself from the frustration of constant comparison.
Caron Adderley lost 55 pounds over the course of 11 months.
And for a short period, she felt happy with those results.
While her family and friends (and the rest of the world) saw her as perfectly fit, she soon became dissatisfied. “Even though I was leaner than ever, I now wanted six-pack abs,” says Caron.
After all, truly fit people have washboards, right?
But no matter how lean or strong she became, or what new goals she achieved, there was always someone “better” to compare herself to.
Instead of appreciating her own progress, she kept wanting more.
In 10 years of coaching, I’ve come across countless stories like Caron’s. Both men and women.
Regardless of where you (or your clients) are in your health and fitness journey, it’s common to feel like:
- You’re never quite where you want to be.
- Everyone else is doing better than you.
- Even your best effort just isn’t good enough.
I call this the comparison game.
And if you’re stuck in it, you know how soul-sucking it feels.
But you don’t have to keep playing. (Nor do your clients.)
In this article, we’ll explain why you can’t stop constantly comparing yourself to others—and why it always feels like you’re not measuring up. (Spoiler alert: It’s completely normal, according to science).
More importantly, we’ll give you five strategies that’ll help you conquer your comparison complex for good—because a healthy lifestyle should lift you up, not bring you down.
A secret about comparison: Everybody’s doing it.
It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others.
Back in the 1950s, famed psychologist Leon Festinger, Ph.D. coined the term social comparison theory.
The idea: In order to gauge our “success” in any given area of life—career success, intelligence, and yes, appearance—we look to one another for points of reference.
But we don’t look to just anyone.
We compare ourselves to our “relevant peer group,” says Karen North, Ph.D., clinical professor of communications at the University of Southern California.
This group, explains Dr. North, is made up of people we perceive to be around our same level in any given attribute.
For example, if you’re a high school basketball star, you’ll likely compare yourself to the top players in your district, rather than NBA all-stars.
Now, it’s probably no surprise that your friends, neighbors, and colleagues typically fall into your comparison bucket.
But you can also be influenced by people you have no clear connection to, like a movie star, CrossFit champion, or Instagram influencer.
“Celebrities can become part of our peer group to the point we feel we actually know them,” says Krista Scott-Dixon, Ph.D., Director of Curriculum here at Precision Nutrition and an expert in counselling psychology.
“Think about how you might binge-watch a Netflix series and become attached to the characters,” she says. “This works in a similar way: If you spend time watching or reading about certain people, it can feel like they’re part of your peer group, even if you’ve never met.”
Regardless of who we consider our peers, we tend to feel good about ourselves when we think we’re in the top third of the group.
The big problem? The moment we believe we’re “better” than two-thirds of our peers, we switch groups. And the cycle starts all over.
This is what happened to Caron when it came to her body composition.
She didn’t start out wanting six-pack abs. But once she saw herself as a “fit person,” she started identifying with a new group of people who were even leaner, fitter, and stronger than she was.
And surprise: Those folks all seemed to have visible abs.
If comparing ourselves to others is human nature, how can we ever feel good about our bodies?
The five strategies that follow can help, wherever you’re at right now. And sure, they might require you to try some new approaches and make tough decisions.
But aren’t you worth it?
5 ways to stop comparing yourself to others physically.
Strategy #1: Focus on actions, not outcomes.
Maybe you’d like to be a size 4. Or bench 300 pounds. Or run a 6-minute mile.
These kinds of benchmarks often seem meaningful. Perhaps because they offer an objective way to compare ourselves to others. (Red flag alert!) You don’t have to wonder how you stack up; the numbers will tell you.
For some people, these goals are achievable. But for others? They can be totally demoralizing.
After all, we can’t fully control how our bodies will respond to a nutrition or training program. And by setting goals that require a certain outcome, anything that falls short can feel like a failure.
Especially when we see others succeed.
Our solution: Rather than focusing on the end result, concentrate on completing daily actions that’ll help you lose fat or get stronger or run faster. We call these habits-based goals.
For example, if you’d like to lose fat, you might set goals such as:
- Eating lean protein at every meal
- Having five servings of produce per day
- Exercising for 30 minutes, three days a week
These actions, done consistently, are examples of how you lose fat. And they’re under your control.
As goals, they shift your mindset away from comparison, and provide more opportunities for you to celebrate your successful efforts—instead of thinking about everything you’ve yet to accomplish.
To be sure, focusing on actions over outcomes may require a mental adjustment on your part. But with practice, it’ll feel start to feel natural and right.
You can get started today by adopting the same goal-setting strategies we use at Precision Nutrition.
Strategy #2: Put things in perspective (every single day).
It’s easy to obsess over what we don’t like about our bodies.
- Cellulite on the backs of our legs
- How our belly looks when we don’t hold it in
- Body parts we think are too skinny- or flabby-looking
No matter who you are, you can probably name at least a couple. And too often, these thoughts take up way more headspace than they should.
But by reminding ourselves what really matters in life, we can dilute these negative feelings, and make them less powerful.
How? By the simple act of daily journaling.
Don’t think of this as another item on your to-do list. Consider it a quick-and-easy way to get a daily dose of perspective.
Every day, simply write:
- Three things you’re grateful for
- One thing you’re excited about
- One thing you’re proud of (from that day or the day before)
Making this list can give you a major mental boost. Do it routinely, and you’ll transform your mindset from a place of comparison to a more appreciative state. As an added bonus, you can look back on previous entries and see how far you’ve come.
Strategy #3: Eliminate your comparison triggers.
Think of a behavior, activity, or place aimed at helping you get healthier. Are there any that cause you to feel less than adequate?
It could be your favorite meal-prep blogger’s website… because she seems to have endless amounts of time to experiment with new and delicious macro-friendly recipes.
And your life just isn’t like that.
Or it could be:
- That advanced spin class where you struggle to keep up
- A diet that leaves you feeling guilty because you’re always “cheating”
- The weight loss challenge group you joined at work
When my client Kim started training, for instance, her goals were to get fit, feel good, and to be comfortable in her own skin. She got leaner and stronger quickly and joined the gym’s competitors program, where she started training with incredibly fit athletes.
Suddenly, Kim felt like she wasn’t doing enough. “I kind of felt like a fraud because I wasn’t willing to live the life of a really disciplined athlete,” she says.
For Kim, the competitors program had become a comparison trigger. Yet being a disciplined athlete was never part of her original goal.
Is there a specific place, person, or practice that always makes you feel “not good enough?”
If you can put your “trigger” for self-comparison on hold, you can get the space you need to reassess your situation and decide what you really want. Then, if you’d like to continue, you can return to that situation with a clear head and realistic expectations.
Strategy #4: Transform your social networks.
Go ahead, Marie Kondo your newsfeed.
Look through your friends and “following” lists, and ask yourself whether each person or account brings joy to your life. If not, unfriend or unfollow. (We told you there’d be tough decisions.)
Start following people who inspire you, educate you, or just make you laugh.
These can be people you know, or celebrities and influencers who give you positive feels. Your goal is to custom-build a peer group that fosters love for you and your body.
When I’ve given clients this task, they often report that social media, for the first time ever, is a happy place for them—a place that’s now contributing to their growth, instead of hindering it.
Strategy #5: Seek meaningful connections.
At the beginning of this year, Caron—who’s now a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified coach herself—wrote a social media post revealing she still weighs herself every single day.
This isn’t a habit that makes her feel good or in control. Instead, she feels like the scale is controlling her, thanks to her constant pursuit of measuring up.
The act of publicly admitting she’s “addicted to the bathroom scale” was empowering for Caron.
But most impactful? The overwhelming support she received from others who could relate.
Their messages and reactions helped her understand she isn’t alone in feeling the pressure to keep pushing for more, more, more. And I’d bet her post helped them, too.
Whether it’s online or in real life, sharing our struggles and stories with other people can be a way to build genuine connection, community, and support—and a lot more uplifting than scrolling through #fitspo on Instagram.
Share that post or picture that reveals the real you. Have that coffee with a friend. Open up to your coach or partner. Be vulnerable.
Genuine conversations beat silent comparison. Every time.
There will always be someone leaner, fitter, and stronger out there.
We all know this.
But instead of focusing on things that take away from your joy, build your support system. Seek out role models, and surround yourself with people who lift you up.
Turn your attention to those who love you for who you are… and who help you love yourself.
If you pay close attention, you might finally realize what they see in you.
And that’s when you’ve beaten the comparison game for good.
If you’re a coach, or you want to be…
Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that helps them fully value their own body, effort, and progress—is both an art and a science.
If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.
What’s it all about?
The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to really understand how food influences a person’s health and fitness. Plus the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.
Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients and patients, the Level 1 curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.
Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results.
[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]
Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 44% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.
We’re opening spots in the brand-new Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, October 2nd.
If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.
- Lock in your one-time special discount—and save up to 44%. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 44% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list. Remember: After October, you’ll never see this price again.
- Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.
If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.
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The following are intense balance poses. These are challenging and sometimes intimidating poses. With dedication and practice you will surprise yourself.
The post 3 Intense Balance Poses For All The Yoga Lovers Out There appeared first on Women’s Health.
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Sugar cravings can be very demanding, but when there’s a substitute this tasty, it’s way easer to choose the healthier option. Try these teas…
The post 6 Teas That Help With Cravings When You’re Struggling To Lose Weight appeared first on Women’s Health.
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Jealousy doesn’t need to be a bad thing. It can be a powerful tool that can inspire you, helping you move between where you are and where you want to be.
The post How To Use Jealousy To Fuel Your Own Success (Yes, Really) appeared first on Women’s Health.
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A new small-scale study by the Imperial College London might have just discovered an alternative to gastric bypass surgery.
The post This Injection Is The Latest Development In Weight-Loss Surgery appeared first on Women’s Health.
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We love a good Collagen Fuel (or Primal Fuel) shake, but there’s something to be said for mixing it up. We think this Chocolate Collagen Pudding does the trick quite nicely—other non-Primal members of the household will likely think so, too. With two scoops of collagen plus cocoa powder and coconut milk (sub regular milk if you prefer), it satisfies even the most discerning chocolate lover without all the sugar and additives many puddings (especially boxed powders or premade varieties have).
And one juicy secret? You can have it two ways: mousse or pudding texture. (We think we just saw some eyes light up….) After blending the ingredients together, you can either pour the chocolate mixture into ramekins, or pour it into a pyrex container before placing in the fridge. If you do the former, you’ll get more of a mousse-like texture after the chocolate sets. If you do the latter and mix up the chocolate mixture after it sets, you’ll see more of a pudding texture. Enjoy!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Cooling Time: 3 hours
- 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. full-fat coconut milk
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 2 scoops Primal Kitchen® Chocolate Coconut Collagen Fuel
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup (optional, or your favorite sweetener, to taste)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- dash of salt
- chopped chocolate & mint, to garnish
Heat ½ cup of coconut milk in a small saucepan. Once the coconut milk is warmed, sprinkle the Primal Kitchen Chocolate Coconut Collagen Fuel over the coconut milk. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to rest for 1-2 minutes. Whisk the collagen and coconut milk together. Add the vanilla extract. Sift the cocoa powder into the pan, stirring as you go.
Pour mixture into a blender along with a dash of salt, the remaining coconut milk and your sweetener of choice. Blend until smooth.
Allow the pudding to set for about 3 hours in the refrigerator. Gently mix the pudding with a spoon and pour it into ramekins or serving glasses. Garnish with chopped dark chocolate and a sprig of mint.
Nutrition Information (per serving):
With Maple Syrup:
- Calories: 221
- Total Carbs: 14 grams
- Net Carbs: 5 grams
- Fat: 16 grams
- Protein: 10 grams
Without Maple Syrup:
- Calories: 203
- Total Carbs: 9 grams
- Net Carbs: 5 grams
- Fat: 16 grams
- Protein: 10 grams
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Research of the Week
Findings from a new meta-analysis of vitamin D studies: D3 better than D2, D protective against cancer.
Keto is looking quite promising for cancer.
Among children with a genetic proclivity toward celiac disease, eating more gluten than average increases the risk of developing celiac.
Animal milk is better for the environment than plant milk.
Social exclusion makes the room seem darker.
New Primal Blueprint Podcasts
Episode 364: Carnivore and Cancer: Host Brad Kearns explores the relationship between carnivore dieting and cancer.
Episode 365: Paul Robinson: Host Elle Russ chats with thyroid expert Paul Robinson.
Episode 366: Keto Q&A, plus Carnivore Rationale: Host Brad Kearns fields your questions.
Primal Health Coach Radio, Episode 22: Erin and Laura welcome Brad Kearns to the podcast.
Each week, select Mark’s Daily Apple blog posts are prepared as Primal Blueprint Podcasts. Need to catch up on reading, but don’t have the time? Prefer to listen to articles while on the go? Check out the new blog post podcasts below, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast here so you never miss an episode.
C. diff is really enjoying the sugar in people’s diets.
NPR gives a nice rundown on the environmental benefits of grass-fed beef.
Interesting Blog Posts
Here’s what happens when you ignore the experts.
What’s it like being an extreme morning person?
Another famous study bites the dust.
Bronze Age marsh diets involved a lot of undercooked frogs, mollusks, and parasitic worms.
To my German readers: a meat tax may be coming.
Wanna take Neanderthal survival courses in Italy?
Humans are narrative-spinners out of necessity in a chaotic world.
Things I’m Up to and Interested In
Podcast I enjoyed doing: The Skinny Confidential, talking business, longevity, fasting, and keto.
Paper I found interesting: “Domestic Livestock and Its Alleged Role in Climate Change”
Study I found surprising: Weighted hula hooping seemingly enables spot reduction of belly fat.
I’m disappointed but not surprised: Researchers are working on a “pill for loneliness.”
I’ve been saying this for years: Why drinking tons of water isn’t the best way to hydrate.
Question I’m Asking
When has ignoring the experts worked out for you?
- Chicken cracklings seriously give chicharrones a run for their money.
- After serving the cracklings as an appetizer, make this BBQ burger with Hawaiian coleslaw.
One year ago (Aug 11– Aug 17)
- Protein Intake While Keto: Why It Matters, How Much to Eat, and What My Intake Looks Like Now – All that and more.
- Wearable Weights: Are They Worth It? — Should you use them?
Comment of the Week
“I had 4 centenarians in my family in my family who lived in Greece and if they had to give blood, it would have been 90% Olive oil and 10% lunatic juice.”
– Sounds like you’ve got a marketable product there, Mike.
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