How the comparison of others is destroying your happiness & goals.
Based on my experience being in the health and fitness industry over the last 6 years, you can imagine that I have had an immense amount of conversations with personal clients and individuals regarding desired goals and targets they want to achieve. The alarming point I have come across is the drastically changing miss conception of what is possible in accordance to someone's life and commitments that are not negotiable and never going to go away.
Let me explain: Some common goals and questions I get asked on a weekly basis is, "I just want to lose those last couple of kilo grams but I can't seem to get them off, how do I do it?", "I've lost all the weight I want I just want to tone up a little, how do I do it?", "I saw a lady lose 10 kilograms in 9 weeks that's what I want, How do I do it?", " I want to put on a huge amount of muscle so I look like this guy off Instagram, How can I do it?". If you have ever had any goals around fat loss, Muscle gain or/and fitness-oriented targets this applies to you, those questions are just examples. Keep in mind these are coming from individuals that have current commitments like, working 50 - 60 hours a week, have a family with kids or just had a baby, received a promotion at work, or just love being social and seeing their friends on a weekly basis etc. The bottom line, everyday people.
They all have something in common; the individual already has a big, nonnegotiable, pressing priority or priorities that are already of huge importance to them consuming a huge amount of time in their life that isn't being taken into consideration when deciding on a realistic goal/target and a program/process to get there. There is a preconceived notion that they have either seen or heard that has sparked the idea of this target. You wonder why you're not at your desired goal yet, have you asked yourself the question, regardless of how amazing the goal might sound, is it actually realistic for me to get there? The hard part to swallow is unfortunately just because someone else has achieved something or just because it might just seem like the logical next step of your progress, doesn't necessarily mean you can to. Life happens. Keep in mind I'm not saying you can't achieve anything; I'm saying we need to make sure you're not being naive when selecting a target with already nonnegotiable priorities in your life and trying to compare ourselves to someone else's achievements when you don't know the priorities in their life. Their life and yours could be completely different. Let's look at how we can determine if something is realistic for you.
Smart goal setting, the life diamond, work, family, physique and pleasure
Grab a piece of paper and draw a diamond, at the top of the diamond write work, on the left side write family/relationship, on the right side write pleasure and at the bottom of the diamond write physique. From there we can then see how our desired goal is going to impact the other parts of our life - we can then determine if it's REALISTIC and ACHIEVEABLE not IF IT SOUNDS GOOD. Within those headings I want you to write your nonnegotiable priorities e.g. the number of hours you work, the amount of time you spend with your kids etc. Then under the physique column I want you to write your current desired goal and simply how much time it is going to take on a weekly basis to achieve that in the desired time frame, and what you actually have to do to achieve that e.g. how much cardio, how much weights training, how many calories you need to be consuming per day. The alarming part is most people don't even know what it takes to achieve what they desire, they just look at the end product, and if you are one of those people you need to figure that out first.
The thing we need to understand is there is only a certain amount of time we can commit to each priority in a day before it becomes unrealistic to complete consistently at the desired optimal level. What this means is at certain times in your life one priority is going to be more important than the other, either temporarily or indefinitely. E.g. being pregnant "Temporary" - Getting a promotion at work "indefinitely".
The mistake that individuals make is that they either set their "physique" goal to big or they don't know how to make it adapt to their current situation. There are things that are going to happen in your life that you can and can't control. For some reason there is this false, preconceived notion of what's actually accomplishable in normal lives.
Based off the diamond you have drawn - the first step is understanding that for a normal person, having all 4 points of your diamond working perfectly the way you want it to is very naive. When I look at the times of my own life when my body looked amazing e.g. prepping for a bodybuilding competition. My work, relationships and weekly activities I enjoyed suffered. I was eating less food then needed to be working out 2 times per day. I had no energy to be present at work; I didn't go out with friends because of my strict eating etc. I had to ask myself the question, can I sustain this as a lifestyle, absolutely not! So, if I want my relationships, work and weekly activities to thrive I needed to change my goal.
Times where my productivity and progression of career at work has gone really well, my physique has gone backwards in some way, whether it's a few kilos up on the scale, or lifting weights that once felt easy, now challenging. Because I'll go to more social occasions as more of a release from the amount of work I'm doing, because lets be real socialising and relaxing instead of going to the gym once or twice a week sounds a lot better after a big day at work rather than going to the gym everyday like when I was prepping for a competition. Or even just the time commitment of expecting myself to get to the gym twice a day everyday with my new workload wasn't going to happen.
Being in a relationship now and being engaged to my fiancée which is a huge priority that I regard as one of the most important parts of my life, I might let my body slip. I don't need to impress anyone other than the person I'm with and even at that time work can slip because I'd rather spend time with my fiancée then do the 1%ers that I once did before for my physique and work.
The point is the more nonnegotiable priorities you bring into your life the more you need to understand the way you once did things when they weren't there, is not how you're going to be able to do it now. You need to be smart and know when to sacrifice certain aspects of each priority in accordance to the goal at hand. E.g. Would I do another bodybuilding competition? No, because the time commitment to that would destroy the other aspects of my life that I care about and I don't want that to happen because I would be unhappy. We should always be thinking about this diamond at all times in our lives and understand how our ambitions can affect everything else. Does that mean if works busy, your wife's got you under the thumb or you have kids that you don't exercise and try to push for a better version of yourself mentally and physically, no. BUT you need to create a realistic process for your life in the present of what's actually happening right now.
If you have just had a child, a promotion at work etc sometimes it's more important to focus on relationships and your work than it is to focus on your body and you need to be okay with that because guess what, you can't avoid it. And other times as a business owner like me there is more important priorities then focusing on my physique right now. Does that mean I let myself become overweight and unhealthy? No. It might just mean instead of working out 2 times a day like when I had the time to do so I might only be able to work out 3 times a week. At times like that I think I'm deserving of a break of my physique and, so are you. But there is a big difference between caring about how you visually look, and keeping yourself healthy. You can always do what you can in any situation there is never an excuse to do nothing.
If you are looking at people on Instagram, Facebook etc as comparison you're looking at one corner of the diamond, you have this pre conceived idea that their life is perfect and their diamond is perfectly balanced but it's not. It doesn't put money in your pocket to look good with your top off, when I was competing all of my money was going to supplements, food, competition registrations etc I was eating chicken vegetables and rice 5 times a day out of plastic containers being tired lethargic and run down, it's not an appealing feature, being very single very poor but looking amazing. That's not the balance I want in my life, and I don't care that much about how I look to keep that as a lifestyle. Even though it was the best I've ever looked, it was the unhappiest I've been in my life.
Understand that in different points in your life you're going to have to be dedicating time to different points of your diamond in different quantities. And if you have to let your physique slide, GREAT! Because the fact is, you're not getting paid to look good with your top off, you have an obligation to be healthy to the priorities around you so they can function co existent.
So, if you are in a position where you only have a few more kilos to lose, a little more muscle to gain. WELL DONE! Because you're doing better than most people in the population and to be honest people that are at the beginning would kill to be where you are. If your someone right at the beginning of your journey and your goal is to become healthy, set a realistic target that generates a process you can realistically stick to on a weekly basis without it impacting too much in your life, any goal has an amount of sacrifice but it's your decision as to how much sacrifice that is and if it's worth it. If it is, go for it, if not don't be naive and reset it to what you can do, so you can be happy and not miserable like I was.
Go and kill it team!
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.