There’s a saying: Comparison is the thief of joy. Theodore Roosevelt said that. There’s another saying: He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind. Buddha said that. But our favorite saying? Thou shalt not covet your Facebook friend’s weight loss. (In case you were wondering, we said that, just now.)
The January Whole30 is coming to a close, and your results are all over social media. You’re tagging @whole30 in your before and after photos, sharing your non-scale victories in your Facebook groups, and bragging in 140 characters or less about your improvements in energy, sleep, skin, athletic performance, medical conditions, self-confidence… and weight loss.
First, BRAG AWAY. We love reading about your results, and we’re commenting on as many of your success stories as we can. We’re proud of your efforts, so happy you’ve been successful with the program, and thrilled that you achieved some weight loss as a happy little side effect of changing your life and improving your health. But here’s where things start to go a little bit sideways. Because as you’re posting your transformation, you’re also looking at others’ transformations. And you’re comparing.
He lost more weight than I did.
His skin cleared up, and I still have some dry patches.
He’s waking without an alarm, and I’m still tired in the morning.
Her booty shrunk way more than mine.
His belly shrunk way more than mine.
She lost more weight than I did.
She lost more weight than I did.
She lost more weight than I did.
All of a sudden, you aren’t as stoked about your Whole30 results as you were just five minutes ago.
Allow us to remind you of one simple fact: this is crazytown. Your results haven’t changed in the last five minutes. Your energy is still up, your sleep is still better, your cravings are still gone, and those five pounds you lost have not magically reappeared on your body. We could leave it at that, but we suspect the effects of these comparisons have taken a hold, and you’ll need a little more convincing to let it go.
Someone else’s Whole30 accomplishments don’t take a darn thing away from yours.
No, stop. Take a minute with this one. Really hear this point. Someone else could lose twice as much weight, have even more glowing skin, set an even more impressive personal record in the gym , or completely go off their medication, but your accomplishments still stand. The improvements you experienced are real. Everything that got better is still right there. Even better—it’s yours, and you earned it with hard work and dedication, and you get to be proud of that, because you did it.
The lesson: No one else can make you feel bad about yourself. You do that all on your own. So please, don’t do that. Don’t let yourself get distracted by what other people accomplished, and stay focused and be present to what you accomplished, because that’s really the only thing that matters. Why?
Because you are a unique snowflake, and no two people’s Whole30s are the same. Which brings us to…
You don’t know the whole story (and you never will), which makes any sort of comparison pointless.
You follow this person on social media, and she looked to weigh about the same as you, and she seemed to eat about the same as you, and your lifestyle looked pretty similar from what you could tell, and you both did the Whole30. She lost 15 pounds. You lost 5 pounds. And all of a sudden you’re unhappy with your results and beating yourself up wondering what you did wrong.
Allow us to remind you that you lost 5 pounds in a totally healthy, sustainable fashion. Um, yay, right? And we’re certain you experience a ton of other non-scale benefits thanks to your hard work and dedication. (This is where we remind you of the dangers of the scale, and why weighing yourself is the fastest way to sabotage your Whole30.)
Here’s what you don’t know about the people you follow on social media:
They gave into their Sugar Dragon on a nightly basis (because you don’t publicize eating-donuts-on-the-bathroom-floor binges on Instagram) and the Whole30 was actually a huge dietary improvement.
They are 10 years younger than you, without that extra decade of hormonal imbalance to correct.
They don’t have your history of yo-yo dieting (which makes it harder to lose weight).
They are on a smart exercise program and sleep 9 hours a night.
They have far fewer chronic emotional or psychological stressors.
Their guts are healthier than yours.
They don’t have the same food sensitives you do.
They consciously cut calories or excessively exercised, taking the Whole30 to an unhealthy place.
Their scale is off by a few pounds.
They’re exaggerating their weight loss.
Even if your Facebook friend is also a 34-year-old woman with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, who also CrossFits two days a week and does yoga two days a week, also sleeps 7 hours a night, also has some financial stress, and ate the exact same foods you ate in the exact same quantities for all 30 days… you still wouldn’t get the same results. Because you are a unique snowflake, and nutrition and health are multi-factorial, and you can’t possibly know what’s going on under their hood (or yours) with enough certainty to explain the results they got and you didn’t.
The lesson: Comparing Whole30 results is lunacy. You will never find a fair comparison (because snowflake), so you’re forever measuring apples against oranges, which is silly because both are delicious.
We suspect you know what we’re saying. Finally…
Focusing on the scale and being distracted by comparison are the exact same thing; both will blind you to the life-changing results you’ve actually accomplished.
You know how we say that stepping on the scale is the fastest way to make you forget all of the amazing things you actually accomplished on the Whole30? Yeah, well comparing your results to others does the exact same thing. Especially if you’re comparing weight loss results; that’s a double self-confidence whammy.
We have consistently challenged you not to let that digital read-out on your $20 hunk of plastic define you, your Whole30 results, or your success. Today, we do the same with comparison.
The lesson: Praise other’s accomplishments, because you know how hard they worked. But don’t let that take away from what you have accomplished, not even for a minute. Make a list of all of the non-scale victories you have achieved. Look at it often. Be selfish here. Be vain, be self-absorbed, be self-congratulatory.
You earned this.
And no one can take that away from you, so don’t you dare let them.