I’ll admit it, I’m addicted to comparisons, and I’m very competitive. It’s been a problem for me my whole life, and it’s always based around exercise.
When I first started working out I did it at home. My parents bought my brother a weight set and I started using it. I had no idea what I was doing. I just knew I wanted to be bigger and look like the bodybuilders I saw in magazines. While this wasn’t healthy, it really didn’t hurt me because they were so far ahead of me I knew I could never catch up.
When I got older and joined a real gym that’s when my issues really took over.
Every time I saw someone more fit, or lifting more I wanted to be able to beat them; to be fitter and stronger than they were. I worked out like a crazy person. It ran my life.
It wasn’t until I was in my early 30s before I started to get comfortable with my body and how it looked. I started to force myself to look at the positives and be proud of what I had accomplished, and where I was rather than looking at the negatives.
My rule was every time I said something negative to myself I had to say three positive things right away. It was really hard and I didn’t like doing it, but I kept at it and over time the negative self talk slowly backed off and got quieter.
A week ago I was in the gym on a cruise ship. There was a guy there working out who was super fit, and watching him workout beside me I felt all those same old feelings. All the old negative self-talk came roaring back for some reason. I felt terrible.
Then something funny happened later that day. Out on the deck I saw him again. We had not spoken at all in the gym, just nodded at each other. But this time he came up to me. “Man you are crazy fit!” he said “What do you do?”
It suddenly snapped reality back into focus for me. While I was comparing myself to him, he was doing then same thing back! How silly was I to be negative about this?
He turned out to be a very nice guy, and it made me realize all over again that you can battle negative self-talk, that battle will never be completely over. But when you are doing it, remember every one else is likely doing it a well.
Next time I feel myself going back and thinking like that again, I will remember this experience and make myself stop. Life is too short to not be your own biggest cheerleader!
Devin Sherrington was named #2 trainer in Canada 2015, is 8 time Best Personal Fitness Trainer Halifax award winner, and owner the award winning fitness studio 360fit in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He lives in Fletcher’s Lake with his girlfriend Lauren and children Reign and Journey.