Apples and oranges

In May 2024, Trucker's Health7 MinutesBy Laura HulleyJune 17, 2024

They say that comparison is the ultimate thief of joy. Health guru Laura Hulley believes it to her core.

It is tough to stop comparing yourself to others in many facets of life (career, house, car, wealth, relationships, health, body, friends, family, travel and success). It is also true for our appearance – how our bodies look, feel and perform. This can be on a superficial level like, “That guy is more ripped than me”, or on a more performance-based level, “That girl is a lot fitter than me”. Although it can be positive and healthy to aspire to be like someone or to strive towards the milestones they’ve achieved in their health and fitness, it can also be disheartening and detrimental to your progress and journey.

At the risk of stating the obvious, we are all different. Not one body is the same as the other. How we burn fat, store fat, build muscle, lose muscle, etc, is completely different from our friends and family. If I were to do the same workouts and eat an identical diet to all my friends, we would all look completely different.

This can be a bitter pill to swallow when you feel like you’re working hard, harder than your best mate, who always seems to be slimmer or fitter than you and barely has to work for it. It’s also important to understand that outward appearance doesn’t always reflect inward health. People who eat junk food and live an unhealthy lifestyle but still appear to be slim may look the part, but as a whole, they’re unhealthy and unfit if they’re not partaking in exercise and eating a healthy diet. I don’t know about you, but I would rather genuinely be fit and healthy than just look fit and healthy.

There is absolutely nothing we can do to change this fact. The upside is that how someone else’s body reacts to diet and exercise is none of our concern. What we need to focus on is our own backyard – don’t worry about the neighbour’s lawn. So, how do we make a conscious effort to block out all of the noise and just focus on our own journey? That is the million-dollar question and is a lot easier said than done.

Here are some quick ways you can reduce the amount you compare yourselves to others:

  • If you are partial to social media, I would encourage you to stop following people who make you feel bad about yourself and don’t inspire you to want to be healthier.
  • If you have friends or family you admire for their fitness, ask them what their regime is. If they work hard for their bodies – it can be reassuring to know. If they don’t, and they say they’ve just always had a fast metabolism and eat whatever they want – then you can feel slight angst but also think, “Okay, they’re is just one of the lucky ones.” Other people’s metabolisms do not affect our lives.
  • Be realistic about your image and goals. You’re not trying to look like someone else; you’re trying to look like the best version of yourself. Compare yourself to what you have achieved in the past if that makes you feel more encouraged about what you can accomplish.

The other side of the coin is the positivity of comparison. Use other people’s achievements and health and fitness journeys to motivate and inspire you. I find it helpful to search for people who are in a similar lifestyle to you. For example, I often find new mums who are working hard to get back into a healthy regime after having a baby. I find this the most relatable as it is my current journey. If I were to follow a 22-year-old with no children, who has all the time in the world and a fast metabolism, it won’t inspire me because I don’t relate to them. It could just make me feel envious because they have the independence and capacity to go to the gym and exercise whenever they want. We don’t have a shared experience or any shared struggles.

If you’re not a social media person, find someone close who inspires you. A fellow truckie, a mate, a family member who you’ve seen transform their life and create healthy habits – someone who you think is in a similar position in life to you. Finding these real-life examples can put things into perspective and give you hard evidence that someone in your position can make positive and sustainable life changes.

Having worked in the fitness industry for almost a decade, I have seen an example of every body type and composition under the sun – a plethora of lifestyles, family situations, occupations and backgrounds. The one thing they all have in common is that there is always an aspect to their lives that makes it challenging for them to achieve their health and fitness goals. The reality is, there will always be a reason why you can’t, just as there will always be a reason why you can. You must decide which is louder, more important and more influential on how you view your priorities.