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Comparison Is Toxic: Change Your Mindset Before Changing Yourself

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

Social media can be a mental prison, as we all know. I say mental prison because it has molded how we view body image to an immeasurable extent. Sometimes, we even subconsciously form opinions or expectations because of the constant exposure to social media. Other times, we purposely push these expectations onto ourselves. Have you ever seen a clothing haul video and thought, “I wish I could wear that. Too bad I don’t have her body.” Or how about a workout video and thought, “Tomorrow I’ll start so I can look just like her.” These are both examples that are self-deprecating and continue the idea of having to live up to a certain body standard.

Changing your mindset

It’s easy to begin your weight loss journey fueled by self-hate. Shows such as The Biggest Loser and My 600 LB Life both market the portrayal of losing weight as equaling being happy. However, these shows also bank on the emotions of their participants by showing clear distaste and overall self-deprecating behavior. This is later used by hosts and coaches to channel into workouts, the overall dignified success of weight loss and “gaining their life back.” Although we should and can be happy for the participants’ accomplishments, it must be said that this is not the only route to self-improvement. There are much healthier mindsets that can be undertaken to begin a weight loss journey.

Generally speaking, if you’re thinking of commencing a weight loss journey, you probably feel like you don’t look as good as you want to or you would like to be healthier, which is okay. Everyone is allowed to tap into the best version of themselves for themselves. The real problem begins when comparisons start to happen in an unhealthy, unrealistic manner. It’s easy to begin your transformation with hate due to comparisons. Social media has made it simple to have constant access to models from celebrities to influencers, everyday TikTokers and even common hometown friends. It’s also common to see self-deprecating humor and quickly pick it up as a quirk to cope with your uneasiness and insecurities.

A 20-year-old male foreign student from the U.K. in the U.S. was interviewed for Health Talk Magazine to describe the beginning of his eating disorder. It curiously began in avoidance of the Freshman 15 myth. Unfamiliar with plenty of U.S. customs, he desperately sought to fit in and started following trends he would notice other students his age would do, such as going to the gym and eating healthier. However, the student was not taking on this dietary journey, let alone a fitness one, for himself. He was doing it to fit in and follow trends. Such behaviors can flip into obsessions and further disorders because, not only are you in the wrong mindset while attempting to undertake a transformation, but you also can lose yourself in the process.

What can we do as a collective to change this unhealthy mentality before we begin a weight loss or dietary journey? For starters, if your main reason is to look like Megan Fox or Madison Beer, then you’re already on the wrong foot. Realistically ask yourself why you want to begin this journey and make sure it isn’t to impress anyone but yourself. When you see someone you admire, do not compare yourself and think self-deprecating things. You can admire a person without making yourself feel lesser than. Practice replacing comparison-like thoughts with compliments towards the person alone and affirmations for yourself. Self-loathing is no place to start for any type of journey. This same idea can further translate into other aspects of your life such as room renovations, outfit choices, overall confidence and hairstyle. As poet William Ernest Henley once wrote, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”

Realizing everyone is different on a biological level

Everyone is different when it comes to appearance and personality. However, what many of us seem to lose grasp of is how everyone is different on a biological level. I’m talking a thousand billion cells different.

Have you ever wondered why your squat routine wasn’t working out for you as it did for that one influencer? It can feel very frustrating to do the work and receive no results. Everyone is unique, which also comes with unique workout plans and dietary needs. Darla Leal from Very Well Fit magazine writes, “Fitness results are different and progress at varying rates for each individual. It will take patience and the application of the right methods that work best for you. Everyone is different in lifestyle, body type, genetics, possible medical issues, and even age all playing a role in our ability to achieve results.”

Both a dietary and weight loss journey have to be special to you. It’s okay to feel like you can’t get through a Chloe Ting workout video or that you can’t fathom eating oatmeal every morning for the next 10 weeks. Instead of immediately taking on workout videos from Youtube, Tiktok, Instagram or any other medium, keep in mind the complexity of everyone’s biology and tackle it with an open mind. This is not meant to discourage you but instead keep you not only observant in what works for your body and what does not but to avoid feeling unempowered or disappointed over something completely natural.

Casey Seidenberg covered all bases on dietary needs in the article, “Everyone is unique, and so are diet needs.” Seidenberg explained how everyone has different preferences, metabolisms and definitions of different sorts of diets. Therefore, it’s vital to pay close attention to what feels good and what doesn’t on intake and to go from there. It’s critical to pay attention to your own body and go based on what you’re already knowledgeable of. People on the internet may share their diets, but that does not mean they’re fit to be yours, as well.

Overall, it’s imperative that before you begin any weight loss or dietary journey, you must inspect what’s fueling you and why. Make sure it’s a healthy approach both mentally and physically. Becoming comfortable with the idea of working on yourself for your own satisfaction is important. Recognizing that you’re an individual with unique experiences and needs across the board is also a top priority for not only these tasks but all tasks in life. Once you’re set into these healthy approaches, your journey will be ready for takeoff.

Lover of writing, literature, art and photography. Determined to not only help but give people a voice. Building a better world for all the people I love and have yet to love.