Why You Should Never Compare Yourself To Fitness Accounts
by Jake Gifford
We often look to personal trainers, fitness bloggers and models for some forms of inspiration. They may provide interesting content, offer entertaining personalities and purvey advice, particularly around training and nutrition.
Many will provide snapshots of foods they consume, exercises they perform & supplements they take, whether simply to provide suggestions or a first hand look into their lives.
As a consequence we sometimes take accounts such as these and the content they provide at face value, we lose context and start to compare ourselves to their standard. Let me be the first to tell you that comparing yourself to these people is a sure fire way to set you up for disappointment & failure.
Here are a few reasons why.
1. They Experience Fewer Barriers
Time is something which proposes a major barrier to a lot of people and we may not have the same opportunities to get ourselves moving. Personal training is a particularly active job whereby you're often standing on your feet, pacing or loading/unloading equipment - therefore calorie expenditure is going to be much higher than your typical person whom does a 9-5 and is stuck chained to a desk, car or public transport for hours on end.
The hours are flexible and more forgiving (in some respects) than a traditionally contracted job, therefore time to be active and exercise is much more available and the likelihood of them attending the gym more frequently is higher than the average person.
2. The Incentives Are Much Different
If your job revolves around fitness, sport or physical activity, your much more likely to be motivated and consistent because you've no doubt developed a passion for training and nutrition, something which you personally may not necessarily have at this stage.
To some extent, body image for fitness bloggers and personal trainers may act as marketing and a source of income, therefore making it a priority to uphold. You may not have the same financial incentives which may make the choice between getting your work done or working out negotiable.
3. They're A Different Demographic To You
(One that could be controversial) The average age of personal trainers, fitness bloggers and models is generally quite young, they may not have kids and their priorities may be much more different to yours (the ability to invest time in themselves more).
These same people may not have to worry about cooking for children with time constraints and a budget which opens them up to a much larger array of options. On the topic of children, you may find that you finish your children's food to avoid wasting and whilst this is great from a moral perspective, it's still extra calories that we often overlook or don't appreciate.
3. They Aren't Necessarily An Accurate Depiction Of Fitness
Social media is often a highlight reel of people's successes, strengths and whatever else a person wants you to see. What might seem like a candid photo, may be an image that was picked out of hundreds or thousands whilst experimenting with different angles and lighting.
This can give us an inaccurate depiction of what is achievable or real and make us question our own self-worth and body image. In the grand scheme of things, this can potentially lead to a downward spiral of self-hate and a lack of self-care meaning we are less likely to engage in health behaviours such as exercise or cooking.
Ultimately these reasons mean that fitness accounts don't necessarily experience the same barriers as you, they're unlikely to struggle the same way that you do and potentially have greater opportunities than you.
Some fitness accounts can be great for inspiration, tips and cooking ideas. They can provide you with information to give you that well needed boot up the backside, an opportunity to reflect on our own progress or ensure that you feel more competent in your endeavours.
However these accounts can also be incredibly misleading and undermining of our current effort, particularly if we are unaware of context, fail to take the content with a pinch of salt or experience high exposure to these sorts of accounts.
There's a fine balance of expectations versus reality, make sure you're mindful of this when berating yourself.
- The barriers you experience towards exercise and food may be a lot different which doesn't always make it as easy.
- Being an expert and earning a living from fitness allows for the opportunity to spend time which you may personally not have the luxury of.
- Accounts still only provide you with a highlight reel full of flattering angles and lighting which may only distort your view of yourself.
About the Author
Jake Gifford, MSc is a personal trainer based in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. Jake encourages people to reject diet culture and discover the benefits of exercise beyond the way you look. You can also find him on Instagram @thephitcoach