So, out of curiosity, I started doing a little digging into the weight averages for women and I was not really surprised by my findings:
- Almost 74% of North Americans are overweight.
- Average American women 20 years and up is 5’4” tall and 170 lbs.
- 39.8% of American adults are obese.
- In my age group, 69.5% are considered overweight or obese.
I wasn’t entirely surprised at these numbers… not really, but still a little shocked. Now, these numbers are for USA and though we are neighbors, I’m certain Canada has slightly better numbers than that – but even if 1/3 of the Canadian adult population is overweight or obese, that’s still a lot of us!
So I had to ask myself… why do we insist on comparing ourselves to women who aren’t in the same category as us? Why do we look for inspiration from women who have never struggled with their weight? Now, keep in mind that this doesn’t mean “skinny women” don’t have their own struggles – I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum and I’ve had more mental health issues and low body image/self-esteem when I was “fit and skinny” – but the struggles are still different.
Instead of looking to “skinny girls” for inspiration, surround yourself with motivating and inspiring women who are either closer to your current stage or have come from where you are who are and/or where you want to be. How realistic is it for you to want to look like someone half your age and 80 lbs lighter than you? There’s so many more factors to consider:
- Life stage
- Health factors / medical issues
- Do they have children?
- Employment situation – full time / part time / shift work / evenings / weekends
- Marital situation
- Dealing with trauma
- Access to support – family / friends
- Mental health factors
- DNA / predisposition
- Living environment
So… with so many factors to keep into consideration – and these are just the ones I could think of off the top of my head – why do we insist on comparing ourselves to anyone at all? Everyone’s life is different. Everyone’s story is different. You will never, ever find anyone in the exact same situation as you, who is in your life stage, gone through your trauma, walked in your shoes.
Why do we do it? Why do we constantly compare and want what other people have? Because the grass is always greener on the other side, right?
Nope. Wrong. The grass is always greener where you water it. If you want something in your life, you have to work at it. Someone else may have achieved it already, but how they achieved it will be different from how you achieve it. All you need is time and patience.
This is why “diet and exercise” is hard – and, frankly, broken. You see someone who has lost massive amounts of weight. You’ve identified with where she was and you’re inspired by what she’s achieved. You try what she’s done but it’s slow. You find it restrictive and excessive. You don’t take into consideration her life factors and you get frustrated and stop after only a month because you only lost 2 lbs a week where she lost 7 lbs a week and then you plateaued after the third week. Or you get sick or go on holidays. And then someone else comes along and has a similar story and you’re inspired by what they’ve done and you give that a try, but, again, it doesn’t work. This is the birth of a yo-yo dieter.
The problem is – it DID work… for those people. Just because whatever “diet and exercise” regime doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean it doesn’t work – obviously it did otherwise that person wouldn’t be inspiring you to change!
So how can you change this?
Stop wanting what other people have. You need to find your own way. You need to keep in consideration your personal and individual circumstances. You need to take all your factors into consideration and weigh them against what you hope to achieve.
For instance, I recognized that I was “broken”. I knew, to the very core of my being, that in order to become healthy physically, I needed to heal myself mentally; I had to heal how I feel about myself, my relationship with food and exercise. I knew I needed to stop the diet cycle and start listening to my gut. I cut out anyone that I recognized triggered me into unhealthy thought processes and surrounded myself with amazing women who are living their truth.
It’s not easy – it’s way easier to wish you had what someone else has instead of putting in the work and focusing on your own problems that, possibly, will get you to where you want to be. When you turn your thought inward to start to heal, you may be blowing off the dust of past traumas that you haven’t dealt with because burying it was easier than dealing with it. This can be a scary process as trying to change yourSELF is stinking hard!
But you know what? It’ll be worth it. When you’re happy with your self and your life, you can look at someone else and think “Wow! That’s awesome!“, “What an achievement!” without comparing them to you or your life. You can look at another woman and think “Wow, they’re beautiful” without diminishing your own worth.
And THAT is a true power.