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How to Look at Someone Else's Fitness Journey

If you find yourself comparing your fitness journey to others, it’s time to change how you think.

You know those transformations you see on the websites and social media accounts of fitness advocates everywhere — including our very own? Well, we love them. They empower and inspire us. They’re a reminder that with hard work and dedication, you can reach your goals.

They help us take the first step, keep us motivated along the way and allow us to showcase our personal successes. And so we should be inspired, because reaching a fitness goal is no small feat.

When you see an amazing transformation photo, what thoughts get triggered? For me, a movie style montage plays. Something straight out of Rocky, a Nike commercial or Legally Blonde. I wonder if these people who went from 200 lb to 150 lb just got a sudden wind of motivation, immediately knew what they needed to do to reach their goals and then went full speed ahead. I think to myself, “That is incredible. That could never happen for me. I’ve tried and failed before.”

However, when someone shares their success they’re not dwelling on the hurdles they stumbled on to get there. A transformation photo is only a snapshot of someone's fitness journey, not “the full picture.” You need to look at these transformations in the right context, and I’m not just talking about noticing flattering poses and downlighting either.

The rise-to-the-top transformations don’t focus on the lows because they are supposed to motivate and inspire, not scare you with talk of hard work and sacrifice. They’ll sprinkle the words around, but that doesn’t do their journey justice.

The truth is that from the beginning to the end of these transformations — for lack of a better term, there never truly is an end — is an incredible story of learning, lows, highs, gains, injuries, PRs, self-confidence boosters, blows to self-confidence, relationship struggles and good and bad days.

When you look at someone else's fitness journey:

Consider Their Starting Point

This person did not start in the same place as you. They had a different upbringing, a different genetic profile, a different starting weight and have a different athletic background. They probably are a different age and maybe even gender to you.

Their Lifestyle

This person has a different job than you, they live in a different place than you, they have different relationships, hobbies and their habits and eating tendencies are unique to yours. Their schedule, training and nutrition requirements are also different than yours.

The Length of Time

One person may take twice as long to achieve the same goal as another. Sometimes life puts placeholders in our fitness journey and sometimes it opens doors wide open that once were not there. Whatever the case, no two people achieve the same goal in the same timeframe, so you shouldn’t expect to either.

Compliance and Consistency

Imagine your wedding is coming up, you have Olympic trials this year or you’ve been told you need to lose weight due to serious health conditions. Motivators like those would probably play a role in your compliance and consistency, resulting in significant progress in a short time. Without these prominent motivators in your life, you might find yourself taking a slower, more leisurely route to reaching your goals. You just don’t know, so why compare?

Maybe They’ve Been There Before

Sometimes there is a before-the-before that you’re not seeing. If someone was an athlete or used to be very lean and gained some weight, they will likely have an easier time getting back to the portrayed physical condition than someone who has never been athletic or lean before. For some, just takes a bit longer.

So yes, testimonials are proof that you too can reach your goals. You can achieve greatness, confidence and success the same way that another person has. Just make sure that when you look at a transformation photo and start wondering why you haven’t achieved what they have — or judging another for not achieving what you have — that you’re truly looking at it from the right perspective.

PS: You’ll love this Nike Commercial, which is a very true representation of the journey for both men and women.