The road to wellness is often made to look simple, with so called professionals preaching perfect abs in 5 minutes, smoothies that can make you thin in a week, or “7 minutes to a new you!” But the reality is that these kind of results are not down to quick fixes, and ultimately rely on hard work; and perhaps not just in the gym. The work that often needs to be done is from within. We can end up doing some torturous things in the name of wellness, which can affect both you and the people around you. So here are some common hurdles we can sometimes face, and here are some tips for getting around them:
Her: the Instagram Fitbragger
You: The green-eyed workout monster
“Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies”, is the sad intimation echoed by Gore Vidal that reflects the very nature of jealousy.
Picture this situation: your having one of those down-on-yourself-days, when your fitness buddy from 5 years ago shows up at a party with enviously rock hard abs, an Ibiza-induced perma tan and makes casual references to her sizeable Instagram following. Just how easy is it to say, “Wow that’s awesome – I’m so happy for you”? But as she saunters off you feel that burning pang of jealousy as the green-eyed monster bites down…
Now some people will say ‘never compare yourself to others’, and some people really may believe they can do so. But we all know how impossible it can be, with the endless stream of social media, in which we all preen and prance, beating our chests like some great primate to show our peers the bits of our lives that are fabulous.
So instead what I’ll say is if you do compare yourself, do it kindly! We perhaps all have a guilty mental list of all those things we should-be, or should be doing – why don’t we compose the opposite? List what things you’d actually like for yourself, things you might enjoy. Do you actually want to get leaner? If so, what steps can you take? Do you want to take time out of your schedule to build an Instagram following, or would you rather spend your Sundays climbing, living, improving?
Her: The bad influence
You: The “yes woman”
We all have that “oh, go on, just this once!” friend. And oh what fun they can be, until you realise that this seems to be a much too frequent phrase, as you foresee yourself drowning in booze and chips and other treacherous delights… Realising that perhaps its time to take a step back…
Not to deny that there’s a lot to be said for the 80:20 ratio – to eat super clean 80% of the time, and being flexible 20% of the time to allow for birthdays, weddings, family events etc. But who needs that girl that always complains when you opt for a salad at the restaurant, or mocks your weekly yoga practice. Sound like someone you know? It’s time to exercise your boundaries, yes, brave that awkward conversation! Sometimes taking them along to your favourite class and inviting them to have fun with you helps, as people often do this when you’ve recently embraced a healthier lifestyle and they feel a bit threatened by change.
Her: The food shamer
You: Go away and let me eat this cake in peace
Then there are the people at the other end of the spectrum. Imagine this: You’re at a birthday party, BBQ or some other unhealthy food laden celebratory occasion with a fellow fitness fanatic. You’ve decided that you’ll plan some ‘controlled indulgence’ in the shape of one slice of birthday cake, a glass of wine and a veggie burger. Suddenly you feel a pair of eyes burning down at you and looking up, you see her scowling as you reach towards the food table… You are told that you are “letting yourself down”, as she smugly brandishes her BYO quinoa-kale-superfood-salad. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of Kale too, though its all about context. If you’re in the mood for a bit of indulgence, feel free and if you’re not, then don’t. Unless you’ve consented to having someone help you make healthier choices at social events, it’s none of her business, and she’ll likely need to be told this. Again, this is a conversation about boundaries. No one wants to be eating in secret to avoid feeling judged, as that’s a slippery slope!
I think back to lapses in my own life, and remember those I had around me in my ‘times of need’. What did I really benefit from? Who really helped me rise up, offered love and understanding, and showed me the recipe for success?
They did not preach, they did not lecture, they did not push and prod. They did lead a life I was jealous of, but one that I wanted to recreate. They led by example, and as such I followed. I saw joy, health, energy, passion, but most of all, I saw happiness.