The danger of weight-loss groups including this one is the danger of falling into the nasty trap of comparison.
Like all hidden traps, it’s easy to fall into the body comparison trap by looking at the before and after weight loss pictures and then envying their success. I think envy is an automatic response from our sinful nature. We have to fight it.
Envy which is the desire for another’s traits, body, status, abilities, or situation is one of the seven deadly sins. It’s too easy for someone like me, bald and fat, to fall into the trap of body envy. Sometimes, I have to fight it.
We went to the grocery store today. Now that I have become body-image conscious, I notice people’s bodies. There are an over abundance of us fat bodies, and not to many healthy bodies pushing their grocery cart through Publix. But, I couldn’t help but notice with envy a man my age who was healthy and slim. I confess I was envious and wished I could be housed in a body like his.
If you suffer from body envy like I sometimes do, you can do something about it. I think, in fact, that it’s a lot easier for me to overcome body envy than it is to work to make my body into something others might envy. I’ll never have the problem to make someone sin because they envy my body!
Here’s what we can do on Facebook if “before and after” pictures are causing you to commit the ‘deadly’ sin of envy.
1. Congratulate the one who successfully has and is losing weight.
2. Encourage those who are struggling to lose weight.
3. Help those who have fallen off the wagon and binged over the weekend encouraging the binger to forgive himself and start anew on Monday. “After all,” Scarlett famously said, “tomorrow is another day.”
Comparing your weight with someone else’s weight is a recipe for disaster. It leads to self-condemnation, self-pity, discouragement, depression, and the feeling, “I want to quit. I can’t do it. I’m not getting any where.”
Is it binging, junk food, or late night eating that holds you back. Is it lack of exercise? An honest moral inventory will give you great insight to understand and correct your bad eating habits and lack of exercise.
Is it stress that causes you to stuff your emotions with comfort and junk food? Stress is like a trap door that causes us to fall into the pit filled with Oreos, peanut butter on Ritz Crackers (my addiction), or whatever ‘go to’ food that you have.
Stress triggers the adrenal gland to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is the flight or fight hormone. When mankind was hunter-gatherers, cortisol was a life-saver. The release of cortisol kinda made them into super men giving them the strength to do what they normally couldn’t do. I’m thinking that maybe Sampson’s great lion-killing strength wasn’t from his uncut hair but from a very healthy, overactive adrenal gland.
Anyway, when the ancients experienced stressful situations, their adrenal gland released all that cortisol enabling them to fight or flee just as it was designed by God to do. They either fought like Samson or ran like the Gadites who were as swift as the gazelles on the mountains.
But, what about today? It’s not as easy for us moderns to fight or flee when we get stressed out. We may be sitting in the office, driving in rush hour traffic, or trying to meet a rapidly approaching deadline to get that project turned in. All of this stress and millions more stressful situations make the adrenal gland pour buckets of corrisol into our system.
Since we can’t flee, fight, or work it off, the resulting stress from cordisol has to go somewhere. Too often, it’s released in unhealthy ways such as anxiety, depression, digestive problems such as heartburn, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems, and weight gain from emotional eating like binge eating in order to relieve the stress produced by cordisol that has no where to go.
Ideally, we could leave our desk job and go play a fast-paced set of tennis, run around the block a couple of times, or so like my grandfather used to do on the farm when he got mad and stressed-out. He’d get his axe and go chop firewood until he felt better.
So, if you are under chronic stress, can’t lose weight, and don’t have an axe to get it out of your system, that stress is most likely the culprit hindering your weight loss efforts. Thus, it is unfair to yourself to compare your “I’m getting nowhere” weight-loss efforts to a person who has little or no stress in their life and stands there on Facebook proudly smiling at the world with her before and after pictures.
Don’t envy or compare yourself with them. Instead, rejoice with them. Congratulate them. and don’t give up.
Another issue of comparing ourself with another is hitting the frustrating weight plateau. If you haven’t plateaued yet, you will. Trust me. We all do.
If you’ve lost some weight and now the scale won’t budge, analyze what you did right and are doing right. Then tweak your weight loss efforts to make the graph continue it’s downward trend. Understanding and awareness are critical components to move you off the plateau.
For me, I weigh daily and record my morning weight in an app. I don’t panic if I gained a little or even a lot from the previous morning. And, I don’t celebrate if I lost a couple of ounces or even a pound from the previous morning. This morning, for example, I showed a loss of 1.7 pounds from 232.7 yesterday to 231 today! Was I happy! You bet I was! But, my happiness is tempered by the fact that I weighed 230.8 twenty-one days ago which means it took twenty-one days to lose .2 ounces 😳 if I look at it from that perspective. But, the most important thing for me is that the graph shows an overall downward trend from my starting weight months ago plus the fact that I feel better and have energy.
What I’m looking for is a pattern over several days. Now, if I’ve lost 5 pounds in two weeks, I celebrate that! If I’ve gained 5 pounds in two weeks, oh well, back to the drawing board. A pattern of a two week loss here and another two week loss there will hopefully form a slimmer, trimmer, healthier body like sewn together quilt squares.
By self-analyzing my weight loss issues like being stuck on a plateau, I am not comparing myself with others. I am only comparing myself with myself and seeking to improve my numbers. That in itself can be frustrating, but for me, it’s not as frustrating as envying someone else’s progress.
Another reason we can’t compare our weight loss with someone else is because our body is unique from all others. It is magnificently complex, mysterious, and hard to understand. The Bible says we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:4). Weight-loss is a lot more, a whole lot more, than calories in and calories out. It is more than the food we eat or don’t eat and the exercise we do or don’t do.
There are thousands of components about weight-loss because of the mysterious body that houses us. Do we have a slow or fast metabolism? Are we insulin or leptin resistant? Are we on meds that hinder weight loss? Is our thyroid, adrenal, pituitary, pancreas, and other glands functioning on all eight cylinders? Is our fat mostly stored in our belly, or does it rent a long term storage unit called our butt and thighs? Are you a man or a woman? Are you over or under 40? Are you a senior citizen? All of these factors and many more effect weight loss.
What about body shape? Some are pear shaped. Some are apple shaped. Some are triangle shaped. Some look like stick figures. And some have hour glass figures. Every body is different and each body comes with its own set of challenges to lose weight, get healthy, and stay healthy. We all know that you can’t compare apples to oranges. In the same way, we can’t compare our apple-shaped big belly body with someone’s pear-shaped big thighs body.
For some of us like me, fat is stored in my belly. For some, it is deposited in the thighs or butt. Some women’s bodies deposit the extra fat in their breasts. We are all different for sure, and each body type requires somewhat different means and different exercises to remove the unwanted fat from the body part that stores it.
Our bodies are like snowflakes in that our bodies have a lot in common with one another, but each snowflake is unique and different from the other one. For example, my body has a lot in common with everyone else’s body, but my body is distinct from all others just like one snowflake is unique from all the others. Yours is too.
We set ourselves up for weight-loss failure if we compare our weight loss with someone else’s weight loss. If we compare our lack of weight loss or even our success at weight-loss with someone else, then we feel bad because of their success or we become judgmental because of our success. That’s no way to live.
Instead of comparing, make your own best effort to lose weight. Your progress and yours alone is the key that unlocks motivation and a consistent effort to lose it.
We cannot live in a happy body and be envious of another body at the same time. That’s like trying to mix oil and water together. You can’t do it, and neither can you be both happy and envious. The Bible says, “Let everyone be sure to do his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work done well, and he won’t need to compare himself with someone else.” (Galatians 6:4 LB).
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