Topic: Comparison + Strategic Exercise
“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
The comparison game is a strong one. And we, as women, often find ourselves struggling with this each and every day. With how prevalent social media is in this day and age, we see the “ideal” body everywhere, right? It is thrown in our faces and what scares me the most is that our daughters and sons will have it a thousand times worse than we do. So we must acknowledge this issue of the heart and mind in ourselves so that we can, in turn, help our daughters.
When you start to compare yourself with others, your insecurities will come on full force. But God didn’t intend for that. He tells us to only seek approval from Him, not to seek approval from men.
2 Corinthians 10:12 (ESV) tells us, “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.”
Here are some of the top ways I see women comparing themselves to other women:
The way their body looks. This happens to the best of us - looking at another woman and wishing you looked like that. Maybe she is naturally thinner than you are. Maybe she has the muscle definition you wish you had. Maybe you want her curves. Whatever it is, we have all been there.
How “put together” they are. You see a woman who appears to have it all together… the perfect husband, the perfect house, the most well behaved kids, the perfect career and the grass looks greener on the other side, right? Wrong. No matter how put together you think another woman is, I promise you she has her own chaos in her life as well.
Their social media page. So you see a photo of an “instagram worthy” home or a photo with the perfect lighting to show off their obliques. You wish you had their skills for social media right? Their ability to get 200k followers. And it eats at you… how come they can do it and I can’t? We begin to question ourselves and our “worthiness.”
How exciting or adventurous their life looks. Maybe you see it on social media or maybe you see it in your friends’ lives, but you wish you could have just a little of the excitement they have. You compare your “boring” life with theirs and think it’s just not fair.
We can so easily fall into the trap of comparing our lives to others that we begin to only live for a social media post and how it is represented on social media rather than simply enjoying the moment.
Theodore Roosevelt simply stated that “comparison is the thief of joy” and this couldn’t be closer to the truth. When we constantly compare ourselves with those people who we THINK to be better than we are, we are robbing ourselves of truly living in the joy of our lives that God intended. But not only does comparison steal joy, it can destroy confidence, self worth, and ruin relationships.
Some ways that comparison can destroy us are:
Comparison steals our energy and time. This is time and energy you could be putting in to living YOUR best life.
Comparison does not lead to happiness. Nothing about comparing your life or your body to someone else will lead to you being happy. It is a losing game. Trust that God has you where He wants you and strive to please HIM, and Him alone.
Comparison is based on what you perceive and FEEL, and not the truth. You do not know what is really happening in someone else’s life or heart. Social media does NOT always tell the truth my friends. The grass is NOT always greener on the other side - the grass is GREENER where you water it. So focus on YOU.
Comparison discredits our own achievements. The more you compare, the more you think you are not enough. And this couldn’t be further from the truth. Remember back to Module 1 when we talked about your worth? YOU ARE WORTH IT and YOU ARE ENOUGH.
Comparison ruins relationships. When you look at someone else and think they have it all, you taint your relationship with them. Jealousy comes in and is an ugly thing.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4
Remember, God did not call us to compare ourselves with others but rather focus on Him and loving others. He sums it up pretty well in one of the ten commandments.
“You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17
Let’s now address how we work on stopping the comparison game. Head over to worksheet 6:1 and complete.
Strategic Exercise + Building Strength
One of the lies the fitness industry tells us is that in order to lose weight, we have to do massive amounts of cardio. We need to spend hours a week on the treadmill running endless miles to get the body composition that we’re craving. But hours on end doing cardio isn’t going to get you where you want to be, not effectively, and not on its own.
Gone are the days of long drawn out cardio. And thank goodness for that. Over the past decade, more and more research shows that strength training can be beneficial for not only gaining muscle tone, but losing fat as well. That is what I base all of my programing around.
Why are you scared to lift? In general, women tend to be scared of lifting weights. I hear it all the time with clients. And being the owner of a gym, I constantly sit and watch the majority of women spend hours on the elliptical or treadmill with little to no change after months and months of cardio.
Ladies… let me tell you, in order to get the results you want, you must lift weights.
The top three things I hear from women about why they don’t want to lift weights are:
“I don’t want to get bulky and look like a man” – “I don’t know what I’m doing and the men in there intimidate me” – “Lifting weights won’t help me lose weight”
Let’s now address these things.
“I don’t want to get bulky and look like a man.” There truly is only one way to get “bulky” and “look like a man” and that is to take steroids or testosterone supplementation. Women do not produce the same level of testosterone as men do in order to truly bulk up. Lifting heavy weights will tone and increase strength in women, not increase size. So don’t stress about looking like a man! It won’t happen.
“I don’t know what I’m doing and the men intimidate me.” I get this. I understand this feeling of walking into a gym and not knowing what to do. If you feel like this, have someone teach you what to do in a weight room. The best thing a woman can do for herself at the gym is to have a basic knowledge of how to function in a weight room and how to lift properly. Don’t let this be your excuse to not lift weights. Hire a trainer for a few sessions to teach you what to do. Nothing is better than walking into a new gym (on vacation or wherever) and knowing what you are doing. Don’t be intimidated by those men in there – just walk in there with confidence and DO YOUR THING ladies!
“Lifting weights won’t help me lose weight.” This couldn’t be further from the truth! Muscle is imperative to help you lose weight and keep the weight off. Muscles increase and ramp up your metabolism. One pound of muscle can burn up to 20 calories per day whereas one pound of fat only burns 5 calories per day. When you add weight training into your workout, you continue to burn calories long after your workout is over. So over time, you will lose weight! But always remember… you cannot out exercise a bad diet. So keep that nutrition in check!
Strength training is critical to building muscle, while isometric training is critical to shaping muscles to give them a longer, leaner look. Strength training alone tends to build the larger muscle groups in your body. Doing other types of exercise like Pilates and Barre, utilizes isometric movements that shape different muscles in your body. While strength training alone will help you speed up your metabolism and shed unwanted body fat, adding in isometric movement on a regular basis will help you to more holistically shape your body. So I recommend throwing in a little Barre, Pilates or Yoga when you can.
Now let’s dig a little bit into the most effective exercise strategies. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a workout focused on intensity training with alternating intervals of all-out-high-intensity-work and low intensity rest periods. HIIT workouts can be done in all kinds of formats: with equipment or without, in the gym or at home, body weight or weights, machines or pavement.The main point of HIIT training is to train in intervals of different speeds (allowing for your heart rate to vary) and never allowing your body to adjust to that speed.
Working out obviously burns calories, however, HIIT burns calories long after your workout is done. This occurs because of the way your body utilizes oxygen during your high intensity work periods. Simply put, “this physiological effect is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. Also known as oxygen debt, EPOC is the amount of oxygen required to restore your body to its normal, resting level of metabolic function (called homeostasis). It also explains how your body can continue to burn calories long after you’ve finished your workout.”1
How is EPOC created? We are using energy all the time to keep our bodies going. When we exercise, we use more energy, and we create a need for more energy. We need to repair our muscles, we need to remove lactic acid from those muscles, we need to replace the energy we lost during our workout, and all of these things take Oxygen. The more we need our bodies to work after a workout to get back into a natural state, the bigger the EPOC effect is.
Cardio alone does not create much EPOC. By the time you’ve grabbed your bag and walked out to your car, you’re done burning excess calories. This doesn’t mean that cardio is a waste of time, it does however mean that you’re not going to get the most out of your time at the gym if all you’re doing is cardio. Cardio is not working large muscle groups to their maximum, and it doesn’t create the need to majorly ‘repair’ afterwards. This is the main reason why cardio is not going to help you shed the extra weight as fast and the main reason I have my clients focus on HIIT workouts and cardio.
Research has also shown that HIIT workouts increase your body's resting metabolic rate for up to 24 hours after your workout is complete. This means that your metabolism speeds up for 24 hours after your HIIT workout. That sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?
HIIT also helps you lose belly fat (you know, that stubborn fat around your midsection that you just can’t seem to get rid of). The most common HIIT exercise I have my clients do is sprinting. We focus on an all out sprint (or max effort) for about 20 seconds, and then recover for nearly 40 seconds by jogging or just resting in general. Studies have shown that doing just a few sprints 3 times per week burns more fat after 6 weeks than doing 60 minutes of steady state-cardio (walking on an inclined treadmill) 3 times per week. In addition, 20 minutes of HIIT, 3 times a week, was shown to significantly lower a participant’s belly fat.
But not only does it help with metabolism and fat burn, HIIT requires your heart muscle to work under high demands. This strengthens the heart, lowers blood pressure and improves aerobic performance overall.
I am often asked by clients how long it takes to start seeing results. This often comes from people who are expecting fat to melt off quickly once they start making changes. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. Real change takes time and lots of work...but is totally worth it!
Results are different for everyone.
Depending on your starting point, you may begin seeing some immediate changes. If you have a lot of weight to lose, you typically see change happen quickly once you begin to dial in your nutrition and exercise. However, there is no real set time period for seeing results when you are talking about physical results. Some people see small changes in as little as 1 week, while it takes others 3-4 weeks to see any real changes. However, you should notice some non-scale victories within a couple of weeks of cleaning up your diet and working out.
It took time to put weight on, it will take time to take it off.
You didn’t gain that extra 20 pounds overnight...so you won’t take it off overnight. In order to lose one pound of weight, you need to cut 3500 calories. If you want to sustain your weight loss over time, then simply restricting your calories is NOT an effective strategy. Instead, you need to cycle your calories and macronutrients so that you don’t create a lower set point for your metabolism. That takes a bit more time and intentionality, but will truly pay off in the long run. Taking your time with your weight loss ensures you won’t yo-yo back after a crash diet messes with your metabolic rate!
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
If you want to see real results that last, you are going to have to make changes to how you live and build consistency with those new habits. That won’t happen in a week, but can happen as early as 3-4 weeks into the program. However, the real change may not happen until a couple of months into your health and fitness journey, once you’ve created ingrained habits that allow your body to function optimally.
Results can happen shortly after starting a new health and fitness regimen, no doubt, but real results that last and can be sustained over time will take longer. Those kinds of results will require hard work, accountability, encouragement and intentionality. While the progress toward those goals may seem slower, it will actually get you to your goal more effectively. And that is what we are doing in Think Fit Method™.
Nutrition and intentional exercise go hand in hand in order to get results. Let’s briefly dive in to the why and how - there will be more on this in Module 7.
When you strength train, your body needs carbohydrates to fuel your muscles; but on the other hand, it is known that some carbs spike insulin levels, which essentially feeds our body fat. So with cycling our carbohydrate intake, we are eliminating that fat storing process. We do this by strength training on certain days where we have more complex carbs. When we do that, we are replenishing glycogen stores and preserving/building our muscles at the same time! In short, the higher/regular complex carbs on training days go right to our muscles instead of being converted to fat stores.
Lower carb days are designed for a full depletion of carbohydrates in our bodies. Workouts are geared towards burst training, thus utilizing all the glycogen stores in our bodies. During these workouts, we begin to use more fat as fuel opposed to carbs. On lower carb days, the primary focus is fat BURN, not muscle growth. You are utilizing all the built up carbs/calories from higher carb day and essentially are in fat burning mode 24/7.
This pattern tricks your metabolism into burning fat all the time. It is a proven process and shows some amazing results. In order to lose weight, our bodies need the right combo of carbs, healthy fats and proteins, and on my carb cycling plan you learn that perfect combination to make you a fat burning furnace!
Now that we talked about strategic exercise, I want to remind you that everyone starts somewhere. Every person is at different levels with their exercise. So please don’t compare yourself to the other girl at the gym that is lifting heavier than you or running faster than you. Focus on YOU and give it 100% and the results will come.