Every person I meet with has a unique body and an individual goal—as do you. Sometimes a person’s goals are realistic and self-respecting, but other times—not so much. If you are five-foot-one, there’s nothing I can do to make you five-foot-seven. I can show you amazing yoga poses to elongate your body, but you still wouldn’t grow half a foot. I can also teach you how to maximize your strength and tone, but if you have a naturally curvy physique you will maintain your curves, as you should. There will always be someone who is in better shape or someone who has more talent in some area. There will also always be someone worse off.

My point is that comparing yourself to others is a waste of energy. Period. Stop doing it. Comparing yourself to someone else may temporarily motivate you to try harder, but if what you want isn’t realistic or doesn’t fit who you really are, it will only be a short-term, flimsy fix that won’t last. It is not about who you are not. It’s about who you are.

Whenever I teach people in groups, I see this play out firsthand. Some people are extremely flexible but not very strong, while others are just the opposite. And age or body shape doesn’t always matter either. My mom, who is in her seventies, can do some moves that my twenty­something clients struggle to maintain. Does my mom work out more than fifteen minutes a day? Nope. She didn’t exercise at all before I got her into doing my short workouts, and now she is more fit than many people decades younger.

Comparing is also just plain bad for your soul. It creates an incredibly judgmental mindset, and if you get in this habit, you will think others are looking at you in the same way. It is an extraordinarily self-defeating attitude, which creates an endless negative cycle that ultimately defines who you are—in a bad way. Free yourself by listening to thoughts as they come up and then letting them float away. Actually watch them drift off into the clear blue sky, gradually getting smaller and smaller until you can’t see them, hear them, or pick them back up.

I used to hide because I thought I was too skinny. I was living in a comparing mindset—how could I be “too skinny” without comparing myself? I learned to free myself from that mindset by letting go of comparing. Our society teaches us to believe in a very narrow view of beauty, and I invite all of you to join me on the bandwagon for a more open-minded opinion. We can all strive to be our most beautiful selves. As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Check out Joel Harper’s website, or click here to buy his book, Mind Your Body: 4 Weeks to a Leaner, Healthier Life.

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