-by Tania Tétrault Vrga

When we join a gym or start a new fitness class, we often operate under the assumption that everyone else is perfectly fit and healthy. Everywhere we look, there is another superwoman or superman who seems to have it all, a lean healthy body, a successful career, a beautiful home.  Everyone else looks great in their workout gear, does yoga and lifts weights. Everyone else is good at sports, runs marathons, and cooks delicious healthy meals.

We compare ourselves to these idealized super-people when we set health and fitness goals. The assumption that it’s easy for everyone else and that we are the only one struggling is exactly why we are bound to fail. Assuming that our difficulties are unique gives us an excuse to not work at it, it undermines accountability. Everything is not as it seems, everyone has bad days, images are photoshopped, and social media always presents an edited version of life. It’s not easy for everyone else, in fact, everyone else struggles.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t set goals to improve our health and fitness.  Anyone can get fantastic results if they put in the work. And that’s exactly the point – it’s actually relatively simple to get relatively healthy, but getting in amazing shape is amazingly difficult.  Actors, fitness models, bodybuilders, professional athletes are real but the amount of work required to achieve their results is more what most people are willing to put in. The sacrifices required to make a living from being fit are beyond what the average person needs to feel healthier and happier. Very few people are as fit at magazine covers would have us believe, and those who are have their struggles too.

By having more realistic role models, we can set achievable health and fitness priorities. You can be anything you want but you can’t necessarily be everything all the time. Sometimes you have to make choices based on your values. Every day you have choices; get up early to go to the gym or sleep in, eat fast food or pack and healthy lunch, have desert or sip on a cup of tea. If you want to reach your fitness goal badly enough you will choose to prioritize gym time and nutritious foods. To be in relatively good shape, you’ll need to make healthy choices some of the time or most of the time, and to be in amazing shape you will need to make healthy choices all the time. What it takes to be in amazing shape is much more than what it takes to be in good shape.

Starting a new fitness routine or health program can be daunting. It doesn’t have to be, our perception makes it so.  Operating under the assumption that we somehow have it tougher than everyone else dooms us from the start.