Why do we love to take things to the extreme?

This question has been on my mind this week.

Lately, I’ve noticed on my instagram feed that it tends to be the extreme behaviors that are applauded or admired.

The 100 mile races.  The “no room for moderation” diets.  The daily 10+ mile runs.  The intense strength training for body figure competitions.

I don’t want to say that there is anything wrong with these pursuits.  I am all about setting big goals and going for it! It energizes me like nothing else.

Yet I noticed how easy it is to compare myself to these feats… should I be up at the crack of dawn every day to squeeze more miles in? Maybe I should cut out my dark chocolate habit and grab some heavier weights to see if I can find that six pack.  Should I pick a really BIG new goal and go for it?

Gah! No, thank you. There are times and places for that and I will likely have moments of “extremes” in my training (choosing another marathon to train for, etc.) but I love this place of balance right now.

What is it that is so enticing about the extremes? The extreme physical pursuits and extremely clean diets?

I have to consciously talk myself back into reality- I like my routine and my goals are big enough for me.  I like not running every single day.  I like not being a high mileage runner.  I like that I can enjoy eating popcorn when I feel like it and finishing dinner with dark chocolate or grab a piece of leftover Halloween candy without guilt.

And then it makes me a little nervous.  These images have so much power! And as a mom of two girls, that worries me.

Some of you may remember the series I did on body image:

And the follow up step (part three) is to notice WHERE the negativity or comparison stems from and cut it out of your life whenever possible.  This can apply to social media, magazines, certain websites, etc.  If something makes you feel bad about yourself, unsubscribe or unfollow or limit the time you have to compare.

Focus instead on filling yourself up with as many affirmations and positive balanced people as possible.

Best way to eat

The bottom line is the healthiest you can be is with the sustainable lifestyle that makes you happy and full of life!

How do you avoid comparison and stay positive?

Where do the negative voices or comparisons come from in your life?

For more powerful reading, check out:

34 thoughts on “Why do we love to take things to the extreme?

  1. My biggest competitor is myself so she is kind of hard to avoid! LOL. I totally get what you are saying and it’s very hard to be a blogger with your head in social media all day long and not get caught up in it. I guess I try to look at my life as a whole and know that when I go to extremes, a lot things I love tend to suffer. Keep eating that dark chocolate and I will too :-)
    Allie recently posted..Why Every Runner Needs to Know About RAS #TheRunnersBrainMy Profile

  2. This is a great and thought provoking post. It’s interesting because many people from 0 to 26.2 and then straight up to 100. There is no room for 5ks or even halves anymore. It’s something we have noticed a lot at work, just in the running community.
    Hollie recently posted..A Bold 5k (19:34)My Profile

    • That’s so interesting that you’re noticing it in the general running community, too- not just something that seems popular on instagram. I’m all about learning to push past our limits and yet I think we need to also know we can be balanced and healthy (and complete or content or whatever we’re chasing) right now, too!
      Laura recently posted..Why do we love to take things to the extreme?My Profile

  3. PREACH!!! I saw that quote on your IG feed yesterday and it just brought a huge smile to my face. Lately I have found that the best way for me to not see these extremes is to delete them from my feeds…They don’t work for me and I don’t need to see them and you know what it’s made a huge difference. It’s the little things sometimes. Great post friend! XOXO
    She Rocks Fitness recently posted..November NourishmentMy Profile

  4. I love this post! For me, I’m lucky that I’ve found a place of balance (for now…it’s ever-changing) but I’m still admittedly influenced by other people’s extremes. I just went through an “unfollow” spree on social media because other people’s lifestyles, while maybe good for them, made me feel inadequate.
    Emily @ My Healthyish Life recently posted..My Ego (Post-Grad “Plans”)My Profile

  5. Great post! I think this is so true and I think it is natural to compare….I would bet that everyone does it. It is just a matter of what you then do with that comparing. I have to constantly remind myself to do what works for me and is healthy for me. As someone who has struggled with eating and food issues in the past I know that I cannot go to extremes no matter who is doing it. I cannot restrict or start cutting out food groups…it just is not something I want to start doing. I would rather go the everything in moderation and healthy most of the time way…it is what works for me, but definitely doesn’t seem popular. I have seen a lot of runners who don’t take days off and it has tempted me at times, but I know my body does best with at least 1 day off a week. I think it is really a matter of knowing what works best for you and being confident and content with that. Not to get too deep, but sometimes (definitely not all the time) I think it is about something else in a persons life. They might not be happy for some other reason and think if I do this diet or run this race or this fast that will make me happy. It isn’t always the case, but I do think it can be easy to try to find contentment or self acceptance this way.
    Jen recently posted..Race days goalsMy Profile

  6. Yes, I’m so with you on this, especially Instagram. The competitiveness and the keeping up with the Joneses leads to a lot of problems. I try my best not to compare myself with others, especially when it comes to people sharing their speedy runs. Social media is just crazy sometimes and we have to be careful not to let it shape us!
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted..Annapolis Half Marathon Training Week 4My Profile

  7. I find myself wavering between what social media “says” I should be doing and what I’m actually doing. With recovery from my injury, it’s really making me step away from all comparison and focus on me. I try to do that most of the time but sometimes my competitive side speaks up and wants to be a player in the game. That player is benched! haha!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..On My Yoga MatMy Profile

  8. I notice this a lot, especially on social media. People focus so much on just pushing themselves from one extreme at the next rather than finding moderation and then focusing on doing their best at that happy medium. It amazes me how many runners view 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons as just stepping stones to the marathon and beyond, rather than races that you can train for and focus on improving in.
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted..Pacific Crest Trail Hiking and Exploring LeavenworthMy Profile

  9. Laura,
    I couldn’t agree more with you. It’s exhausting to look through Instagram, not because it’s time consuming but because it all feels so fake and high pressure. We are left feeling like we need to, “do this” or “do that” and that kind of pressure saps your true self and inner light. There is so much pressure to keep up that we have lost our joy and we are unable to know ourselves in an intimate way. I am slowly understanding this and pulling myself away from the things that drain me and doing the things that set my soul on fire. Love, love, love your insight and words– such a wonderful way to start my day today. Hugging you close this morning my friend.
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..Happy 11th Anniversary – Until the Cows Come HomeMy Profile

  10. Coming back from a tough year of being sick and just hitting my stride again running I have been a lot easier on myself about the intensity of my training. I am constantly asked if I am running a marathon and I do admit I feel like less of a runner at times when I say not this year BUT then I think of how I am PR’ing the 5K and 10K and getting my half time back down and it is all about perspective. Balance is definitely welcome. And I am genuinely happy right now, which I think is most important.
    Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat recently posted..Team Daniel Running for Recovery from Mental Illness 5K RecapMy Profile

  11. I’ve spent lots of time finding the line between what inspires me and what leaves me feeling empty (because I go the negative comparison place). What I’ve noticed is that if I’m in a good place mentally and emotionally, I am usually inspired by people who do awesome stuff. I love running and triathlon, for example, because the fastest and the slowest athletes all cover the same distance. And, through training, most of us share the ability to improve. I find progress very inspiring and fulfilling.

    On the other hand, I don’t buy beauty magazines anymore because I realized that looking at them left me feeling worse about myself. Sure, I could apply more make-up (or go shopping more than once every 6 months) to make myself more attractive, but I just don’t value that as much as progressing in a sport or contributing to a community. So, I opted to cut it out.

    I agree that surrounding ourselves with kick-butt people is as important in real life as it is online!

    Thanks for the post :)
    Kate recently posted..Running the 2015 NYC Marathon with AchillesMy Profile

  12. I love this post Laura and this has been on my mind a lot lately. There has been such a push towards the extreme and I find I get caught up in it sometimes too and then feel badly when I can’t live up to those messages/images. It’s exhausting to sort through and process all the images and messages that we see out there that we often forget that those aren’t right for us. It’s a constant balance between being inspired and becoming obsessive about something.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Hiking with Kids: 9 Tips to Make it Fun for the Whole FamilyMy Profile

  13. This resonates within me! Thank you for putting this in words. I struggle too, and it’s encouraging to know I am not alone in the “extreme” battles!

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  15. Yes! This thing with our society where it’s the extremes that count and are admired drives me insane. And the healthy living blogosphere is ironically the biggest perpetuator. It had a role in my getting burned out on blogging, I’m not going to lie. Thank you for preaching the healthy, moderate word!
    Misszippy recently posted..My podcast is live!My Profile

  16. I’m glad someone finally said it! Thank you! This past year, I had a deferred entry into NYCM. And, sometime this fall I decided not to run it. It was a tough decision but mostly because of social media pressure. Honestly, it was the best decision for me not to run the marathon because my heart isn’t in the long distance training right now. This year, I learned that it is okay to have a focus on family, friends, and work and not feel compelled to do what all of the other bloggers are doing. It’s so refreshing and I have zero plans to keep up with anyone else anymore. I plan on focusing on shorter distance races and relays – since I enjoy them the most. Isn’t that why we all started our journeys in the first place…
    Lisa @ Lisa Runs for Cupcakes recently posted..Part 1: Ragnar Vegas with Team NuunMy Profile

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  21. YES to this. I finally realized that – despite my devotion to running and Runners World and all of that – I just. like. to. run. And I don’t have to get faster, and I don’t have to race, and I don’t even have to run outside, or on a trail, or whatever the “cool” thing is right now. I just need to be able to get in the miles *I* want, in the way *I* want to run them (winter – midwest – treadmill + ESPN!), and not get injured or burned out. It’s more important to do what I love than it is to continually try to be someone I am not.
    THANK YOU!!!

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