Compare Yourself to Others: Why this is terrible advice.

The moment of clarity that changed my weight loss game. Forget about what everyone else is doing. It is not easy to do, and I still struggle with it from time to time. If there is one thing I know I excel at, it is being hard on myself. I have this idea of what I should be, and if I fall short of that then I have failed. That leads to giving up altogether. This time I knew that mindset had to change if I was ever going to be successful.

When I first joined a CrossFit gym I knew I was out of my league. I was active all my life but it had been years since I had done any substantial activity. My dancing days were well behind me. While there is a wide range of athletes in CrossFit at any time I personally have a difficult time being towards the bottom of the ranks in anything I do. This was definitely pushing me out of my comfort zone. I was still deep into my old ways at the time but for some reason I was there and accepting the fact that I am not the best, not even close.

I would look around me at my classmates and measure where I fit among them. As time went on I was definitely getting stronger, more confident in the moves and improving. But I would still get frustrated if I were the last to complete the workout. If I completed the workout before everyone else, I would get down about using weights that were too light.

Constantly measuring myself against others did nothing for me that was positive. I always felt not good enough in one way or another. Either I wasn’t fast enough, strong enough, or determined enough. I wasn’t even considering other factors that could explain why the girl next to me beat my time or was able to hit her PR when I didn’t. Perhaps she is ten years younger than me. Her athletic history, her diet, maybe she got more sleep last night. So many different factors. I just wanted to keep up. My goal at that time was to be close in range to those around me. If I could do that then I figured it was good enough.

On the flip side of this I was also limiting myself by watching others. If I was pushing hard through a WOD and I saw that I was lapping my classmates, I would actually slow down! I would sit there and take a few breaths, lose focus completely and would end up with a slower time than what I was capable of. Comparing myself to others was now slowing down my progress. I then realized I do this in every area of my life. This goes beyond the gym. Perhaps a coworker or fellow mom, is doing less than me and I think to myself – why am I working so hard when I can get away with doing less? All that has ever led to is being disappointed in my progress, because I KNOW I could have done more.

I decided to change my mindset. I was no longer worried about the person next to me. I may use it as a gauge, or a friendly competition to cheer each other on and encourage that extra push. It is comforting to hear that others have the same struggles, of course. Relating to each other is what builds that community and support. But I am showing up every day for me. I am working hard for me. I am competing against Last Week Me. I am my only competition.

Who cares what the person next to you is doing? Do they have to live your life? Do they have your DNA, your schedule, your current mental state, your history? When you show up, you work hard, and you sweat, you have won. If you are worried about the guy next to you being better, he will be better because when you stop to look at the person next to you all you are doing is slowing yourself down. Eyes forward. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish.

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