Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Comparison Trap

Do what you can with what you’ve got. We hear that all the time, but I think we should really apply it to our fitness lives! So often when we go to a group fitness class or work out with others, even in front of others, we are competing not with our muscles or the timer on the treadmill, but with what we see around us. We are competing with Comparison.  

Comparison is something that people and especially we as women do ALL the time. It’s a bad habit and it needs to stop! I am guilty all the way. Often when I am running I will see people pass me and think to myself “Oh, I should try and keep their pace!” And why? Because they passed me? If I am doing 10 miles and they are doing 3! NO comparison, it’s apples and oranges! But there shouldn’t be a comparison anyway, my goals are my goals and my pace is my pace.

When we see others at the gym it’s automatic to compare body shapes, sizes and even fitness levels. Everyone is in a different place, everyone has a different pace and we are all unique! We have value right where we are and need to remember that we don’t know where the people we are surrounded by are on their journey either. Here are a few good tips on not comparing ourselves to others as we workout:

Focus on others- Comparison traps take root when we are focusing on ourselves! If you find yourself comparing bodies, minds or blogs with someone else, take the focus off of yourself. Be deliberately kind to that person, say an encouraging word or compliment and you may find that they need a boost out of the comparison pit as much as everyone else. It will take the focus off of yourself and make you feel great!

Realize everyone is human- the grass may look greener on the other side, but it still needs to be mowed! Yep, I said the worst cliché ever, but it’s true. You see someone and compare yourself to them, but they have to work hard, go through struggles, they shed tears over things we don’t know and can’t see. The comparison trap is not fair because we don’t realize that we are all in the same boat with this thing called life and this thing called being healthy.

Compare yourself to you or your times-  Comparison is something we have done for a long time, and if you’re anything like me, it can be a hard habit to break! But instead of thinking about what the chic next to you is lifting or how fast the guy is that passed you, think about YOU. Did you challenge yourself this week and succeed? Did you up your weights during the workout and kick butt? Compare yourself to your previous weights, workouts, times and gauge your successes on that, you will find more satisfaction in it, after all, you are the only person you report to!

What’s the point?  Comparing ourselves to others won’t truly motivate us, it won’t change us, it won’t make us feel good, it won’t boost our self esteem, and it won’t matter at the end of the day!! Most comparison is all rooted in the same wrong reason, so why bother doing it? It’s a painful process and it doesn’t benefit either party, quite the opposite, we can be hurt by it and can make others uncomfortable. It’s better to steer clear all together…

How do you stop comparing yourself to others? 


Megan said...

My dad was my Sunday School teacher in junior high, and for Christmas, he gave each of us in the class a small New Testament. In the front of mine, he wrote, "Don't try to be better than anyone else. Be better than yourself." I'm sure I thought it was cheesy in 7th grade, but it is so true. I try to remember that when I find myself in the comparison trap.

teacherwoman said...

I think it's so natural for all of us to compare ourselves to others. However, I do think that it can do more harm then good. Just yesterday, when I was on the treadmill, I found myself somewhat comparing myself to the girl next to me. I wanted to be able to kick out a 7.0 mph run for 30 minutes with no walk breaks, but then I reminded myself how wonderful it is to be able to run at all and that was the end of that thought!

shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama said...

Great post!

It is hard to not compare yourself against others. In racing, no matter what goals I set I usually end up "caring" about how I stacked up against everyone else. Which is okay with me as long as that doesn't take away from my joy of simply running, experincing a new course, new distance,or whatever.

Thanks for joining the journey! I hope we can inspire eachother as we go along our days!

Katie J said...

I have been doing this A LOT lately and I know it is bad and I try to catch myself when I do. Looking forward to hearing what others do about it. Thanks for bringing it up Mary.

KatDoesDiets said...

Oh, I have struggled with this so much. In everything from my body, weight, running, to my writing and blogging. I am trying very hard to overcome it and feel like I've been very successful the last few months. I just push those thoughts out of my head when they come up.
Great tips.

The Curvy Life said...

Great post!! Thanks for sharing!


Cindy said...

I think this is an incredibly difficult topic. I don't know if this is just natural for us to compare ourselves to others, but we do. The SECOND I get on the treadmill at the gym, my eyes are glancing to my right and left to compare my speed with those beside me.

It's sick.

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