Thursday, June 6, 2013

The comparison trap

Do you compare yourselves to others at the gym? I sometimes do. 

Look at her. She is so much stronger than me. She runs faster than me, completes more rounds than me, lifts more weight than me. Why can't I do that? Why am I so weak and slow?

This is such a waste of my energy! The only person I should be comparing myself to is me. Who cares if I can't deadlift 150 pounds? My five rep max is 20 pounds more than it was at this time last year, and I am only 10 pounds away from deadlifting my body weight. So what if I can only burn 21 calories on the Airdyne in one minute? Last time I only got to 18. I am making progress based on my own numbers, and that is all that matters.

The comparison trap is dangerous and counterproductive. I have been making an effort lately to avoid it, and I think it really helps me get more out of my workouts. If I am paying attention to what someone else is doing, how can I focus on myself? How can I get stronger and faster? How can I learn new skills and reach my own goals? I can't, because I am making it about someone else rather than me.

Strong and fast is relative. I work out with some amazing women with some really impressive skills and athletic abilities. I cannot necessarily do the things they do, and that is OK. The goal is to find my own definition of strong and fast and to strive to do my best. Not their best.

With all of this said, I do think there is value in emulating people you admire. If someone has a skill or ability you admire and desire for yourself, ask how they acquired that skill or ability. You might not achieve exactly what she achieved, but perhaps you'll gain some knowledge that will help you achieve your personal best?

Finally, please remember that nobody is judging you because you only completed five rounds in an AMRAP while everyone else completed six. If your gym is anything like mine, people are cheering you on and encouraging you no matter what round you are on or no matter how long it takes you to get through the workout. It isn't a contest. Really, it isn't. Some people are motivated by competition, and that is fine! But if you end the workout feeling bad about yourself simply because you couldn't keep us with so-and-so, that is not motivation. That is self-deprecation.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! This is absolutely an easy trap to fall into. I've sometimes found myself getting competitive even in yoga! (Although if it's Iyengar and you have a drill sergeant for an instructor, it's almost par for the course...)


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