We’re halfway through the week, but it feels like the start of the week for me. I’ve been finding this awful respiratory infection that has completely knocked me out since Sunday. I am very rarely sick (typically once per year), so being out of work for 2 days straight is unheard of for me! As I write this on Tuesday night, I am determined that I will be healthy enough to head back to the office on Wednesday. And hopefully following that with a visit to the gym by Thursday. I appreciate rest, but this much inactivity is driving me crazy!
Today I want to tackle a topic that I know has a lot of different opinions. A few weeks ago, my friend Paige wrote a thoughtful post about the pursuit of lean and comparison to others. The thing is, I have a different perspective and I think it’s a great topic for discussion.
This is one of those topics that I don’t believe there is a right answer to. I think you need to consider what makes sense for you and takes into account your history.
As you see in the definition above, comparison is looking at something to see how it’s similar or different. If I apply that to running a race, it might be looking at the winner of the race to see how they compare to me. How was their time different than mine? Are they older, younger, or in my age group? Do I know anything about their training history or what their current training schedule looks like? What can I learn from their success?
Comparing yourself to another athlete in this way can be a very helpful in reaching that next level. I WANT to run faster next time and I aspire to improve myself. My background and journey is likely very different than the athlete I’m comparing myself to, but there’s something I can learn from understanding the differences. And it helps motivate me to be more dedicated to my training leading up to my next race. Things can go badly here if you make unsafe changes in your training program to compensate. This is where a good coach can be helpful (shameless plug).
I find this holds true even as I’ve shifted to a more strength-focused sport.
In my first bikini competition, the goal of the competition is to present your best physique to be compared with other competitors. Is this bad? As I looked around at the competition, I saw girls that were leaner (some in a good way, some a bit too lean for my personal taste) and who had more defined glutes or abs than I did. Seeing their results helped me frame goals on what I wanted to work on before my next competition. It doesn’t mean I felt bad about my own body, but it showed me something to aspire to and work to achieve. Things can go badly here if you let the comparison spur you to make unhealthy changes. Balance is needed!
I know that this attitude is not something that everyone has when comparing to others, but attitudes can be changed!
I encourage you to use comparison as a positive motivator and a way to appreciate & celebrate the accomplishments of those around you. Find role models that are positive examples of the goal you want to reach. Or even compare yourself to yourself. Watch your race times get faster compared to where you were last year. The weight you curl get heavier than last month. Measuring your progress is a great way to shift that comparison to yourself, if that’s something you’re most comfortable with.
You are NOT less, because you are not the best.
Comparison should not be about demeaning yourself. If you find that it makes you feel less, than comparison is not something that may work for you. I don’t want scary movies because it turns me into a basket case for week or months. Know your limits and just avoid the situations that negatively impact you. If comparison becomes a negative where it is directed on you being less, as opposed to inspiration, then it’s time to step back.
Questions for you:
What does comparison mean to you?
If you see it as a bad thing, would you think about shifting your perspective?