On apples and oranges

No, I’m not obsessing about fruit here. Work with me.

It’s natural to compare ourselves to other people. We do it when we’re looking at celebrities in magazines, people on the street and even (probably more than anything), our friends. I have one gym buddy who I have been, unconsciously, comparing myself to and getting frustrated. Until, that is, I realized a few *small* things:

  1. I started working out 9 months ago from a starting point of no strength or endurance. My cardio was abysmal. I couldn’t do lunges without looking drunk.
  2. She used to be a full-time fitness instructor until see dislocated a disk 6 months before I arrived here. She had been down to 14% body fat and competing in pageants while working out 6 hours a day.
  3. I have a goal of getting fitter and stronger – normally. No supplements unless necessary and no major weight loss required.
  4. She (as I found out last week) has a goal of competing in a fitness competition. Different build requirements, different food requirements, different everything.

Once I realised all this, I stopped comparing myself. So what if I’m not working with 12-15lb weights? I am miles ahead of where I was 9 months ago. I have to keep in mind where I started from and where I am now and be proud. N and I have completely different bodies and completely different goals. It’s all about supporting each other and realising that we’re following different fitness paths.

I thought for a long time that I was above the friends competing thing and this weekend’s realisation  that I’ve been competing without realising it shook me a little. I don’t know why I would be ‘better’ than everyone else at separating the comparisons, considering we all do it to some extent. C’mon, admit it. You do it too. It’s so easy – just take a peek at someone’s cart at the grocery store. You know you do it.

(Okay, maybe I’m worse than I thought. Must work on this)

But back on topic. It’s easy to read a lot of blogs about weight loss and fitness and think “how is X losing so much weight when I’m working just as hard if not harder and not budging?”. Stop. You are not X and X is not you. Different bodies, different backgrounds, different everything. If everyone had the same health and fitness goals and body makeup, nobody would struggle. Everyone is starting from a different point on the racetrack. Heck, some people are starting on a different field altogether. Every ‘race’ is separate and it’s also not a race.

If comparisons are getting you down, stop for a moment. Think about where you started from. How fit were you? How much did you weigh? What’s happened since then? And now pat yourself on the back. You’ve done well, you’re doing well and you’ll continue to do well.

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7 thoughts on “On apples and oranges

  1. You are totally right. We all need to remember these are individual journeys and not compare what we are doing with anyone else.

    But yes, I do check out what people have in their carts =)

    Nice post.

  2. Agreed.

    And I do it with things other than weight loss, too.

    Comparisons are how I got through High School.

    “Doing well” was never enough. Am I doing “better” than anyone else?

    With my art. My art is “cute” and “really good” but not “awesome”, like some of my friends. Again, your discussion of history and goals. I’ve never had a formal art class, some of these people are going on to be animators at big name companies (Pixar, for example). I draw for fun, they draw for money.

    If you come up with any good ways to stop playing the comparison game, let me know. I’ve been playing it for so long that sometimes I don’t know how to stop. It can motivate us to try harder, which is good, but it can also keep us from actually seeing ourselves, which is bad.

  3. I have a random question for you – any idea how to get my link up in my comment title? I’m logged in, so it’s supposedly automatic, but still..*points* no link!

    I think my blog is doing it too, and if another blogger comments, I want to be able to follow the link back to their home.
    I really don’t know :S. It’s automatic for me and I’ve looked around to see if there’s an option but I can’t find it. Maybe email support?

  4. This is a test of the emergency blogcast system.

    (I modified my user settings so that I had a “website” filled out. Let’s see what happens…)

    Hope you don’t mind me using your blog as a testbed!
    Yay! It worked!

  5. Hi!! Thanks for dropping by my blog. I totally loved your entry on comparison! I only compare myself to myself and no one else. It would just be too hard emotionally and I would lose all motivation.

    You’re a much stronger person than I am. I’m trying to stop comparing myself to others, even unconsciously, because, you’re right, it’s too hard otherwise.

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