The Comparison Game: The Gym & Our Mentality

We live in a world where we strive everyday to be the best, have the best and look our best. It's been seared into our DNA since childhood when we dreaded being picked last in kickball. The same concept followed us to adulthood as MTV broadcasted stick-thin celebrities and Pinterest asks us to re-pin athletes with washboard abs.  In a perfect world we want to choke those annoying voices in our heads that say we're not good enough, but it's not always easy when we're constantly surrounded by opportunities to compare ourselves with others. I love Pinterest and find it as a great motivator to stay fit and healthy. However, I'll see a pin like this before the gym:

and feel slightly discouraged when I don't leave my workout with a BMI of 18 and abs made of pure steel; I have to then take a step back and realize that once again I was a victim of the comparison game.

This mentality always seems to sneak up at the gym. I will admit that I have been guilty of running on the treadmill and trying to out run the person next to me. But why? Who cares. Another person's workout is not mine or my concern and another's fitness goals are different than what I am trying to achieve. We cannot compare ourselves, especially at the gym, because it will only set us up for temporary satisfaction and overall disappointment.

Actually, the answer is no but enjoy yourself as you set yourself up for temporary self-fulfillment.

The other day I was at the gym and glanced at the guy running next to me: he was nearing his fifth mile while I was walking at a pace of 4.0 on the treadmill. I immediately thought, he's obviously pushing himself harder than I am so after this I'm going to bike and elliptical for 30 minutes. Woah, what am I doing? I immediately put myself on an equal playing field as the person next to me. He obviously looks like a Cross Country runner, I am not, and I had a hard workout yesterday and was using today to take it easy. My workouts are catered to my own fitness goals and not the stranger hoofin' it next to me.

Yes, it's hard but we can't be sucked into the comparison game. Instead praise yourself that you just beat your mile record time by 30 seconds and who cares if the person next to you just ran a 5K. It's important to focus on our own achievements, big or small. Comparing ourselves, in and outside the gym, only leads to discouragement plus it's exhausting. What I discovered early in my softball career, no matter how hard I practiced there will always be someone stronger, faster or better than me. I learned to only push myself against my own limits and no one else's.

Use others' achievements as motivators but never as criteria in which to measure yourself. You are you and no one else. Be your personal best and you can never be disappointed.


Kels said...

the comparison game is an awful one! :( I know that I have gotten caught up in it before...but it's SO not worth it! GOD MADE US ALL UNIQUE!!! :)

Stay strong!!!

Anderson said...

It's important to celebrate our own accomplishments and not belittle them by measuring them against others!

Emily S. said...

Great post! It is normal to compare yourself to others, but we need to remember to only worry about ourselves and what is best for our own bodies.

Linda said...

yes you are absolutely right no need to worry and compare about the other people's workouts... we have to set our own goals to achieve...

Fitness Guide

Anderson said...

Exactly! Its important to keep your eye on the prize, yourself!

Mystery Girl said...

It is really okay that sometimes you will compare yourself to others but you will always put in mind that he/she will be one of your inspiration to be better.
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