Never ever compare yourself to others in the gym. Heck, don’t compare yourself to others in other parts of life, too! I have always had trouble with this. I’m a competitive person and also a critical person. I’m very tough on myself and expect the best. This can be a deadly combination if you let your focus stray outside yourself. It can initiate a viscous self-hate cycle where you never achieve anything you want to and always harp on yourself for doing something wrong or being weak. Don’t do this.
I typically workout with men…as in Chris and some of our friends. This makes it doubly important not to compare yourself to who you may be working out with. I’m not saying to not draw inspiration or motivation from others–that is most important! It is great to have a partner who works hard and keeps you working hard as well. However, if it comes to a point where you’re comparing your strength, body composition, or speed to that person, it can get rather unhealthy. Even past unhealthy–dangerous. If I tried to compete with Chris on any strength exercise, tried to match his squat, I’d be snapped like a twig from the weight.
It’s important to understand your strengths and limitations before you barge into a workout. Are you ready for that heavy weight? Are you reaching too high? You need to re-evaluate why you’re working out and what you’re working out to. Write down your goals and write a healthy, safe way to get there. Sure, I want to get back into lifting heavy, but I’m not going to jump into huge weight right away. That’s a ticket to injury. I may be comparing myself to other strong-lifters and wanting to go farther faster, but I am me, and this is where I’m at right now. I’ve taken long steps to realizing this and saying this to myself. Understand who and where you are and understand how you can go forward.
If I compared myself to all the expert climbers in Boulder, I’d feel absolutely down in the dumps, angry and disappointed. However, I’ve only been climbing for months compared to them. Why on Earth would I compare myself to them? If you let yourself get caught up in the emotion of envy and self-hate, you aren’t going anywhere with your fitness goals. I remember a time when several workouts have been ruined by my bad attitude of comparing to others and my mood goes to the sharks.
Learn from this. Don’t compare to others around you. Compare to yourself. What did you do yesterday? What can you do today? Challenge yourself. Work hard. Train with a purpose and never, ever give up. Stay focused on yourself to stay hungry and fit!
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