fitness · habits · motivation · self care

Go Team! January 6: Beyond Compare

You, my friends, are absolutely beyond compare.

Look at you, figuring out your own ways to reshape your habits and your days so they align with your intentions and your values. Not to mention facing obstacles and schedules and competing priorities while you do it.

You are bringing a unique set of experiences and perceptions to your plans and you are dealing with a unique set of challenges while you navigate them.

So, given that uniqueness, why do you end up comparing your efforts to the efforts of those around you?

I know, I know. Some comparison is a natural thing and that natural tendency gets reinforced by the social structures we live in.

We can’t blame ourselves for the tendency to compare ourselves to other people we perceive to be in the same situation but we can choose to be conscious about the meaning we ascribe to the differences.

We can notice the differences without using them to be mean to ourselves about our efforts.

Let’s put this firmly in a fitness context:

We all have bodies but each of those bodies is different. Many of the parts of our bodies work in roughly the same way but each person’s body has its own specific abilities and capacity. Even bodies that look similar or work in similar ways will each have their own unique specifications and abilities. And those abilities and specifications make vary from day to day.

One person will find easy to build muscle while another person’s strength isn’t visible at all. Another person might be able to easily touch their toes while their partner finds it painful to lean forward. Someone may learn new movements quickly while someone else struggles to grasp a few basic gestures. The person at the front of the yoga class might be able to move into Eagle Arms on their first try while the person on the next mat finds that their breasts are in their way or that their upper back doesn’t have the flexibility yet. Person A might be able to put in a very similar physical effort every day while Person B’s capacity varies depending on their pain level, their body’s reaction to medication, or the range of their chronic illness or disability. Your brain might crave meditation while your sister’s brain finds that meditation stirs her anxiety. Today, you might be able to walk the hallway easily but, tomorrow, you may need your cane.

We all have to work with the bodies (and brains) that we have. And we have to work with what they can do on any given day. And our ‘progress’ might be slow, fast, intermittent or non-existent.

And those are just the body-related and brain-based side of things.

On top of your body’s natural tendencies, you also have to factor in your schedule. And your obligations. And the weather. And the people who live with you/depend on you.

Each of those things are going to affect you in different ways on different days and someone else’s physical, mental, and life factors are going to affect them in different ways on different days.

When you consider all of that, doesn’t comparing your efforts to someone else’s just seem ridiculous?

Me, just now. I couldn’t figure out another way to make this important point stand out in a pretty way.

We have all learned how to compare ourselves with others and these days, a variety of factors encourage us to compare our messy day-to-day with the curated glimpses we get of other people’s lives.

This can lead to us wondering why our efforts in fitness, wellness, or anything else aren’t getting the same results as someone else is getting.

And THAT can lead to us feeling like we just aren’t trying hard enough or that our efforts are meaningless.

That is simply not true.

We have no idea what combination of privilege, genetics, free time, and effort is giving someone else the results they are getting. Comparing our efforts to all of those unknowns is not going to serve us.

Instead, I’d like to invite you consider yourself as a person beyond compare.

Your efforts are about you. About your wellbeing, your fitness, your peace of mind. Someone else’s efforts and results only matter if they are inspire you or give you useful information.

Your efforts matter, whether you are making a plan, holding ground, inching ahead, leaping forward, or taking a step back to reconsider, recover, rehabilitate, or to heal. Please be kind to yourself as you acknowledge where you are in the process.

And here’s your gold star to celebrate your incomparable efforts. I’m proud of you.

A decoration made of a star-shaped frame with curly wires extending across the inside to add to the solidity of the star.
Another gold star decoration from my house. You can’t see it from the photo but this is the top of a small tree that’s formed from gold-coloured wire decorated with beads. Image description: a gold star made from a small wired frame that has overlapping curly wires extended from side to side in an irregular pattern. At the bottom of the star there are some more curls of wire and there there are coloured beads at various intervals on the star and the wires. A light green wall with a stripe of light and a stripe of shadow is visible behind the star.

For the second year in a row, I’ll be posting a Go Team! message every day in January to encourage us as we build new habits or maintain existing ones. It’s cumbersome to try to include every possibility in every sentence so please assume that I am offering you kindness, understanding, and encouragement for your efforts right now. You matter, your needs matter, and your efforts count, no matter where you are applying them. You are doing the best you can, with the resources you have, in all kinds of difficult situations and I wish you ease. ⭐💚 PS – Some of the posts for this year may be similar to posts from last year but I think we can roll with it.