On Comparing Yourself: the Good, the Bad, and the Gym
Today I had a bit of a moment at the gym that I thought would be beneficial for me to share about. After a much needed week at home resting from a nasty cold and drained mental state among our circus of animals and my mom, I decided that a good workout would be a good way to jumpstart myself back into my 'normal' routine at school.
Yet, as soon as I entered the gym, wearing my favorite Costa Rica shirt (which our dryer unfortunately shrunk in the home laundry load) I felt uncomfortable. I was out of breath just from the walking to the gym due to my recent sloth like activity, and I was second guessing my place amongst the herd of macho gym rats with chiseled physiques.
Nevertheless I persisted, determined to make use of a free hour I had in between my day of meetings. So onto the elliptical I hopped, hoping to get that burst of endorphins from exercise that everyone seems to brag about. And yet this time felt more difficult than usual. I was drained from not eating breakfast or having my usual morning coffee, and I was taunted by a marathon treadmill goer to my right who was pumping away strides without a flinch. Luckily enough of good songs In and out of my playlist got me through my usual 30 minute rolling hill routine, yet I was just sweaty and demotivated. Unable to get my usual 3 miles in during the 30 minute time period in the moment it was a kick to my already lowered self-confidence.
So, in attempt to make up for my lack of goal hitting in that area I decided to go try and do some mat core work -since I don't yet have the courage to go toe to toe with the guys in the weight room.
And then, the moment of conversation struck on that mat in the middle of the gym floor.
I was there staring with death eyes at my phone screen praying for some emergency to strike where I could leave immediately, as I tried to do a plank and could barely do 30 seconds.
Immediately, my mind shot back to my more fit days of yester-year when I could do 90 minutes of elliptical time followed by minutes of planks at a time. And then looking around at all the other dainty forms doing complex V-ups and core lifts I felt deflated at my sheer inability to do a simple exercise.
And so after a few halfhearted attempts at yoga stretches I left.
I know a good inspirational person would say to stay in that moment, and to not be so bothered by how far ahead others are compared to me.
But, honestly, I am bothered. I am always comparing myself to not only the people that surround me, but also to myself! Who I used to be, what I used to be able to do, and I'd say this is the type of comparison that hurts the most.
At least with other people I can chalk it up to different journeys, different priorities, and different affinities, but myself? Not much argument there. In one breath, I am thankful to compare myself so heavily to my past, because at times it can motivate and inspire me through my growth and ability to change. Yet in the same breath it's genuinely annoying at times how everything in life is so two sided, and this same comparison that can motivate and inspire, can also bring on feelings of guilt and depression for things not being like they used to be. This grey area in life is a point which frustrates me continuously. But, that's life. And the truth is that I cannot do the same workouts that I used to do. And in truth when I was able to do those workouts my eating disorder and depression were the main drivers for their action, not any real desire for healthy living or muscle building. So any return to that level of fitness would probably be red flags for other areas of greater concern.
So today I am trying to take this reflection post to learn from this difficult moment instead of ruminating and guilting myself about it. Realtime I was happy that I choose to call my mom for words of support to keep me from killing my own vibes for the day, which definitely was a good temporary fix. But tomorrow, and the day after that, I will keep reminding myself that patience is an action. None of my skills, or habits for that matter, were built overnight, so neither will my endurance or sit up abilities. The important thing I'm taking from this is that it's not bad for us to compare ourselves to others, or ourselves, it just matters the framework you put around that comparison.
I mean if nothing is completely bad or good than that must mean that includes me too.
Now let's just hope I can remember that fact next time.