It’s Not a Competition

The title says it all. Health. Fitness. Weight loss. Marriage. Motherhood. Career. Life. None of it is a competition, and yet the vast majority of us approach these things {and many, many more} with a “second-place-is-the-first-loser” attitude, and Heaven forbid we fall short of first place.

I’ve been struggling with how to approach the dangers of making everything a competition or constantly comparing yourself to others for awhile now. An old friend from NY posted about ‘robbers’ today {check it out here}, and it finally clicked for me. When we live in a state of constant comparison, we rob ourselves of happiness. And sometimes, we can rob others of happiness, too. 😦

In my journey to health, I have had amazing support from family, friends, people at church, my bosses, and even strangers that see my posts on Twitter and Facebook. It has been truly incredible, and I am so grateful that I decided to open up about my struggles and triumphs! Honestly, there have been very few people who have been less than encouraging, and I know that I have been extremely lucky in this area. I hear from people all the time that are constantly pestered about their new eating and workout habits by coworkers, friends, and worst of all, family members. I can’t begin imagine how hard it must be to come up against constant negativity from people that are, when you get down to the heart of it, unhappy with themselves {and probably a bit jealous, too}.

Creating a healthy lifestyle is hard. It still doesn’t come naturally to me, and I’ve been working at this for 2 years now. I have to make a conscious decision MULTIPLE times a day to eat clean and not give in to cravings.

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Exercising comes a bit easier, but if I am not on a set schedule, it’s very easy to suddenly realize it’s been a couple of days since I’ve gotten in a good sweat session. Because it can be so difficult, I am very deliberate about checking in with and trying to encourage friends that I know are going through similar struggles. Accountability is HUGE in this journey, and if I can help someone else by being that person, I am more than willing to step in and fill that role!

So imagine the shock I felt when I was told that one of my friends, and someone I considered a good friend at that, had belittled all the hard work I’ve been doing by turning our separate health journeys into a competition. It doesn’t really matter what was said, but this was someone I have spent months at the gym with, days talking about healthy eating vs fad diets, and hours, quite simply, encouraging. To know that she was focused on “beating” me really hurt, as did the fact that she brought another friend into it. As I said before, this has definitely been the exception to the rule in my experience, but it upset me nevertheless. I was very hurt and felt that, in some way, this person was cheapening everything I have worked so hard for. She ‘robbed’ me of some of the happiness I was feeling about how far I’ve come, and it has continued to bother me for a couple of months now. I haven’t talked with her about it- I just don’t want to. I’m sure this was not the intended outcome of her actions, but some things can’t be unsaid or undone. I’m sad about it, because it has actually strained both of these friendships. I just don’t want to be a part of something petty like this, and the only way I feel I can stop the comparisons is to simply not be around to be judged.

I realize this example may sound silly to some of you, but I feel my experience points to a greater problem in our culture. There isn’t enough kindness and grace in the world, especially when it comes to the people we know and love. Instead of constantly trying to one-up one another, how about we try being kind? Celebrate triumphs with friends without feeling jealous or bad mouthing them later. If someone you know gets something you’ve wanted, smile sincerely and be gracious- your time will come. And if it doesn’t, know that there is something better in store that is meant just for you! Stop robbing yourself of happiness. Stop judging yourself and others. Stop tearing others down in order to build yourself up- that feeling of superiority doesn’t last anyway. And remember- it’s NOT a competition! So go out and live life WITH others, not against them. I promise you’ll find peace and happiness!!

Be Healthy {and Kind},

A

PS- Check out the Kind Campaign here. These ladies are doing great work!

PPS- Someone posted this quote in response to Leah’s blog- “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” I feel that this is a great reminder that what you see isn’t always the whole story, and is yet another reason mentally competing with others is so damaging.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Jean Hester Read
    Jun 11, 2012 @ 19:18:59

    What a great job you have done! No one can rob you of the wonderful job you have achieved. Love your blog!! Keep your beautiful smile on and continue with your journey to better health. Love ya Jean

    Reply

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