You vs. You

By Gavin Nirmaier

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Fitness is not a battle between people.  It is easy to get entangled in the trap of self-criticism when comparing oneself to other people in terms of fitness.  This is not a battle that should ever be fought, however—fitness should always be a battle between who you were yesterday and who you want to be today.

Everywhere you look, someone that lives a similar fitness-based lifestyle will have something that you don’t.  Bigger arms, better abs, or a better mile time; whatever it may be, it is unlikely that you will be the best at every single aspect of fitness.  That’s oaky though—you’re not meant to be the best at everything!  When you begin comparing yourself to others, your battle of personal fitness and well-being is already lost.  By focusing on being as good as others, you are losing sight of the most important goal of all—being the best that YOU can be!

It is easy to fall victim to comparing yourself to others, especially with the recent explosion of social media.  Instagram and Twitter accounts (predominately “fitspo’s”) display pictures and videos of people of fitness that seem nearly perfect.  While it is fine to follow, admire, and even aspire to reach the level these athletes are on (I do it all the time), there is a fine line between using these accounts as motivation and putting yourself down for not being on the level of these athletes.

The easiest way to focus on becoming your best self in fitness is to set achievable goals.  If you run an eight-minute mile, set a goal to run a seven-minute mile.  If you bench-press 225 pounds, set a goal to reach a 250 pound bench-press.  It will take time, dedication, and hard work to reach these goals, but you will be surprised at how fast you reach them (believe me!).  After you achieve your first set of goals, set new ones—this is the cycle of continual self-betterment that should be employed in your fitness lifestyle.  Most importantly, goal setting forces you to focus on yourself and your personal progress.  You will quickly realize that you are no longer worried about being better than the person on the treadmill next to you—you will be trying to be better than you were yesterday!

When you decide that fitness is a personal battle, and not a battle against everyone else, your fitness experience will become noticeably happier and more fulfilling.  Fitness should no longer be about being jealous of a person that the six-pack that you want; it should be about the encouragement of self and of others.  Compliment people that are working hard and making changes—they are fighting the same battle against themselves that you are fighting.  Make fitness communal; do not make it a competition.

Each day when you step foot in the gym, make a conscious effort to focus on yourself and the personal goals you have set for yourself.  Devote all of the energy you spend throughout your workout to the achievement of the goals, and to becoming a better person than you were yesterday.  By doing this, you will find that fitness is no longer a competition between you and others; fitness is a battle with yourself, and the goal is transforming into your best self.  When you step into the gym this week, remember one thing: it is You vs. You.