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Comparison Is Holding You Back

When I first became a dad, everything changed. As a gym owner, I was used to working out whenever I wanted, for however long I wanted. I was used to doing everything on my own schedule — sleeping, eating, cooking, traveling, etc. 

Then, my wife and I took a six month old baby into our home from foster care. It turned everything upside down! Suddenly, every second of my day revolved around this tiny human and his needs. Quality sleep was rare. Workout time was scraped together at the odds and ends of my coaching schedule. Making healthy food seemed like a monumental task. I was basically a zombie.

And yet, I still refused to give myself any grace or understanding.

I felt sluggish, weak, and unmotivated in my workouts. A few months before I was in the best shape of my life. Even thought my life circumstances COMPLETELY changed, I continued to compare myself: to my past self, to my non-parent workout buddies, to the people on social media.

“Everyone is hitting PRs all the time, and crushing these workouts! I should be able to keep up! I just need to try harder.”

Anyone on the outside looking in would have said…OF COURSE you aren’t hitting personal bests right now! You buffoon! You’re running on fumes.

I entered a completely different life stage, but didn’t recognize it. I didn’t take time to think about what success would look like in that new life stage, and it sucked the life out of me for a while.

Eventually, painfully, I figured out that it was OK not to crush every workout. It was OK to get take out once in a while. It’s OK to go for a walk instead of doing sprint intervals. Comparing myself now to my own past self then, or my friends, was completely unfair. I felt good about myself again, because I changed my expectations based on the situation. Some days I felt great, and I could really go for it. Other days, I needed to take it really easy and just move.

Friends, most of us are in a new life stage than we were in February of this year. Life has changed. The rules have changed. Our work, stress, workout, and food habits have changed. It is imperative for your mental and physical health to stop comparing yourself to how you were before the pandemic. Or, comparing yourself to your workout buddies. 

Take some time to think through what success looks like to you. If you can barely find time or energy to work out, this is probably not the time to keep trying to add 50lbs to your back squat. Maybe your new goal needs to just be, “Check the box.” In other words, just do a workout. Any workout. Any dedicated movement time. Take what your body gives you and don’t try to force anything. Right now, that’s as much as most of us can expect from ourselves. And that’s OK.