Resisting the urge to compare your weight loss and fitness accomplishments against others is a big challenge for many women over a certain age on a fitness journey. Often, women getting into marathon running or bodybuilding put up “perfect” body images where they can regularly see them. I think doing this is a tortuous experience. I do understand they are simply searching for motivators that will keep them focused on their fitness quest.
But I use a different set of motivators.
Here are my suggestions on how to stay with your fitness journey:
• Keep it real. Don’t compare yourself with others.
The hardest part of weight loss and getting fit is to not compare your progress to others. As soon as you start focusing on what you want, it’s normal to start seeing everything related to your dream popping up around you. With weight loss and fitness this tends to be the people around you at home, others working out at the gym, coworkers, and strangers at the produce isle in the grocery store.
Everybody reacts to a dietary change and fitness routines differently. My pushups may make different muscle changes on me than your pushups do on you. But it’s tough to remember when someone loses twice as much weight and gains more muscle than you in the same amount of time.
We have all had moments when comparisons become a negative thought:
Why can she lose weight/get strong/run 10 miles/swim 10 laps so fast and I can’t?
• Keep it balanced. Don’t look at time.
• We stop what has been working (ebeit at a slower pace) and go back to our old, bad habits.
• We try something new, but not the healthy one.
Poor health decision-making happened to me when my weight loss and fitness plateaued four times during the year I lost 80-plus pounds.
Each time I questioned whether the marathon work I was doing was worth it. I’d slip up with an old bad eating habit, but instead of allowing a setback to take over, I chose to get back on my plan and keep going.
But it seemed like my dream was taking FOREVER!
At least that‘s what I thought while I was struggling with my healthy diet and fitness routine. Now that I’m a couple of years into it all, and I’ve competed in several marathons and triathons–it doesn’t seem like it took very long at all.
• Keep it praiseful. Support yourself by congratulating your milestones–no matter how small.
Remain positive even when you meet that newly-fit 45+ woman at the gym who informs you, she’s now able to buy her jeans in the single digit sizes. And to rub salt in the wound–maybe it’s the jean size that’s been your longtime goal.
Keep in mind that you cannot tell by looking at someone what kind of metabolism they possess, what drastic diet or work-out plan they might be trying, or what supplements they are taking.
Congratulate her! You’ve been sweating at your cycling and running routines, and who better than you know how hard it is to stay motivated?
All you can do is look in the mirror and promise yourself that you will treat yourself the best that you can today. Then stick with your health and triathlete fitness plan as proof.
Celebrate your milestones and keep an eye on your results. There will always be setbacks no matter what dreams you are working to achieve.
It’s been two years since I reached my marathon fitness goals, and right now at this very moment I find myself struggling with weight fluctuations which are making my workouts more difficult. I can pinpoint the decisions I’ve made that have allowed these new pounds to creep their way back on to my body. But I’ve learned if start now to compare myself to another triathlete who is steadfast on their marathon fitness plan and then beat myself up over my struggle with my plan, I will be tempted by an avalanche of negative health decisions.
• Keep it sharing. No matter what.
There is an amazing habit I’ve learned by being a fitness coach and reminding others not to compare their journey with other people getting it. Encouraging other health and fitness seekers will help them when they need it most.
Last week, I overheard a client mention she wasn’t going to track a “cheat” meal until she heard a voice in her head say “Track everything. It’s a motivator for the future and helps you learn from your past habits.” This was a remark that a fellow fitness buddy previously said to her, and she was able to draw upon this statement when she needed it most.
It takes a lot to go up to a friend, or even better a stranger, and offer them a compliment or assurance. You’ll never know when they may need to use what you’ve said to help keep them focused on their fitness journey.
I have a confidence challenge for you this week: Look in the bathroom mirror and tell yourself “I love you.”
Then keep it going fitness dreamers.