We often compare ourselves to people we admire and want to be like. But instead of making us better athletes, comparing ourselves to others may slow our progress down.
“What’s holding you back from getting into the best shape of your life?”
We ask this question from all the people who join the 12 Minute Athlete community. We want to help you to truly unlock your potential, so knowing what your biggest obstacles are is important.
Unsurprisingly, the most common answer we get is time. But that problem should be easy to fix now that you know that 12 minutes a day is all you need to get into awesome shape.
But there’s another, very important thing that keeps many people from getting fit, strong, and healthy. It’s comparing themselves to others.
Why Do We Compare Ourselves to Other People?
We compare ourselves to people who we admire and want to be like. Here are the two things people usually compare:
Most often, people compare their looks to other people’s appearance. We want to be as fit, muscular, skinny, lean, or whatever it is that you desire, just like this other person.
For example, there’s probably no person in the fitness world who hasn’t admired someone else’s abs. Achieving a six pack seems to be something that almost everybody is after. But it could also be nicer legs, better skin, prettier hair, more muscular arms, or anything else that we think someone else has better than we do.
As athletes, we also desire other people’s skills, strength, speed, or any other characteristics that make us better athletes.
You may compare yourself to someone who can do a perfect handstand. Despite trying hard, you don’t seem to get anywhere, and you may put yourself down for that.
Similarly, when you see people posting their times for the 100 Burpee Challenge on Facebook, you may get intimidated to see that someone was able to do a hundred burpees in six minutes, while you could barely finish yours in under sixteen…
But it’s important to remember that this is not a reason to beat yourself up. Just because you can’t do something now doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do it forever. You just have to let the comparison go and keep working on your goals.
Why Comparing Yourself to Others Is Not Helping You
If you tend to constantly compare yourself to others, try to remember: You do you. Stop thinking about others.
It may be easier said than done, but that’s really the only way to make progress.
Because if you constantly keep comparing yourself to those who are leaner, fitter, stronger, and faster than you, you may end up actually significantly slowing down your progress.
Here’s what happens:
You May Throw in the Towel and Not Even Try
It may seem that others are so far ahead of you that you’ll never be able to get where they are anyway—so why even bother to try? But negative self-talk like that makes you feel that you’re worthless, behind everyone else, and as a result, you end up giving up before you even start.
But you have to change that way of thinking. Our thoughts directly affect the way we act. You’re not a failure just because you’re not where someone else is right now.
Know that Results Take Time
If you want to achieve some specific skills or gain the type of strength that someone else you compare yourself to has, you have to work for it.
Nothing happens overnight. And that person you compare yourself to? They had to work hard to be able to do those things too.
You can go ahead and type in the hashtag #pullups on Instagram right now and find thousands of photos and videos of people doing various types pull ups, for example with a heavy kettlebell hanging from their waist…
Yes, they’re badass. But it’s not reasonable to compare yourself to those people if you can’t do a single pull up yet.
We all have to start somewhere. What’s important is that you don’t give up.
You May Not Know Anything About Those People
It’s especially easy to compare yourself to all the people you see in social media. It’s rare that anyone posts pictures of their bad workout, failed skill attempt, bad food choices, or a super low day when they just didn’t feel like doing anything.
But it’s important to remember that we all have days like this. Nobody’s life is always rainbows and butterflies, so don’t compare your life to someone else’s seemingly perfect life.
The truth is that we don’t usually see behind the scenes and we don’t really know what those people’s lives actually look like. Instead of comparing, try to live your everyday the best way you can.
Know That All Bodies are Different
It’s also important to remember that some things are physically way harder to achieve for some people than they are for others.
For example, let’s talk about abs again. If you want to be able to see your six pack, you’ll have to reduce the fat layer on them. But even if you diet like crazy, you may still not be able to see the same super cut definition that someone else has.
Whether your abs pop easily or not at all is largely genetic. Trying to drop your body fat super low to get there can be pretty unhealthy decision.
You don’t have to have those abs that your friend has! Take care of your body the best possible way, but keep in mind that what’s achievable and even easy for some people can be extremely difficult for others.
As much as we always encourage you to never give up, let’s be honest here: there are certain things that we will probably never achieve.
For example, you may admire Olympic gymnasts for doing awesome flips and swings on the rings. Their strength, skills and power are awesome and you’d really, really love to be like them.
But you have to be realistic and understand that most of these people started training before they even started school. If you started ring training in your twenties or later, it’s not realistic that you will ever get to their level or one day go to the Olympics.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should give up on your dreams and decide already beforehand that you can’t do things that you’d like. Just be realistic with what’s actually achievable and what’s not.
Keep Being Inspired
While constantly comparing yourself to others isn’t healthy or useful most of the time, this is not the same thing as being inspired by someone. It’s great to have people who inspire you! Positive examples make us better athletes.
On the other hand, comparing yourself to others may slow down your progress. Even worse, it may make you want to throw the towel in too early and not even try to unlock your true potential.
Keep your goals in mind, work hard and don’t let other people’s achievements intimidate you!
Kersten Kimura is a NASM PT, kettlebell enthusiast and a fan of HIIT workouts. After relocating from chilly Estonia to California, she has taken full advantage of the area and works out outdoors whenever possible. You can find her throwing around her sandbag or swinging kettlebells at local parks, or sprinting along the gorgeous Bay Trail.
She also loves to learn about nutrition and put together healthy meals.
Find out more about Kersten here and sign up for her newsletter to get her SMART Fats ebook or six awesome, fat burning workouts along with seven simple dinner recipes.