Is comparison stealing your joy? Liz Paul of PriorFatGirl.com leads this small group discussion of the perils and pitfalls of trying to “Keep up with the Joneses” when it comes to weight loss and fitness achievements – and brainstorm ways to focus on being your own best self.
Group congregates in a small circle, eat nuts, do a little dance and introduce the “Lovely liveblogger”!
Liz: I am Liz Paul, I am a blogger at PriorFatGirl.com. I’m from Minnesota and I really began my weight loss journey in January of 2012. Before that I would have the “I’ll start on Monday” kind of dieting lifestyle.
I started with Weight Watchers and lost 80 pounds, then I got on a plateau, and then I got pregnant, so now I’m gaining weight – which is a whole other emotional issue, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. We’re here to talk about “Stop Keeping up with the Joneses”. So, real quick, raise your hand if you’ve ever compared yourself to another person.
(All raise hands)
As a way of introducing this, I wanna tell you guys two things about how I compare myself to other people along they way here.
(Bloggers share food) Audience comment: How many discussions have you been to that had a Voodoo Doughnut? We can scratch that off the bucket list!
So two things I wanted to share about comparison: When I started my journey, like most people I decided I needed to start running. I was the kid in elementary school who last always in the mile; I never, ever ran the whole thing. So I started running and ran my first mile ever. 33! It took a while, but I got there. As so as I’m doing all of this people said, “I really wan to run a 5k with you”.
And I would say “Yes”. And I would say this to my father who runs 5ks for fun – not like 5ks where you actually go to the race but where you go for fun. Or to my sister, or various folks, and every time I would get to a race where I had to run with another person I hated it.
Audience interjection: Throw the doughnut away!!
So, I hated running with other people – people who loved me and cared for me wanted nothing but the best for me. The entire time I was running with someone else the track in my head was saying, “I really need to stop and walk – they can run, and I can’t do that.” And I feel like crap. Whereas if I was by myself I thought, “I am the shit!” I was totally powerful and strong and in control. The moment I have to run with someone else I am totally Debbie downer; I learned that about myself. Well, here’s the thing: I will do races with people so long as you run to your pace and I run at mine. I really don’t want you to run next to me. I don’t! It’s nothing personal.
So that’s my first comparison story; my second comparison story has to do with my husband. My husband had gastric bypass surgery last April – 15 months ago – he’s lost 180 pounds, so he’s down from 405 to 220, and obviously lost a lot of weight really quickly. I was going to Weight Watchers, and I’d come home and say, “I lost a pound and a half this week!” He’d be like, “I lost 6!”. And he didn’t even say that, but I would ask “How are you doing?” – because, you know, I wanted to be a supportive wife. And then I would go ugh, I hate that! I’m so happy for him, but I hated it.
I had to find a way to get past that so I could cheer him on without sabotaging myself. Because we were on very different journeys: He had a tool that was helping him, I had a tool that was helping me, but we were not in the same place, we were not the same people with the same metabolism, and ultimately it took me a couple of months as he was losing weight really rapidly, to realize that’s his journey. It is my job to cheer for him, it is his job to cheer for me, but it is not our job to do the same thing at the same time. So that’s where I have come from.
What I’d love to do as a way to get started, is to have everyone introduce yourself. We’re not a huge group, so just your name and your blog. I’d like you guys to say one weight loss or fitness goal that you’ve seen someone else do that you really wish you could do.
Audience: All of them!
Liz: All of them is an acceptable answer, yes!
Margo from Nacho Mama’s Blog: I will say box jumps. You notice I’m not in Crossfit right now. (Laughter)
Kate, The Kate Mixes: It’s hard not to just say all of them. The other day I saw a comment on Instagram that said “I’ve only lost x number of pounds in x number of months” and looked at that and was like, you’ve only done that? Because that’s exactly what I wanna do.
Tiffany, The Tiffany Project: I would like to run a half marathon, at whatever weight.
Dani, Weight Off My Shoulders: There’s so many! I’d like to do a half ironman.
Sue, Mrs. Fatss: I wanna do pullups.
Kris, KrisGetsHealthy.com: I’d like to get under 250 pounds. I’ve been there since I was probably in the 5th grade. I got to 250, plateaued, cut the calories, right back up, 300. I’d like to see 240 on the scale. Everybody else seems to be able to do it; I’d like to get there.
Karen, Toronto Girl West: I’d like to run an injury-free half marathon. I’ve done a half marathon and other people seem to be able to run and not end up with mangled legs; I’d really like to do that.
Charlotte, Journey of 26.2 Miles: Speed is what I feel like everyone else has. Everyone can run faster than I can!
Denise, Do You Have That in my Size?: I’m so vain – none of my goals are fitness related – I want a flat stomach. I’ve been 115 pounds at one point and still thought I was fat because I didn’t have a flat stomach; I’ll know I have made it when I can do that.
Dacia, Run. Ride. Repeat: I have the opposite of (Denise’s goal) I wanna be OK with not having a flat stomach. I wanna be, like, “Oh, I don';t have to be that fake airbrushed person.”
Laura, no blog: My goal is to be able to keep my appointments with myself at the gym consistently.
Emily, Big Life, Little Blog: When I started my blog my goal was to lose weight, now my goal is shifting to have more self acceptance and not be so rigid with my weight loss and be more focused on over all fitness and health. I was able to lose 90 pounds, but I’ve gained 40 back. I’ve been exploring for about 6 months why that’s happening, but I think it was because once I lost the 90 pounds I had more body hatred than I ever did at 350 pounds. This weekend has been really helpful at pulling the realization of that goal out from the inner depths of my brain.
Nicole, Beauty And The Bypass: I would love to have the fitness fitness level and confidence to do roller derby.
Kay Lynn, Weight Chronicles: I’ve joined Weight Watchers [Previously] and I would like to get to goal once.
Lena, Way 2 Good Life: I like bike riding and I really wanna do 100 miles, because it’s not a race – whenever you make it, you make it – and I wanna look good in my shorts.
Tracy, not a blogger: If you had asked me this question prior to this weekend I would have said “Running”, but after goal class I think maybe I’m not a runner. Now my goal is just to be OK with me – whatever that means.
Melissa, The Daily Mel: My goal is to get to virgin fat. I’ve been down to 198 pounds, the lowest I’ve been in my adult life, and I want to get to 197 and get virgin fat for a while.
Nikki, Bariatric Foodie: Anybody who knows me knows that I have absolutely no confidence problems. I had gastric bypass 5 years ago, and the way I look at it is this: (Gestures to arm to demonstrate difference in inches) I’ve lost that and and with it I lost the self confidence issues. If I can get through this process of working on myself, going to the gym, making an appointment and a commitment to myself then you know what? I really just need to be who I am, own what I am and am NOT and carry on with it. So far as my goal, I watch lots of music videos with my daughter, I love the choreography routines and my all time favorite is Beyonce’s “Who Runs The World” – I wish she would videotape me [Practicing these routines] because she’d have blackmail material for the next 5 years while I’m trying to do this routine. That is my ultimate goal, I want to execute and perfectly do that dance routine.
Dani, Run Daniella Run: My goal is to know that I’m a runner but don’t want to run marathons and not feel bad about that.
Carol, not a blogger: Super inspired by all this – I’m a slow runner and my goal is to age gracefully and accept that I’m not going to be a 25 year old runner. (Applause)
Liz: OK, so I wanted to know everyone’s names but I also had a secret purpose with that. Who here heard something from someone else and thought, “Oh, that’s really good, I wish I could do that?”
When Charlotte said she was a slow runner, who thought, “I bet she’s faster than me?”
Does the minute mile matter? No? So why do we do it to ourselves? Why, in a group who are all supportive and love each other do our brains think that “I am not X, or Y?” What is it about this journey that makes all of that so hard?
Audience: Aren’t you supposed to tell us that? (Laughter)
A round-table discussion follows this, with each participant sharing their own struggles and triumphs.
Stories Shared by Participants:
“When I go to the gym, I know what’s going to be most motivating to me is to look at all the treadmills and get next to the fastest person because I’m competitive. Whenever I go into a fitness situation I look for people going hard, because I wanna go as hard or harder – that’s what motivates me. Not to say that I’m gonna beat you or do better than you but that I can do that, too. I don’t know whether that’s healthy or unhealthy.”
“We learned goal setting at last session, and when I set goals I’m my own worst enemy. I came from a family that pushed hard with academics, and once I started being a part of the health and fitness tribe, everyone was doing marathons and half marathons; and I felt like I was less than if I didn’t do that too. Someone said in the goal setting session, Never judge a fish by its ability to fly! Just because someone else does doesn’t mean I have to. I’m 49 years old and 100 pounds overweight – I’m not going to run out tomorrow and do a half marathon and I need to embrace that.”
“The only person I can compare myself to is the person I was yesterday – and maybe it’s not a fitness thing. Maybe I gave 3 hugs today or maybe I helped this person get across the street. I try to find something that made me feel a little better about myself today.”
“For me, comparing myself to myself is a danger zone. I compare myself to where I was before I got fit, which keeps me from pushing myself.”
“I started working out 3 months doing Pilates. I was always biggest in the room and I’m still the biggest. I started only doing 2 pound weights and now I can do 5 pound weights – I can do this now, and I don’t compare anymore.”
“I don’t want to say anything to myself that my daughter or son will pick up on – I don’t want to put in their head that you’re supposed to do that to yourself.”
“I’m a formerly obese person who is the mother of overweight and obese children. People have these assumptions about what big people do and what big people have as habits. The thing that galls me is people make all these assumptions before they even meet my daughter. She is the healthiest eater in the whole darn house and people have already made judgements before they even talk to her based on appearance.”
“Murphy’s law: Where I can be in a good place and some nasty person will say something and I have to start all over again.”
“It doesn’t matter if I’m in a Weight Watchers meeting or yoga class – I’m always the biggest person in the room. I don’t know how I can move forward unless I accept myself now. I am so f’n tired of looking at my food choices and making it a punishment.”
“I do have confidence by no shortage of compliments from my family. It continued when I started to lose weight, because I continued to believe what they’ve told me my whole life. I put status updates and post things like walking by a mirror and thinking, ‘Damn, you so fine!’ I have an opportunity to have a semi-public voice. It’s OK to look in a mirror and think you look good!”
- Know yourself and utilize the tools that work for you
- Sometimes you have to put on the blinders and not focus on the fitness levels of the people around you.
- Attitude is 87 percent of what people think of you – walk into a room with confidence, don’t act like you owe anyone an apology for being there.
- Attitude doesn’t always come naturally – fake it until you make it. Allow yourself to be someone you haven’t been before.
- Running philosophy: Last to cross the finish line is better than not finishing; not finishing is better than not starting.
- If you’re not making progress, what can you change to make that progress? But don’t feel guilty about not making progress.
- After setbacks, let go of the fear of failure – “Why make the effort, I’ll just regain the weight?” You were a different person then than you are now.
- Create your own support group – if you can’t believe in yourself, let people believe in you.
- You can’t put too much power in the past – whether you were thinner or heavier, ultimately it’s the past.
- If you don’t accept a compliment, you are devaluing that person’s opinion.
- Say “No!” out loud to negative self-talk!
Liz: One of the problems with comparison is it can be both good and bad. There’s jealously – comparing your present with someone else’s present. “So and so is running a marathon but I can’t at this particular point in my life, therefore I am less than this person.”
But then there is the comparison of inspiration, when we see someone accomplishing something amazing and say, “Someday I want to get there.” It’s a comparison, but it is forward-thinking – your future compared to someone’s present.
Comparison is not about the other person ever – it’s not about what they’re accomplishing or not, it’s all about you.
You guys are all awesome and an inspiration. I am here for hugs. Thank you guys for coming here and sharing!
(Session ends with hugs!)
This session was captured by Beeb Ashcroft of Contest-Corner.com.