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Expectations and Comparisons in Fitness

One day during the Rio Olympics, I was surfing Facebook and came across a funny post from a National Level Olympic Weightlifter, Pat Damiano, which touched on the idea of comparisons in fitness:

I realized today that I’ve reached a big moment in my weightlifting career. With the weights I can lift today, I would be able to win gold at the Olympics if I was a 138 pound woman.”

While what Pat is saying here is pretty funny, and really brings to light just how ridiculously strong and talented Olympic level weightlifters are, it also makes me think about expectations and how comparisons can set you up for failure in your fitness journey.

The social media culture we have developed in our society today has a lot of positives and negatives, but perhaps my biggest issue comes with the presentation of a “perfect” life. In fitness, we see this through the constantly upbeat, fun, record breaking posts. Granted, it is a lot more fun to show a video of yourself completing your first muscle up, or setting a personal record on your back squat, than it is to share a day when you found it difficult to even get out of bed. It’s not that these successes shouldn’t be shared and celebrated, but rather that we all need to view these with the understanding that a great number of setbacks happened before these triumphs.

Not every day at your CrossFit class is going to feel like your best day at the office. There are many times during my own training when the last thing I want to do is another deadlift, burpee, or wallball. However, it is really during these times that we grow both as athletes and as people. Finding the intrinsic motivation to push yourself through a challenging workout, even when all you want to do is quit, is a microcosm for getting through a tough day at your job, a rough patch in a relationship, or any other obstacle this game of life throws your way.

So, don’t compare yourself to CrossFit games competitors, or even your workout buddy. The thing I love most about CrossFit is that your expectations and comparisons should be immensely personal. It is all about improving upon the person and athlete you were the day, week, month, and year prior. It is often very difficult to see how far you’ve come in your own fitness journey, but if you take the time to sit down and do a comparison between the you from one year ago, and the you now, I think you’d be pleasantly surprised by what you see. Remember, expectations and comparisons only work when it is you striving to be the best version of yourself possible. So stop comparing to anyone else, because they aren’t your goal.

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