The Comparison Trap

One of the fitness writers I really like is reluctant to post her numbers much.  You know, how much weight she’s lifting.  With her position as a fitness educator, it makes a lot of sense.  Either you’d look at them and be too intimidated to want to start lifting, or as an experienced lifter might say, “She ain’t all that.”

I posted my numbers recently to a board where exercise was under discussion and got called a powerlifter, or had people really surprised I could lift that much, or compared themselves and what they could do to what I am doing and feeling discouraged –especially when they find out how much I weigh.

I like the ego boo of “Damn, you’re strong!”  I’ll admit that.  But I’m not by any stretch of the imagination a powerlifter.  Nor should anyone look at my own weights and be discouraged.

The comparison thing can be just gawdawful stupid.  I do it in the gym, myself.  What’s worse, I don’t tend to compare myself to the female lifters, I compare myself to the men.

I was lifting this morning and there was one other person lifting there, too.  This guy really was a powerlifter.  He was working out with 250lbs on the bench press.  I felt apologetic about my pitiful 70 lbs on my own bench.  Dumb?  Of course.

Chances are slim, indeed, that I’ll ever be working out regularly with 250 lbs benching.  Well, okay, let’s rephrase that.  That’s not even a goal for me.   There are women who can bench 200+ and most of them are professional bodybuilders or weightlifters.   (These are the drug-free stats.  There are enhanced women who lift more than twice that).

For ordinary fitness (rather than as a competitive athlete), comparing yourself to anything but your last (recent) workout is absurd.

I had a martial arts instructor once who put it this way, “Don’t worry about whether or not you’re better than the guy next to you.   Worry about whether or not you’re better than yesterday.”


2 Replies to “The Comparison Trap”

  1. Pingback: On being “fit” and not « Living ~400lbs

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