I have written posts on here about working to better myself. I have read blogs and posters that remind me “I am my own competition”, and all fitness motivation sites urge me to be better today than I was yesterday. The quest to be a better person is exciting. The belief that I can work to improve myself, my situation, and my body each day is motivating and inspiring. But let’s be honest here for a moment – this “fluff” is at the same time, FRUSTRATING!
In order to believe I am capable of being a better person today I have to believe that I am a good person. The desire to self-motivate implies I have enough esteem and self love to convince myself I am good enough to be better. Not everyone has self love. Many of us are filled with self-doubt, shame, regret, and disrespect ourselves.
Decreased self-esteem keeps us small. It keeps us from pursuing our true potential. The problem with self-motivating tips and encouragement that uses lines like, “I am my own competition” is these do not work if I do not like who I am and I do not see much to strive for. We are very self-critical and it is likely you judge yourself, your behaviors, your thoughts, and your body. You see what is wrong. You see what needs to improve. Sure you see others improving their bodies and their lives but because you are unsure of what you can do, you do not see your potential.
People that self-evaluate and seek to improve self have a tendency to also focus on weaknesses. I am going to get a bit personal here. I am 9 weeks into my prep for a bodybuilding (bikini) competition. The season has commenced and many have already competed. I follow several accounts on social media as a means to motivate myself, and I witness my inspirations compete and succeed. I see their physique and compare my body to their body. When I do this I think, “I am not prepared” because I see they look better than me. (Please don’t see this as a means to obtain sympathy or encouragement – I am being really honest here – we all think these things – many just won’t admit it). I see their legs and then I see my legs, my greatest weakness. My legs is where I hold my body fat. My upper body is lean and vascular however rather than focus on my best area, I focus on my worst. For so long I used this weakness as my motivation to work hard in the gym and lift harder in order to train and shape my legs. Sadly I started to dread leg day and I started to feel weaker in my legs, rather than stronger. This only caused further frustration. As I continued to use self-talk and encourage myself that “I can improve myself”, “I am the barrier”, and “I am my own competition” my legs slowly started to look better.
The problem starts when I compare myself to others. In the fitness world there are fit and beautiful people everywhere, it is hard to NOT compare myself to them. I tell you this to let you know that, first of all, you are normal. Secondly even fit people, people that compete, see weakness and compare their weaknesses to others. Lastly do not be discouraged if you struggle with self-motivation and pushing yourself to the next level. I understand. We compare ourselves to others but many fitness motivators discourage us from this. They ask us to see our own strengths and improve our weaknesses. Yes this is true, and yes it works, but why not use others to motivate us as well?
As I pour over fitness pages for encouragement and motivation I see girls with well-defined quads. They boast of their ability to lift heavy and their ability to break personal records (lift heavier than they have been able to lift previously). I want to be like them, at least have their quads, so why not lift like them? If I want to achieve a goal that another person has successfully achieved I am going to do what they do. I am not ashamed to say I am a copy cat. If they can increase how much they dead lift, then so can I. Once I started to think this way I walked into my next leg training session with encouragement and motivation. I was able to lift heavier and even set personal records.
I became comfortable with myself, at least comfortable enough in the work I was putting into my training, and stopped pushing myself. I needed to see my weaknesses compared to others and I needed to use that motivate myself to work harder. We need a challenge, at times, otherwise we become complacent. But if we are going to change and improve we need a challenge, and we need things to be hard. Losing weight, maintaining weight, living a healthy lifestyle is NOT easy. If it were easy obesity would not be considered an epidemic. Just like any thing in life we reach a period where our motivation will decrease. No one has 100% motivation 100% of the time. I encourage you to work to be a better you. I encourage you to focus on how you can improve. You are your own competition. But I also encourage you to work to be better than your motivation. Seek people who motivate and encourage you and then work to be better than them. Compete with yourself but know that it is OK to compete with others too. They say there is only 1 winner. If that is true I want that to be me! Therefore I will work harder to be better than myself and better than my competition. If you want to win and be successful I encourage you to work harder to be your best self but also work harder to beat me!