Being competitive is a tricky subject. We receive many conflicting messages on competition and whether it’s a good thing. For example:
- If women are competitive with each other, they’re called catty.
- If all the kids at the race are given a green participation ribbon, some say this makes society weak and celebrates the mediocre.
- We love the competition of sports like the Olympics and the Super Bowl.
- Some say when we compete with others, we lose our sense of self and focus too much on the competition.
We could debate the pros and cons all day. For my purpose in this article, I’m viewing competition from the lens of women and fitness. After all, that’s what I do here at GirlPower Fitness. And my mission with my gym is to make all women feel comfortable, strong and accomplished. I am keenly aware how uncomfortable and intimidating gyms can be. I seek to offer the opposite: a safe place where women can get stronger and healthier.
So is it ever healthy to be competitive when it comes to women and fitness?
This brings me to a testimonial I received from a loyal client. She wrote, “When you walk into GirlPower Fitness, the only person that you compete with is yourself.”
Ah ha! Bingo. Let’s discuss how we can better ourselves as women by engaging in healthy competition… with ourselves.
How to Compete with Yourself and Win
1. Track your strength training progress. When you lift weights, it’s so satisfying to see the strength gains you’re making. I suggest working within a low rep (8-12 reps)/high weight zone. For example, let’s say that I do bicep curls and I can start out at 8 reps at 5 lbs. Next time I work out, I’m able to do 10 reps. And then I eventually work up to 12 reps. Once 12 reps at 5 lbs becomes relatively easy, I pick up an 8 lb weight and do 8 reps. And you keep working your way up.
- Here’s a free spreadsheet that you can save to your computer and use. Note that the 2nd tab at the bottom categorizes exercises by day.
- There are several free apps to track your progress, such as Fitness Point, FitBod and Gym Log.
2. Wear a cardio fitness tracker. With today’s technology in Fit Bits and Apple Watches, there’s no shortage of ways to log any and all data about your workouts. It can be overwhelming but at a baseline level, you can track minutes of exercise per week, calories burned or distance you ran. These metrics can give you a boost if you’re having an off-day and don’t feel like your progress is where you want it to be. Look back at how far you’ve come and you’ll feel better about yourself.
3. Add one new healthy habit per week. It’s best to think in terms of baby steps when it comes to improving your health and fitness. If you take an all-or-nothing approach, it can be overwhelming and lead to a higher chance you won’t stick with it. So just add one new healthy habit per week! Here are a few suggestions:
- Make sure you eat a serving of fruit every day (and then add vegetables).
- Make dinner at home at least 5 days per week instead of eating out.
- Eat breakfast every day.
- Cut out the cola.
- Only eat dessert once per week.
- Get 180 minutes of exercise per week (30 minutes per day, 6 days per week.)
4. Give the best you have today. Let me explain what I mean by this… Give the best that YOU have today. Not your friend. Not that girl in the front row at bootcamp. Not the image in your head. YOU. There’s nothing to achieve by comparing yourself to anyone else. Next, give the best you have TODAY. Today may be a terrible day: you didn’t sleep well, you’re bloated, your boss yelled at you, whatever the case – you’re not feeling it today. Okay, fine. Who cares if you don’t beat your personal record today? At least you worked out and didn’t let that crappy day defeat you or define you. And, finally, give the BEST you have today. Listen, if you’re going to go through the trouble of getting your tennis shoes on, driving to the gym, choosing to use your time for exercise, then give your all. Your best today may not be 100%. But if you can walk away knowing you left all you had on that floor, then what else can you ask of yourself?
Hold your head high and know that you’re trying to be a little better today than yesterday. And if you fail? That’s okay, too.