I'm OK With Last Place

Crossfit has several “hero” workouts that are done in honor of fallen soldiers.  We did “Murph” in January on the day the movie Lone Survivor came out.  It consists of a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, 300 squats and finishes by running another mile.  In the group of us that did the workout that day, I finished last.  Dead last.  And it was great.  I made note of it in my journal, I celebrated that I could even finish the workout. It took me just under an hour.  I was the slowest, but I did it!  There were times that finishing last would have driven me crazy, and I would have beaten myself up about it.  But, not that day.

Finishing in last place is not something most of us enjoy.  No one sets out to do something the slowest, or to be the worst at it.  But, I have had to find a place of joy in being last. I have realized that I am not competing with the guy next to me at the gym, but I am competing against what is my best.  Am I pushing myself?  Am I working as hard as I can? If the answer is yes, then I have to be ok with the fact that my best may mean I finish after everyone else. I can only be the best version of me that I can be.  I cannot worry about the people around me. They may be faster or stronger than me.  And for a long time, most of them were, and a lot of them still are.  

I’m sure I am not the only person who compares myself to others.  As an adult, I always knew I was the “fat one” among most people I knew.  I had not always been that way, but as the weight piled on through the years, it became what I considered to be my most glaring fault.  I love to people watch and my habit became a sick game of “Am I fatter than her?”  I would sit at the food court in the mall, or watch as people came into church, and I would look at the heavy women, and wonder “Am I fatter than her?”  I knew there weren’t a lot of women walking around that were my size.  So when I saw someone who was large, I would wonder if that is what I looked like, or was I even bigger?

When I got to boot camp and was no longer living my “normal” life, I realized the comparisons were still going on. Not only were they in my mind, but now they were also based on our workouts and how the show’s producers perceived us. I wondered: “Am I going to be the slowest? Is she stronger than me?  Is she losing weight faster than me? Does production like me?  Is my episode going to be as good as theirs?”  And it was driving me crazy.  I became so caught up in worrying about the workouts, the interviews, and who they were filming that I was making myself anxious and losing much needed sleep. So I began to pray about it.  I realized that I had to stop comparing myself to everyone else. Galatians 6:4 says, “Rather let each one examine his own work. Then he will have pride in himself alone and not in comparison to anyone else.”

It wasn’t easy to stop, but I began to find peace in knowing that I needed to “examine my own work”.  I was not going to succeed or enjoy the process if I was worried about everyone else. I will never be a better version of them.  I could only be the best version of me.  I needed to stop trying to be better than them and become better than my current self. When I did that it became so much easier to enjoy my personal victories.  It became so much easier to encourage others without feeling the pressure to be faster or stronger than them. 

Was I the fastest girl at boot camp? No. Did I finish our Crossfit workouts first? No. Was I losing the most weight? No. But I was running as hard as I could. I was finishing our workouts the best that I could.  I was losing weight consistently in a healthy way.  And that was the best I could do.

Outside of the show, I struggled with comparisons too. So many times I see posts on social media from women who talk about their newest organic, Paleo, from scratch homemade recipes. They pin pins of incredible cakes and homemade pastries they bake.  They always have a newly organized drawer or closet.  And I’m thinking “I just want to take a shower today and hopefully have one clean pair of sweats to put on when I get out.” (Which will probably come from a basket of clothes that didn’t get put away).  Why is it that getting the clothes put away is the hardest part?

Comparison does not allow us to celebrate our own victories or celebrate with others.  It makes life competitive when it shouldn’t be.  When we compare, we are belittling our own achievements.  Not to mention the achievements of others. I think many women feel like we’re competing for “Mom of the Year”, when really some days just having food on the table is a “win”.  Boxed mac and cheese and hot dogs for dinner? Perfect. You win today.  Sometimes it really is the best we can do that day.

So, today I look back at the “Murph” workout and take pride in my time of 58:37.  Today I celebrate a body that may still be slow, but is getting faster.  I will not compare myself, but be glad in the journey.  I will be glad that can I get up and I work hard even when it is not always easy.  I will “examine my own work” and call it good.

Do you find yourself comparing yourself to others?  Make a concerted effort today to let you be you.  Let your best be good enough.  Don’t rob yourself of celebrating your victories because they may not stack up against someone else’s best.  Being a better you is the only measurement that matters.