Why are you improving your self? Why are you lifting weights, eating right, gaining fitness, running, trying to get a beach body? Is it for you? For someone else? To “beat” someone so that your ego feels satiated that you’re better than someone?
As I’ve mentioned my wife and I, to varying degrees, both do Crossfit and lifting and running. We’re also generally focusing on looking good naked – LGN. While I can’t fully speak for her, I’m guessing that the primary goal for both of us in these matters (and in general self improvement areas) is to be a better individual and feel better about ourselves. This then inherently transfers over to more confidence, less body image issues or general insecurities and subsequently indirectly contributes to a better relationship without these barriers. While the positive reinforcement from your partner is nice and feeds the ego, it’s not the driving force behind this change. Sure I want to look good, partly for her (and vice versa), but even if she doesn’t like the improvements, I do and I get comments all the time now about how beefy I am. Holly herself looks really good, especially comparing to the average mom I see at kid events with the mom Bob’s and 50 extra lbs shoved into yoga pants with a long sweater trying to hide the two thanksgiving turkeys of a butt.
Most of the members of our gym are just wrapping up a specific programming cycle and doing test out. This means that everyone has black and white numbers showing how they progressed during this programming. It’s really a measure of self-improvement of strength gains, but some people choose to use this as a measure of self-worth when comparing themselves to other gym members. Without exception, most of the people who care about comparing themselves to others, and how that puts them in the social/gym hierarchy, are really insecure. They use this as a way to boost egos, and if someone beat them, there’s always an excuse. These are the same people who have an excuse for everything in life… why they have a shitty job… why they don’t have a steady relationship….why the relationship they’re in sucks…. why they’re fat/sick/unhappy … and so on ad nauseum.
Holly was a lot more like this previously than she cared to admit. She had a habit of using the scoreboard (or in Crossfit’s case, the Whiteboard) as a measuring stick of if she was “better” or “worse” than someone else. Part of it is human nature, and she admittedly didn’t get too wrapped up in the results, but still seemed to comment incessantly about girls at the gym and how she stacked up against them. This was a carryover from the running and triathlon races where she constantly evaluated times and places compared to other women in her age group or women she knows. I think on a recent introspection trip, she’s come to a conclusion I reached many moons ago – it’s better to enjoy the journey and to work towards improving your SELF than to care how others do. There will always be someone stronger, faster, better than you and always someone who is weaker, slower and worse than you. WHO CARES?! My wife, thank goodness, has gotten off this train and on to one more at peace with who she is and where she’s going. To me, that recent milestone for her is a really positive one and one I’m glad to see she’s made.
For me, I’ve always enjoyed the journey. I certainly liked placing high in any sporting event, but it was always secondary to A) Performing as well as I could and B) Enjoying the process of self improvement. During Ironman (triathlon) training, if you don’t like the process you are going to be miserable. As a geek, it was super awesome to see hard metrics of how you’re performing during training, and isn’t that much different than what I’m doing now but the metrics are different. Before it was based on running pace at a certain heartrate (lower heartrate at a faster pace = improvement), bike wattage at a certain heartrate (same deal, yeah I had a watt-meter on my bike and. it. was. AWESOME for geeks like me), and swim pace improvement. Now it is the raw amount of weight lifted for any number of lifts, or specific workouts that you can repeat to see how your time can improve. While individual days aren’t always going to be a personal record due to any number of factors (health, amount of sleep, stress, fatigue, how well you’re eating, so on), the trends should give you some feedback if what you’re doing is working. I know eventually there will come a day when the trends start to decrease (due to age) so then I’ll be fighting to keep that downwards slope as low as possible.
I guess my point is that we’d all find more peace in life if we look more internal than external for validation of who we are and who we’re trying to be. Tying up your value as a person to how others perceive you, even your spouse, isn’t good in the long term. The whole “outcome independence” of self-improvement is really the goal. Hopefully the improvements we’re all working towards indirectly improves things in our family, with our spouse and in our relationship, but even if they don’t the fact remains that you’re still better than who you were before. Whether anyone else cares or not shouldn’t matter.