The Thief of Joy

mindset Jul 11, 2022

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

--Theodore Roosevelt

When we hear the word comparison, we often think of comparing ourselves to others. And while I could write on that subject for days, I am going to talk about an even more sinister comparison… comparing ourselves to our previous self. 

And I bet you know exactly what I mean.   

Do you hold an image in your mind from a time past of what you want to look like again? Or maybe lift what you could previously lift or do a yoga pose that you used to be able to do? 

It honestly could be anything—it is the barometer you create of what you think you should be able to do, look or feel like.  I, obviously, will relate this back to fitness but it can be anything in life.  It can relate to your career or even relationships. 

It is not uncommon that when I meet with a new client, he/she will reference a previous time in their life that they would like to emulate. I, myself, am not immune.  About four years ago, I was getting ready for a kettlebell certification and I needed to weigh in under a certain amount in order to test with a lighter bell. My weight was on the cusp of the two weight classes and honestly, if I had to test with the heavier bell, I risked the possibility of injury. So, in order to test with the lighter bell, I had to drop a few pounds.

In the process of working out 5x a week and tracking my calories, I hit my magic number on the scale and measured at 13.3% body fat. I was told I looked shredded, jacked and all the adjectives I wanted to hear. But the great irony is that it was a time in my life I did not particularly enjoy.

In the months that followed I returned to my normal self, ate out with friends, traveled and shared in the joy of my new boyfriend’s biggest love—ice cream. These were some of the most enjoyable months of my life (and I still remained fit).

Comparing our current selves to different seasons of our life can be quite harmful.  When you look back at that image you hold—I bet it was a time in your life where you had less worries. Maybe less familial obligations or less job responsibilities?

I did not sustain my low body weight. Once I received my certification, my weight returned to its set point. And it can be hard when you no longer feel or look as fit as you once did you can feel like a failure.  But if you are constantly looking back at where you were, aren’t you are robbing yourself of the enjoyment of where you are on your path?

So how do we extinguish that little green monster inside ourself when it comes to ourself?

Is it possible to compartmentalize and celebrate various times in our life without beating ourselves up?  If I was to look back on my life in regards to fitness and organize it into chapters it would be a fascinating read (at least for me 😂). One chapter would focus on my endurance and strength of will preparing to run a marathon. However, that chapter definitely would not mention strength training because I didn’t know the first thing about lifting a weight at that season in my life! And if I skipped ahead several chapters I would find that all my strength and yoga skills have culminated into a consistent practice that I not only enjoy but keeps me injury free now in my mid-forties. And I am excited for future chapters to unfold that will build upon this foundation that I created. 

Another strategy that helps me avoid falling into the comparison trap is to give myself credit in the gains that I make on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. And that may be just getting my steps in or consistent strength work in on a weekly basis, not chasing numbers whether on the barbell/kettlebell or on the scale.

No matter what your strategy, the important thing is that you feel good about where you are on your fitness journey and keep moving forward.

Onward and upward,


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