Monochrome TorsoSome might argue that I have fitness credentials. I have finished two marathons along with a few half marathons and at least 35 shorter races. I have had a gym membership without interruption for all of my adult life. Recently, I tried a Bikram yoga class. The instructor advised me (and the other newbies) to stand in the back and watch the students in the front because, “they have been coming for a while and they know what they are doing.” She was right. I watched as they moved into each pose while maintaining perfect balance. Meanwhile, I struggled and my eyes burned with sweat. More than once it seemed I might meet my mat unintentionally. And you know what? It was perfectly fine. I decided to claim my status as a beginner  open to this new experience and all it could show me. While it is true that fitness is a modern status symbol – there is so much bragging about how much we can bench press, how fast we can run a mile, hold a plank or get into handstand – there is also some value in being where  you are. Here are some tips you can use in this hyper-competitive fitness world so you are not so consumed by keeping up that you miss out on the fun of being active.

Be your own hero

Maybe you don’t have six pack abs, but maybe you have whittled your middle or taken a layer off of your muffin top. Have you dropped a dress size? Celebrate how far you’ve come. While she looks great, comparing yourself to Beyoncé can rob you of satisfaction with your own fitness accomplishments.Athletic couple after fitness exercise

Flatter your own figure

Every style is not for everybody, so don’t feel like you have to try every trend. Decide on your best feature and choose fashions that play it up. So you don’t have six pack abs, but maybe your arms or legs are nicely toned. You can be sexy even if you don’t have a flat stomach. Look for ways to look your best instead of like everybody else.

Keep a journal

It can be easy to lose sight of how far you’ve come with your fitness goals if you don’t keep track. Write out your fitness plan each week and note your accomplishments. As you progress (able to do more sit-ups, run a faster mile or do more bicep curls with more weight) you will be able to brag on yourself instead of compare yourself to others.

There is nothing wrong with appreciating the fitness accomplishments of others. The danger lies in confusing those accomplishments with inherent personal value. Fast of slow, strong or not there is something fabulous and valuable in all of us.