Group of people running on treadmillsIt doesn’t matter what your health and/or fitness goals may be—to lose your love handles, to get bikini-ready for the summer, or to have toned legs that kill. In order to achieve any fitness related goal, motivation is everything—and when it comes to staying motivated, nothing kills it faster than a mindset of comparison. Here’s three reasons why comparing yourself to the person two treadmills down from you (or on the weight machine next to you, etc.) is always a bad idea—and what you can do about it.

Fitness isn’t a Destination, but a Journey

Let’s say you’re running on the treadmill, and you’ve just gotten in your ‘zone.’ Your runner’s high is in full effect. You’re feeling amazing, because your five mile running goal that you set for yourself is almost halfway accomplished. But then it happens—you look over at the runner on the next treadmill over, and she’s going strong at mile twelve. Within a few seconds, you’re downplaying your progress, criticizing your hard work and slowing down to a walk.

See the problem? Comparing yourself to someone else sends a message that getting fit and reaching your fitness and health goals is about a destination—but the reality is, it’s very much a journey. YOUR journey. So strap on your headphones and crank up ‘Eye of the Tiger.’ This is your journey, and when you stay focused on your progress alone, you’ll always win.

It’s a Motivator ‘Buzz Kill’

Group of people running on treadmillsReaching fitness goals takes time. Sometimes it takes weeks, but in most cases, it takes months—months of hard work, persistence, dedication, and most of all, a unrelenting motivation from within. When you compare your body to another, your workout to another, or your strength to another, you’re sending a clear message to your subconscious and it sounds like this: “Who do you think you’re fooling?” If you let your mind wander (as opposed to insisting on the positive), it can get ugly. Self-doubt, fear and insecurity are quick to creep in.

In order to keep your motivation at an all-time high (which is necessary for you to accomplish each and every goal you have!) develop tunnel vision. Resist the temptation to glance over at the guy next to you on the treadmill—especially if he’s running longer, faster and harder. Redirect your mind to you and the progress you’re currently making. Remind yourself of all the progress you’ve made this far, and how at the end of this run/lift/cycling class you’re currently enduring, you’ll accomplish yet another goal.

Achieving your fitness goals isn’t about anyone else but you. Stay focused on your goals, and progress along the way. Everyone is accomplishing their goals at their own pace, and when you stay focused on yours, you’ll reach them in record time!