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Why you should only compare yourself to yourself

By Annette Miller, Special to CNN
updated 7:48 AM EDT, Fri August 9, 2013
Annette Miller has lost more than 185 pounds since she started her weight loss journey.
Annette Miller has lost more than 185 pounds since she started her weight loss journey.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fit Nation member Annette Miller's new motto for life is "no comparison"
  • There is a fine line between inspiration and comparison, she says
  • Miller: Comparing ourselves to others makes objectivity impossible

Editor's note: Annette Miller is one of six CNN viewers selected to be a part of the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge program. Follow the "6-pack" on Twitter and Facebook as they train to race the Nautica Malibu Triathlon with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on September 8.

(CNN) -- In my life, I've often heard that "comparison is the thief of joy." I never really thought much about it until taking on CNN's Fit Nation challenge.

If I were to compare myself to my Fit Nation teammates, I would believe I'm falling short. Will Cleveland runs something crazy like a six-minute mile; I'm steady at a 15- to 16-minute mile. Tabitha McMahon makes swimming look effortless, while I need an additional swim coach outside of Fit Nation. It would be easy to look at that and think I'm failing.

Some people think comparison is a good thing. "Why wouldn't you want to swim as well as Tabitha or run as fast as Will?" It's not that I don't want to. It's just that I'm not there yet.

When we compare ourselves to others, we can't be objective. When we look at those who seem to have it all, we beat ourselves up. But we don't have all the details of their situation.

Get fit and others will follow

During my runs, I've noticed three sets of people: Those I'm faster than, those I'm slower than and those who run at a similar pace. Running allows me to stop all the noise of day-to-day life and focus on me. It's a time to cleanse my mind. If I started comparing myself to the other runners, I wouldn't be able to enjoy "my time."

Inevitably when we compare ourselves to others, negative thoughts enter our consciousness. The negative thoughts might be directed toward ourselves or at the people to whom we are comparing ourselves. It's my experience that negativity only breeds more negativity, and that's where comparison leads.

I've decided my motto for the rest of this triathlon journey, and my life, is going to be "no comparison." When I say "no comparison," it reminds me to be present in the moment and not be defined by another's opinion because I'm the only one who knows me.

It's more than a race to me

I'm getting ready to attend my 15-year high school reunion in a week, and I'm truly looking forward to it.

I know some former classmates will be comparing themselves to the rest of the class, and some will even compare themselves to me. It's already happening. Daily I hear, "I wish I had your dedication" or "your willpower" and so on. Stop it people! Don't compare yourselves to me because you only see what I let you see.

Every day is not smooth sailing. Even though I've lost more than 185 pounds, I still see glimpses of the old me. When I get stressed, I still want to go to food for comfort. I admit that I have broken down a couple times recently and had a piece of cake or an order of French fries. At first I beat myself up and felt guilty. Then I told myself what's done is done; get back to obtaining the life you've been dreaming of.

This 198-pound me has more confidence, strength, happiness and love in her life than the 385-pound me did, and I know the 150-pound me will have even more of that than the 198-pound me.

You may lose friends when you lose weight

There is a fine line between inspiration and comparison. I have many people I admire, but I don't want to be them or be like them.

I've have a couple of special personal trainers in my life.

Seeing them help people, including myself, become the individuals they've only ever dreamed of being has made me realize I have something to offer other than my story. Those people have inspired me to study for my personal trainer certification. I'm not setting out for Jillian Michaels status; I genuinely want to help others the way my trainers and friends have helped me.

Each of us are unique and have something different to offer the world. The only person we have to be better than is the person we were yesterday.

I challenge you, dear reader, to starting living a life of "no comparison." When you take the pressure off yourself to live up to the image of who you think defines success, you will be surprised at who you can become.

Follow Annette on Twitter @trihardannette

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