Two Is Not a Winner and Three No One Remembers

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When M and I first starting dating, I was legitimately concerned when we were invited to our first game night. I mean, it was a perfectly harmless date, right? M was prepared for some fun times with our now best friends that we both love and get along with perfectly. 

The poor guy didn’t know any better; he didn’t see anything coming. I should have warned him, but it was month one and we were still pretending that we both had immaculate housekeeping skills no matter how busy we got, looked flawless at all times, and never went number two.

 Here’s the problem: Whenever there is an ounce of competition in the air, this typically bubbly and cheerful delight of a human being that he was growing to love turns into someone else completely. One of my dear friends/former roommate sent me this quote once, saying she had found the definition for my life:

 If you’re not prepared to lose every friend you have over a board game, you’re not playing hard enough.

 That about sums it up. I have this insane competitive streak. It gets pretty childish at times, and I hear myself saying things like, “We are going to rock this Cloodle, hop on the fast track, and beat your ass to the giant purple brain, son!”

 This competition embedded deep into my psyche affects every aspect of my life.  At work we completed StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. The results really hit the nail on the head for me.  Basically, it assesses your top five strengths and shows you how you can use these to your advantage, and how to work with others. My number one was, of course, Competition. I love his description so I’m going to share the whole thing because, well, I can.

 Competition is rooted in comparison. When you look at the world, you are instinctively aware of other people’s performance. Their performance is the ultimate yardstick. No matter how hard you tried, no matter how worthy your intentions, if you reached your goal but did not outperform your peers, the achievement feels hollow. Like all competitors, you need other people. You need to compare. If you can compare, you can compete, and if you can compete, you can win. And when you win, there is no feeling quite like it. You like measurement because it facilitates comparisons. You like other competitors because they invigorate you. You like contests because they must produce a winner. You particularly like contests where you know you have the inside track to be the winner. Although you are gracious to your fellow competitors and even stoic in defeat, you don’t compete for the fun of competing. You compete to win. Over time you will come to avoid contests where winning seems unlikely.

 If I could have defined my entire outlook on life, it would not have been as accurate as those words. I remember as a kid, teachers would think I was looking off other kids’ papers to cheat. This was not to glean the maybe correct answers from the C student next to me, but rather because I was adding up the correct v.s. incorrect answers off his paper to compare our grades.  I got a rush, even then, from winning. M, please don’t leave me…

 This same competitive streak has been a helpful edge in my work life.  It ensures that I am constantly trying hard to stay on top of my game, thus earning the loving nickname A Game/Big Time (thanks Lar-Bo).

 Where it tends to bite me back is when it comes to my personal life.  Being in a constant state of comparison has left me pretty down on myself in the past, especially during that whole college/immediately post-college phase. Dangerous waters, my friend!

 That new-ish tv show Go On, the one with Chandler playing Chandler but with sports, had a very pertinent quote in it the other day. 

 You can’t seek happiness from outside sources; happiness comes from within.

 My measure of success had always been placed on outside sources. If I’m going to do something, I want to be the best at it.  The thing about fitness was that I’m not really the best at anything. I am not the fastest runner.  I can’t lift the most weight. I’m not the most flexible. I don’t have the most Latina hip-shakin’ moves. It’s a hard world at that gym for a competitive mediocre athlete.

 Learning to stop (ok let’s be real, lessen my obsession with) competing with others and start competing with myself has saved me much grief. It’s also been a fun way to track my progress.  Celebrating mini-victories, like shaving seconds off my run times, or, as of late, my newfound ability to begin doing some yoga, have been ways I can still celebrate winning without the risk of falling into a comparison trap.

I have embraced the rush I get in competing while maintaining my sanity.  Don’t get me wrong, nothing quite beats that adrenaline rush from actually winning versus others, but it has been a great way to keep my motivation up.

 Game nights? Well, that hasn’t changed. UNO!

No Chrome on the Wheels. I’m a Grown-Up For Real

jay-z

My wedding is four months from today. That has nothing to do with anything I’m about to write. But there you go.

My support system has been an incredible blessing as I’ve transitioned to healthier lifestyle.  An amazing fiancé and a solid group of sexy ladies have kept me pushing through and encouraged me on any goals I’ve achieved.  It’s an irreplaceable thing.

Have you hit a plateau? Have you just lost the urge to go to the gym? Have you fallen into a trap of stopping at Krispie Kreme on your way to work everyday?  Share it with your support system! People who love you want you to achieve your goals and want to help you in any way they can.

Accountability with a group of friends or a significant other, or your mom (thanks mom!) is a powerful tool. Be sure you have someone in that group who will be the person who lets you know when you’re slacking and pushes you to be better. There is nothing that will renew a fire in you more than a friend pointing out that you haven’t been true to yourself and your goals. And that your ass really does look fat in those jeans.

Then there is a different group of friends. You love them. They are so fun…but somehow they convince you to skip your gym session and drink four margaritas with a cheesy enchilada chaser. When you say you can’t hit happy hour because you’re really committed to a group class, you hear a chorus of “What’s one class?”

Jay-Z said it best. Jay-Z always says it best.

All the rappers be hating, off the track that I’m making
But all the hustlers they love it just to see one of us make it

Got Dirt Off Your Shoulder stuck in your head yet? You’re welcome. Your day will now be awesome.

So here’s my point. You will run into people who aren’t supportive, be it conscious or not, of your fitness goals. I’m not saying defriend them on Facebook, as well as in life. I am saying that it will take some effort to change their opinions of how you should be spending your time.  Your eating habits may take a blow or two from them, and you may give into some bacon cheese fries now and again that you otherwise could have spurned.

I always try to make the most time for the supportive, positive folks in my life.  It’s amazing the effect another person’s energy can have on my own! My boss always says that in this world there are energy-givers and energy-takers. So while you’re trying to align yourself with those who are building you up, I also encourage you to identify which category you currently fall into.

I’m like young Marvin in his hey.

Cheers!

Trapped By Try

be it

If there is one word I hate more than any other word in the English language, it is the word “try.”  Well, and the word “moist.”  But today I’m talking about “try.”

In a business/office sense, I hate it because it is a sign of inability. Want to make everyone lose confidence in your competence? Start using it a ton.

In my opinion, you’re either going to get something done, or you are not going to get something done.  When someone has said that they will try to get something to me or they are going to try to figure something out, it’s a guaranteed no-go.  If you had any confidence at all whatsoever in your abilities, you would not say you’d try. You would say that you will.

Have you ever been planning an event/benefit/party/social and people were going to try to find time to volunteer? Try to attend? Try to bring an hors d’oeuvres? Events would be volunteer-less and guest-less, with starving attendants if you relied on people trying to accomplish tasks.

Moving from the North, where people don’t care if they offend you, to the South where it’s a cardinal sin, I’ve had to learn when a yes actually is code for a polite no.  Usually it involves an “I’ll try…”

The polite decline of exercise

My annoyance of hearing this word peaked after hearing myself use it every day for about a month. Yep, I’m a culprit of the “I’ll try” syndrome.

Want to know how often I went to the gym after saying “I’ll try to make it after work,” or “I’ll try if I’m not too exhausted,” or (my personal favorite) “I’ll try to wake up in the morning.”  It’s about the same number of times as I volunteer to take out the trash. (Psst here’s a hint. M and I have lived together since October. I have taken the trash out zero times in six months.  No you cannot have him.)

Allowing myself to get trapped by the try resulted in total absence of physical activity for far too long.  I’d wake up groggy and have no energy during the day because I didn’t get my workout in, and then I wouldn’t go to the gym because I was only going to try to go if I wasn’t too tired. Vicious circle.

In order to get through those days where I’d rather eat cake and watch reruns of Friends, I scheduled my workouts in my Outlook Calendar. And in my adorable Lilly Pulitzer agenda. And on my wall calendar. And on our dry erase board calendar in the hallway by the laundry room. And on a sticky note on my work computer. You get the picture.

If it was an official appointment, I couldn’t just ignore it.  Time was saved each day, and I didn’t schedule things over it, mostly because it would have been far to much work to change all my calendars. See? Laziness can have its perks.

But in all seriousness, I did get to the point where when I scheduled my gym time/boxing class/etc. I would look forward to that appointment. It was the highlight of many days, especially if they were particularly stressful. I promise—stick to it and you may just find yourself looking forward to your 5:30pm boxing class. It sure beats that 8:00am staff meeting with that manager that makes you cringe.  You know who I’m talking about.

Try not to spit in their coffee 😉

 

Cheers!