Sunday, December 23, 2012

Make The Right Comparison.

As many of you know, I'm part of a team of runners featured in an upcoming documentary, "From Fat To Finish Line."

From Fat to Finish Line : The Documentary from Media Meld Studios on Vimeo.

In just over a week, I'll be arriving in Florida and starting the most incredible part of my physical fitness journey. I'll meet my eleven teammates and we'll run our 200 hundred mile relay from Miami to Key West.

As we get closer to the relay, we're beginning our media blitz and really drumming up attention and excitement about the documentary. And that means sharing our stories - and our photos - on the team site, our Facebook page, and other social media sites.

This is one of the before/after photos of me that we have shared on the team site:

I think it's a great comparison of who I was and who I am now, but seriously, look at these photos of my teammates:

Amazing, right? I'll be honest. Sometimes, looking at my team, I feel, "how the heck did I get here?" I mean, look at these other people. Their photos are absolutely stunning. Each of them has done so much, and when I compare myself to them, I feel like my transformation doesn't match up.

But that's the point, isn't it? It doesn't compare. And it doesn't have to. 

Yes, it's true. I have been a little stressed about meeting everyone. Old tapes are playing in the back of my head about them not liking me, or me not fitting in, or even me feeling like an imposter who doesn't really belong with all of these obvious Success Stories.

But the new me is better able to handle these kinds of feelings. Instead of tearing myself down, I'm building myself up. No, I didn't lose a hundred pounds. Fine. That's not my claim to fame. What I have done is moved myself from a couch potato to a three-time marathon runner. I may not have appeared on national television to celebrate my accomplishments, but I have motivated several of my friends to start their own journeys to physical fitness and improved health. And I may not be in the perfect shape I wanted to be in as I head to Florida, but I am trained and conditioned and able to run 20+ miles on any given day.

My point? I need to make the right comparison. It isn't about feeling inadequate because my teammates are all so incredible and amazing. It's about feeling confident in the changes I have made and in the person I have become.

If there is any lesson for me to learn, it's that comparing myself to other people is a fool's errand. Behind someone else's "perfect" smile, they may be dealing with their own insecurities and fears. And the person living the great life may be struggling with personal problems hidden from the world. No one has a perfect life and no one has the one, single story of personal growth, change, and accomplishment.

I'm rambling now, but I feel like I can't get the words out fast enough. I want the man who can barely walk a mile but continues to push for more every day to feel good about his efforts. I want the woman who has lost five pounds but has two hundred more to go to feel proud of what she has done. I want the whole world to stop comparing themselves to the rest of the world and, instead, focus on the positive changes they have made - and continue to make - for themselves.

As I head to Florida, I will no doubt have moments where I feel like the rest of the team has more "right" to be there than I do. I'm only human and my insecurities don't just vanish because I want them to. But when I feel that way, I will remind myself that I am a part of the Fat To Finish project because I earned my place. I represent those of us who lost our spark, our passion, and are now willing to do whatever is necessary to get it back.

I will not compare myself to others. I will compare the me I am today with the person I was just two years ago. I am a success story. I have moved from fat to finish line. And I take my place on this team with pride.

Let's do this!


  1. I have to say, I think ALL of us are having these insecurities as the day approaches! I've never been good at "fitting in" with everyone else, and I'm terrified that I'll feel like that when I meet our team. I also feel like maybe I don't belong on this team, because I don't "have it all figured out" yet--my weight is still a constant battle!

    But that said, I think we all understand each other very well, and we know what it feels like to set goals and work our asses off for them!

    Can't WAIT to meet you in person, John :)

  2. Thanks, Katie. And the silly thing is, the moment we all meet, it will be like a family reunited at the holidays. We know each other so well, we've shared so much already. It's seriously like a reunion and I cannot wait to meet you all!

  3. I don't think anyone ever has it all figured out and as a "semi" outsider looking in you guys are all so incredibly motivating and I KNOW you will change many lives for the better. I <3 you all so very very much!

    ... and John, this is beautifully put.

  4. Thanks, Ang. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the new me just wants to enjoy every moment of fit. And you? You are absolutely a part of this. I can't imagine having anyone else walk us all through this craziness!

  5. Katie is right - I bet every single one of us feels like "what am I doing here?" "I don't belong." You guys are all blowing me away with your training, speed and miles and I'm struggling to get in a six miler before this thing happens! I know others who are still mid-journey in their weight loss have expressed that they too had those moments… Not looking sideways and stopping the comparing, is a good lesson for us all to work on!

  6. John, I've been thinking the same things! I haven't dropped 3 digits either, and every day is a battle, like Katie said, but everything fell into place and we're all here for a reason. I'm so glad I didn't figure things out until the moment I did or I wouldn't be on this fantastic journey with all of you!!