Compare, But Be Fair

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On my morning run, Henry was my cheerleader!  “Go, mommy, go!” or “Up the hill, mama!”  When Henry was little, I always fantasized about the day that he’d be able to encourage me during my workouts – and the day is here!  It’s so silly and fun.  The best part was when I took a walking break and he said, “Whew, I need a break, mommy.” 


He’s going to grow up thinking that ‘going for a run’ means sitting peacefully in a jogging stroller…


Anyway, on my run, I was thinking about the Do’s and Do Not’s of the Comparison Game… or at least how I’ve learned the rules.


DON’T:  Compare yourself to others.  Everyone has different God-given abilities, has spent time and energy honing different skills, and prioritizing different things.  Some people are also just lucky.  Know that the version of life presented on a blog or Facebook may be highly sanitized.  Most people don’t Facebook about their hardships, but everyone experiences them.  Also know that everyone who excels at something gives something else up – maybe you’re willing to give that up, too, but maybe you’re not.  That’s okay.


DO:  Look to others for inspiration and advice.  Here are questions that I love to ask my kick-ass friends:


How do you find the time to do X, Y, or Z?  What’s your secret weapon?

What did you give up to get that [career, amazing marathon time, rock-hard body]? 

What kind of help do you have [with your kids, at home, at work]?

What mistakes have you learned? What do you wish you knew?

Here’s how I [cook, clean, work, juggling home and family life, workout]. What would you change if you were me?


DON’T: Compare yourself to your past self.  Or – at the very least – be careful about this.  Circumstances change.  Life gets busier and more challenging.  Maybe tasks that used to feel like a piece of cake are emotionally draining now that you have more on your plate.  Plus, we change physically over time.  Your body may not perform the way it did at 19 when you’re 33.  Take an honest inventory of your circumstances, responsibilities, and desires before comparing yourself to your past self.


DO:  Set healthy expectations.  This is huge!  Compare yourself to the life you see in the mirror… I don’t mean that as a pass to be lazy or unambitious, but I do think it’s important to set realistic goals (I’m all about that this week, huh?) after taking an honest assessment of where you are in life, where you REALLY want to go, and what you’re willing to give up to get there. 


For me, in my life, the question of “What am I really willing to give up?” has always been huge. I think it’s so easy to look at another person’s successes and feel jealous… and yet you forget to count all the things that they gave up to get there.  Most successes require sacrifice. 


So – that’s what I was thinking about on my run this morning! 


What did you think about during your workout today?



  • Sara @ LovingOnTheRun May 13, 2014, 3:05 pm

    Love the quote – Comparison is the Thief of Joy. Due to some circumstances out of my control I am not in the place I thought I would be at this time in my life. It’s hard because I see so many others that are and I always want to compare. The day I was able to let go of that was so freeing!

    Today on my run all I could think about was how HOT it was! We aren’t used to this and it was in 90’s – my body has to adjust!

  • Kelly May 13, 2014, 3:13 pm

    You’re thoughts are much deeper than mine! I typically work out before work and j totally think about what I’m going to wear! Ha! I out different outfits together in my head and try to figure it out.

  • Abby May 13, 2014, 3:15 pm

    Great post! I think during this age of social media I think things can look so perfect in many people’s lives. One of the reasons I am not a facebooker user. It’s easy to compare and I too, try to steer clear of doing it. I’m human though :). As a good friend told me “there’s many ways of doing it”. One of the reasons I love your blog and am a daily reader is you are so real and honest. Thank you! You rock!

  • Bobbie May 13, 2014, 3:34 pm

    I needed a reminder about this today!

  • katie May 13, 2014, 3:35 pm

    You can’t work with the same gusto you did as a single, child-free person and you can as a mom with two kids.

    I uh…guess I’m glad you’re not a hiring manager?

    • Caitlin May 13, 2014, 3:45 pm

      Okay, this didn’t come off as I intended. Of course I think that moms can do as good of a job at work as child-free people. Here’s what I meant to say…

      It’s not just once you have kids; it could be when you’re juggingly ANYTHING else – illness, going through a divorce, or caring for a sick older relative. For me, at least, that’s the GUSTO factor that I referred to. So you can do as good of a job output-wise, but it’s going to be challening to FEEL the same way about it as you did before. Maybe you end up feeling more drained at the end of the day and don’t have the mental energy for other things that you used to. Does that make sense? But that’s just me – maybe other people don’t have this problem. Regardless, that was tremendously poorly worded – I’m going to edit because my crappy sentence did not convey that sentiment correctly at all! 🙂

  • Kristen May 13, 2014, 3:51 pm

    While I appreciate the sentiment of your post, Caitlin, I think it is important to also recognize that there are absolutely appropriate times and places in life where comparisions take place and someone is “better” than you at something. For instance, as I raise a pre-teen daughter (who loves your book BTW!), we have to deal with disappointments like not making it on a sports team, or not getting a role in the school talent show or play. While I certainly tell her I think she is doing her best, I would be lying if I told her she was THE BEST. Judgements, comparisions, placements, and rankings take place in all aspects of our lives every single day, and the challenge lies in dealing with those situations and potential rejections with grace and poise.

    • Caitlin May 13, 2014, 3:56 pm

      I totally agree with so much of your comment! I guess if I had a daughter, I would want her to focus on trying HER BEST, not being THE BEST. But I guess that you’re right – sometimes it’s important to be THE BEST (that’s how you get a job, right?!)… and you’re right – learning to deal with the disappointment of not being THE BEST is part of life. It sucks so much if you’re not THE BEST when you’re trying YOUR BEST. Sometimes, it just isn’t enough! It’s probably doubly hard in America, where kids grow up thinking that everyone gets a trophy and then they start encountering situations where they don’t get anything for being second-place…

      Tell her I say hi 🙂 Thanks for sharing Operation Beautiful with her!!!

  • Breanne May 13, 2014, 4:38 pm

    Great post! I actually took a couple weeks off from Facebook (deactivated and everything) last month because I found myself in the comparison trap in a big way. While I rationally knew that what we present isn’t always reality, it was really easy to let myself think “everyone else…” It was a good reminder for myself.

    • Caitlin May 13, 2014, 4:39 pm

      I did the same thing a few days back and it was nice. 🙂

  • Julia May 13, 2014, 4:39 pm

    I really needed to hear this today! I’ve been struggling with this lately – specifically with balancing work and graduate school with fitness goals and creative goals as well as realizing I can’t become an expert in every subject that interests me! –> the nerd in me just hates that.

  • Mary May 13, 2014, 4:40 pm

    Great post! I’m really struggling at the moment when it comes to not competing with my previous self. My running times have slowed right down as I have concentrated on long distance over the past year and it’s so hard to not get stressed out over a few minutes on the Garmin. At the end of the day I need to remember that I run because I enjoy it and competing with myself only stresses me out.

  • Katie May 13, 2014, 4:51 pm

    Loved this post! Thank you for writing it. I need to read this regularly.

  • Elizabeth {Positively Healthy} May 13, 2014, 4:52 pm

    Loving the thoughts! Today I thought, just get up the hills because you will have a down hill!! 🙂

  • Maryea {happy healthy mama} May 13, 2014, 4:56 pm

    The part that rang true for me in this post is the success takes sacrifice part. That’s so very true. There’s no use spending time comparing yourself to others if you aren’t willing to make the same sacrifices they have made to get where they are.

  • Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs May 13, 2014, 5:38 pm

    Great post! It’s always good to be reminded of things like this 🙂

  • janae@hungryrunnergirl May 13, 2014, 5:54 pm

    I absolutely loved this post. AND you have the world’s cutest cheerleader!

  • Traci May 13, 2014, 7:58 pm

    So cute and lucky for you that you have a little cheerleader–and remember, he makes your workouts harder, too! I like the point about not comparing yourself to your past self. I’m sure that everyone is guilty with that, especially as we all get older and circumstances change. It’s a good thing to remember.

  • Sarah B May 13, 2014, 11:16 pm

    Oh wow is this post timely for me! At 7.5months pregnant with number 2, I am struggling. I just want to get back to triathlon racing, running races where I could do reasonably well. I keep reminding myself that with two children my expectations must be different and that I must not compare myself to other super-mummas out there, but to achieve within my own sphere and most of all to have FUN!! 🙂 Thank you for helping me put a little perspective in my own little part of the world.

  • Eva May 14, 2014, 8:38 am

    It’s great to be reminded of this! I try not to get sucked into Facebook for long periods because doing so has NEVER once made me feel better. either you see pictures of someone else’s life and feel crappy about yourself OR you feel superior to other people and get a false sense of pride and i think that’s equally dangerous.
    i spend most of my time online these days reading healthy living/fitness blogs, which i find much more motivational and thought-provoking. the other plus is that since i don’t know any bloggers in real life, it sets healthy boundaries so you guys are “distant” enough that i can get to know you and interact with you without feeling like you are “impinging” on my territory. not sure if that makes sense, but i find it easier for people to live when they have a bit more space.

  • Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork May 15, 2014, 1:59 pm

    Such a great post! This is something I’m always struggling with and have to remind myself that what I see on the outside isn’t necessarily the whole picture. I always remind myself about my friend, who I was secretly slighly jealous of. Her and her husband moved to New Hampshire in a lovely neighborhood in a nice-sized house. She quit her job and went back to school full time for her Master’s while her husband worked. She soon got pregnant, had her son, and was able to stay home with him full-time. I thought she had the life. Until she told us they were getting divorced when her son was only 6 months old. How little I knew of what her life was really like. I will take my life, with my amazing relationship with my husband, and all its little ups and downs, any day. I need to work on being my best me. You can only be you–everyone else is taken!
    I usually think about blog post ideas during my workouts (mostly during my runs…most of my other workouts are HIIT or yoga, during which I’m concentrating on what I’m doing).

  • Brittany March 31, 2015, 8:48 pm

    Thank you for writing this.

    I needed it today.

  • Bethany Banning April 1, 2015, 8:41 am

    I love when my little encourages me on my runs…she tells me that I “wun weally fast”, and I DO NOT run fast by anyone else’s standards, but it is fast for me and slowly improving, especially while pushing the jogger 🙂

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