Monday, August 7, 2017

Stop Comparing

The other day I was out cranking it on the bike trail. It wasn’t an epic ride—the 20 mile mark still manages to elude me—but I put in a solid 13 miles over a couple of hours, decently impressive on an arm trike in 90-degree heat. And then I ran into Beth. You know, that Beth.

“Dave!” It was Beth Ulibarri, aka @MilesAndTrials, aka Ironman Beth. She also happens to be a fellow active MSer, only with a bit more emphasis on the “active” part. We all know of Beths, those absolute studs in the MS world that defy the disease with an athletic prowess that impresses even the pros (she has trained with our resident pro triathlete Kelly Williamson).

I asked how her ride had been and if she had logged a few miles that morning. “A few.” Like 90 in just under 5 hours. She was training on her Felt B12 TT carbon fiber bike (while decked out in her sponsored Klean kit) for the upcoming Ironman Lake Placid, a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. (Update: She finished her fourth Ironman in 12:09 and set a new PR! Daaamn.)

Now, I could have looked down at my Craig’s List clunky trike with seven gears and felt jealousy. Or moped because on the best of days, I was putting in a fraction of the miles Beth logs JUST TO GET WARMED UP. But that’s a fool’s errand when you have an unpredictable disease like multiple sclerosis, one that affects each person wildly differently.

It’s so tempting to compare yourself with others—the healthy, the diseased, even the “old you.” Don’t dare fall into this trap. Don’t compare yourself to Beth or, for that matter, to me. Do what you can do. Today. And the next time out, if your goal is to improve, strive to do it better. If it is to maintain, then attempt to match it. If it is to just try to do something healthy, then try. With all due respect to Yoda, it’s okay to just try.

Still bummed? Then remind yourself about Facebook. You know, when you see the posts of friends who are eating THE BEST MEAL EVER or doing THE COOLEST THING EVER. Sounds like they are having more fun than you, awwwe, sad face. But remember, those same friends are not going to post about the ungodly amount of diarrhea they got after that 5-star meal or that they permanently lost 10 percent of their hearing because they were too close to the stage when they got that high-five from Ke$ha (oh wait, she goes by just Kesha now). They probably also got food poisoning after eating a hot dog at the concert, had an unfortunate “accident” in the car on the drive home, and then were so distracted that they got into a fender-bender. (Imagine exchanging insurance information after that.)

See what I’m saying? Stop with the measuring sticks. Be inspired by others with this disease and then do what you can do. Today. And then tomorrow? Do what you can do.

28 comments:

My Odd Sock said...

Dave,
Tremendous post & VERY true.
I find I am comparing myself---to myself. And getting down because of it. How I used to be able to do pushups (not the ice cream kind). Or lunges. Or squats. And whatever they call those things where you lift & hike...eh, who knows.
Frustrating when one day you can do it...and the next day you can't.
That's what bothers me the most about MS.

Dave Bexfield said...

Thanks MOS. And I believe you are thinking of kettlebells. A bit of trivia: Russians began using them in the 18th century to weigh crops. MSers began using them in the '80s to break toes.

Jo Maxwell said...

Something to remind ourselves every single day!

Dave Bexfield said...

Thanks Jo. We have to keep reminding ourselves...

Pam Newall said...

Thankyou for this xx

Sduzie said...

I had someone tell me this past weekend that I should be an MS poster child...why? ...because I don't "Look like" I have MS? Please fellow MSers, don't compare yourself to me. I clean up good but it's what you don't see is where my MS battle is fought.... We all ride our miles the best we can each day and we can inspire each other to tack on an extra few steps with our weakened body or impaired mind! more power to each and everyone...MS stinks 😷 Thanks Dave! You inspire!

Fran said...

Wow, Dave! Brilliant post. I think I'll print it out and stick it on my wall! So true, but so easy to forget.

Cherie said...

Dave,
I so appreciated your latest post about biking and not comparing yourself and what you are or can do to others! Everyone needs to hear and soak up that message whether or not they live with MS. You are a hero in your own right!

Dave Bexfield said...

Sduzie, Cherie, you are both right, we all inspire. And Fran, make sure you do not print images. You don't want to stare at that mug any more than necessary.

Shannon said...

So true. I like how you said to not compare to the "old you". Sometimes that is the hardest. 13 miles though...that's awesome!!

Dave Bexfield said...

Shannon, as MOS pointed out, sometimes the "old you" might have been just yesterday. The variability of MS can sooo play with your brain. BTW, did 15 miles this past weekend!

My 2 Numb Feet said...

Sometimes It's hard for me to make peace with the changes that living with MS brings. I so appreciate the encouraging post AND replies! I occasionally need to be reminded to not beat myself up, especially on M-eSsy days. I think comparing myself to the old me, or to others with MS is probably the worst thing I do to myself. It's just not helpful!

Anonymous said...

Boy, did I need your post....was just going thru one of those comparing crap periods..... Yeah, it really helps to hear this from you and others.....on a regular basis.....

Dave Bexfield said...

M2NF, so right. All these comments remind us not to fall into the comparison trap, but if we do, we can climb back out. And Anon, bust out of that CCP!

Rosie McGourty said...

I do find myself comparing to "what I used to do"...:( and no, it's not motivating, or constructive in any way. It's deflating for sure. Thanks for the reminder Dave! Things could always be worse for sure.

Dave Bexfield said...

Rosie, as you can see, you've got plenty of company.

madeline said...

this is why i enjoy your posts for you tell it like it is and the fun that we still can have at our own pace and can enjoy it...thank you ...

Dave Bexfield said...

Thanks Madeline! I have a whole lotta fun, even if my pace resembles that of a turtle (or on some days, a snail). As long as I don't morph into escargot, it's all good!

Wendy said...

I needed this Dave!! I've had THREE injuries this summer on my weak side of my body and it really set me back in my workouts. A lot of crying and comparing myself to my old self. Starting to work back up to where I was but boy, did I need to read this. THANKS.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dave I needed that. I ride a recumbent trike now. I was out riding last night and met the bike club I used to ride with as recently as 3 years ago. It was hard to see them riding their road bikes while mine hangs in the garage but after 39 years with M.S. I'm still out there riding. I need to change my focus to what I can still do rather than what I can't. Your blog will encourage me to do that.

Dave Bexfield said...

Anon, I'm out on a ride this very moment taking a breather. 39 years? And I thought I had a few years. ;) Keep it up!

Kristin said...

Great post! I'm an author and while all my friends have continued to publish while I took a MS brain vacation. Meanwhile, other friends have gone Indie and paid off their Silicon Valley homes.

But you're so right -- comparing gets me stuck. I may be slow, but I'll get there.

Dave Bexfield said...

Wendy, feel better! And Kristin, it is always a pleasure to meet another writer. I'm starting on my novel THIS MONTH. Or so I say.

Marina said...

This is one of my worse habits - I am constantly comparing myself to others. My "favorite" is to compare myself, with my trike, to my husband, with his diamond frame. I am never fast enough. I try to stop doing it but its tough too. Keeps me from riding with friends or group rides as I am always afraid I wont be able to keep up, whether thats actually true or not.

Dave Bexfield said...

Oh Marina, instead of comparing myself to other cyclists, I find I use them like rabbits and try to chase them down for sport. I never catch them, of course, except for yesterday. Got on their tales in a hurry--shocker--so I just pulled over and got a drink and wrote Anon (above).

Marina said...

Thanks for that imagery - I love it - I am going to pretend that they are all rabbits!

Diane said...

What a great post! I had to laugh when I read this. I tend to compare to my old self - I used to be a runner and had good upper body strength. Now, my exercise is all virtually indoors as I can't tolerate sun on my body (I am like a vampire), temps above about 75, and have to worry about whether my lower GI is going to betray me or not. I keep pushing any way I can! I ride the Peleton bike that was a gift for my husband. It lets me work hard, and my competitive side can come out as I look for females in my age range or a little younger to try and beat. I will say that there are days when I pass someone out running on a nice day I sometimes want to side swipe them as I miss that freedom!😂

Dave Bexfield said...

Diane, I don't advocate violence against a fellow athlete. Unless they are winning, of course. ;)