Jack's Journal: Ego and Exercise


People that are selfish are said to be egotistical. While that may be true, to me, ego means something else. Ego means taking pride in the hard work you do. Ego means having the self-confidence to venture into the unknown and know that you can make it out the other side. Ego also means being humble enough to admit you need help when things aren’t going your way.

With all of that said, we can easily make direct applications to exercise when talking about ego. For example, do you ever find yourself looking at that overachiever in the gym that is squatting an insane amount of weight and then attempt more than your normal amount of weight because of it? This is what I mean by being humble in the face of adversity.

It is simply human nature to see and do (monkey see, monkey do). The fact is, though, that not all people are built the same, and if you let your ego get in the way of your health, you end up hurt!

I know I struggle with comparison all of the time. Without fault, if I am out for a run and there is someone on the trail ahead of me, I subconsciously try to chase them down. I’m not out there looking to run past people, it is just the mere sight of someone else brings out the competitive edge in me. What I find works best for me is to focus inward. Focus on something that I can control, like my cadence or my breathing. Anything to distract that thought of whatever is outside of my control.

Speaking of things you can control, one of the many things you can control is how hard you work. For some people, it is easy to work hard and not pat themselves on the back. They just see the person next to them that is lifting more, running more, or doing more. Don't get stuck in that loop of comparing yourself to another person! If you work hard, brag about it, maybe not to others but certainly to yourself (depending on the company you keep)!

Think about your ego being another person following you around all day and pointing out all the positive things that other people are doing. Now imagine that happening all day, every day, for years on end. Eventually, you'll have enough and yell back at this imaginary person and say "what about me?!" This is exactly what we're doing to ourselves when we don't appreciate the accomplishments we have. Instead of yelling back at another person, we end up feeling dissatisfied and dysfunctional as humans for never achieving anything because we haven't appreciated our accomplishments.

Speaking of accomplishments, it is difficult to accomplish new goals and reach new heights of performance without venturing into the unknown (trying new things). Don’t let your ego get in the way of your ambition.

No one is above a certain exercise or activity. If doing that exercise gets you to your goal, then so be it! No one exercise or activity is above someone’s capabilities. If you cannot accomplish that exercise or activity well, that just means there is something else that will work better for you. Eventually, you will accomplish that goal, but there are some smaller milestones you need to achieve first.

We are quick to judge a task’s difficulty based on our current skills and abilities, but the fact is we are constantly evolving. Venture into the unknown aware that you will come out the other side of the journey because you can change and learn.

For example, less than a year ago I competed in my first virtual race. It was the TC 10-mile, and that was, at the time, the longest distance I had ever run. Fast forward seven months and I just completed Grandma’s virtual half marathon. To someone who was only running 4 miles at a time just a few years ago, a half marathon seemed completely foreign to me. Who knows what the future holds? I don’t, but I’m going into it with confidence now.

Be proud of your achievements, no matter how small you believe them to be. Be humble, no matter how large your achievements are. You never know, you might be the person that someone else is looking up to. Represent well what it means to be happy and healthy!

If you’d like help setting and achieving your health and wellness goals, please contact Jack Zahn at jack@trifitnesswbl.com to set up an appointment.

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