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Non-Compete Clause

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I seem to have a strong dislike for competition. Not against myself, mind you. I love competing against my personal best and excelling there. It's against others that I never like to compete.


Because the vast majority of competitions have one winner and many losers. If I should win, then a whole bunch of people lose. If I don't fight to win, and cause all those people to lose, someone else will win.

I noticed that this showed up in the Spark Team I co-lead. I've been trying to provide some Team Goals and Team Challenges. This month's challenges are steps (5,000+) and freggies (min. 1 each daily). I set the basic levels low because I want them to be inclusive of as many people as possible. And I didn't set it up to be a "who can get the most?" challenge or a "break into teams and see which one gets the most" challenge. Instead, I'd want to reward EVERY Teammate who accomplishes the goal.

In a similar vein, while I've joined a couple of challenges (10-minute fitness, 5k Your Way, and Team Leader), none of those involved competing against others. Ditto for the Team Goals and Challenges I choose to take part in.

This isn't new, either. I hated competing in school. Thinking back as I write this, I remember a third grade classroom game. We each were given a dictionary. The teacher gave us a word and we had to find it as fast as we could then raise our hand. I'd been reading since I was three, where many of the other students learned basic words in first grade. I won easily, multiple times, then quit trying and pretended to have trouble. It was SO unfair to the rest of my classmates. That's not even something an adult told me. No, the teacher never said "let others have a chance." It was purely my distaste for standing out that way and keeping others from winning.

Maybe that's part of it. Sometimes things seem to come too easily. When I can see others working ten times as hard as me to achieve the same goal, I hate to cross the finish line ahead of them and "negate" all their effort. Instead, I can seem to trip, stagger, sabotage myself and let them cross ahead of me - happy inside with the knowledge that I did well and not needing to be first across the line to know I could have chosen to be. They can wear the blue ribbon and I can be happy I beat (or could have beat) my previous best time.

Hence my title. It's like my motto for this life is a Non-Compete Clause.

For those unfamiliar with the term, that is part of a legal agreement when someone leaves a company that states they will not directly compete against that company for a period of time. An example might be a morning DJ not being allowed to go be a DJ at another local, directly competing radio station. He might be able to go outside the local area or work for one with a completely different audience (go from hard rock to country formats, perhaps).


Where does this lead? I've been having to fight the strangest urge to sabotage myself because my ability to lose weight has been so easy. Thankfully, I've been able to ignore the mental fidgets so far, but it is disconcerting to hear my inner voice arguing for eating more because I don't want it to frustrate others who don't have the same level of progress.

I noticed my ticker today and boggled. emoticon Somehow in 6 months I've hit 45 pounds down and halfway to my original goal of 160.

I'm almost back under 200. I remember 199 - 200 for two key points. One was 2 weeks past my due date with my oldest, DDb. I weighed 199 at the doctor's appt. the day before she was born and was amused that even pregnant I didn't exceed my "I never want to be heaver than 200" rule. (She was 8 lb. 15 oz. so I definitely dropped back down right after. =P ) The other was after I'd made my decision to gain weight - I remember my mother reminding me of my 200 rule and me shrugging and saying it didn't matter any more.

Why has it been so easy for me?

1) I've mentioned it before, but I am not an emotional eater. I do have issues with emotions, they're just not food-related.

2) I'm not (nor have I ever been) anorexic, bulimic, or a binge eater. I don't suffer from depression or any chronic ailment that impacts my ability to eat as I please or engage in most activities.

3) I deliberately gained weight. While I was probably mildly overweight from about 19 (first pregnancy started) until a couple years after my divorce, I usually was around 175-180 at the top end. Only from around the late 90's did I start eating more food generally, eating more sugar, eating out more and doubling up what I ate. And even then, I wasn't consistent. I spent a few years bouncing around 195, a few more around 205, several in the 225 range, and a few more at 235. Only in the last couple years did I hit 240-245 and my highest ever of 250.5.

4) I didn't become completely sedentary. I walked to and from work daily - a 0.65 mile route - in about 12 minutes. When it was most stressful, I went walking on my 15 minute breaks and 30 minute lunches to clear my mind. At one point I was going up and down the flights of stairs in the building during my 15 minute break. I walked and bused everywhere, carrying loads of groceries.

5) I didn't yo-yo diet. Amusingly / sadly, I've done Slimfast shakes - not to lose weight but to boost my nutrition and/or be an easy breakfast. (In fact, a big reason I mentally could not buy into any of the weight loss industry was because almost every method had fine print that "combined with a exercise and an otherwise healthy diet". Well, no kidding, Sherlock. What do I need this product for if exercise and a healthy diet would already do the job?) This also means I don't have a long string of trying to lose weight and failing or losing it and regaining that linger as examples of what I'll do again.

6) I have no issues eating rationally around others who eat to excess. The owner of the company I work at is obese, quite possibly morbidly so. Our Christmas dinner's in years we've had them were at Maggiano's and involved a multi-course meal in which she pushed us all to eat as much as we could and ask for more so she could have leftovers boxed for later. I ate bread, one salad, a couple of meat entree's, a veggie dish, and a dessert. Peer pressure is just not a consideration.

7) I now live alone. I shop solely for me, I cook solely for me. My side of the family does not do holidays, nor do we meet up often. So family gatherings don't exist outside of me meeting up with DS and DDa. With them, I may eat more richly for that one meal, but I balance it to the day and week and stay easily in my average ranges.

8) While my "wicked" step-mother and family dinners around my father were the epitome of the clean plate club, obscure and distorted rules, and more, my mother was into Adelle Davis' book "Eat Right to Live Well" and taught me a love of whole grain bread and other such foods. And I naturally love vegetables. So even when "pigging out" and eating lots of sugar, I also ate plenty of protein and was more likely to add a salad to my order of a large burger and a shake than fries.

9) As mentioned before, I'd already spent the last year or two applying similar principles to my finances as I'm apply now to my weight. I strengthened my self-discipline and willpower, practiced my goal-setting, in that realm first.

10) I'm a spreadsheet gal. I track things all the time. In the MMORPG (World of Warcraft) that I play, I have records of levels in professions, levels in gear, levels in reputations, all recorded in spreadsheets so I can figure out which character might be able to use something. I have dozens of characters I track. I've tracked my food, every bite, for six months now without ever thinking it was extra work.

11) I have free time. Copious amounts compared to some people. I get up around 7:20 am, leave by 7:40 am, bus to work and start at 8:30 am. I eat lunch at work and get off at 5:00 pm, riding the bus to the gym. I work out 40+ minutes daily then head home. I clean my room, do my laundry and shopping, and go to the gym on the weekend. The rest of my time is used how I choose. I do fill it, but other than arrangements to meet with DDa or DS, it is purely filled at my whim. ( I ~LOVE~ my empty nest!)


Whew, okay, that went a lot longer than planned.

The key point of all that is this: PLEASE, OH PLEASE, DO NOT COMPARE YOUR PROGRESS TO MINE!

Unless all of those points apply equally to you, you'd be comparing apples to oranges. Or possibly apples to zucchinis - since at least apples and oranges are both fruit.

This has been absurdly easy for me so far. In fact, I keep edging my calories higher to try to keep from losing so fast. (Because SP uses sedentary as the baseline BMR, I think I burn more than they account for during my non-workout time.)

Yes, it could be as easy for others IF ...


... IF all the obstacles that otherwise make it challenging did not exist or were eliminated.

Some of those obstacles can't be eliminated. Depression can't just be turned off until the weight is gone. Fibromyalgia might allow a few easier days, but when a flare hits, there's no magic pill to get rid of it. Whether mental or physical, those things slow one's progress down. As do injuries. As can some medications.

Even things that can, with a great deal of effort, be tackled - are still there to slow progress until they are. Mindless snacking, binges, clean plate habits, lack of portion control, heavy carb cravings, and so on.

DO NOT put down the progress you are making because you see others, like me, cruising along.

I agree completely that it is NOT fair.

Were there any way to take away the obstacles and difficulties that get in your path, you'd already be doing so.


BUT let me end with:

This is not a race in which only one person can win by crossing the finish line first. If it were, NONE of us would have any reason for being here. Because who knows who the first person to have to work to lose weight was. Probably someone in early history, maybe an Egyptian living on a diet of grain.

This is a journey in which every one of us has the ability, so long as we keep redirecting ourselves in the right direction, to someday eventually pass landmarks such as "overweight, not obese", "healthy BMI", "ideal weight", "average or better on fitness tests", "able to touch toes", and so on. Hundreds of thousands may have already passed those landmarks, millions may pass after you, but that won't diminish the excitement and thrill of passing it yourself. You'll get there!
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    1944 days ago
    I don't compare myself to others when it comes to fitness and weight. I just try to do better each day. If I exercise a bit more today than yesterday, I am satisfied. If I eat more veggies today than yesterday, that's good enough for me. We can all reach our goals in our own time. Thanks for the blog!
    2254 days ago
    Thank you for the reminder to celebrate our successes and to measure our own progress against someone else. Thank you for sharing this well written post!
    2254 days ago
    Thanks for sharing! Kept up the good work!
    2254 days ago
    This is awesome. I find your journey so encouraging. It's so easy to get into the comparison trap. Thanks for posting this.
    2254 days ago
    I feel the same as you in a lot of ways regarding competition....I shy away from it because most of the time it is not fair.

    I could go further and say that some of the things we earn our points on are not fair either...such as the points for facebook, glasses of water per day...I don't do facebook and my body can only tolerate 6 glasses or water per day.

    I don't allow the point thing to get to me though, I am just me and if I don't gain as many points for the day as someone else, oh is what it is.

    My husband is competitive motivated though, so I will just let him have that part...LOL
    2254 days ago
    Just curious...why did you decide to gain weight? I have to admit that it boggles my mind why you would do that.
    2255 days ago
    Thank you for sharing emoticon
    You've done well. You deserve a pat on the back.
    No envy here emoticon We are all in different stages of our lives. Right now I am in the stage where time is so limited, it feels like it is flying by. I was single and had lots of time before. The kids will grow up and will need me less so I will have more time again. I am a slow loser but that's ok. I am healthy. I am happy. Life is good. emoticon
    2255 days ago
  • SUE_2U
    emoticon I was pretty sure that I wrote here... Maybe my computer at it, or it went out into the ozone. But you brought up some really important points.
    Thanks so much for your kind words on my blog. I always appreciate them. emoticon
    2255 days ago
    The problem with being competitive is that when you don't finish first, you take an emotional hit. Therefore, I don't compete, compare, or constrain myself to other s or their modes or methods. I look as others success as proof that individaul battles can be overcome... while reminding myself that the key word is "individual."

    Great blog!

    2255 days ago
    I have to admit I am competitive. It's my nature. But it only feels good to win when the playing field is level. But you are right, weight loss is never played on a level playing field! Congrats on your progress, and may we each win the healthiest body we can inhabit.
    2255 days ago
  • JULIA1154
    I hated competitions, too, and found myself breathing a sigh of recognition and relief as I read this.

    (My mother was a big fan of Adelle Davis, too. I've still got a well-worn copy of Eat Right on my shelves.)
    2255 days ago
    Very well written and spot on!

    I feel the same way about my journey: I have lots of time. I love vegetables. I am relatively pain free and enjoy exercise.

    And it's not a zero sum game. We can all win!
    2256 days ago
    I loved this blog!!

    It's so funny that I read this today. Just last night it occurred to me that I don't have any of the problems that so many seem to have with weight. The only reason I'm fat is laziness and loving the taste of bad food. I used to talk about all the times I tried this and failed... but truly? I never tried. I never kept anything up for longer than 2 weeks. I never tried.

    While I do think that some competition can be good and healthy... it should never be a competition to lose the most weight, or lose it fastest. I completely agree with you there.

    Oh, and I play WoW too! What's your server??
    2256 days ago
    I never was one to compete either because I would be one of those that usually lost!
    It is great how you have great ethics, they are more rare as the years go by.
    2256 days ago
    emoticon It's so important for everyone to realize that their journey will not be the same as anyone else's. I think people forget that, and it's one reason they get discouraged. Great blog!
    2256 days ago
    Interesting. emoticon
    2256 days ago
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    2256 days ago
    Congratulations on your progress and your inspiration to others.
    2256 days ago
    Loved your blog!
    2256 days ago
    Good blog.
    2256 days ago
    1) I also am a non-competer, so a lot of what you said hit the nail on the head for me.

    2) I DON'T get feelings of inferiority from others' success on SparkPeople. All the success in the air here just jazzes me up!

    a) Also, to be honest, I'm deliberately losing weight slowly. I've lost weight before and know firsthand (unfortunately) how easy it is to put that 100 lbs right back on, plus. So, when I see someone racing down the ladder, well...let's just say I'm doing it my way.

    b) When I'm NOT losing weight, I own it. I know why. And I don't try to kid myself that someone else is "stealing my luck." Luck's got nothing to do with it!

    3) While I can't claim to spreadsheet my life, they certainly are AWESOME! Keep it up!

    2256 days ago
    I'm new to SparkPeople. In fact this is the first thing I've posted at all but I just had to say thank you. I am constantly comparing myself to other people. You opened my eyes...we are all different. Our circumstances are different, our bodies are different, our challenges are different. SparkPeople is helping me to understand me and what causes my eating habits. Thanks for reminding me this is about me not about how I measure up to someone else!
    2256 days ago
    Very good and that is one thing I don't like about Biggest loser show, competing against others that need to be there worse, or this year your family members. I don't want to do bad, but if I do better than my son he has to go home and he needs to lose wt more than I.... as you say that doesn't seem fair.

    Glad you are doing so well. Me I am stuck at 189 now, seems to be I get stuck every few pounds, but right now not eating enough but not sure what else to eat! oh well will figure it out and get to where I want to be!
    2256 days ago
    Great blog! I've always felt that life is warm comfortable coat, my "coat" will not fit another person and vice-verse. Once you find that coat that suits you, no other will fit quite the same way or be what you should be wearing. So however you do this journey as long as you see results, in ANY timeframe or way, it is the one for you!
    And results are as varied as each and every one of us! Some will be quick, some not so much. But results just the same!
    Find your coat, put it on, and know that it is the one for you, not the person next to you!

    2256 days ago
    Hey this was a great blog!!
    In my case, probably like comparing apples to cockleburrs!!

    2256 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/15/2012 4:43:18 PM
    That was a great blog to read and it makes so much sense! You definitely have a good understanding of who you are.
    Have a great Day!
    2256 days ago
  • KM1116
    Great read... Thanks!!
    2256 days ago
  • AMBERT27
    You are so right on!! And good for you for realizing this!
    2256 days ago
    I do not like competing either!! I am here to get healthy and enjoy life not worry about what others do or think!! Congrats to you on all of your achievements!! emoticon
    2256 days ago
    Very happy I read all of this! That last paragraph really hit home. Well said, well thought out...thank you for sharing.
    2256 days ago
    Oh my! Funny - when I am at the gym on the treadmill, I look over to my right and left to see how fast the others next to me are going because I don't want to feel like a slug at my pace. That competition thing - can be deadly. For me - I will hurt myself trying to keep up with those I can't physically keep up with - then I will be sidelined due to an injury and quit all together. It's a delicate balance!

    I like the non-compete. Just doing - will get me there - it doesn't have to be a race. The object is to GET THERE!!!

    Thanks for the reminder. --- and yes, I am jealous that this is easy for you. It is snails pace, watching paint dry slow for me and good choices are yet to be habits!

    BUT I CAN DO THIS!!!!! I have everything I need to get there!
    2256 days ago
    I too refuse to compete but for a whole other reason. I hate, hate, hate to feel like i dont measure up to other peoples expectations. Its a tricky and slippery slope and many times I have to catch myself and just stop to breath until the panic passes. The great thing about your blog is that you are not letting life pass you by. You are busy and active and sound rather happy. Thanks for sharing. Your blog helped me to see that not competing can be healthy for me if I have the right attitude about it. Its not about fearing being a failure, its about not feeling the need to compete because I can be happy right where I am, with what I am doing. That works. When I look at it that way, I feel pretty darned good about my slow but steady progress.

    2257 days ago
    To each their own....
    2257 days ago
    I needed to hear these words, thank you so much for your brutal honesty. Yes, still jealous, but we are different and that is ok by me.
    2257 days ago
  • 4GREEN4
    2257 days ago
    What a great blog! I agree with you about not competing....but it is SO HARD sometimes to NOT compare your progress to someone else's - ya know?? And also, to not feel like you're not doing it as well, or whatever. You have made some fantastic points, and I will be keeping this in mind as I go on. Mindset - another thing that takes TIME to'll get there! Thanks for the blog.
    2257 days ago
    2257 days ago
  • MRE1956
    You are so spot on! Competition, as well as the need to compare oneself to others, has been the downfall of many folks in their journey to better health.......perhaps if the focus is changed to being one of a *PERSONAL* journey, a better likelihood of success could result......

    Best wishes to you - and thank you for putting this out there for us!
    2257 days ago
    You are wonderfully open and honest about your life and your goals. I admit my 1st 100lbs came off very easily - but that was 5 years ago.. this time it is a great deal slower - but I am prepared for it - after all, I am 5 years older, and hopefully a little wiser! I totally agree that competing against others is incredibly wrong and can be really damaging to your self being. Just being yourself should be a motto of SP!
    2257 days ago
    2257 days ago
    Thank you. That was elegant and straight to the point at the same time. And this gal needs an honest pick me up like that every now and then. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2257 days ago
    Thank you very much for sharing this.
    2257 days ago
    Great blog!
    2257 days ago
    What an incredible blog! That's very cool that you look at things the way you do.

    I agree completely with the idea that competing with others isn't such a good thing -- many times unhealthy.

    How awesome that this comes easy for you! So many struggle to lose the weight but the way you're going it's quite an inspiration to other people.

    emoticon emoticon
    2257 days ago
  • JIBBIE49
    2257 days ago
  • JIBBIE49
    emoticon Great to see your blog featured in the Spark Mail. what an honor.
    2257 days ago
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