The Race to the Weight Loss Finish Line…
Humans are competitive by nature because nature is competitive by default.
All living things must fight to survive, whether it is plants fighting for light, animals fighting for dominance or humans fighting for food.
Living in the modern-era, it may not be food that humans are fighting for per se, but they are fighting for job opportunities, to move up the corporate ladder, to be picked first for a sports team or to win the battle with their weight.
If we’re competitive by nature, how can we use this for the good; to accomplish our goals of losing weight and keeping it off? We can, and it all lies in the art of healthy competition.
What is Darwinism?
The basis for the Theory of Evolution is that all things in life are related.
Random genetic mutations occur within the genetic code, and some of these mutations are considered essential to the organism’s survival.
When these mutations are beneficial, they are then passed down to the next generation. Over time, new mutations keep occurring, and what’s left behind is a very different organism.
What Charles Darwin added to this theory is natural selection, which is preserving the functional mutations that enable species to compete better in the world around them.
Phrases like “only the strong survive” and “survival of the fittest” are often associated with Darwinism.
Natural selection, in fact, was coined by philosopher Herbert Spencer after reading Darwin’s book titled On the Origin of Species. Several books into the series, Darwin himself began using the term “survival of the fittest” to describe natural selection.
Today, natural selection is the preferred term because biologists feel that “survival of the fittest” focuses too much on the physical condition of the species, such as being big, fast and strong.
However, it’s the actual function of traits that determine how successful a species is on our planet.
The meaning of Darwinism has changed over the years and varies depending on where and how it’s being used. Although biologists and creationists use the term differently, people living in the United States generally think of the need to survive through competition when they think of Charles Darwin.
It’s those who carry a unique set of traits that are most successful in modern-day society, whether it is through having smarts, creativity or physical endurance.
While these points may not be completely consistent with Darwin’s original vision, the bigger picture remains the same: In order to be a successful species on this planet, you must have a desirable set of traits that puts you ahead of everyone else.
How the Darwinian Theory Plays an Important Part in Human Existence
No matter how you choose to look at Darwin’s theory of evolution, we can all agree that humans are competitive by nature, and this drive comes from our early ancestors who needed to be strong to survive.
Therefore, we are programmed to be competitive. Of course, some people are more competitive than others, but consider what these individuals bring to the table. It’s often the competitive types that succeed at the gym, get the next work promotion or make larger salaries.
Competition is something that is favored by individuals, and those who choose not to compete in the game of life are often overlooked.
Furthermore, consider how we are programmed to be competitive at a young age. Whether it’s through team sports or art class, parents push their kids to be “the best.” Kids start to feel this immense amount of pressure early on and work hard to appease their parents, and this quickly turns to competitiveness.
And, you certainly know all the key phrases in life such as, “In life, there are winners and then there are losers,” or “The winner is always part of the answer; the loser is always part of the problem.”
Tough stuff? … Not when you have the drive to succeed.
How Competition Can Aid in Weight Loss Goals
Now that we’ve taken a look at the theory of evolution and how the strong are meant to survive, think about how this form of healthy competition can work toward your benefit.
If you’ve been trying to lose weight and haven’t had much success, it’s time that you get serious about your weight loss goals and incorporating other people into the mix.
Even if you have a strong mindset, it may not be enough to keep you motivated and working toward your weight loss goals. Reports consistently show that people who have competition from others speed up weight loss efforts and are more likely to keep the weight off.
This is the thought behind weight loss programs like Weight Watchers that creates a team of people who can lean on each other for support. These programs add a healthy dose of competition by spotlighting those who have succeeded at the program and by encouraging others not to fall behind the competition.
Yet as strong as these programs can be, for some people, they’re still not enough. If there’s really nothing to lose, people will simply bail out of the program and continue with their previous way of life.
An obstacle to online weight loss programs is that people don’t know each other in person; they only know each other in cyberspace. This makes it that much easier to back out of a program and have little desire to live up to the expectations that others have of you. You also can’t physically see the results that others are accomplishing, so there is no real competition.
That’s not to say that online weight loss programs are ineffective, because actually, many have great results because of their ability to join people together to create a supportive, understanding community. But the truth stands that some people just need more.
How to Create Healthy Competition
Whether you’re competitive by nature or not, there are effective ways to bring healthy competition into your weight loss regimen.
If you’ve been working solo, this is probably your biggest problem. Even though you may have clearly defined why you want to lose weight, there may be no real drive behind your workouts. Over time, it will become easier to drop the ball because there’s nothing to lose and no one to disappoint.
The best thing to do is to work with someone else to create competition, giving yourself extra motivation to meet your weight loss goals.
Where do you find this person?
Consider those around you that may be interested in losing weight: your spouse, a friend, a family member or a coworker.
Even though you will be looking to increase your competition to better meet your weight loss goals, remember that the competition should always be beneficial. You don’t want to be demeaning or rude; your workout partner may want to drop out of the race all together. Instead, encourage each other to meet new goals and reach your fullest potential.
Here are great examples of how you can work with another person to keep the competition going strong and allow you to stay focused on the end prize.
- Race to the Finish Line. Who can complete their laps the fastest? Who can cycle around the pond quicker? Who can Rollerblade around the block the most times in 15 minutes?
- Pounds under Pressure. Who can lose the most pounds in one month? Who can lose one pound a week? Who can keep the pounds off through the holidays?
- Muscle Mass Matters. Who can gain more muscle mass? Who can lift a certain amount of weight? Who can do a specific amount of reps?
- Endurance Endeavors. Who can run for the longest distance? Who will win a cross country race?
As you can see, there are many ways that you can compete with someone else, having fun along the way while meeting your workout goals. It’s hard to stay motivated and determined when it’s just you out there.
Even if you don’t win the competition, you’re winning the bigger reward: losing weight.
Extend the Competition to Groups
It’s not just one person that you need to fuel your competitive nature either. Consider arranging for various events that gets everyone moving. For example, encourage your coworkers to sign up for a 5K race.
This is a great way to get your workplace involved in a particular cause. Those who don’t want to participate in the race can donate their time or money while those who want to run can start training.
You can schedule training practices before or after work as well as on the weekends. This competition is built in because you’ll want to be the best runner among your coworkers plus shine in the actual race.
The same goes with people in your family.
If you look around, you’ll probably find that you have siblings, parents or cousins who all want to lose weight like you do. Maybe you and your siblings have always had underlying competition, and this can go right into your workout goals.
Make it a priority to work out after work several days a week or join a fitness class together. Since we are often most comfortable with friends and family, you may find it easier to be competitive. After all, your loved ones may know exactly how to get under your skin to make you work that much harder.
Even if you don’t have a supportive environment to help support your weight loss goals, you don’t always have to look far. If you have a strong mindset, just head to the gym where your competitive edge won’t be ignored.
It’s not uncommon for guys to give each other the once over, then look and see if they can beat others at lifting weights or doing more reps.
That’s the advantage to going to a gym; there are a lot of people with all different capabilities, and you can align yourself with those who are like you. And because you’re in a public place, you certainly don’t want to fail. You want to come out on top, shine above others and display what you’re capable of doing.
Make Yourself the Expert
A final way to keep that healthy dose of competition going is to give yourself a voice online. Start a fitness blog that documents your progress.
Establish a Twitter account that’s dedicated solely to sharing weight loss tips. It won’t be long before you gain a following, and they’ll want to see how you’re doing in your weight loss efforts.
Although you won’t necessarily be competing against anyone in particular, you will be on display, and this causes our competitive nature to be stimulated.
As humans, when we know that we’re being watched and critiqued, we’re much more likely to perform differently – and better – than if we are alone. You have higher standards to live up to and people that are depending on you.
If you fail at what you’re meant to do, the people who are looking to you for inspiration will find someone else that can do the job better, and this is where the competition is created.
There are many people who share personal blogs on their journeys to weight loss, so you have to make yours the best and give yourself something personal that draws people to you. Maybe you’re a new mom who’s working to get the baby fat off, or perhaps you’re a recently divorced male in your mid-40s, re-entering the dating scene.
Whatever your drive is for losing weight, use it to connect with others who are going through the same thing. When you become the staple for weight loss in your department, you can’t afford to let yourself or anyone else down.
Remember that competition is never a bad way to motivate yourself. Just don’t let your need to win surpass the fun you have and the progress that is made.
After all, it’s the journey and end result that makes it all worth it.