Getting clearer all the time

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life92 Comments


Last week I was in the pool at the YMCA swimming laps. I do the same workout every Tuesday and Thursday. I get in, swim 8 lengths of freestyle and two of breast stroke. Then, repeat. The goal is to not stop. The next goal is to hit 45 minutes. The final goal is to push it and get more laps in the same amount of time, but honestly, that is the least of the goals.

Last Thursday I managed to squeeze in one more set in the same amount of time that I swam the previous workout. 2,000 yards versus 1,800, in 45 minutes. I was pretty stoked.

However, during my workout, a woman got into the pool and started in on some laps and I was floored at how powerful and fast she was. As she lapped me more than once in the next lane over, I remembered a familiar feeling from my years in youth sports, both in swimming and later, in figure skating. "I'm never going to be that fast." [cue heavy nostalgic sigh of teen sports angst here]

Of course, as an adult, my goals in fitness have changed, but that old familiar feeling of someone's always going to be better washed over me. 

That's when it hit me like a big old duh, winning: Someone will always be faster.

Someone will always be faster, stronger, thinner, prettier, smarter, more evolved, better dressed, less grey, and less nuerotic.

Big flippin' deal.

Take it or leave it, there's only one of me.

I'll take it.

Here's to working with what you have every day.


Cathy ZielskeGetting clearer all the time

92 Comments on “Getting clearer all the time”

  1. #1

    Well said Cathy, I tell my kids this all the time. Just think how far you have come from last year at this time and who knows how fast you will be next year at this time. Just do the best you can each day and that’s better then not doing your best. Way to go on your time doing laps, that is awesome. Hope you had a great weekend.

    Congrats to the winners.

  2. #3
    Barb M.

    Amen, sistah!!! My new mantra (thanks to Tracey Clark, who intro-ed it to me) is “I am enough.” You are enough and you go the perfect speed.

  3. #4

    Your right “Someone will always be faster, stronger, thinner, prettier, smarter, more evolved, better dressed, less grey, and less nuerotic.” But no one is as truly special and unique like YOU!!! I have to tell myself that so many times. It’s a hard lesson to learn and keep! Your FAB!!! Keep up the good work.

  4. #6

    You’re right. That’s the way life is. Once you can stop comparing yourself to them, you’ll be happy with who you are (which it sounds like you are). I think it’s good to push yourself and maybe aspire to be like someone else but those goals need to be for you, not for someone else. Great job on the swimming – that’s fantastic!

  5. #7

    Yes indeed, there is only one of you… and it’s a pretty awesome package, if you ask me. <3

    I am not a competitive person at heart, but I do like to do well at things. (Don't we all?!) I think I've found my comfort zone somewhere between being good enough but still striving for excellence.

  6. #9

    I’m trying to swim 3 lengths freestyle without stopping so you would be the one flying by me. I really enjoy reading all your posts and your fitness ones are my favorite. That’s for sharing and for keeping it real!

  7. #10

    Thats how i feel about myself all the time so mostly i dont try for that reason….i have to let those thoughts go and just do it for ME!!!!! No one else…thanks for making me think that way:)

  8. #11

    but you are faster, prettier, more athletic than some other people, up, down, right, wrong, fat, thin…you are moving and that’s more than what half the world is doing right now.

  9. #14

    thanks for this post, cathy. i was in “whining mode” during easter, these words are like an “wake up!” call for me. thank you!!!!!

  10. #18
    Angie U

    Wow! I soo needed to hear this this exact morning! I’ll be meeting up with my personal training group in about an hour, we will do a repeat of the workout we did 4 weeks ago and hopefully see some progress. It involves, right off the bat, running a mile as fast as you can. 4 weeks ago I ran it in 8:44, I was ecstatic! Several in my group were faster and a couple people were slower, but it was my best effort. This morning, I was beginning to feel the old self-doubts, I’m not as fast as everyone else, maybe I’ll even be slower this morning, blah, blah, blah! Maybe I’ll just go out and do the best that I can do…how about that? I will push myself a little harder this morning Ms. Z thank you very much!

  11. #19
    Mary Jo

    As I turn 40 this year, this statement
    “Here’s to working with what you have every day.”
    holds so much truth for me.

    I know I will never be in my 20’s or even my 30’s again, and am embracing 40 like there is no tomorrow! But I also know that for everything I am “losing”, I am gaining a ton πŸ™‚

  12. #20
    Susan M

    Great post! Why do we still compare ourselves to others? I really needed to hear this today. We need to remember that we are awesome in our own awesomeness! (to borrow a phrase from my 7-year-old!)

  13. #22

    But see, Charmaine, there still is only one you. I know thats hard to wrap your head around when youre not feeling the self love, but Im telling you, its possible to make it click. Hard, but possible. Im working on it every single day.

  14. #26

    me too! Although Im skipping my run today. Sore throat and fevery this morning. Ugh. Looks like Ill be exercising my mind with tv in bed.
    ; )

  15. #27

    Wow! I sure needed to read that today! I’m going to quote you on the faster, stronger, prettier, etc. That so resonates with me and my swimming. So, guess what? I’m going tonight even though I’ve been sick for two weeks and haven’t done anything during that time. Here’s to being in Lane 1 πŸ™‚

  16. #29
    Heather H.

    I always read, but rarely comment. I just have to say that I LOVE this post. I totally agree. Thanks for putting into words what has been in my head for a while.
    Someone will always be faster, stronger, thinner, prettier, smarter, more evolved, better dressed, less grey, and less nuerotic.
    Big flippin’ deal.
    I love that. I think I will print that out and hang it up on my bathroom mirror.

  17. #30

    Sounds like a good day to listen to “There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You” by Ben Folds. It’s on Sunny 16. It’s one of my favorites : )

  18. #31
    Carol Anne

    Yes!! As I rode my bike to work this morning for the first time, I saw other riders with much fancier gear (and not as heavy). I felt discouraged, until I realized that I’m out there, with all my baggage (literally and figuratively) and doing it anyway. Go me! Go you!

  19. #33

    One of the first things the coach of our marathon training running club said to us was, “Guess what? None of you are going to WIN the marathon, so just enjoy it and do your best.”. Such good advice.

  20. #34

    Glad to hear you’re just ‘taking it’. And that you’re swimming twice every week – way to go. I challenge you to switch up your training a little bit – I was part of a masters swim program for a while and during that time learned the benefits of a variety of workouts. For example – doing some intervals really helped me improve my personal strength and speed. It sounds like you’re doing 80 lengths in 45 minutes now which is almost 2 lengths a minute. Maybe for one of your middle 8 freestyle, 2 breaststroke sets you could try to do each one of those freestyle lengths in 40 seconds (i.e., swim each length as fast as you can then rest for whatever remains of the 40 seconds). If you felt great being able to swim 2,000 instead of 1,800 yards in the same amount of time, you’ll also feel great when you’re able to get a bit more rest time on each of those lengths (or shorten that repeat time down to 35 then 30 seconds and still have a bit of time tor rest). I’m not explaining this very well, but the basic idea is to vary up your work out a bit – for a change of ‘scenery’ in the pool and to improve your strenght and speed while you’re at it. As I write this it’s motivating me to look up the swim times at local pools and to get back out there myself. Thanks for giving me that motivation.

  21. #35

    My favorite line is “Make me feel tiny if it makes you feel tall.” Just takes a lot of pressure off if I remember that I’m doing things for me, and being better than me (last time) is the goal, not being better than everyone else.

  22. #36
    Jennie Hart

    Your blog is great Cathy and I am going to follow it, I am just going over to the move more eat less and re-inspire myself. I think I may do the same as Heather and print out the words to put on my board! Jen x

  23. #37

    Great post Cathy. We all still get that … ugh feeling of “how come she…whatever?” at times. I’ll be 67 in September and yep, it still comes up. Fortunately, it doesn’t last long unless I want to pout a bit more. Oh that inner brat needs her time too on occasion. :-p

    I can think of what I can do that maybe she can’t. Or maybe she can and we have more in common than it might seem.

    I wonder if the other woman in the pool is a whiz with computers, can design, blogs and tweets about it, makes great products,and keeps a LOT of women around the whole frickin’ world amused and occasionally peeing their pants with laughter. Maybe, maybe not. But you are so right…it doesn’t frickin’ matter, does it.

  24. #38

    The best part? If you stop and think about, SO MANY PEOPLE think the same thing about you when they read your blog every day. It’s all relative, mama. Now go sweat a little.

  25. #39

    Don’t forget you’re probably faster, smarter, thinner, prettier than a bunch of people too. My husband and my daughters go to karate. They have a message of the week. One my favorites that they’ve shared with me is “Lengthen Your Line”. The idea is you’re on your journey, the only person you’re truly competing with is yourself. The only person you can compare yourself to is yourself. They especially frame this in the context of the underbelts to the black belts, but it applies every where. In fact my husband bought me a RoadID that I wear when running and cycling. Besides the identifying information printed there, at the bottom it reads Lengthen Your Line. I look at it when someone passes me when I’m running or when I’m feeling unconfident. It helps. Best of luck, you’re not alone in worrying about these things.

  26. #40

    Know what washes over me when I do laps in the pool? Water. And dread. And panic attacks when I can’t reach the bottom of the pool just as I start to tire near the other side.
    Yeah…I don’t swim very much any more. :/

  27. #41
    amanda gibson

    Right on, sister!

    I’m with you – sometimes I let my competitive nature take over – and, you know what? In the end it always makes me feel like crap. But, being happy with who I am – fast or slow or win or lose? That always feels good.

  28. #42

    I LOVE this post! I periodically get these feelings when it comes to hiking, but I’ve started to realize that I am, as my friend says, “comparing myself to the wrong people”.

    It doesn’t matter if I’m the slowest hiker in the group (a group full of people who can run up Mount Rainier on a whim), what matters is that I am out there, on trail, pushing myself.

  29. #44

    It’s not just fitness, it’s everything. It’s so easy to feel defeated because you can’t be “the best” when comparing yourself to others. In the immortal words of Coach John Wooden: β€œSuccess is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing that you made the effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” The key here is making the effort. That’s where I see myself falling short.

  30. #45

    omg this is soooo true, and, um, so obvious, how come I’ve never realized this before. You are a genius! I totally see a scrapbook title here …

  31. #46

    Having to “be the best” led to years of bulimia for me when I was in my teens and early 20’s. I’m now in my mid-40’s, and while I still struggle with what others think of me, I am much more content and comfortable in my own skin (and not bulimic). I still get down on myself if I don’t exercise or eat right, but I remind myself that the very next moment is a brand-new moment, and I can make a better choice for that next moment. And I’m learning that most people could care less what I look like, what I’m wearing, or how much I’m exercising. So, Cathy, you’re not alone – hang in there and “keep on swimming, swimming, swimming..” (Dora, from “Finding Nemo). Hugs-Lisa

  32. #48

    Amen to that, Sister! I try to always do my best, work towards my own standards and stay true to my moral compass. I’ve worried in the past about what others think of me, but as I get older I realize no one’s really looking and even if they were, who cares. πŸ™‚

  33. #59

    hear hear!
    seriously…quieting those voices in our heads. They have no permission to be there. No permission to interject. No permission. I’m not granting them permission and you aren’t either, Cathy. So BE GONE! (waving my husband’s sneakers vs magic wand because really those things STINK and anything would run away FAST if they smelled those things!! ack!) Now back to our regular scheduled programming……GO CATHY GO!
    Heidi in Guelph, ON

  34. #60

    Winning is the catch phrase of the year and also very true. I have to remind myself…someone’s always there to flaunt what I don’t have or can’t do…but then again, if I am doing something…that’s better than nothing. WINNING! πŸ™‚

  35. #61
    lynne moore

    Ah! Love the post. I think that is one reason why I stick with Martial Arts….the older I get the less likely anyone expects me to be like Jackie Chan or Chuck Norris. (Or Chloe Bruce) :- )

    Age and wisdom win!

  36. #62

    I needed this message today. I have just about decided to give up on my exercise routine (running 4 times a week and various other ‘cardio stuff’) because I can’t get the weight off anymore.

    Had a long heart-to-heart with myself and realized that I have been feeding my body and my mind too often, with too many ’empty calories’. Amazing how it just kind of creeps up on you. How I let life kinda get in the way of my goals…

    I’m layin’ here with a migraine, craving chocolate and crap food, but I’m not going to give in to it! I watched an incredible movie today called One Week. Awesome movie about taking back your life as if you only had one hour, one week, one month left. It’s inspired me to figure out what I’m passionate about, what motivates me, what drives me to the candy jar instead of my passion place!

    Thanks for keepin’ it real… and for sharing your story! It makes a real difference!

  37. #63

    You are inspiring me to to back to swimming. About 6 years ago I learned to swim. I swam consistently for about 4 years (all year round!). Then my father got sick, then my mother. Anywho, about 2 years after I learned how to swim I was frustrated at how hard it still was. I would watch other swimmers just glide through the water. Then some suggested Total Immersion. It knock off 5 strokes off my lap total. Check out their web site. I bought the video. I also took one of their 2 day classes that are offered around the country. Happy Swimming.

  38. #67
    Judy Sanza

    Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is youer than you. I believe Dr. Seuss summed that up nicely!

  39. #68
    Nicole S

    There might always be someone better in the world of athletics, but there will never be anyone better in the world of scrapping/designing. There is one realm where you are the best. Seriously, I’m not just sucking up here.

  40. #71

    I never leave comments, but I just wanted to say THANK YOU for this post! These words were just what I needed to hear, as I am struggling with my own quest to move more and eat less. I get so discouraged when I dwell on what is so difficult for me, yet so effortless for others. Big Flippin’ Deal! At least I’m doing it! And getting better at it every day! Thanks for the inspiration!

  41. #72

    Someone will always be slower too. The person in the lane on your other side may have been looking at you thinking “gee she’s fast”.

    Your inspiration is awesome.

  42. #74

    I admire you so much – you have motivated me to exercise through watching the changes you have made in your body – and to record it too.

    At times I have felt about you like you did about the woman at pool – but I am getting it – I am ME and that is pretty darn good.

    Thanks Cathy for being so honest and open.

    love & duh moments

  43. #77

    “there’s only one of me. . .” — thank goodness there *is* one of you. My Google Reader would be a much less fun and funny place without posts from CZ.

    You can imagine yourself lapping me a bazillion times! My current fitness goals include climbing the steep hill from the parking lot at work and not be puffing at the top. πŸ™‚ But, hey, at least I can climb it! Onward and upward!

  44. #80
    tara pakosta

    now if that isn’t the truth, I don’t know what is~
    be happy with yourself, it’s the only “you” you will ever be!!! what a great post cathy!
    thank YOU!

  45. #81
    Kimberley Jane

    Thank you for this post. I read blog every day looking for you to make me laugh. You never fail. I love the the statement, “big flippin’ deal”. At 62 I am trying again to lose the same miserable 10 pounds that I have lost a zillion times…Ugh. Your statement made me say to myself, “go get that glass of red and enjoy life”…after you do the treadmill. Geez. You make my day Cathy!

  46. #87

    Believe it or not, it is this sentiment that made me try golf and LOVE it. Someone is always going to be better- and someone is always going to be WORSE! lol! Don’t forget that part.

  47. #88
    Melody Sperl

    Normally I wouldn’t thank someone for smacking me upside the head. But, in this case – Thanks!

  48. #89
    Abby P

    And ya know what? Someone will always be slower, weaker, heavier, less-attractive, less smart, less evolved, poorlyier dressed (yeah, I know it’t not a word, but you know where I’m goin’ with this), more gray, and more neurotic…and THAT’S how you stay balanced. In the end, because there is always someone more something AND someone less something, we are all average…not better than or less than anyone else. I remind my kids of this fact whenever I hear them get a big head or talk-down about someone (rarely happens). TGIF.

  49. #90
    Cheryl M

    There’s a flip side to that also Cathy. Do you realize how many people may think they’re not as good as YOU? I’m one of them. I admire you for your weight loss and how you’ve stuck right with it! I started out January with a bang, only to have stopped and even gained weight! I have NO will power, but you, YOU have accomplished so much!
    So, yes, I agree with everything you said and love your post, but there are people that look at you in that way too.
    You go woman!

  50. #91

    Thanks Cathy for your encouraging words…..i have really enjoyed reading your journey:) People say i am too hard on myself…..i am trying…i was just saying to hubby today that sometimes you are so focussed on taking the day to day steps that you panic when you look up and your goals seem so far away and unreachable…i am trying though

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