There’s a young woman named Emmie who’s blogging about her weight loss journey here. Recently she wrote about whether or not to go to a casting call for The Biggest Loser (TBL).

Apparently, she had tried out before but was not chosen. She took it hard. Then, just recently, she got a call from a TBL producer telling her that TBL would be in her area again and that she should come on out.

In the end, she decided that she really didn’t want to be on TBL, that she was doing this for herself and in her own way. I think she made the right decision but there were others who thought she was crazy not to want that kind of opportunity.

And I thought, the opportunity for what? To be on national television? To have every minute of every day monitored for months on end? To lose massive amounts of weight quickly? To compete against others? Because I’ve never seen TBL, I don’t know exactly what goes on, but I have a good idea…I’ve read about it and heard others discussing it in great detail. Yeah, how great would it be to have a whole team of weight loss experts taking control of your life for however many months it is, AND walk away with a whole lot of money (IF you’re the biggest loser), 15 minutes of fame AND having lost a lot of weight? You win, right?

At one time, this scenario would have appealed to me because I had no faith in myself whatsoever.

Anyway, I am really proud of Emmie for the decision she made. The longer I am on this journey the more I know, in the deepest part of my soul, that I have everything I need, right inside myself. And so does Emmie and so do you. I have come to believe that when we look outside ourselves we get tripped up, we stop trusting ourselves. And trust in ourselves is the real, long-term solution. If we don’t then we will continue to look outside ourselves and find only short-term answers.

To me, “winning” is having that unshakeable faith deep down inside, knowing that I can handle anything that comes my way.

And so back to the original question: is competition always good? I’ve been around the “diet program” block a time or two (more like 25) and almost all of them end up having a “competition” element to them. Not to mention all the personal blogs out there with challenges and whatnot, all in the name of “motivation” to “keep going” with weight loss. There are fitness challenges, and accountability challenges, and points-counting challenges…I know you know what I am talking about. And maybe for a very few, these work and weight is taken off forever, and they never have to look back.

But if you know me or have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I don’t like challenges. That’s not to say that I haven’t signed up for a few over the years, but I always regret it when I do. It goes against every fiber of my being.

And so, overall, I think this kind of competition is counterproductive. I’m not saying “don’t run a 5K” or don’t challenge yourself in a way that feels right to you. I am saying that the challenge or competition mentality, when it comes to our bodies and our health, is probably more of a distraction than a help. I think it pushes us into a more narrow definition of what’s acceptable for ourselves.

But at the same time, it opposes the idea that we’re supposed to be bettering ourselves, pushing the envelope, and stepping outside our comfort zones. Or are we?

I think it becomes more important to both know who and what we are and to know who and what we are not! There have been many times when I wanted for myself what I saw others having: like the high-fives and the “you go girl” that comes with crossing the finish line of a half marathon. Or being a weight-loss success story. But those moments are fleeting. Or you might feel the not-rightness deep down inside…and if you “fail” at one of these challenges, you will feel that you’ve failed yourself. I know because I’ve been there done that too many times to count.

I get the idea of wanting to excel and be great at what we do, but it seems to me that we, as a society, have gone way beyond that noble idea and are now pushing ourselves too far and too hard. We don’t want to be who we are, we want to be better, stronger, smarter, faster, richer, funnier, thinner. It’s not good enough to excel at what comes easily to us, we must struggle to become…what? To transform ourselves into…what?

When we see “everyone else” getting praise and high-fives publicly, we want it too. But it gets in the way of being ourselves, which ultimately is our greatest gift to others.

And so I believe it’s really important to know what you really want. On the surface, it may seem like what you want is weight loss. I know that’s what I’ve wanted. But what I’ve discovered, now that I’ve had weight loss (and weight re-gain), is that’s not what I really wanted. What I really wanted was to express myself via writing and to be heard. And when I allow myself to have what I really want, the rest just comes naturally.

So focus on three things: what you really want, what comes easily to you, and what you love. In most cases it will be the same thing and it will be valuable to yourself and to others. And when you feel of value, your body will respond in kind. I know mine does.