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Athlete Wannabe

April 16, 2014

A very sweet, former client of mine recently gave me a gift certificate for a massage at a local day spa.  I finally got around to scheduling myself an appoint and as soon as I was done with my last client of the day today, I rushed downtown for my appointment.

In an attempt to not fall asleep* I sort of let my mind wander and got to thinking.  It’s heck of a lot better than listening to that music that is always lightly playing in the background.  And by music I mean the stuff that only unicorns and wood nymphs might enjoy.  I shit you not, I swear, on more than one occasion, I heard the sounds of what can only be described as a beluga whale in heat.  But I digress.

*One of the many talents that I possess is the ability to sleep just about anywhere so you put me in a mostly darkened room on top of, essentially, a bed that is perfectly heated I have about 18.6 seconds before I am the mayor of Sleepyville in Snoozington, USA

Now mind you, I am ridiculously, mind-numbingly sore after yesterdays CrossFit workout so this massage couldn’t have come at a better time.  As the massage therapist is going to town on my shoulders, back, and legs, I begin to wonder if this is what it is like to be a professional athlete.  Let me explain.

I have always been inspired by athletes – their dedication, their sacrifices, their grit, and their determination.  Day in and day out, they are working to better themselves mentally and physically all the while pushing their bodies to the absolute limit.  With that amount of abuse must come an equal amount of recovery – I can only assume.

As a kid growing up, I was very active.  I was always on the go attending practices and classes often one right after another.  Soccer, softball, dance, and gymnastics took up much of my non-school hours and by the time I was half way through high school, I was completely burnt out.  I went through the phase where all I wanted to do was hang out with my friends and essentially waste time doing a whole lot of nothing (on a side note – as I coach I have many-a-time watched some of my athletes go through this very same thing and it is utterly heartbreaking.  I know the regret that I now feel and, looking back, I am left with that unfortunate question of “what if?”)

It was also at this time that, with the immediate lack of activity and no adjustment to what and how I was eating, I started to gain weight.  As a tall and lean kid all my life, this was quite a shocker to say the least.  I didn’t know at the time what I needed to do or not do for my body to keep it healthy and functional.

Fast forward many, many years and here I am today.  I eventually got my act together, started going to the gym, started learning how to properly fuel my body, and eventually got to the point where I wanted to make health and fitness my life.  As someone who works out on a daily basis, I really am doing a lot of – for lack of a better work – damage to my body.  I am in a constant state of soreness, achiness, and general feeling of being run down.

I then have to wonder how athletes, who I am certain work so much harder than I do, maintain their bodies on a daily basis. Like I said, I have always looked up to athletes and have striven to, in some small percentage, be just like them.  But I really do struggle.  I have all sorts of minor (and some on the borderline of major) aches and injuries that remain a constant in my life.  For the most part I ignore these things as they crop up but I am starting to realize that that time is coming to an end.  No longer am I able to just “walk it off” or “work through the pain,” rather, with the fitness classes that I have to teach each week, my own workouts, running, and now CrossFit, I am really running ragged.

So, if I were to emulate those athletes that I look up to and strive to be just like, I really need to start taking better care of myself.  If I were a true athlete I would take the time to cool down and stretch.  I would foam roll or some other form my myofascial release daily to work out all the kinks.  I would fuel my body with the food and nutrition that it needs, not just count calories to try and lose weight.  How can I ask my body to perform if I don’t give it the tools to do just that?

I would ice the pains and heat the aches.  I would take it easy on days when that is all that my body wants and or needs to do (ugh, this one is really going to be the hardest one for me.)  I would sleep.  Sleep so that my body has time to repair and recover.  With a 3am wake up call five days a week, this really is going to be tricky but perhaps forcing a few more naps during the week would help.  This would mean that I would have to slow down in the middle of the day, be okay with the house being a mess, the laundry being left undone, and even the dog going un-walked a few times a week so that I can get another hour of sleep that my body so desperately needs.

If what I strive for is be an athlete, a true athlete, even if it is just in the gym then I need to start acting like one.

So here I go, a new outlook on my health and fitness.  I am hoping to remove myself from the notion that I must workout to get thin and stay that way.  Rather I am going to work towards being the best and healthiest athlete that I can be.  Though this may be tricky for me at first, and take some serious re-evaluation of what I consider fit and healthy, I really believe that it is going to be for the best.  I look forward to a truly healthier me, physically, emotionally, and mentally.  Changes are on the horizon.


P.S. This post sort of turned into word vomit, a sort of dry heave of all the things that have been taking up space in my brain.  It is nice to have it all written down and somewhat organized into separate thoughts.  If you, dear reader, made it all the way to the end of this post, I commend you.  It was not my intention to talk all about me, me, me but it appears that that is exactly what happened.

Well, speaking of that sleep thing that I need to do… I go.

See ya’ll on the flip side!



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