Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tap Into Your Inner Athlete

I consider myself an athlete.  I grew up playing multiple sports and will always have a desire to participate in some type of physical activity.  I think much of that desire comes from my extremely competitive nature.  My dad will tell you how playing CandyLand with me as a young girl was less of a game and more of an event.  He said I would make him play until I won.  Losing frustrated me, but if I knew he let me win, I got quite angry.  I guess I have always felt the need to accomplish something.  That was only nurtured as I developed as an athlete.  I was blessed with many wonderful coaches – they taught me beautiful lessons in accountability, perseverance, humility, personal growth, awareness of others, self-discipline, and self-esteem.  And most importantly, they taught me how to be a champion even when the scoreboard showed a loss. 

When my softball career ended in college, I had to readjust the image of who I was and what my body was capable of.  While I was no longer part of a team, my desire to compete and to win did not get turned in with my uniform.  So, I just started running (I sound a little like Forrest Gump right now).  At first I could only run about a half mile at a time.  But, that was only the beginning of my decade-long competition with myself.  Each week I would add a little distance to my runs.  I found it just as gratifying knowing that I beat last week’s “me”.  I also began to respect my body again.  Research has found that kids that play sports are more likely to have a positive body image and higher self-esteem.  They also are less likely to take drugs or smoke because they realize the impact that these destructive activities can have upon their performance.  So, I tapped into my inner athlete and used those same lessons I learned from my coaches in my everyday life.  I now run somewhere around 25 miles a week and still compete with my own times and distances.  I don’t run races because I want to be my own champion.  I am fit and healthy for myself – it enriches my life in so many ways.  I now also use that with my client – I encourage them to respect their body.  I support them and allow them to find their own self-confidence.   Losing weight, getting fit, eating healthfully – it’s not about vanity but about being a champion of our own lives.  We cannot allow obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other health harassers to win.  We should no longer be content with being overweight and unhappy. 

Maybe you weren’t an athlete as a kid, or maybe you no longer consider yourself an athlete.  Maybe you were in the drama or chess club.  Either way, deep down, don’t we all want to be champions?  We don’t need to dig out our cleats or chess sets to get a victory.  All we have to do is uncover our self-worth.  When we stand up and take control of our health, we can put a mark in the win column.

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