Sunday, November 13, 2011

Are you an Athlete? (Part I)

In your head, answer these questions for yourself:

  • Do you compete in an area of your life (work, relationships, siblings, finances, belongings, schools, etc)?
  • Do you strive to improve your performance in any of the above areas? 
  • Are you concerned with the function of your body on an everyday basis?  From your heart, lungs, muscles, bones, joints and hormones? 
    • If so, do you know your current statistics, from blood pressure to resting heart rate, strength to endurance, adrenal/hormonal profile and triglyceride level?
  • Do you care/are you aware of your genetic limitations?
    • If so, are you attempting/willing to beat them?
  • Do you look at a picture of an athlete, celebrity or friend and say, “Wow they have great (insert whatever bodypart or area you are admiring here)”?
  • Do you take pride in your fitness or aesthetic/genetic accomplishments?
  • Do you know that a fitter employee is promoted quicker than the employee who is fatter and out of shape? 

If you answered ‘yes’ to more than one question from above, then you have the potential to be considered an ‘athlete’.  Notice I wrote, ‘potential’. If you answered no to everything, well, Godspeed. 

By definition, what is an athlete?  According to Merriam-Webster, an athlete is a ‘person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility or stamina.  In addition, participation in competitive activities requires the commitment of all those involved (coach and athlete).  Thus, it becomes less of a ‘recreational activity’ and more of a win/lose situation. 

What does this have to do with me?  Traditionally, if you’re not a participant in sport, then you’re not considered an athlete.  However, as previously asked in the questions above, I am starting to wonder how to apply active participation in furthering fitness levels through various lifts, measurements, etc.  This participation is necessary in order to actively push genetics to the side, fight disease, and be considered an athlete in the sport called life, and to avoid losing in areas of your life. 

Wait, losing?  How am I losing?  Do you have a physical therapist or a strength coach?  Are you adding to your current fitness levels or getting ‘back to 100%’?   Do you have a cardiologist under the age of 50 or a fitness coach?  Do you do juice cleanses a few times per year at 300 bucks a pop or pay for a nutritionist?  Do you pay for premium liquor, beer and wine but not for premium nutritional supplements?  Do you have a massage therapist that you regularly see or do you see a pain specialist?  Do you have a life coach or a psychiatrist? 

The difference might be word play, but all successful people are considered winners, and most are successful in many areas of their life.  (Steve Jobs and many successful CEO's have/had a life coach)  I would consider ‘successful’ as a synonym with a ‘winning’, and ‘unsuccessful’ synonymous with ‘losing’.  But can you measure it in life? 

Look at it this way.  If you are an out-of-shape 45 year old, who drinks 6 nights per week, carries a beer belly, knows their cardiologist, physical therapist, juice cleanse distributor and psychiatrist’ home phone numbers, then you are a reactor.  You are playing ‘defense’ in your life, and you lose 4-6 hours per week on lost productivity, both because of doctor/therapist visits and because you’re consistently looking up symptoms for heart attack and stroke.  I wouldn’t necessarily consider you a loser, but you’re definitely not on the ‘offense’ at trying to ‘win’ in certain areas of your life.  

However, if you’re an in-shape 45 year old with something resembling a 6 pack, see a fitness coach twice a week, drink red wine for health benefits 1-2 nights per week, see a nutritionist once per quarter, a massage therapist twice a month, have your premium nutritional supplements on auto-resupply from Amazon, and have a life coach, I would definitely consider you ‘winning’.  You have not accepted the hand you have dealt, and are clearly playing ‘offense’ in more than one area.  

 Okay fine, I get winning versus losing, but what does this have to do with me?  I would be hard-pressed to believe that this winning mindset would only be found in someone’s health and fitness profile.  In fact, using the above definition of winning versus losing, a loser is definitely not an athlete because their participation in their own life is as a spectator, as they watch others play their roles in their lives and hope they can help.  Compare that to the winner, who is participating in every area of their life.  From heart to joints, lungs to muscles, stomach to intestines and brain to bone, they have made the commitment towards their ‘sport’.  Life, as we know it, is challenging in many ways: 
  • We fight our genetics
  • Manage our emotions
  • Budget for time and money
  • Strive to obtain that massive office or home
  • Place our kids in the best school. 

Can you qualify yourself as an athlete?  Answer these questions, revised from above: 

  • Do you accept the health ‘cards’ you have been dealt?  Or is it your turn to deal yourself a new hand?  
  • Do you want the benefits from increased health and fitness levels because they coincide with increased pay raises and productivity while having less sick days? 
  • Do you want to see your trainer, nutritionist and massage therapist more than your cardiologist, physical therapist and pain specialist? 
  • Do you want to pay more for nutritional supplements and nothing for cholesterol and blood pressure-lowering medications? 
  • Do you want to work with a life coach at improving certain areas of your life or talk with your psychiatrist about your argument with so-and-so?

If you answered yes to 4 out of these 5 questions, then you have the potential to train for the sport called life. 

If you’re ready to train for the sport called life, then you are ready for the details of training for life in my next article.  Stay tuned.  

-Coach Kev

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