Sports are amazing.
In fact, you could say I love sports.
There’s nothing quite like them in their ability to bring people together and to develop individuals into better people (aka character development).
It’s why I pride myself on having participated in sports, and having coached athletes at a high level for over five years.
It’s also why so many people participate in some form or another – whether as an athlete, a parent of an athlete, pure fandom, or other ways to get involved.
But speaking from experience as an athlete and having coached hundreds of athletes, there’s a dark side that’s often kept on the DL (that’s “down low” for you newbs).
I won’t make a blanket statement and call all athletes and former athletes perfectionists and workaholics.
But I will make a blanket generalization that in our sport loving culture, it’s easy for sports to instill perfectionist tendencies and workaholic tendencies in most athletes.
From an early age (which is when most of us began sports) we were taught the value of working hard and practicing – over and over and over – regardless of talent. If we weren’t working hard to improve skills, get in shape, etc. then we wouldn’t be successful.
It just so happens that spending hours in the gym, on the field or court, or in the pool is how we do that. It means hours long practices and training sessions, not to mention the work outside of actual practice time that goes in – watching film, lifting weights, learning plays, healthy nutrition, etc.
And this mentality is fantastic for sport! Those who are willing to put in massive amounts of effort and energy are generally rewarded with success in the form of increased playing time and better performance. Being great at a sport and winning championships DOES require all of that.
But what sports often forget to teach us is that life isn’t the same.
Apples and Oranges
Let me explain – there are LOTS of parallels that can be drawn between life and sport, and that’s why sport is fantastic at character development and teaching life’s lessons and so on.
However, sport is a singular focus – getting better at that ONE thing – the sport.
Sure, it takes improving the various aspects of that sport as I mentioned above with getting in shape, skills, nutrition, etc.
But sport is just that one thing.
Life is a myriad of things that, if we were able to focus on them singularly, would be easy peasy!
Except life isn’t singular. We don’t get the convenience of being able to solely focus on being a fantastic entrepreneur or being an amazing wife or becoming supermom or being in the best shape of our life.
We’re juggling ALL of those things in life, and more.
When we were athletes, we had the ‘luxury’ of spending anywhere from 2-5 hours per day on our sport. Could you imagine getting to spend that amount of time on being your healthiest self? Where you’d get an hour each for some cardio, lifting, meal prepping/cooking, and then even throw in some meditation and journaling because we can’t be our healthiest without sound mental health.
If every single day you could devote that amount of time and effort, you would absolutely be able to maintain that perfect butt and arms and glow and look amaze-balls in those skinny jeans.
But where we’re at now – building businesses and careers and families and relationships – we don’t have that luxury.
The New You
So when your old athlete brain is telling you what you’re doing isn’t enough, DON’T LISTEN.
When it shames you for not having 2 hours for the gym, or not getting around to meal prepping this week, don’t listen.
Yes, you needed HOURS each day to be great at your sport, but you don’t need HOURS each day to get healthy. They’re not the same thing, so they don’t require the same amount of hard work and effort.
If you’re moving, it counts! If you’re choosing a healthier option for lunch, it counts! If you’re able to get in 5 minutes of journaling, it counts!
All those little things you’re doing to get healthier add up! You don’t need a dedicated 3 hour time block for your health. Instead, your health accrues every day with the tiniest of choices.
And as your former-athlete-perfectionist-workaholic-brain tries to tell you it’s not enough or it doesn’t matter, tell that bitch to pipe down!