Ok, so maybe you won't be competing in London this week. That doesn't mean that you can't learn from how Olympic athletes train and use their approaches and techniques to make yourself better. Let's look at some of the key aspects of how Olympic athletes are able to be as successful as they are and how WE can apply them to what we do each day to improve ourselves.
You've heard the saying "Practice makes Perfect". Well, Olympic athletes do a LOT of practice. Hours and hours per day. They consistently show up each day and put in the time necessary to hone their craft. They aren't always perfect at it and you can be sure that sometimes they don't WANT to get up and do it all again each day, but they do it anyway. They are CONSISTENT!
We can apply this concept to our fitness efforts. It certainly is applicable that being consistent in our workout routine is a sure path to improvement. We all have days where we just DON'T want to do it. But being able to overcome that voice and do it anyway is a key difference between those who succeed and those who are continually frustrated by their lack of progress. A great way to make this easier is to join a formal sports team, club, or fitness program where there are set times and accountability built into you showing up. When others are depending on you or you're expected to be there, it's much easier to convince yourself to go and arrange your schedule accordingly versus only having to answer to yourself .
We all have days where things just go BADLY! We make a mistake at work, mess up something at home, or just plain FAIL at something we've been trying to achieve. Do you think Olympic athletes have perfect days every day? I can assure that they all have just HORRIBLE training sessions where nothing seems to go right, just like the rest of us. However, an Olympic athlete reacts differently to these challenges than the majority of people in the world do.
While many people find failure or setbacks a reason to shift their attention elsewhere, an Olympic athlete uses their bad days to motivate themselves to work that much harder to achieve their ultimate goal.
Persistence in achieving a goal is a key ingredient to success, especially when the goal is a long and difficult one to attain. The harder the goal, the more persistence is required to achieve it. When we talk about weight loss, or building fitness, there are no magic pills or potions that we can take that will instantly and painlessly get us to our goal. True success in health, fitness, and weight loss goals has WAY more to do with modifying our lifestyles and habits than any specific food or exercise we may do. And a change in habits and lifestyle can take a LONG time! Food and exercise are tools to use in achieving health-related goals, but persistence in striving to change, even when we have bad days, is what makes the difference in creating a true success story.
Eating to Fuel Their Bodies
Now Olympic athletes certainly have a much different diet than most of us should have. Did you know that Michael Phelps needs to eat over 12,000 calories per DAY to keep up with his training? That's about 6 TIMES what most of us should be eating each day! But let's ignore the calories for a second and look at HOW he eats. Michael Phelps eats to FUEL HIS BODY. His motivation for eating as he does is first and foremost to ensure his body receives the right amount and type of nutrition to enable him to achieve success. Now this we can ALL get around! It's not to say that he doesn't choose foods that he likes or that he doesn't enjoy eating what he does. In fact, any diet where we don't enjoy the food we eat is going to fall by the wayside after a while and we will gravitate towards food that we like. For most of us, the key is to be educated about the types of foods that best fuel our bodies, and then take that knowledge to create a diet using foods we like but that provide the fuel we need. This combination of understanding proper nutrition along with food we enjoy eating is a winning formula for healthy, long-term eating habits.
Keeping the Right Company
Guess who Olympic athletes hang around with? You got it! Other Olympic athletes! Why do they do that? Because they know that being around others with the same goals and mindset as you will strongly reinforce your own efforts! They know that they'll get encouragement and motivation, especially when times get tough, to keep their eyes on the goal and persist. In the same way, when we're talking about our fitness, it is a HUGE help to have a support system of like-minded individuals around you to support, motivate, and encourage you in your efforts. Group settings like our previously mentioned teams, clubs, or fitness programs are great ways to ensure that you are not only giving yourself the best support system available, but you are also building relationships and having a fun with like-minded people.
Getting Great Coaching
And finally, all Olympic athletes absolutely require a great coach to help them see where they are strong, where they need to improve, and how best to do so. Have you ever heard of an Olympian without a coach? In the same way, we should not be shy about looking for help in our health and fitness goals. It helps to have a an expert in your corner for fitness advice, expertise, and motivation to keep you heading straight toward your goals and correct you when you get off course. Personal trainers, fitness coaches, and nutrition counselors are all good examples of experts in the fitness and weight loss world who can help to you to succeed.
So just because you won't participating in this year's (or probably any) Olympics, doesn't mean that you can't live like an Olympian! Take charge of your life and incorporate these principles in your own world and see just what you're capable of achieving! I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. :-)