“I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!”
~Christopher Walken as Bruce Dickenson
Well, maybe I don’t need more cowbell.
But I’ve got Olympic fever, no question, and I really can’t get enough.
The first week of the Games has certainly lived up to the hype, and the US athletes have not disappointed.
Michael Phelps has shined since he dropped the ball in the 400 IM, and Missy Franklin is going to be a senior in high school in a couple of weeks and is a 5-time Olympic medalist.
Really, all of the US swimmers have had a great Olympics this year.
The US has also done well in archery and is off to a good start in most of the team events.
But no one star has shone brighter than Gabby Douglas.
Thanks in large part to NBC’s coverage and the notoriety that goes with being the women’s all-around gold medalist and Gabby is America’s newest sweetheart.
While none of us may ever do a balance beam routine, fly on the uneven bars, or stick the landing on a vault, there are some lessons that Gabby has learned that all of us can implement into our everyday fitness lives to make us healthier, fitter, and happier for years to come.
- Set a Goal–Be Specific!
Goals don’t get more specific than being an Olympic champion, but without stating such a lofty and specific goal Gabby never would have made it. If she only set her goal to earn a scholarship for college she never would have made the Olympics.
And the same goes for you and me. We can’t say “I want to lose weight”, or “I want to PR in my next race”, or “I want to eat healthier”.
None of these are specific enough!
Instead, pick a goal weight, goal time, or eating plan that you can strive to. And even if you don’t quite reach your goal, you’ll still find an improvement from where you started. And then you keep striving until you reach that goal, then set another and keep going forward.
- Make the Sacrifice
Gabby moved away from her friends and family to chase her dream. She moved in with a host family in Iowa and trained with one of the top coaches in the country for two years in order to make her dream a reality.
This type of sacrifice would be difficult for any of us, but for a 14 year old girl it is almost unimaginable.
But it worked. And I bet Gabby would say it was well worth it.
Now, none of us have to contemplate trading our lives as we know it to chase the goals that we have set. I’m not willing to move away from my wife and our home to chase a Boston Qualifier or a 5% body fat.
But if we keep doing what we have been doing (what is comfortable), we will never catch up with our dream.
Everyone’s individual sacrifices will be different, but here are a few ways to carve out the time needed to pursue your goals:
Less time spent on Facebook.
No more reality tv.
Cook big meals so you’ll have plenty of leftovers that are quick to heat up.
Get up earlier in the morning.
And on and on. There is time in the day for you to chase down your goals, you’ve just got to make YOU the priority.
- Lean on Your Support Team
Gabby isn’t the only person who sacrificed in order to achieve her goals, her friends and family did too.
Letting Gabby leave home had to be difficult for her mom, but she knew it was important to Gabby so mom let her go. Not only that, but she worked extra to be able to send money to Iowa to pay for Gabby’s coaching and living expenses.
That had to be hard, but in the end was so worth it.
I would bet that most of you would find your support system equally willing to pick up a little slack to help you chase your goals as well. Whether it would mean your spouse dropping the kids off at school so can work out in the morning, having the kids help clean up after dinner, or a friend being willing to let the dog out so you can run after work, we all have people who are willing to help us achieve our goals.
Don’t be afraid to let them.
- Persevere in the Rough Patches
No matter how focused you are about achieving your goals, there will inevitably be rough patches.
For Gabby, her darkest days came less than a year ago when she was ready to quite gymnastics completely. The Olympics were in view and she was going to throw the dream away.
But she didn’t.
Her sister reminded Gabby how much she always wanted to be an Olympian and compete for a gold medal. Gabby had wanted to give up, but the pep talk from her sister refocused Gabby to bear down in the final months leading up to the trials, and ultimately, her dreams coming true.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Remember this when you want to quite. When things get too difficult. When the scale won’t budge or your muscles hurt or you’re just plan tired.
There will be times you’re ready to walk away from all you’ve accomplished. Don’t.
Find someone to give you a pep talk. Give yourself a pep talk. And get back at it.
You’ll be glad you did.
- Enjoy Yourself
Think about it for a second. When was the last time you saw Gabby Douglas NOT smiling? It doesn’t happen. That girl has a smile permanently etched to her face, and the joy she has shown during these Olympics is undeniable.
She is living her dream and loving every minute of it.
We all need to do the same.
Get a workout partner. Play with the kids. Run a fun race. Do Zumba.
Whatever it takes for you to enjoy what you’re doing, do it!
And keep smiling no matter what.
While competing in the Olympic Games is unlikely for most of us, living a healthy life is well within the reach of everyone.
It may not be easy, but it’s worth it.
And if you need a little help deciding how to make healthy living a regular part of your routine, just follow the example of Gabby Douglas.