In case you missed yesterday’s part I then click HERE to read.
As I said yesterday, 2012 was a big growing year for me physically, mentally, emotionally, and professionally. As you all know by now that I love school and I love to learn. However, I think that many important lessons in life are not taught in textbooks and lectures, but through real world experiences. I have a tendency to learn the hard way. We all make mistakes in life. No one is perfect. Or perhaps, our imperfections are what make us perfect?
However, you want to look at it… it doesn’t really matter. I certainly learned some tough life lessons this year, but also a great deal about myself that I will bring into the new year and beyond. I like to think of my life as a fine wine… it gets better with age. Each year, each experience, each moment I grow as a person. Never stop growing and learning.
Here are some of the important life lessons that I learned throughout the year…
In Triathlon, sports, and fitness:
- Recovery is key! I’ve always been under the impression that we make physiological gains during our workouts, which is false. Our bodies make physiological gains from exercise during the recovery period after workouts. Recovery is the time that our bodies, more specifically muscles, repair damaged tissues and build new tissues. Recovery can come in many forms, ice baths, compression tights, fancy pneumatic compression devices (NormaTec), rest, etc. However, the most important aspect of recovery is nutrition. Consuming a protein-emphasized drink/food within 30 minutes or so after a workout is important to repair and build tissues damaged from exercise.
- Powermeters can be your greatest
enemyfriend! I will fully admit that I have a love/hate relationship with my powermeter. However, out of everything that I have purchased for my triathlon lifestyle (besides working with a coach and personal trainer) I would say that my powermeter was my best investment. It is the best way to monitor and pace myself during training and especially during races. Speed and heart rate can greatly vary due to physiological stress, temperature, terrain, etc.; however, the powermeter doesn’t lie! I’m still working on my perfect VI, which is why I have the hate relationship with it, but it shows me that I have a lot of work to do on the bike to make myself a stronger cyclist.
- Fancy gidgets, gadgets and race wheels may make you look badass and slightly faster, but the only way to truly become a faster and stronger athlete is working hard and creating a stronger and more efficient engine (aka, your body)! This past year I made the expensive investment in hiring a triathlon coach and personal trainer to help me strengthen my weaknesses and create an individualized plan that would help me reach my growing list of goals. I know every triathlete really wants the fancy Zipps wheels, but seriously, if you’re carrying around an extra 10-20lbs then those $3000+ wheels are really worthless. Invest the money in hiring a personal trainer, coach or nutritionist to reduce extra body fat, put on more lean muscle mass, and create a more efficient metabolism. Not only will it make you a better athlete, but you will overall be healthier. Last year I was able to lose close to 20 extra pounds that I was carrying around and it certainly made a HUGE difference in my performance this year. It’s worth the investment… trust me!
- Learning to pee on your bike is tough. I have still yet to master it and it will be one of my main goals in 2013. However, I have mastered the whole piss and run thing. Yes, I know this is gross…
- Strength training is a necessary thing! This goes hand-in-hand with number 3 on this list. Most triathletes tend to skip the strength/resistance training part of training. Certainly the swim/bike/run components are the most important, but having a strong body is very important too. A strong core is extremely important. You didn’t have to lift super heavy. If you focus 2-3x a week for 15-20 minutes on simple bodyweight exercises then you will develop a strong core, which helps in preventing injuries and also building lean muscle mass! Don’t skip! I did a lot of strength training this past year up till late spring and then didn’t do much during the competition season. Big mistake! I think if I had kept up with my strength training at least 2x a week then I probably would not have been injured as long or even at all this past fall. As a fitness professional now, I see the value of strength training in any good training plan. Take it from me… DO IT!
- Don’t settle! I was actually talking about this with my boss at the gym on Saturday. He told me not to settle in life, whether it’s in a relationship or life in general. I’m not the person to just settle for mediocrity. I’ve always been an extremely ambitious and goal-driven person. I can also be very confident and sometimes it comes across like I’m a bit cocky. I’m fully aware of it, but as my boss told me that it’s one of my good traits. To get anywhere in life, especially in the fitness industry, you need to be confident. He also said that a lot of men (and women) are intimated by a strong and confident woman, but for those who are, don’t worry about it because they aren’t worth it. He said don’t settle for someone who isn’t your equal or someone who will only hinder your true potential in life. Don’t settle for a job that leaves you dissatisfied at the end of the day. If you have dreams then go for it. Don’t settle for mediocre. Reach for greatest.
- Ignore criticism. This one is still a major work in progress. I understood that when I started my blog that I was putting my thoughts and feelings out to the world for judgement. I’ve always been a bit sensitive to what people think of me (but I hide that fact) so I knew this would be a huge risk. However, I really enjoy writing and I actually do have a few people who follow my blog (Thank you!) so I think it’s a worthwhile investment for me in the end. However, I have learned in life that people will either love you, hate you, or just plain don’t care. Often times it isn’t you. Usually it’s that person who has the issue. I have gotten some criticism and judgements from some people, mostly from my father, that have bothered me. In the past I would just let it get me down, but the past couple of years at me realize that I’m better than that and I need to be confident in myself. We live in a society today where just about everyone is judged. It seems to be human nature to judge people and be constantly comparing ourselves to someone else. You know the phrase… keeping up with the Joneses. I have certainly judged people in the past, but I’ve been consciously trying not to judge people and accept them for who they are. Most of the time people have more going on than other people realize.
- Body image issues suck! Very few people (I mean like I could count the number of people on a single hand) know that I have body image issues. It’s not something that I talk about often because it brings up old wounds and also I don’t want people to judge me… but I used to have an eating disorder. From about age 16-21 I struggled with an eating disorder. Very few people know about it because I hid it well. It’s not something I like to talk about. However, my 2nd year of college I realized that enough was enough and I finally got help at school. And then, after my mom died I gained a bunch of weight because I used food to deal with the pain and my metabolism was so messed up from years of starving myself that I put on a bunch of weight. Earlier this year I changed up my nutrition and started eating more food at the correct times and also focused on a lot of strength training. The extra weight that I put on fell off rather easily and quickly. However, people (who I know were just be nice and awesome) would say things like you look great or you’re so skinny now. Those little comments would actually affect me negatively because of my past issues. Coupled with the fact that body composition does matter in the endurance world, I started to fall back in my old patterns with food. I recognized this relapse pretty quickly and have been working on not falling in those patterns. I will continue to work on improving my body composition this coming year, but I will do it the healthy way. It’s very tough. Eating disorders are very prevalent in endurance sports and just like in outside world, it’s a rather taboo subject. Be aware of them and if you see someone struggling with food/body image issues then reach out. They will probably deny it, but it’s worth the effort to care.
- Be a life long learner! Never stop learning! Whether its reading a new book, taking a college course, or simply sitting down and talking to someone… never stop learning new things and broadening your horizons.
With that being said… I will leave you with a great analog my boss gave me on Saturday. Life is like a bucket of crabs. There will always be a couple of crabs that will try to claw their way to the top of the bucket to get out. However, just as that crab is about to make it out, all the other crabs will grab his leg and pull him back down. Now, who do you want to be? I want to be the person carrying the bucket of crabs.
Choose to be the person who carries the bucket of crabs in 2013. Happy New Year!