High profile athletes have coaches, fans and ESPN to judge their performance. Runners and bikers have the clock to gauge the results of their hard work. The athletes determined to lose weight have the dynamic-duo of the mirror and the weight scale to determine if their efforts were successful.
I recommend a different measuring tool: Gratitude, defined as “a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation”.
The Busy Life Dilemma
Today’s typical lifestyle is crazy hectic. Personally, I work seven (7) days per week from mid-July until the end of the season in early January or February. If I’m real lucky, I will get two (2) days off during the Bye Weekend if the injuries are low and I can properly stagger the off days with my amazing assistant athletic trainers. That sounds insane to most people but that’s the way it is in the NFL as a certified athletic trainer and physical therapist. This is my 26th full-time season in the NFL, 521 games, and I’m very comfortable with that schedule.
With that being said, it would be very easy to say “I’m too busy to workout”. That is an absurd thing to say because it’s the crazy schedule that makes the need for a workout extremely important to me. I need some “me time” to workout away from everyone asking for my help. Be it just 45 minutes at 4:30 AM, that workout time is exactly what I need to strengthen my body and my mind to handle my daily duties.
Happy Heart, Great Start
Stress management isn’t too high on most people’s priority list these days and that’s a problem. Taking care of your body, your mind, your attitude and your heart will change your life….and it may ultimately save your life in the process.
Have you ever had an injury that kept you out of your favorite sport? Standing on the sidelines sucks. Soon you found yourself saying: “Man if I could only (fill in the activities) again, I’d be thrilled!”
It was about 1:00 AM, January of 1984 and I was laying on my back in a dark parking lot in Hartford, CT with a dislocated ankle and fractured leg. I was a 3:58 1500 meter runner getting ready to start my indoor track season at Central Connecticut State University but now I was in serious trouble and I was scared. In an instant I knew my life had changed when I heard the loud crack and I realized that both my right knee and the back of my right heel were both facing in the same direction. I remember looking down at my mangled leg and wondering if I’d ever run again.
I have to admit, I was burnt out from running at the time. I was often running over 100 miles per week as I trained and raced on the collegiate cross country, indoor track and outdoor track teams while working in the CCSU Athletic Training Room at least 20 hours per week along with a full class room schedule so I could graduate in 4 years.
Two surgeries later and with a very aggressive rehab plan, I was ready to try to run again. It was exactly 10 weeks to the day of my accident. I put my books down, limped down the bleachers where I was studying and walked onto the track. I ran 1 lap, 400 meters, with a huge smile on my face. It was March 13, 1984 and I was a runner again!
That accident was what I needed to truly feel grateful to be the athlete that I was then and what I am today. It shouldn’t take a devastating loss of a physical ability or a blessing or a life to make us appreciate what we have. Being grateful is my measuring tool and my “reality meter” for everything in my life. I get on my knees every night to give thanks to God for what I have because I’m very grateful for what I have today and I know that tomorrow is never guaranteed.
NOW is the best time to appreciate your health. Like everything else in your life, investing time and effort into your body and will reward you richly. Stop taking your health for granted before you find yourself with an injury or ailment that puts you on the sideline watching others doing what you love to do.
The time to enhance your fitness is NOW. It will test your patience so focus on getting better every day and celebrate your accomplishments along the way with passion. There’s a new YOU out there and it all starts with you being grateful today while you work on being better tomorrow.