Be an Athlete in the Sport of Life

August 7th, 2009

Business Athlete Doing DeadliftBeing an athlete is often associated with extraordinary physical talent, but in my opinion, it’s more about the ability to perform physically and mentally at a high level which is something everyone should strive for, even if you have no interest in sports whatsoever.

The Definition of a True Athlete

Ironically, many athletes, even at the professional level, are unhealthy. While they may run fast, jump high, and have an amazing physique, the inside of their body could very well be in disastrous shape. Because of the extreme physiological burden that athletes put on their body, they have even more of a need to follow healthy lifestyle habits than the average person, but very few of them do. The excessive amount of activity coupled with inadequate rest and nutrition amounts to a body that is being gradually destroyed from the inside.

To sustain long term peak performance, a smart athlete realizes that optimal health is the foundation of their longevity. This is what I consider to be a true athlete, and likewise, I consider true athleticism to be an expression of vibrant health. True athletes get plenty of rest instead of buying into the hype of recovery supplements, they eat real food instead of the latest and greatest meal replacement powders, they avoid overtraining by respecting their physical limits, and they maintain a strong and positive perspective without the drama that has become so common in professional sports.

The Sport of Life

To be successful, an athlete must have energy, strength, resilience, skill, mental sharpness, determination, and self confidence. These are all basic characteristics of a well rounded individual who is well suited to vigorously pursue their aspirations and is more likely to live a fulfilling life. As such, it’s in your best interest to adapt the mentality of a high performance athlete and embrace the importance of peak mental and physiological function. Before you write this off as nonsense, consider the following reasons why.

Everything Requires Energy

No matter how talented, skilled, and well trained an athlete is, all of these advantages are pretty much worthless without the energy required to fully utilize them. Throughout my struggle with chronic fatigue, I spent many hours on the tennis court forcing my body to chase after balls when I clearly didn’t have the energy I needed to do so. I can promise you that it’s not effective and it’s certainly not much fun. In fact, it was down right infuriating and depressing.

Whether your aspirations in life are sports related or not, fatigue will reduce your desire and capacity to pursue them. As such, the healthy lifestyle habits that cultivate long lasting energy are just as important to you as they are to the world’s top athletes.

Your Brain Needs to Rest and Recover Too

If you know anything about weightlifting, you know that eating and sleeping are two very important factors for developing strength. This is because a strength training workout causes a considerable amount of tissue breakdown. The food you eat provides the nutrients needed to repair the damaged tissue and make it stronger, and adequate sleep provides the optimal environment for this to happen. The physical demands of a sport are no different, and in fact, most athletes lift weights to improve their performance which dramatically increases their need for quality food and adequate rest.

Aside from the obvious reasons why everyone needs good nutrition and adequate sleep, don’t think for a minute that the scenario above doesn’t apply to you. If you’re aggressively pursuing any meaningful achievements, which you absolutely should be, it undoubtedly requires hard work. Even though you may not be running around a playing field, the many hours of deep thinking and intense problem solving associated with your pursuit are still a physiological burden that increase the need for recovery. As such, excellent diet and sleep habits are just as critical to sustaining your mental focus as they are to repairing tissue damage.

Life is Physically Demanding

Although some athletes need more strength and physical ability then others, they all need it to some extent. For most athletes, improving their strength is a critical part of maximizing their performance and increasing their resistance to injury.

Many of the basic movements that are the foundation of most sports are based on the basic physical capabilities of the human body. While smart athletes train to improve these capabilities, the average person spends most of their life sitting and gradually loses their ability to perform them. As a result, they often develop physical limitations, pain, and susceptibility to injury.

Every time you get out of your car, you’re lifting all of your body weight with only one leg and are simultaneously twisting your body as you stand. The simple act of getting out of a car is more physically complex and demanding than most people realize, except for those who’ve lost the ability to do it with ease. Although it’s easier than ever for people to live a sedentary lifestyle, daily life still requires a full and healthy range of physical function. Even if it didn’t, a loss of physical function will still likely lead to pain and injury.

Lifting heavy objects and maintaining your balance during a fall are two other common situations in every day life that require healthy physical function. Unless you do something to maintain your full range of physical function, such as strength and mobility training, you will eventually become physically challenged and it will interfere with your life in one way or another.

Talent is Worthless Without Determination

Was Roger Federer born with enough tennis ability to be the dominant player that he is today? Absolutely not! In fact, it took him more than 5 years as a professional to reach number one and a lifetime of hard work to even become a professional. Although talent is a prerequisite for a professional athlete, a tremendous amount of determination, hard work, and perseverance are required to make something of it.

Day in and day out, athletes put in the hard work that will make them a better performer. Unless you want to live a life of mediocrity, you too need this type of determination to maximize your accomplishments. This includes a good understanding of what you want to achieve in life and the strong desire to make it happen.

The Mental Side of Sports

If you’ve ever watched a major sporting event, you’re probably familiar with the term “choke.” It refers to the failure of an athlete to perform at their potential when under pressure. Anyone who’s played a sport knows just how common and awful of an experience it is. Some professional athletes have so much trouble handling pressure that it ruins their career. In fact, mental strength is such an important component of athletic performance that the entire branch of sports psychology has been dedicated to it and it’s not uncommon for professional athletes to work with a sports psychologist on a regular basis.

To overcome pressure, athletes do everything they can to build their confidence and develop the ability to clear their mind. Ironically, this often gets more attention in sports than it does in daily life where it’s much more important. While it would certainly be unfortunate to lose an important game for your team by crumbling under pressure, this is nothing in comparison to misfortune of living an unrewarding life because you don’t have the confidence to chase your ambitions. Just as an athlete needs the confidence to go for their best shot when the game is on the line, you need the confidence and courage to aggressively pursue the life you want.

Training Camp Starts Now!

As you can see, nearly all of the foundational elements of being a successful athlete are also the foundational elements of a healthy lifestyle. Although you certainly don’t need to be as physically active as an athlete to achieve optimal health and support your pursuit and enjoyment of a fulfilling life, you can certainly benefit from their guided and intense focus. Start becoming an athlete of life right now by signing up for my free course, 7 Simple Steps to a Leaner, Happier, and Healthier You!

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