Self-Acceptance in the Pursuit of Success and Greatness

Self-acceptance is easy for some, but very difficult for others. As athletes, we often want to pursue becoming faster, stronger, fitter, healthier, wiser…the list goes on and on. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our pursuit that we forget why we ever got started. For most of us, we began our athletic career because we were passionate for the sport and fell in love with the training and competing. I know I get an awesome feeling of accomplishment when my times get faster, power gets stronger and weights get heavier.

Lately, though I have been struggling with my athletic self-acceptance because I am not at the level of fitness I feel is needed. In two weeks, I will be competing at Tri Fort Worth 70.3 Triathlon and feel as though it is not going to be the performance I hoped for.  (For non-triathlete individuals a 70.3 triathlon consists of 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and 13.1 mile run.) Training levels have not been optimal ever since March 21st of this year. That day marks the first day of competing for the title of Woman of the Year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The campaign is a 10 week fundraiser where 16 people compete against each other to raise the most money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I have a goal of raising $100,000 in just 10 weeks. This campaign is like having a second full time job. It has been an amazing journey so far and I know it is all worth it in the end, but WOW is it exhausting and time consuming. June 2nd is the last day of the campaign. When June 3rd comes around, I want to look back and have no regrets! As a result of investing the necessary time into this campaign, triathlon training has had to take the back burner. This season, when I struggle with self-acceptance, it has been important to remember that raising money for cancer research is far more important than competing in a triathlon.

Once the campaign is over, the focus will be on other various half Ironman and Olympic races I have lined up. When this year comes to an end I want to ensure that, even though my athletic performance may be less than what I hoped for, my self-acceptance is not impacted. I do not want to settle in my race expectations, but rather accept where I am in the journey of my athletic career and continue to pursue bettering myself every race and every year. Self-worth cannot be solely related to the pursuit of athletic greatness…it has to be found from within and in relation to all the other positive aspects of life we are participating in; such as fundraisers to cure cancer. If you would like to learn more about the campaign, check out my website by clicking HERE.

Too Much to Do & Not Enough Time

Under Training, Under Eating & Under Sleeping….a recipe for disaster. My body was as good as burnt toast last weekend!toast photo 

Today, I am going to share a true story from my training last week. First, I want to start off with saying….I am a Registered Dietitian and know better, but I am still human and succumb to putting my health on the back burner sometimes.

Last week, I kicked off a fundraising campaign to be named Woman of the Year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I am competing against other women running for the title, “Woman of the Year” but we are all raising money for the same amazing cause; a cure for cancer. The goal my team is aiming to raise is $100,000 in the next 9 weeks. If you are interested in keeping up with the campaign, click HERE.

With that said, I have been investing a lot of time and effort into the campaign as well as working and training for a half ironman triathlon. Last week, I saw over 40 clients at work of whom I truly care about and make an effort to invest into every one of their lives. I also manage dietetic interns and student doctors who rotate through our company. On top of that, on May 20th, I will be competing at Tri Fort Worth 70.3 triathlon and have been making an effort to keep up with the intense training necessary to perform at my best.

Needless to say, last week, my training fell apart as I shifted my focus onto the campaign and kickoff events during the week. As a result, my sleep began to suffer; averaging 3-6 hours of sleep per night and I began to drop weight as I was skipping snacks and meals as I tried to just make it through the week. Now, I LOVE to eat and I know EATING is imperative to my intense training schedule. I do not remember the last time I skipped lunch, but unfortunately I did last week along with other snacks I usually look forward to. My hydration began to suffer too as I went from averaging 50-70 ounces of water during a work day to 20 ounces.

I was in bad shape, but it wasn’t until Friday and Saturday’s training that I truly experienced how poorly I had been treating my body. There had been no training in my life from Monday to Friday, so I felt that since the week was complete and all the events had been successful, it was time to get back to training. Friday, after work, I put my running clothes on and headed out for an evening run. For the most part it went ok and I could hold a decent pace. After the 11.5 mile run is when it hit me….my legs hurt so badly I could hardly stand. The pain was terrible and I wasn’t sure why. My quads were on fire and it felt like I had torn something. The inflammation in my body was so high, it felt like I had just completed a full Ironman. I hobbled into my car and to HEB to get some recovery chocolate Mootopia because I had not thought about bringing anything to drink for a recovery shake. Once I got home, I rolled out and iced my incredibly tender quads hoping they would feel amazing the next morning.

Unfortunately, Saturday morning I was still in quite a bit of pain. I needed to get a 3:30 hour bike ride in and a 30 minute run afterwards. With all the proper nutrition and hydration, I set out for the bike ride. As I started the ride, my quads were unhappy but they seemed to eventually warm up. The ride began to get more difficult and the fatigue set in…every hill felt like a mountain and I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it up. Hills that I have ridden hundreds of times felt like mountains and the fatigue felt like when I first started riding back in 2014. Sixty miles later, I made it home somehow. I threw my running shoes on and headed out. The run was so slow and difficult, all I wanted to do was soak in a hot bathtub and not move. Everything hurt and was inflamed. With pure determination, the brick was finally complete but my body was screaming.

Lessons Learned

That day, I learned firsthand the importance of food, sleep, hydration and stress management. My body was a mess by the end of the week and due to poor food intake, inadequate sleep, lack of hydration and no stress management in sight, I was internally inflamed. It’s amazing I did not get sick after last week.

I write this, because often times we have no idea how amazing we can feel because we have never been there. We get used to feeling crummy, tired, sore, in a brain fog, and in pain. Normally, I feel amazing, look forward to working out and don’t let anyone get in the way of my snacks, meals and sleep. Not only do I love food, I also love sleep!

I am happy to say that my food, hydration, sleep and stress are getting back to normal. My weight has returned to its normal level and I am looking forward to training this week!

The take away from today’s blog is this: Make your health a priority. Take time to relax, eat, sleep, train and you only have one body. Treat it like it is a rare jewel because it is….it’s all you got!