Mindset: You’re an (Adult) Athlete
If you want to be motivated to eat healthy and exercise regularly, research suggests seeking out healthy competition is more effective than getting friendly support. This isn’t surprising really. Competition, either team or individual in nature, is aspirational. And, let’s face it, it’s just cooler to use words like training instead of exercise or sports nutrition instead of diet. So if you want to stop dieting and exercising and start eating and training, consider adopting the mindset of an athlete.
Here’s how it works and how you too can become an athlete.
When I worked solely as a trainer, I found that all of my clients - every.single.one - agreed that exercise, healthy eating, and proper rest were important. They would cite reasons such as weight loss, disease prevention, or having a particular body composition as being their motivators to hit the gym. And typically, it would work. For a while. But those motivators rarely lasted long. Healthy living can feel awfully tedious and unrewarding.
It didn’t take long to see the pattern. My clients who were training for some form of athletic competition were more likely to be consistent in their exercise, diet, and recovery habits. They participated in a variety of sports - 5ks, obstacle courses, tennis, golf, softball, baseball, basketball, bodybuilding - but they all had a goal outside the gym that incentivized them to stay on track. They were adult athletes and that mindset mattered.
Who is an Adult Athlete?
If you’ve never played sports before, can you even qualify? The answer is a resounding YES!
According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), at its most fundamental level, being an athlete is simply demonstrating athleticism. At any level.
If you’re doing (or want to do) something that requires athleticism, you are an athlete.
It’s Just Damn Cool
You can compete. Seriously. Maybe you grew up playing sports and want to return to action. Or you haven’t an athletic bone in your body, but you’ve always wanted to try … well … anything. There are countless opportunities for adults, at every level of experience, to participate in competition. Revive your love of volleyball, join the extreme frisbee league, sign up for skating lessons. From beer league hockey to introductory ballet, adults can learn new skills, develop a passion, and become an athlete in every sense of the word.
As someone who came to sports later in life, I can tell you, there’s no better time to discover your inner athlete than as an adult. You own your athletic experience and you can make it anything you want it to be. I’ve found it to be ridiculously empowering to fight through athletic challenges. Nothing beats the high of a great practice. Or the feeling of being strong. Or the satisfaction of knowing you made smart training and nutrition choices throughout the week. At mid-life I’m physically stronger than I’ve ever been and working out (at the rink, in the dance studio, or in the weight room) isn’t (usually) a chore, but is something I’m (usually) eager to do because I see so clearly the impact it has on my athletic performance.
If exploring your inner adult athlete is something that seems even a little bit interesting then...Google. If you’ve played sports before and think maybe a return is in order, look for leagues / organizations in your area. If you’ve never played sports and don’t even know what you might be interested in, brainstorm what might be fun to learn. Sign up for fencing lessons, take a dance class, join the pick up basketball game at the local rec center. Explore and play and see what you find.
Some folks will tell you motivation will take you only so far. That’s true. But motivation can be a pretty big factor in getting started. If you’ve found yourself struggling to stay on track with healthy living, think about whether or not finding your inner adult athlete can help. And if you need help, I’m here for you.
Go Historian Athletes!