Monday, May 27, 2013

Become an Athlete; The Secret to Goal Achievement - By Krista Schaus

Women seem to always be looking for the secret to attaining their fitness or weight loss goals. Well, the secret is out. It is virtually fool proof and almost guaranteed to bring the results you want. Become an athlete.

If you were to take a journey back to the roots of athleticism, you would likely start at 776 BC, the time of the first Olympic Games in Ancient Greece (No not 1923 when Joe Weider was born). The concept of sport, athleticism and training are not at all new. The Ancient Olympic Games went on for over 1100 years and were considered of such utmost importance that people ceased all warfare once every 4 years for the Games. In those times and up until this century, people did not "work out" for recreational or cosmetic purposes. They either trained in a given event or sport, worked in manual labor or actively performed day to day duties; there was no "working out". The ancient Greeks were highly competitive and believed strongly in the concept of agon or "competition," "contest." The goal was to be the best.

At what point the picture of peak athleticism transformed from that of an Olympian to that of Joe Weiders Mr. Olympia is unknown. By the early 1900s bodybuilding, as it is known today, emerged where physical appearance is more important than physical strength. Gone were the days of the strong men and emerged was a form of conditioning that when coupled with drugs, produced physiques that were larger although weaker. An unfortunate change occurred. People started training for more cosmetic purposes. Oddly, the training became the sport.

As a result, today the majority of people who engage in "exercise" do so primarily for improved physical appearance and vain purposes. If the main goal is physical appearance, the more likely one is to use dangerous drugs, supplements or dietary practices in order to attain that goal. It is much easier to take a magic potion, lotion or pill than utilize patient and progressive training practices. If something other than physical appearance is worked into the ultimate goal or vision, the results will be long standing and the personal worth felt, far greater.

Take a look at today's Olympic Creed. It reads as follows: "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." "To have fought well" is NOT the use of steroids or growth hormones, diets pills and cellulite creams, "lose 10 lbs. in a week" diets or liposuction.

Let society go back to that of Ancient Greece. More specifically, you go back to that era where athleticism was the main focus of life and become an athlete. No matter what your goals, they can be attained and maintained if you adopt this mentality.

Do not conjure up images of todays professional athletes who get paid millions and have three trainers, a physiotherapist and a chef. Seemingly, when there is more money to be earned, there is greater abuse of unsafe supplements, substances and training practices. Steroid abuse is rampant in almost every sport. The higher the level of competition, the greater the odds of abuse and corruption. That is not what athleticism is all about. Think of the amateurs who don't get paid a cent. They train and compete simply for the love of the sport. They train hard, and they train clean. The only results or gains they want come directly from them, not a bottle or syringe. And unlike most lines of work, you will get out of your training 100% of what you put into it. There is no politics, nepotism, sexist, racism, double standards or special treatment.

To become an athlete you must train in an activity or event you enjoy, simply love and can get obsessed with and addicted to. Those who lift know exactly what that obsession is all about. The Iron Game is a sport and one that everyone can become an avid athlete in. With lifting in mind, there are a variety of events or activities within the sport: Olympic lifting, Power lifting, Strength Competing, Discus, Javelin, Shot put, Arm Wrestling, Ultimate Fitness Challenges, Obstacle Courses, Strong Man Competition... Or you can use the same guidelines for other sports like soccer, martial arts, track and field, and endurance events.

Motivation. Motivation is a key stipulation to becoming an athlete. Where does the motivation come from? How do you acquire the extreme drive and dedication required? To this there is no simple answer; no detailed, outlined step by step guide. You first have to have a goal or a vision. Then you have to somehow muster up the necessary energy to get your butt off the couch and into action.

For the majority, the initial motivation usually comes from hitting your version of rock bottom. Maybe you can't really play with your kids anymore because you are too winded after 2minutes of a game of tag, or your favorite pair of jeans won't go past your hips anymore, or you saw yourself on a home video and were shocked at your own image. Take that initial frustration, disgust or negativity and turn it into positive energy and get started. Rather than falling into depression, do something about it. Get mad. Get even! Show your body exactly what you are cable of doing with it. Write down a plan of action that coincides with your goals and do it day by day, week by week, month by month.

If you are already in pretty decent shape and just want to be in the best shape you can, think of a sport or event you used to excel in. Pick something that you maybe once competed in and still have the medals or trophies in the basement to prove it. Go get those momentos, dust them off and hold them, feel them, smell them. Remember what it felt like to train, compete and even at times win. Use those memories of the past to motivate your training. Apply that energy to propel your mind, soul and body into action and achieving your goals.

If you still don't get it...think of the U.S. Women's Soccer team at the time of the winning goal. Do you recall Brandi Chastain kicking the winning goal? Where she, in a blaze of utter manic glory, ripped off her jersey and exposed the impressive physical results of her hard training and dedication to her sport? That is what being an athlete is all about. How could you not be impressed with that? Everyone watching experienced exactly what it feels like to be an athlete, at that moment. If that isn't motivation enough, what is?

Even if your immediate goal is to lose 15 lbs. or get back into your "skinny clothes" or to look good for your cruise coming up, set that goal on the back burner and use your primary goal as being the best athlete you can. Find a local contest, competition or a charity event as your challenge. If you can't find one, challenge your workout partner or a friend to a serious, yet fun competition. Dont make it "who can lose or gain the most weight in 3 months". Better yet, make it "who can improve their bench press the most", a body weight squat challenge, a race, fun obstacle course, or a some other form of a strength or endurance competition. Without a goal you can see down the road and know you have to prepare for, it is too easy to give up or put it off. Make the goal challenging and fun.

News Flash: "Weight training" and "Aerobics" are not sports or events. They are training methods and that is ALL they are. It is quite humorous that members of the "fitness industry" are pushing to have aerobics as an Olympic Demonstration sport. That would be like having stationary cycling, treadmill?! Can you see it now! "John Smith wins gold in the treadmill and sets a new Olympic record by beating last years gold medal time of 6 minutes at a 30% incline and 5.0 miles per hour!!" You get the point. Use a variety of training methods; if you so desire, as a further means of excelling in your sport, but the training is NOT the sport.

That is the difference between the way training used to be and the way it is now. Now everyone is "lifting weights", but there are very few true lifters left. There is a significant difference between "lifting weights" and being a Lifter. Lifting weights is a training type and Lifting (Power, Olympic) is a sport. Please dont confuse the two.

There is no reason why women in general cannot, will not or should not get actively involved in the sport of Lifting. It is not just for men, it will not make you more manly or masculine, and it is totally possible for the average woman to excel at Lifting. Lifting will give you the added benefit of true functional strength, and unbelievable confidence and inner strength - something one cannot attain from traditional "toning", "body conditioning" or "resistance training". Simply stated, toning is like taking the scenic route to attaining you goals. Strength training is like taking the express lane; it gets you where you want to go in far less time and with far less frustration. Why do 3 easy sets of 20 reps with little weight when one maximum effort set of 6-8 reps at 20 lbs. would give you the results you are seeking!

Don't allow negativity or excuses to set up mental or physical roadblocks. Athletes understand the importance of visualization and the power of positive thinking. This is absolutely essential and one aspect of training that many are hindered by. Even by training hard and consistently and eating properly, progress will be greatly hindered if negativity is involved in the equation. Focus on your strengths and let them overcome your weaknesses. Start out every day thinking about what you can and will do and you will mentally set the stage for the rest of the day. Do this everyday and positive thinking will become an old habit.

Diet. This also is simple. Would an athlete eat garbage or drink beer on the weekends? No. Plain and simple. Eat as an athlete. Eat quality, wholesome, clean foods in order to fuel your workouts and to achieve optimum results. Don't cut back on calories to the point that you have no energy, and don't stuff yourself to the point of being lethargic and couch ridden. Drink plenty of water for hydration and purification. The purpose of eating is fuel. Food is not social. Food is not a means of gratification and reward. Food is not an anti-depressant or a warm sweet friend. Food is fuel and energy. See is as such and use it as such.

Rest. Would an athlete stay out until 2:00 in the morning, then get up and train? Or worse yet, would they stay out until 2:00 in the morning, then not get up and train because they are too tired or hung over? A serious athlete would not, and you are a serious athlete. Simple.

Training. Training does not have to be difficult. Yes, physically it will not be a walk in the park (literally and figuratively), but it does not have to be technical. The more simple a training or workout program is, the more effective and the more likely one is to stick with it. Basically, pick your sport, do it consistently and get progressively better at it. Train specifically according to your sport. Do not waste your precious time and energy on exercises that have no real benefit to your athletic goals or your sport. Progressively get quicker, stronger, better. If you consider yourself an athlete, you are more likely to avoid injury. A main goal of an athlete is the avoidance of injury. Athletes will ensure they do a proper warm up by first preparing the body for activity. The will increase the body's temperature and adequately stretch the muscles before, during and/or after. An athlete will consciously think about over-training and get adequate rest in between training sessions. An athlete will think first before getting involved in spontaneous bouts of activity or brief encounters of immaturity or stupidity. Basically, an athlete will not take unnecessary risks. They think before they act.

By becoming an athlete, the goals you set on the back burner will magically be achieved as an added bonus. You will excel as an athlete in your chosen sport AND you will be stronger, slimmer and leaner. Change the focus and the results will not only make you look better, but also the attainment of those goals will make you feel better. Go back to the roots of athleticism, sport and physical activity. Reprogram your brain and rid yourself of the current brainwashed stereotypes and beliefs about "working out" and attaining the perfect body.

Become an athlete.

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