Discipline After the Win… Part 1
I spent years of my life as an athlete. My very first sport was technically bodybuilding. There is an infamous picture (that has been mysteriously misplaced) of me at the age of 3 months in my dad’s arms, with a weight belt around my baby waist, screaming bloody murder. Even as a baby, I hated deadlifts!! I would move on to tennis, softball, and ultimately college cheerleading. While in college, we had a coach who gave us a daily workout to maintain in between our practices that we had 3-5 days per week. During football season, I would easily workout 5-6 days per week, and when football and basketball season collided, I was working out every day.
Now… here is the interesting thing about living a life as an athlete that has taken me a little while to figure out. In my teens and early 20s, my metabolism was “on fleek.” I put relatively little effort into staying healthy. In fact, there was an entire year I subsisted solely on double stuffed oreo cookies, corn pops and Franzia. It is because I was constantly active, or I had a coach telling me how to be constantly active. When I quit cheering after my junior year, my senior year included sporadic exercise and the same diet of cookies, candied cereal and a surplus of wine. I was also on anti-depressant, anti-anxiety medication to combat the early stages of PTSD, and was a chronic insomniac.
The toll on my body was insurmountable so I would find myself “disciplined” on an eating plan or workout plan that would bring me winning results that lasted for a few months, until the plan was no longer relevant. The problem was not the discipline to stay on the plan… the problem was the discipline after reaching my goals as a result of the plan. Here is the important “catch” that we all have to be honest with ourselves about… that discipline was not on the eating plan or the workout plan, that discipline was on my mind and my spirit. Why was I reaching towards these physical goals? What was pushing me to be “in shape” or “look healthy?”
At the time, it was an escape. I could only control so much in my life, and I saw the results of controlling my physical looks. Let’s be honest, it feels good for people to tell me “wow girl your arms are jacked” or “dang girl how much can you lift.” I have spent my entire life having people comment on my body. That is the “joy” of being Miss North Carolina and living your life as an athlete. Those comments would control how I lived my “healthy lifestyle.” It became a high to workout or eat healthy or be in shape. I knew that if I could attain a certain physical goal, the comments would follow, and for a moment I would feel like I won, like I was accomplished, like I wasn’t battling my own inner demons of control and internal chaos.
What I was missing was what happens afterwards? What keeps me focused on that healthy state of mind… or the harder question, was it really a healthy state of mind? My mind was broken, my spirit was broken, and soon my body would be broken too. I would spend almost a decade fighting an uphill, fluctuating battle between eating healthy and working out, and ignoring the fact that my spiritual focus was being neglected.
This is a two-part series for a reason… I want you to reflect on where you are at right now. What is your “healthy state of mind” and is it realistic or are you hiding from something? Tomorrow, we will conclude this series “Discipline After the Win” with a story about my decision to compete in a bodybuilding figure competition and the impact on my spiritual focus.