As an elite athlete, I lived a lot of my life in a gym, on the ice, on a field, on a track, on a court…you name the sport court (or venue)… I was there at some point of my life putting in hours of work. I played a lot of sports but hockey was always different because I was willing to do WHATEVER it took to reach the top. I showed up early for practices and workouts, I scheduled extra practices and workouts for myself with the hopes of finding that ‘extra edge’ over my competitors and my teammates. What pushed me then was both a fear of not being good enough as well as a passion for becoming my best. Bottom line: it wasn’t always healthy.
I remember showing up for workouts feeling absolutely physically wrecked as well as mentally and emotionally exhausted. But I HAD to show up because what if taking the day off meant I wasn’t good enough or that I was falling behind? What if not showing up meant that I didn’t truly love the game like I told everyone I did? When I felt like I didn’t want to be at the gym or on the ice, I worked even harder to punish myself for feeling those things. At that time, boundaries didn’t exist when it came to working hard and taking care of myself. Eventually, I was so burnt out that I could barely make it through the necessary parts of my day, like getting up on time for breakfast before class. I was miserable.
Flash forward a few years where I’m still an elite level athlete but with a much healthier perspective on what it means to work hard and take care of myself. I was recently in the gym over the weekend and I was struggling. Really struggling. My legs felt more tired than usual, my lungs seemed to be burning more than normal, I couldn’t seem to catch my breath. I noticed myself getting frustrated, angry even, thinking, “it’s your fault, you’re not doing enough to be in great shape”, “you must have been really lazy”, “too much thanksgiving food, huh?”. I turned the speed up and upped the anti. I’ll prove that voice wrong, is what I told myself.
Then I started to think…, “why am I punishing myself for having a good holiday and for enjoying myself with friends?”, “It’s a SATURDAY and I’m still showing up and putting in the work”, “it’s an off day.. I didn’t actually ruin my fitness over one day of indulging”. I took things down a notch and allowed myself to catch my breath. I didn’t have to torture myself to see results and feel accomplished.
Setting boundaries has a lot more to do with just saying yes or no to certain things. It also has a lot to do with how we monitor ourselves. What if it’s not as black and white as you don’t work out and you’re lazy or you work out and you have to be absolutely exhausted by the end of it? What if some days it’s about what makes you feel GOOD or BETTER than when you started? That’s something that you first have to figure out for yourself and then follow through on.
– Coach Lauren