Every four years…
We sit in awe and watch amazing athleticism, choreography, movements with precision, and the skill of Champions shining as bright as the oil lit Olympic Light. Yes the Olympic spectacle is grand but what is even grander is the opening ceremony watching the torch enter the stadium for the final lap. Waiting with heartbeats so high, athletes and fans from all over the World sit and wait in excitement as the torch makes its way onto the track. Lights darkened, flashbulbs zinging, and the latest GoPro models being put to the test. C’mon baby, don’t fail me now.
Two torch bearers, faces lit with honor and glory for their countries, have the Torch raised at all times as they swagger around the stadium and up to the Cauldron. Yes, indeed a Final Lap to signify the games are about to be declared OPEN. Anticipation and excitement abounds!
Usually the final carrier of the Torch is a sports celebrity of the host country. The person often is unannounced until just prior to the ceremony as this also adds to the exuberance. From Ali to Gretzky, only the greatest of their respected countries are afforded this opportunity.
To become the greatest, these athletes have dedicated their lives to their conditioning, stringent if not backwards training regimes, injuries and the treatment of the same, nutritional changes, practice and more practice, rest, and finally honing their skills to a place so refined, only the best of the best can reach these levels.
My message today is simple: you too can reach these levels…. Perhaps not as an Olympian headed for Rio, but as an Olympian to you, your family and friends, and all those you encounter on a daily basis!
HOW IS IT GOING TO HAPPEN?
Olympian’s train endless hours and are guided by a strong support TEAM network, if not overcrowded. They are provided medical support with top physicians, the finest certified athletic trainers (NATABOC.ORG), exercise physiologists, nutritional support and receive counsel by some of the finest RDs (Registered Dietitians) around, psychological support, and personal training and Coaching from the finest in their chosen sport.
This same TEAM approach is what I believe helps make these athletes stand out, especially when put up against near equals in their chosen sports. The TEAM can and does make a difference, especially with such finite movements, landings, aim, skill, and precision.
To make it happen for you, I recommend beginning to develop your TEAM, the support team that you will put in place to aid you on your journey to your individual Torch Lighting Ceremony. This involves regular visits to your physician for blood and urine lab values and further testing as indicated. This means continuing to break down the walls via discussion, either amongst family members or with a psychologist. Secrets cause illness and the best place to start letting secrets out is with a psychologist or trained, qualified therapist.
Your Nutrition needs to be on point and this means not only eating the right amount of calories but also keeping track of the same via simple pen and paper journaling or via any one of the available apps available to track nutrition and exercise.
The Olympic Athlete is guided by top RDs in the profession and all preach the same thing: JOURNALING IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS. For those of you who have not kept track of what you are taking in on a day-to-day basis, now is a good time to do a five-day food journal. Simply write down what you eat and drink, the portion size or quantity, and the time. Everything! Do this for five consecutive days. If it’s one Iced tea, write it down and the approximate number of ounces. If it’s a cheeseburger and grilled veggies, write it down. Also note the time. Just be honest with your recordings. Remember, this practice event is to help no one but YOU. Once complete, you can share the journal with your RD and the rest of the TEAM. Proper guidance and dialogue will come from this and then and only then can a complete plan of attack start to take shape. The MD and RD will then use this information as well as other test results (RMR, DEXA), determine the best caloric range for you and the number of calories you need to be taking in daily (and of equal importance what types of calories).
Notice a pattern here? Everyone works together and communication has to be crystal clear and on point. This communication starts with YOU!
The other components of your Olympic Team include the Certified Athletic Trainer and your personal trainer/coach. The athletic trainer will ensure you stay healthy on a day-to- day basis, monitor and treat your injuries, implement a PREHAB program, and ensure proper levels of nutrition and hydration accompany your workouts and daily living activities. The athletic trainer will keep you on point when it comes to your overall well-being. Additionally, The athletic trainer will act as a liaison between yourself and the rest of the team members as you will continue to focus on following the protocols the team has laid out for you.
Your personal trainer or coach is one of the largest cogs in the wheels and often, too much or all emphasis is placed here, neglecting the rest of the team. I propose for you to change the approach and ensure the rest of the team is playing an equal and active role, allowing each of your team members the ability to work in unison and to their limits, not overstepping their respective positions. Placing all your eggs in one basket is a recipe for disaster.
Putting all these components together, all working harmoniously, this is what makes up an Olympic Athlete. Sometimes the Olympians hands are placed in one direction while other times another. Sometimes the Olympic athlete looks lean and fit while others are buff. Sometimes an ankle is taped to prevent, while others go barefoot. And sometimes you’ll see or hear a coach or two in each ear. The Olympics are about more than the awe-inspiring performances and representation of the 80 plus countries displaying their talents. It’s about The TEAM and all the components that go into accomplishing the greatness. You too can achieve greatness by employing this TEAM concept. Become your own Olympian and Light your own Torch!