I’ve been talking to a lot of people lately who are mostly curious about why I do what I do. “Why do you compete?” “Why do you train so hard?” “What’s in it for you?” “Is it about winning or money or fame?”
The reason I compete and train so hard is because the first time I embarked on this journey last year, I needed something to take away the pain of a personal loss. They say women generally have a higher threshold for pain, and in my case, my threshold for physical pain is pretty good (that’s according to my OBGYN who wondered at my ability to deal with 18 hours of labor during childbirth 5 years ago). When I was running on the treadmill, I listened to music loud enough to drown my cynicism. When I was pumping iron and lifting weights, the effort I exerted distracted me from my problem. There was something about subjecting myself to this type of physical challenge that helped me cope with emotional stresses. I came away feeling strong and accomplished and the more I kept at it, the less my personal heartaches had power over me. They slowly began to reduce themselves into these feelings that would ebb and flow and wash over me and away as quickly as they would rush in when my mental floodgates broke open ever so slightly.
I would later on realise that this would be an effective tool to help me become a better version of me–someone who’s not just healthy and sound on the inside, but also gained a stronger and fitter body.
When I update my Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, whether it’s an exercise or nutritional tip, a healthy, low-calorie meal, or whatever competition prep I’m knee-deep in, people always comment on how dedicated and committed I am to be getting up at the crack of dawn and seeing my workout regimen through to the whole day until evening. They say things like “I can’t ever do that” or “You’re crazy.” But what I really like receiving as a comment is, “You inspire me.” Inspiration comes in different forms. Usually we link it to something positive. But in my case, a personal situation that shook me to my core was what inspired me to look elsewhere for some sense of stability and respite from the tears. I like knowing I inspire others because with it comes the hope that they act on that inspiration, that they follow through, do something new, something hard, something good for them they will be glad they set off to do, and in succeeding, they inspire others too.
The world is full of naysayers and critics. We need more affirmers, encouragers, motivators. Even though some of us respond to negativity and criticism in a positive way so that it is what fuels us to push harder, there is something life-giving and good that happens to us inside when we help speak positively to others and help them believe in themselves. According to the Mayo Clinic, positivity (positive thinking) helps increase life span, helps build resistance against the common cold, lowers rates of distress and depression, reduces risk of death by cardiovascular disease, and generally gives you better coping skills when trials and difficulties take place.
Why do I do this? Why do I subject myself to physical challenges that involve some degree of physical pain? I do it because the short-term pain brings me long-term gain. The hours I spend working out, the effort I put into planning my meals and eating well, the discipline I need to sleep well and rest enough, they all help me invest in long-term wealth that is my health. I can be a better (healthy, strong, happy) daughter, mother, sister, friend, partner. I can serve the people I love better and be around longer to do it.
What would you like to gain? Are you willing to do what it takes to achieve it?