While you are watching the Olympics this week, I want you to know that you are not alone in feeling jealous.
Yes, I am a teensy bit jealous of the 2016 Rio athletes. And if you have to ask why, let me remind you HOW COOL it is to watch “mere mortals” make magic as they defy gravity and make history smashing records with athleticism. To know it is no bird, nor plane flying through the air but a person, who began with the same capabilities as you and I. Look what nurture can do! Look what passion, dedication and training can do! And look at me, just sitting on my couch filled with awe … and a teensy bit of jealousy.
So in case you have that feeling of envy, I want you to do what I do: EMBRACE it. Let it inspire you to know that all humans are capable of great things and that you, too, are capable of progress. You are capable of goal setting and achievement in all aspects of your life.
Allow yourself to geek out over your heroes and use it like fuel for your goals, like gold medalist Katie Ledecky as a nine year-old did when she got Michael Phelps’s autograph. She wanted to be a great swimmer like he was, and look what happened? She set a goal, worked hard and after 10 years of dedication, she won her gold, too.
Are obsessed with gymnastics, wrestling, swimming, track and field? Train like your favorite athlete. If you watch Simone Biles fly through the air and wish you could do the same, add plyometric exercise and bodyweight strength into your routine. Did you never miss a minute of track and field? Take your workout outside the gym and to the local track where you can run sprints, practice long jumps. Miss high school swim team? Check out your local YMCA for a Master’s swim team to practice with and compete with other adults. Admire the strength of the weightlifters? I know 40 year-olds who just got into weightlifting, and already they are standing toe-to-toe with younger competitors.
Challenge yourself. Sign up for a race and train for it. Do your best on race day, and then sign up for another race to beat your own time.
Emulate the dedication. Olympic athletes make the most of every practice, training and recovery session. They don’t sleep in and skip, they show up. They eat for their goals. They use routine to get to get their workout bag together and they go to sleep on time. They don’t make excuses, even though some of them have kids, married partners, injuries, fulltime jobs or tight funds.
Spectator sports are older than gladiators in Rome. There will always be onlookers and those to inspire awe. But do not think because you didn’t spend 10 hours a day in a gym from the age of four that you are not capable of more. As you watch your favorite athlete stand on the podium realizing their dream, know that you are capable of your own gold, and not necessarily in the shape of a medal.
Get off the couch. Go get your gold. Replace envy with accomplishment, and you will know what it means to stand and smile with the feeling of victory … and that feeling beats jealousy every time.
Kait Taylor is a certified professional trainer at the Tewksbury Sports Club.