What I Learned From the Gnarliest Match One Olympian Ever Played

By , SparkPeople Blogger
SparkPeople reporter Melissa Rudy brought up an interesting point at one of our recent pitch meetings when she said that September, not January, was the real "New Year" for a lot of people (she wrote all about it here). Summer is a frantic rollercoaster of vacations, weekend getaways, state fairs and trying to be within the vicinity of a body of water for most of the season. With all those distractions, it can be easy to fall victim to abandoning routine in favor of bonfires and bikinis. For many people, fall means shopping for back to school and getting back in a routine, making it the perfect time to reevaluate your goals and what you're actively doing to achieve them. Get at it, SparkPeople. We know you've got what it takes to slide into home, run across the finish line or whatever sports metaphor you most prefer come January.
Also important to note: fleece shirts and ankle booties are back. They're back, people!

Sweat: When the Going Gets Tough

It's no secret that I was all about the fierce girl power on display at this summer's Olympic games. When all was said and done and the torch moved on, the women of the U.S.A. took home 61 of the country's total 121 medals, including 27 of the 46 golds. Basically, they dominated.
Over those 17 days in Rio, women swept the medals podium, expectant parents added "Simone" to the top of their list of potential baby names, a 19-year-old stole the swimming stage by nearly lapping the competition, a once-bullied Olympian had the last word and a split-second of sportsmanship reminded the world what the Olympics are all about. But it's one quote after an unexpected win that's stuck with me above all else since the last drop of Tongan oil was mopped off the closing ceremony floor.
After America's sweetheart Ryan Seacrest asked beach volleyball superstar Kerri Walsh Jennings how her bronze medal match compared to her three Olympic golds, she got real about the harsh reality of pursuing your goals after a setback or disappointment, a reality to which we can all relate.
"It was the gnarliest athletic match I've ever played in my entire life," Walsh Jennings said. "I was telling April [Ross], to make it to the gold medal match, you can't lose. You know, you have to fight for the gold medal, but you're going home with something for sure. To lose, have to come back 24 hours later and to win and put your heart out there when you're devastated, that's a whole other scenario. I always frowned upon the word bronze, and now I am so proud, it's up there right with my gold. No joke."
While our off day might not be followed by a match played on an international stage with the weight of an entire country rooting for you to get the underdog win on your shoulders, the message at the core of her revelation is an important one. This path to weight loss and fitness is a windy journey, filled with hills and rickety bridges and even a few puddles to jump over. While you'll see improvements over time with a regular exercise routine, every performance is not necessarily going to feel like your best one yet. Sometimes those same 10-pound dumbbells that you shoulder pressed with ease last Tuesday are going to feel like 50-pound weights after a long Friday. When your Warrior pose doesn't feel exactly stable, that's no reason to throw in the yoga mat. There will be days when you run the whole neighborhood 5K loop at a PR pace, and others when your run turns into a slow jog, then a walk.
It's not always going to be easy or fun, but on those days when you feel like you failed by overindulging on your brother's double-chocolate-brownie birthday cake or quitting halfway through Spin class, it's important to remember that the fight goes on tomorrow, whether you're ready or not. Those moments after feeling defeated are the most important moments on your journey, the ones that define who you are, how tough your spirit can be and how much you want that end goal. How you react means the difference between same old same old and greatness.
Champions aren't champions right out of the gate—they fail over and over again and push themselves past their nagging voice saying to give it up before they can finally say they've achieved their goals. Fall four times, get up five. Remembering that the end goal tastes sweeter because of adversity and because of every hurdle will get you through the tough days and on to those bronze-that-feel-like-gold-medal days.
Spark: Calendar's Full, Can We Schedule Something for Next Year?
In the last three weeks, I've been out of town three times, packed up and moved out of my old apartment and had the pleasure of dealing with my first big car repair. To say I'm overwhelmed is an understatement. You know what's really easy to do when you're up to your neck in errands and responsibilities and the phone won't stop buzzing and emails keep coming? Listen to that inner voice convincing you that you have at least two great excuses to just ignore your health goals. "Go on and get takeout tonight, you've already accomplished so much." "Let's blow off yoga this week—we'll definitely go next week when we have more energy." "Who even needs squats, anyway? Cavemen didn't do squats and neither will I!" 


That's Monday for ya. #mondaymotivation #mondaymorning

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More than a few times this month, I've been tempted to call in sick to various workouts. I've practiced my fake cough and everything. But after working on my fitness semi-seriously for the better part of a year, my inner voice that used to be so loud and persuasive about prioritizing naps and chicken saag and watching "Arrested Development" all the way through for the eighth (or is it ninth?) time, has been silenced by an even louder, more aggressive voice that's determined to get biceps worth bragging about.
And while it's perfectly acceptable to take a breather when there is a lot on your plate, this month has shown me that sometimes taking all that stress and applying it to something that challenges your body and allows your brain to take a much-deserved break make a world of difference. I love naps just as much, maybe even more than the next person, but it's surprisingly difficult to overthink about security deposits and packing when you're determined to make it through that last round of burpees without your lungs exploding.
During this month of back to school, Friday night lights, agenda setting and pumpkin-spice temptations, I challenge you all to schedule a fitness or healthy eating date with yourself on the weeks when your calendar is overflowing. You might be surprised by how cathartic and empowering even a short 30-minute commitment to your goals feels in the midst of a hectic day.  
How has a fitness break helped you get through the stressful or busy times in your life?

Every month The Go Get It Guide is your destination for motivation, musings on random goals and probably pop culture references. It's a space where we'll sort through the PR pitches and news, then share our honest thoughts on what's happening in the health and fitness world, what's on the horizon and just what we think of that video the internet obsessed over last week. Check in each month to Spark, Sweat, Smile, Savor and Shop with us!