Managing expectations: Differentiating between athletes, athletics, and you

There is a craze for athletic bodies, a conflation of traditional western “sins” such as gluttony, sloth, and greed with an absence of the perfect body. As a consequence of this conflation, if you are a perfectly normal person, who isn’t trying to go to the Olympics, whose life isn’t their body, you are suddenly found to be missing the mark.

Today, we’re going to get all sorts of real.

There is a chasm between a high-performance athlete and someone who engages in athletics.

For the purpose of this article, I will outline the lives of those who we seek to emulate when we shame ourselves for our lack of commitment to our fitness regimes, diets, and other lifestyle changes.

It is an athlete’s job to further their ability to perform in a specific sport (or two, if they’re cross over athletes). Their body is built to perform a very specific set of movements at a very high level. Other movements are only considered and acted upon in order to counteract the possibility of injury. Cross training is strictly controlled. The schedule of an athlete is centred on their ability to access resources that increase their output in their sport – everything else is slotted in.

Is this you?

These are the standards to which you are holding yourself when you compare yourself to the athletes you see in the media, on stages, in the Olympics, on the ice, and in the field. If you are not a human whose predominant concern is performance in sport, the question becomes: Should you be comparing yourself, your fitness regime, your appearance, or your diet to that standard?

Probably not.

Regardless of how amazing the hikes you go one are, how many rowing classes you attend, or how dedicated you are to your soccer league… you are not what this short article has outlined as the athletes whose physical form and ability you seek to emulate.

You are, in many ways, much better off.

You can have it all. You can diversify your training, set your schedule, make independent calls on your health, and set your priorities. You can take a barre class for fun, take up tennis, and go out for a sail. You can decide to stay home, snuggle your family, and have a drink.

Own your independence. Recognize the physical value of taking your dog for a walk and don’t deem it as “less than.” If there is no specific outcome required for you to demarcate your success  (as an athlete would have) all things can contribute to it: gardening, wrestling your kids, making baklava from scratch (so hard), whatever.

In a culture in which much fanfare and concern radiate from the general population’s lack of movement, it is easy to get caught up in the tide of pressure to do more.  It is easy to feel guilt and shame. It is easy to measure yourself as insufficient.

The only standards by which you are being measured, however, are strictly your own. Celebrate your proclivity for movement; it is enough.


Written by Danika Kelly
Instagram: @d_k_yyc
Facebook: Model Movement
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