Tag Archives: athletes

Monday-Morning Quarterback

2 Feb
Courtesy of Tumblr

Courtesy of Tumblr

You’ve made it through the Super Bowl and Katy Perry’s Missy Elliot‘s performance (along with Lenny, lions, tigers and bears, etc.). Congratulations Patriots…I guess. Your coach still sucks.

By the time many of you read this, you will have been bombarded by numerous pundits on TV and the interwebs giving their take on the game last night. Many of them have never held a football. Some of them think a perfect spiral is a curl pattern. A few have only heard of a “Hail Mary” in reference to Tupac.

These are your Monday-morning quarterbacks. Now that the football season is officially over, you won’t hear the white noise that comes with uninformed opinions about the profession. Lucky you.

On your weight-loss journey, you’ll run into a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacks. They like to offer opinions on the things you should and shouldn’t do. They like to tell you that they know what’s best for you. And best of all, they love to shame you when you fall.

They are, to put it simply, full of shit.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Isn’t that the very nature of this blog? To tell me what I’m doing right or wrong?” I really hope you don’t see it that way. This blog is a platform for me to share some of my stories and for us to have a dialog about the weight-loss process. What worked for me will not always work for the next person. I’m not here to shame anyone.

Your wight-loss Monday-morning quarterbacks like to offer opinions when none are requested or required. You will run into them everywhere. Unless it’s your doctor, trainer or nutritionist—a credentialed someone whose job is to offer their take on your progress—then you might want to take their opinion with a grain of salt.

On your weight-loss journey, you’re going to try numerous methods that will get you toward your goal. You may give up meat, make your workouts solely cardio or even go on cleanse. Weight loss is a process. Figuring out what works for you is going to take time. Having others buzz in your ear about the things they think you’re doing wrong will only delay your progress.

So how do you mute-button all the unwanted opinions?

1. Just say no. Just like the devil on your shoulder who told you to kill off those last Oreos in the bag, the “angel” on your shoulder is going to offer you tips on some cleanse she found in the back of Glamour. If it doesn’t sound inviting to you, just say you don’t want to do it. You know what you’re capable of. If living off of lemon water and cayenne pepper for week isn’t it, say so.

2. Be a loner. The weight-loss journey is traveled alone. You may be invited to take classes and join clubs, but no one is losing the weight for you. It’s not a group project to shed the pounds off of your body. If there’s some group activity that you’re being invited to, do it because it’s something you want to do not because it’s something the group is doing. Group’s are good for moral support. Participating in every activity isn’t a requirement.

3. Lie. We all have those friends who want your best interests at heart…but really just want you to agree with them. If one of them comes to you with a rando piece of equipment or workout video that’s “changed their lives,” just go with it. Some people can’t accept a no, so they’ll have to settle for a “sure, that sounds great,” so you can move on to other things in life. Like many Monday morning quarterbacks, they just want someone to nod in agreement even if they don’t agree.

What did you think of the Super Bowl? How are you drowning out the pundits today?

Plotting Around the Polar Vortex

10 Nov
This is some bull—but it's not an excuse

This is some bull—but it’s not an excuse

A couple of weeks ago I was out to dinner with friends. We hadn’t met up for a while, so it was time to catch up. Who’s dating whom? How’s work going? Holiday plans? Blah, blah, blah.

When we got around to me, I offered my usual: work, gym, home. If I’m feeling adventurous: work, gym, grocery store, home. The reason for the routine is because I’d gained some weight that I wasn’t proud of. The size 8s were feeling a little too snug and the 10s were looking tempting. Rather than give in to temptation, I went back into beast mode. I’m happy to say I’m down 17 pounds.

What I diidn’t mention was that this dinner was during a particularly cold night here in New York. “Why are you trying to lose weight when it’s about to get cold?” my friend joked. “You’re going to need that extra layer when the cold hits.” (By the way, it’s coming.)

My other friend spoke up before I could, saying now’s the time to do it. If you’re going to try to get in shape, you want to do it before it gets warm. Think of it this way: When you go to the beach for spring break or summer vacation, it’ll be much harder to work off all that holiday food if you haven’t been keeping up with a routine.

A sports columnist at The Wall Street Journal (editor’s note: my employer) wrote about this very thing last week. He called it the off season. Many athletes will go vacation for a month once the season’s over, but they will get back to training when they return.

One of my favorite stories about this was told by Michael Jordan in the “30 for 30: Bad Boys” documentary. The Pistons put in work on Michael Jordan, using their “Jordan Rules” to defensively render him useless to the Bulls. Jordan took the L, but went into the off season with a mission to get his body ready for the hurting the Pistons had planned for him. He took his time off as a challenge to himself to improve his body to be in peak form.

I understand, however, that we’re not all athletes. It’s easy to turn the fall and winter into the off season for working out. Hell, I did it last year. It’s easier not to leave the house when you have 4 feet of snow blocking your doorway. And if you can’t get outside, you definitely can’t run or even go to the gym. Your subconscious plays games with your head and tells you, “Stay home where it’s warm. There’s Netflix and HBOGo and entire seasons of shows you haven’t watched on Amazon Prime. Plus, look at that bookshelf full of masterpieces you’ve been trying to read. They need your attention, too.”

Doesn’t that sound inviting? You could be in your warm home lazing the day away. Or you could pop in an exercise DVD and go to work. You could make use of those resistance bands you bought forever ago. You could find a few workout tips on YouTube and make it happen. Your home doesn’t and should’t be your cage. It should be where you make the most of off-season.

Believe me when I tell you I fully understand the desire to skip out on workouts when it’s cold outside. Ask anyone: I hate  the cold. I hate everything about it. I don’t like wearing extra layers because it just means more laundry. I don’t like walking around in black slush piles of snow because that mess gets tracked back into my house. And I hate working out and then going out into the cold because then I’m then the disgusting combination of cold and wet.

But that doesn’t mean I can let myself go because of few dropped temps. Sticking with a plan means just that. If losing weight, staying on track or maintaining a certain level of health is important to you, then you can and should find a way to do just that. Letting the winter doldrums get you down will only make it harder on yourself when the weather breaks. Don’t make this process any harder than it has to be. Find the inner strength that I know you have and force yourself to break the off-season habit.

How do you get through your off season?

photo credit: jonathanpercy via photopin cc

Girls Can Play Baseball

22 Aug

moneI grew up around boys: one older cousin, my brother and two younger cousins. Add to that my father and his five brothers and you have a girl surrounded by testosterone.

My brother, cousins and I would play the typical childhood games: tag, hide and go seek, etc. But mostly we spent our time in our grandparents’ basement wrestling. Let me rephrase: they spent most of their time in our grandparents’ basement wrestling. I was relegated to ring girl.

“Why can’t I wrestle?,” I would ask.

“Because you’re a girl,” one of the boys would reply

“But there are girl wrestlers.”

“We don’t have anyone to wrestle with you. Just sit over there and look cute.”

And sit I would—until I got bored and told an adult they wouldn’t let me play. The options were either I play or nobody plays. I like to think that’s the way Mo’ne Davis is looking at her competitors.

Mo’ne, the Little League World Series pitching phenomenon, has taken the country by storm with her tremendous athleticism. I can’t help but look with awe and admiration as she continues to kill the game.

Let’s run down the laurels: the first girl to pitch a shutout in Little League postseason history with a 70-mph fastball; the first girl to win a series game with her pitching prowess; and the first Little League player to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. While the rest of the world is having a crappy August, Mo’ne is shutting stuff down—literally.

Mo’ne is an amazing pitcher, not just for a girl, but because she just is. And she knows it.

“I throw my curve ball like Clayton Kershaw and my fast ball like Mo’ne Davis,” she told a reporter.

To have that kind of confidence under all the media attention added on top of the pressure of leading your team through the Little League World Series is astounding. We could all take a page from Mo’ne as we continue our journeys toward a healthy lifestyle.

This 5-foot-4, 100-pound 13 year old has been playing sports practically forever. She’s not just an awesome pitcher, she plays basketball and soccer. She challenges herself to do more, even with continuing pressure mounting up. For baseball players under the age of 13, this is as big as it gets. And Mo’ne is ready for it.

We can all challenge ourselves to do more and try harder, even when it seems like we can’t. We can take comfort in the fact that if we fail, we at least tried. We can learn from the things that tripped us up so that we can continue doing better.

Mo’ne has had to deal with hecklers in the stands who wondered what a girl was doing on the baseball field. (She’s only the 4th American girl to play in the Little League World Series since the competition began in 1947.) But instead of allowing that negativity into her head, she focused on her game.

You can do the same. Do a mental vs. physical check. Understand the difference between what your mind is telling you vs. what your body is telling you. The challenge will be completely worth it.

Mo’ne has done some excellent work for herself, her team and the Little League. However, she won’t continue to play in the tournament as her team lost on Thursday night. But we all know this isn’t the end of her. Basketball season is still coming up!

photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated

On Prince Fielder’s Body Issue Cover

9 Jul

prince_fielderAbout a year ago, I went to an event called Drink and Draw. For 10 bucks, you have all you can drink beer and you draw a nude model. I tend to doodle occasionally, so I thought what the hell.

The model was not…Matthew McConaughey. He wasn’t even Matthew’s lesser-known brother, Rooster. He was a medium-height, schlubby-built, pasty man with a face someone, somewhere could love. And he was totally naked, standing on the platform with no shame. He was there to serve a purpose: be the inspiration for the artist. He slid in and out of different poses, giving each artist in the room a different view of him to capture to paper.

He was perfect. The light caught his curves in just the right settings, casting off enough shadow so I could draw the negative space. This man with a less-than-ideal body type was an amazing model.

And so is Prince Fielder.

The Texas Rangers’ first baseman is heavy hitter, to put it lightly. To weigh it down—the man’s enormous. He is known for swinging a bat and hitting home runs. Prince’s size and batting ability have drawn comparisons to another big guy—Babe Ruth. But the Babe never stripped down for the cover of a magazine.

The ESPN Body Issue is one of my favorites. This year, the editors decided to do something different and put the girthy Prince Fielder on one of its covers in his usual poster stance: swing away with an arm outstretched toward the ball he’d just made disappear. It’s a beautiful photo capturing a natural doing what he does naturally, albeit au natural.

Social media, as you’d expect, was not so kind to Prince’s portrait.

The Body Issue, as I understand it, is not to “gawk at exceptional bodies,” but to appreciate the athletic body in all its forms. Sure, Serge Ibaka and Venus Williams  may have the more traditional athletic bodies. But Prince is no slouch. He says it himself in his interview: “You don’t have to look like an Under Armour mannequin to be an athlete.” He doesn’t have the typical muscle definition or 12-pack we’ve been taught to believe all athletes should have. But he does work hard.

You can see it in his stance, in his arms, in his thighs. The man does work out. Not having Larry Fitzgerald’s body doesn’t make him any less of an athlete. There are body types for every sport. Swimmers tend to have short legs, big feet and long legs. Sprinters tend to have tight cores, large thighs and defined calves. Basketball players tend to have long arms, wide-set shoulders and long legs.

And to all this I say, so what? There are exceptions to every rule. While many will strive to have Lebron James’s or Michael Phelp’s bodies—which were built for their respective sports—it doesn’t mean an athlete with a different shape can’t excel.

prince_fielder2I’ve made my feelings about fat shaming perfectly clear: it’s a no-no. No one, no matter where he or she is on the journey, deserves ridicule for the way that person’s body is shaped. Prince’s ESPN cover and the subsequent rants from the Twitter gallery show that men are subject to body shaming just as women are. It’s cruel and it’s counterproductive. We should celebrate a healthy body, especially one that is capable of performing incredible athletic feats, no matter what the size. If he has the courage to go nude on a national magazine cover, regardless his size, he gets my congratulations.

There are a great many physical things we cannot control, but we can control our reactions to them. Prince Fielder is an exceptional athlete who’s not here for your criticism of his body. “I work out to make sure I can do my job to the best of my ability. Other than that, I’m not going up there trying to be a fitness model.”

What did you think of the cover? Would you be able to pose nude, be it for an art class or even a magazine cover?

photos courtesy of ESPN Magazine