I’m a nathlete.  Say it slowly in three separate words and you’ll get this portmanteau. Say it too fast, and you might raise your eyebrow at me - or you might be impressed. An athlete is way different than a ‘nathlete’. At least that’s how it is in my books.

As a 50+ female, over the years that I have been active, I have played a few sports (even coached some), regularly gone to a gym since I was 18, competed in running races (5k, 10k, and half-marathon), trained for long, multi-day cycling trips, mountain biked on actual mountains (and had my share of endos), earned my black belt in Taekowndo (at the tender age of 42), and became a Yoga teacher (at the tender age of 52).  Just recently, I bought a kick-ass used road bike and have started to get my tushy toughened up enough to sit on the bike seat for more than 30 minutes at a time so my husband and I can do some epic long rides together this Spring.

Yet I do not call myself an athlete, and never have.  That label has always seemed too lofty for me. I remember when I was training for my black belt, during an assisted hamstring stretch (NOT recommended, Folks), there was a loud ‘bang/pop’ that came from the back of my own leg.  My partner, Leslie, dropped my leg and literally ran across the room knowing something had gone very wrong. The next day, when searching for a good physiotherapist (yes – something HAD gone very wrong), I called around asking for therapists who were trained to deal with athletes.  But I really had trouble saying that I was the athlete because it just felt fraudulent.

I think we all have ideas of who athletes are: what they look like, how they act, what they do, and what they eat.  I’m no different. You probably can’t help picturing an athlete right now as you read this - you have that athlete image in your head. What does she look like?  What does he look like? I’m going to guess it’s probably not like me.  Or maybe not like most of us! I tell everyone I’m 5’ 7” - it’s a running joke among my friends.  Truth is, I’m about 4 inches shy of that. So… not tall, not svelte, no six pack, no long legs, no chiseled calf muscles or sinewy arms.  Yeah - a nathlete. But I’m strong, and really flexible.  I can run pretty fast and pretty far. Most are surprised by my core strength in Yoga and Pilates, especially the 20 somethings in our Infinit Wellness Yoga classes here at the shop. Yet, I am a nathlete.

Perhaps you yourself identify with this.  But maybe we – us nathletes, are doing ourselves an injustice here.  It’s been said that ‘we treat ourselves the way we think we deserve to be treated’.  Hmmm. Think about your own sleep and nutrition. How would you do it differently if you thought of yourself as an athlete; how would you treat yourself differently or behave differently if you thought you deserved to be treated like an athlete? Athletes think about their own performance and recovery. Athletes ensure that only quality proteins, fats, and carbohydrates go into their temples. They fuel with the best products, accordingly.  And this, of course, improves their performance and makes them better athletes! Perhaps those of us nathletes are short-changing ourselves, as a result.  ‘I’m only practicing Yoga for 90 minutes, so I don’t need to have to take in any nutrition’, or ‘I’m just going out for a quick ride/run/swim/game/fill-in-the-blank.  No need to fuel or take a recovery blend’.

Thinking that we are ‘not that lofty’ leads us to shortchange ourselves, depriving us of the opportunity to become better in our performance and to recover better and quicker so that we can enjoy what it is that we do – whatever that is -  again and again. That should give us pause.

Well - let’s try an experiment, shall we?  Let’s try saying that sentence opener a little faster: “I’m a nathlete”.  Let’s say it a few times out loud to see how it sounds. A bit faster and a bit louder:

I’m a nathlete, I’m anathlete, I’m an athlete, I’m an athlete…

Shall we try it for the next month or so?  Maybe – just maybe – we’ll start to treat ourselves accordingly.  Fuel better and feel better. This is as good a place to start and as good a time to start as any - each and every day is the start of a new year.

Let me know how you do, won’t you?

Brenda Biekx

Infinit Nutrition Canada

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