I have mentioned before that I am a part of a women's group here in Pensacola called SBL. It is by far the most loving and supportive group of women I have ever encountered, and over the year and a half that I have been a member, I have made some of the best friends a girl could ever ask for. While the group was originally started to be solely a weight loss support group, it has evolved in to a true sisterhood that supports each other the way all women should.
This week a topic came up for discussion that has been on my mind ever since. One of our members asked "When is it ok to start calling yourself an athlete?"
Thing is, many of us have begun training for upcoming triathlons, iron mans, marathons, and more. Our days are filled with swimming, biking, running, crossfit, zumba, ReFit, POUNDFit... you name it, the SBL girls create a LOT of sweat on a daily basis. And the question generated a pretty amazing conversation about what being an athlete "means" and where we all fall. Then someone commented with this post about "Are You An Athlete or an Exerciser?" It hit a nerve with a lot of people when they realized that ... they might in fact not be an athlete and more of an exerciser. I commented on the thread that "I am an Exerciser... and I am PERFECTLY ok with that."
Thing is - I am not going all of this to try to come in first or to eventually do an Iron Man or some extreme fitness challenge. I am doing it for fun. And because I enjoy it. And because I enjoy these ladies. And because ultimately I love the way I feel, and am even starting to love the way I look.
I care nothing about PR'ing - in fact even back when I did my 12 5ks in 12 months I wasn't concerned with time. My best time that year was my run in September. Not the one in October... or November... or the two I did in December. Yep, my time got increasingly worse instead of better... and I could not have cared less. My goal was never to get sub-30 or to even beat my best time. I just enjoyed being there, getting the Tshirts (literally), and marking off the goal for the year. That's it. I had a blast at every single one of those runs - laughed until my sides hurt every time (when you are laughing, shin splints are much more bearable) and enjoyed a well deserved cocktail at every finish line. *ahem*
But what really stands out to make me an "exerciser" more than an "athlete" as the above writer points out so well is the schedule and priorities. See, when given the chance to work or work out... I choose work. Every time. When given the chance of hitting snooze or getting up to run... I hit snooze. And while I may get up and head to the beach on a Saturday morning to take the bike for a spin, I know that the reason I drive all the way out to the beach is not because it is a better ride - but because as soon as I am finished you will find me laying in my beach chair soaking up the sunshine right afterwards.
Do I exercise a lot? Yes. Do I do more than most people? Maybe if you compare me to the general population and not solely to the SBL girls (because let's face it - they all absolutely rock!) Does that make me an athlete? No.
I do not know if I will ever be an "athlete" because at this time in my life, I do not care to be. It is not because I do not think I am capable - I am simply uninterested in putting training over my family, or my work, or my social life. Simple as that. I have no dream of completing an Iron Man or a marathon - although I DO plan to do a half marathon next year... but again just for fun. Well... and for a medal.
I am an exerciser... and I want to thank Greg for his post, and showing that being an exerciser is perfectly ok.
Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says
I workout every single day. Most of those days I am at the dojo working towards my blackbelt 🙂
I always associate being an athlete with striving to better your time and maybe eventually make a career out of it. There is nothing wrong with exercising just for the joy of exercising.
I personally love to run! It is a great stress reliever and is fun. I have ran a few 5K Mud Runs which is put together by Marine's and Toys for Tots.
Dee @ Cocktails with Mom says
Walking is my favorite form of exercise and the more I do it, the more I want to do other things. I did my first benefit walk recently and it was the best feeling.
It sounds like you've got the right perspective. Who cares about the label? You're having fun and supporting your health. You're an exerciser and a rock star, in my book.
Bag the labels.. I have "run" several half marathons but I don't consider myself a runner because I am not the fastest! or the most fit 😉 but your group sounds amazing! Great support team right there.
It sounds like you have found a great group to be an exericiser with! I wish I had a group like that in my area as I hate to exercise alone!
LOVE LOVE this! It is OK to not be obsessed and focus your entire life on your fitness goals - though I have a lot more weight to lose, I'm taking it one day at a time and enjoying the stuff that my friends and family do together like the Color Run we are doing in a few weeks. Keep up the great work!
Valerie Remy-Milora says
Great post! I love your mindset. I love sports and being fit, feeling energized and looking my best... but I do believe in balance and like you am not willing to sacrifice everything for that next goal. I love to push myself and test my limits but more than anything I love being in the moment and making the most of that very moment for that moment alone. So I guess that makes me an exerciser as well 🙂
Jennifer H says
It sounds like you have a great team there to keep everyone motivated. I need to make more efforts to exercise regularly.
Ellen ThatChicMom says
I love so much about this, in my high school years I was an athlete, I swam 5-6 hours a day and was all about getting better and my time. Now I am trying to make exercise a priority and get in shape but I prefer laying in the sun and hitting snooze too! Congrats on all the great things you are doing for you and so glad you are having fun doing it.
Shell Feis says
I'm not EVEN an exerciser- that's my goal! I totally get the difference between athlete and exerciser and think either one is totally fine, just based on priorities. Right now my priorities are cake, but I am constantly trying to change that 🙂