Day in the Life:
The Mental Edge – Wisdom for a Fit Body and Mind
I grew up on the dangerous side of the tracks in Fort Worth, Texas. I saw close friends go down the wrong path and lose their way. My stepdad, my closest role model, died during my high school years.
I owe my Olympic career and eight USA national track and field championships to more than just physical skill and athletic success. My story is one of faith, hope, family and friends.
The key to a healthy, balanced lifestyle involves nurturing the mind and relationships as much as the body.
Waking Up: Eat the Frog
Mark Twain is credited with saying, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
I wake up before dawn to get my first work-out in for the day, every day.
My energy usually peaks early morning, so I’ll do my toughest work-out then. Usually cardio, usually a run.
As my college coach used to remind me on my way to multiple NCAA championships – if you get up before dawn and run 30 minutes, you’re already ahead of 90% of the world. Because most people don’t work out. So that’s all you have to do to start your day in the top 10%.
My appetite is usually lowest in the morning, so I’ll make do with a simple protein shake for breakfast.
For folks who find it difficult to get up and get at ’em:
- try listening to music – I have pre-set playlists on my iPod that never fail to stir me up for that first run of the day
- rationalize – if you don’t get it done in the AM, something else is bound to come up and make it harder to accomplish later in the day
- go to bed on time – I’m usually in bed by 9pm. You need those Zzz’s to perform
Middle of the Day: Work, Eat and Pump
I coach collegiate athletes at Louisiana State University, so I don’t have a typical “9-to-5” workday.
My second work-out of the day, usually a weightlifting routine, comes when my energy is relatively low – at the end of the workday. I might workout with the team if the schedule permits.
My lunch is usually pretty quick, but I’m consistent with it, even with time constraints. I try to hit three meals per day and snack a lot as well.
I stay away from red meat, pork, fried foods, cheese… I like them, but not enough to crave them or choose them for meals. I have a sweet tooth, but that’s probably my only cheat.
When I’m at my office, I don’t use a standing chair, exercise ball or any of that. I just sit down and get my work done.
Evening: Restore and Refuel
I credit evening with providing most of my inspiration.
This is the time I get to spend quality hours with my wife and children. It is these relationships that sustain me and inspire me to live a great life.
Dinner is usually some type of fish. I love trout or salmon with rice. I could eat it every day, and actually tend to do so… I eat the bulk of my calories at night, not by choice, but because I’m so busy during the day.
Before bed, I read voraciously. That’s my thing. I concentrate on philosophically and spiritually driven books.
Right now I’m reading Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn. During my competing days, while representing the USA in the 2004 Athens Olympics, I read The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino. It’s absolutely amazing – not about sales at all. About life. These types of books help motivate me and keep me focused and inspired.
Another great quote credited to Mark Twain; “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” I challenge myself daily to find out why and fulfill that purpose.
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