33 Things The Best Athletes Do That You Probably Don’t

trio of female runners
Are you going to be a winner or a loser? Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nathaninsandiego/15229173247

There are two kinds of people in the world of fitness and athletics: those who succeed and those who don’t, the winners and losers, the achievers and the wannabes. And you can usually spot them from a mile away. Here are some hints on how to tell the difference…

  1. They workout. We train.
  2. They do things like drink red wine and eat dark chocolate to stay in shape. We don’t believe in fairy tales.
  3. They get about 6 hours of sleep every night if they’re lucky. We get at least 8 hours because we manage our time.
  4. They try to get a good workout in once in awhile, or when they feel like it, when it’s convenient, when it’s sunny, blah blah blah. We do our work daily.
  5. They give up when things get hard. When things get hard, we get started.
  6. They get fast food or some other junk after a hard workout. We get fuel fast after a hard session.
  7. They drink alcohol. We drink coffee or tea.
  8. They have a little coffee to go with their sugar and cream. We take our coffee black.
  9. They try hard for a few days or weeks. We work hard enough for as long as it takes.
  10. They go out and party on the weekends. We stay in and achieve our goals.
  11. They buy into weight loss scams to help them lose weight. We don’t even have to worry about body composition.
  12. They live for the weekend or their next vacation. We live for the present and don’t feel the need to escape our daily lives.
  13. They “wing it” and never get anywhere. We plan, execute, and adjust as necessary.
  14. They hate exercise. We love what we do and we don’t even call it exercise.
  15. They worry about what they’re eating. We don’t have to.
  16. They look for quick-fixes. We look for sustainable results.
  17. They hit the snooze button over and over again and eventually drag themselves out of bed. We don’t need to.
  18. They take off-days or “cheat days” when they need a break. We’re always training, always recovering.
  19. They eat food-like substances most of the time (e.g. fast food, junk food, processed food, etc.). We eat real food most of the time.
  20. They drink sodas, juices, mocha-chinos and energy drinks. We drink water – just water.
  21. They think that working up a sweat and burning some calories is the sign of a successful workout. We think progress is a sign of a successful training session.
  22. They rarely even get the basics covered. We know that the details matter.
  23. They are always yo-yoing with their diet and workout program. We are always sticking with our plan.
  24. They chase after physique goals like getting abs or slimming/toning/etc. We chase after performance goals and get the looks to go with them.
  25. They buy into the latest fads, trends, and crazes. We stick with what works – what’s always worked.
  26. They give up at the slightest hint of failure. We pick ourselves up again and again.
  27. They fixate on unimportant details. We look at the big picture.
  28. They procrastinate. We started years ago and we’re still going.
  29. They go easy. We go hard.
  30. They accept defeat. We adapt.
  31. They seek comfort. We seek out the uncomfortable.
  32. They do whatever is easiest. We do whatever is best.
  33. They can’t win. We can’t lose.

And in the end, we always win.

So, yes, there is a big difference between the achievers and the wannabes, and it’s really quite simple. It all comes down to the choices we make. And the good news is that anyone can choose to improve themselves starting right now. So, who are you going to choose to be – starting today?

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P.P.S. Hat tip goes to ETP.

4 Responses

  1. That’s a heavy law to lay down. I think I get what you are after — overcoming inertia and getting those who are stationary to actually get moving. It takes extra force to create movement from no movement.

    On the other hand, what if someone doesn’t really want to be one of THE BEST athletes? What if one wants to be healthy and strong enough to do what they want to do, but doesn’t really care about breaking records, setting personal bests, or competing — with anyone?

    If that were the case, I think your binary presentation might be more discouraging than helpful. It doesn’t discourage me, mind you. I’m old enough, and have been training long enough that I filter out what doesn’t apply to me. I have my own reasons for making the choices I make and none of them are about being THE BEST.

    But that is really the point of your post. Whatever your goal, it’s really about the choices you make. In that sense, this is spot on. Nevertheless, I think we need to be careful about assuming that if one is not DRIVEN TO EXCELLENCE (by some arbitrary and often unreachable standard) then one isn’t serious about training and should be ashamed of being such a lazy unworthy lard-hearted lump of couch weight.

    I’m pretty sure you agree with this. I know that the unbalanced rhetoric of the post by no means is a complete expression of your philosophy. It’s rhetoric. It just pressed one of my personal hot buttons so I thought I’d call it out. ;-)

    • We agree 100%, Dave. And you know me. I’m not trying to discourage anyone or make someone feel ashamed of themselves. And this may come as a surprise to some, but I don’t think everyone should aspire to be the best athletes they possibly can be. There are more important things in life, and each one of us has our own priorities. And I’m not one to tell anyone what theirs should be (unless they ask me for advice).

      But I do think it’s a worthy goal that everyone should aspire to be the best person they can be, and do their best when it comes to achieving whatever is important to them. And if that means becoming a professional athlete and setting world records, then great. But it could also mean just getting “in shape” and being okay with mediocre fitness results so that you can be the best father, husband, friend, son, brother, co-worker, leader (etc.) that you can be. Or, even putting your physical health and fitness on hold so that you can focus on more important matters. Depending on the circumstances, this may be necessary, and it may even be what’s best. Personally, I think this is an unwise thing to do, especially long-term, but to each his own.

      Now, obviously, this post is not written for any one person, in particular, but to the public who can apply it to themselves in their own way – just like you’ve done. And as you mentioned, it’s but a glimpse into my training philosophy. I had hoped it would be motivating and would help simplify the process of self-mastery (with the take-home point that it all comes down to our choices, after all) – to overcome that inertia and get people moving toward their goals. So, I hope that came through.

      Of course, I also realize that I cannot control people’s responses to my published work, which is why I don’t try to please everyone when I write. And so, if some people are offended by this short blogpost for some reason or another, so be it. It wasn’t my intention, but again, I can’t control everything. And hopefully, the people who are brave enough to sit down and have lunch with me – like you were – will realize that I’m really just trying to help and I want the best for them – even if they didn’t like the way I said something :-)

      Thanks for your honest, well-thought out feedback, Dave. I really appreciate it – good discussion. Be sure to hit me up whenever I press those hot buttons. I want to hear it!

  2. I fully support and encourage your use of the editorial “We.”

    You sir, are a brilliant writer, and pretty fit for a guy your age. ;-)

    (just trying to be encouraging here.)

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