Fit to Coach: Take Care of Yourself to Push Others

By Kara Concheck, Head Coach, Saint Francis University  @RedFlashLax

Most of us have hung up our cleats. Some have continued to compete at a high level and are still active in that way, which is amazing! What I have found though since hanging up my jersey years ago, is that you never truly lose the drive to compete, to challenge yourself, and to move as nature intends us to. Being a part of a team, surrounded by those working towards similar goals is empowering. Coaches will always be athletes in some form, and it is important to remember to still take care of ourselves as we expect our athletes to do the same. There is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to your health and wellness, but the first step here is committing to yourself. I want to encourage coaches to make your health and wellness a priority for a more positive lifestyle; including a heightened quality of life in your craft, personal life, and continued pursuit of your passions.

    Photo courtesy of St. Francis University Athletics.

After I graduated college, and I landed my first coaching job, I was so excited to start my “post collegiate fit life.” Running and lifting on my OWN terms! Maybe even some yoga, definitely hiking, or picking up a rec league sport. My approach however, required a lot less physical demand on my body. And, there were many long days as a coach that left me exhausted. In addition to leading an active lifestyle, there was the nutrition piece. Could I really not enjoy my Reese’s Puffs cereal anymore, that I used to go four bowls deep on? I continued to eat the same amount I had in college, but my body changed. This disappointed me, as I thought I could sustain a level of high performance while doing “average” every-day workouts that did not include those of Division I lacrosse player anymore. It is amazing how our bodies adapt to the type of training we take on, and what we consume. I needed to revamp what was important to me, and what my goals were. My goals included staying healthy by making my fitness a priority and eating to fuel myself; while not over-indulging.

I committed to a plan, and made my goals a priority. I also joined a CrossFit gym that ignited my drive to compete, in a fun and high-energy environment. It felt like being a part of a team, where you celebrated everyone’s success and improvements around you as well as your own. The word I continued to value was nourishment. There are plenty of days where I spurge (I could talk about food all day), but it’s all about having a balance. The 80/20 rule of 80% diet and 20% fitness has a lot of truth to it. Mindset was also an important component. Instead of saying to myself, “I have to work out today,” I would say “I GET to work out today.” Mindset is crucial and sets the tone for everything we do. Taking care of YOU enables you to have increased energy, a positive mindset, and healthier overall lifestyle.

Here are some things I have learned and value:

  1. Commit to YOU. Find a way to make time for yourself. ANYTHING is better than nothing at all. We might have all used the phrase “You will find a way, or find an excuse.” This might mean waking up an extra hour earlier. Go for a twenty-minute run. Go to yoga. Join that CrossFit gym that might intimidate you at first. As long as you are doing something, even just a few times a week, that is a huge win. You will have greater energy and overall health and wellness that will translate into your day to day life and responsibilities.
  2. Focus on the NOW. One of the most valuable components I continue to work towards in my life is to focus on the now. Focus on being grateful for the incredible things our bodies are able to do for us, and provide us with. Focus on what you can control. You can have a weekly plan, but most days, our schedules are all over the place, and that is OK. Be OK with adapting. AND… celebrate the little things!
  3. Find your BALANCE. This is a constant effort in mindfulness. Balance might seem like an unattainable goal as a coach, but realize it is a continued journey. By taking care of yourself, you can better take care of the group of young women that you lead. Give them your presence, energy, and love. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, and approach each day with the intent to be the best coach, parent, friend, whatever it may be; while making yourself a priority. You can have a better balance with mindfulness.

We are all in different stages of our lives; but we each are striving for balance, enrichment, quality relationships; so many life aspects that require our PRESENCE. Do your best to take time out of your week to exercise, and fuel your body with the nutrients it needs. I want to encourage you, that you NEED time for yourself, in order to give others the best you. So… Commit to you, focus on the now, and keep working towards finding a positive balance for a heightened quality of life – Be your best YOU!

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