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What your fitness journey has in common with MLB players.

Whitney CarlsonComment
What your fitness journey has in common with MLB players.

If you haven't heard by now, we are huge baseball fans - the Cubs in particular. Scott's dad, who passed away from cancer when he was 16, and grandfather passed along their love of the Cubs to Scott. I (Whitney) grew up a Braves fan but was quickly swayed when I met Scott 15 years ago (I do still root for the Braves when they aren't playing the Cubs!).  We've spent A LOT of time this year watching baseball games on TV (we probably saw around 100 Cubs games from start to finish) and going to baseball games here in Atlanta and Chicago.

Just for fun I'll throw in the text message that Scott sent me before game 7 of the World Series. He was traveling for a work retreat so we couldn't watch the game together but he made sure to let me know his feelings - he wasn't referring to our wedding or some other important life event, rather it was game 7 of the World Series game. ;-)

In fact, it was our trip to Chicago in 2008 that we realized we needed to start living a healthy lifestyle. We weren't overweight when we got married but we quickly gained weight during our first few years of marriage. Below is a few of our pictures from 2008.

We also went back to Chicago this past May. We had airline credits we had to use before they expired and Scott had a Friday off so we went!

See the difference?

This time we went to Chicago with Scott's brother and sister to witness the first World Series game played in Chicago since 1945 (October 28-30, 2016). We actually bought the plane tickets and booked the hotel room at the beginning of October. We saved A TON of money this way. We booked through Southwest so even if they didn't make it we could have changed the tickets for another trip at another time. The hotel room was also able to be cancelled, if necessary. We had rooftop tickets to the game, so we weren't technically in the park, but it was still an AMAZING experience. They lost the game we went to on Friday night and also the game we watched in Chicago on Saturday night (while eating Chicago-style pizza!). However, we, along with millions of other fans, never gave up! We flew back to Atlanta on Sunday during the third game at Wrigley that they won (Scott's brother was actually at that one as well). On the way out to Chicago, the flight attendants led the plane in singing Go Cubs Go before take off and on the way back to Atlanta every person around me was watching the game on their personal devices!

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As I watched game 6 and 7 (after the Cubs headed back to Cleveland), a few things hit me that I wanted to share - I realized just how relatable baseball is to life and, more specifically, living a healthy lifestyle. ;-) These concepts could probably be applied to other sports as well but, admittedly, I don't know much about them other than baseball.

What your fitness journey has in common with MLB players

  • Baseball players take it one game at a time. More specifically they take it one at-bat at a time.
    • Approach your fitness plan one good workout and one healthy meal at a time...don't get so far ahead of yourself that you fail to recognize the short-term objective and the little milestones that lead to success.
  • Just because a batter has two strikes, it doesn't mean they just give in to the pitcher because they know the odds are against them...no - they keep grinding the at-bat and trying to hang in there until either the pitcher makes a mistake or they find a pitch they can manage to hit.  In other words, they focus on controlling the controllable...they can't control whether or not the pitcher hits his spots or makes good pitches, but they can control whether or not they give up on an at-bat after they've fallen behind.
    • Just because you haven't worked out for days or weeks or you've been in a slump with healthy eating it doesn't mean that you should give up and "throw in the towel". Pick yourself up and move forward in a healthy direction...it's about making your overall fitness journey above average!
  • Players and teams have long range goals like winning their division and hopefully the World Series, but that doesn't mean they lose sight of their short-term goals. Again, they take it one at-bat a time.
    • Setting goals can be a good idea but make sure that you break down your large goals into smaller goals or milestones. If you want to lose 50 pounds, break down it down by 5-pound increments. Also, make sure your timeframes are achievable.
  • Each player gives it their all even when their team is losing a game or a stretch of games. Players have team goals but they also have individual goals like improving their batting average or making a highlight-reel play. Each player will still try to have a good at-bat in order to improve their record by increasing their chances of winning a game.
    • Don't quit just because you don't think you will hit your bigger goal. Each healthy adjustment you make (taking a walk, eating a healthy breakfast, spending time to care for yourself) adds up and gets you closer to your goal. Your body is keeping score.
  • Players and teams constantly evaluate their performance and tweak game plans when they are in the middle of a slump; however, what's more important is that they also constantly evaluate performance when things are going well to make note of the things that make them successful.
    • Maybe you've been eating a certain way that isn't making you feel great or, conversely, you're blowing past your goals and hitting all of the milestones you've set for yourself. Take some time to evaluate your plan and make the necessary adjustments or note the source of your success.
  • Their goals are made with realistic time frames. 
    • It took the Cubs 108 years to win another World Series but that doesn't mean that they weren't trying to get there. They didn't try to rebuild a new team and win the World Series in one season. It took a vision, long-term planning, analysis, execution, and a lot of ad hoc changes to make it happen. You shouldn't expect your body, life, or mind to change in just one day, week or even year. Living a healthy lifestyle is something that you will be working on for the rest of your life. Deadlines are mental, not physical (your body doesn't have a deadline)...remember to control the controllable!
  • Even professional players still need pep talks occasionally.
    • Cubs took an early lead in game 7, but then the Indians tied it up late in the game and forced the game into extra innings (as if our hearts hadn't taken enough beating up to this point!). The game was put on hold for 17 minutes during a rain delay. It later came out that Jason Heyward, who has been in a hitting slump all season long, but is an outstanding ballplayer and leader (who also used to play for the Braves!), led a players meeting in the locker room. From what I've heard and read, he basically reminded the players that they were there for a reason and that they were still the best team in baseball. They were good enough to make it that far, and they were good enough to win it all. Guess what they did after the tarp was removed from the field?! They went out there with confidence and WON THE WORLD SERIES.
  • Baseball players (and all professional athletes) rest.
    • Players have rest days and even a few months of rest during the off season. Your body requires rest. You can't constantly run it into the ground with exercise and diet restriction and expect it to be healthy. Treat your body with the proper amount of exercise and nutrients it needs in order to continue living a full and healthy life.

I shared this on our Facebook page but also wanted to share it here so that it lives forever. ;-) This is what Scott wrote after the Cubs won:

I can undeniably state that being a Cubs fan is an entirely different animal in the realm of sports fandom and today this little letter means a lot more than just a Cubs win to me and so many other lifelong and generational fans, so I've selected a few "W" words to express what today's win means to me and Cubs fans across the world:

  1. Wait - there are so many fans that have waited their entire lives for this to happen. Chicago waited 71 years to see a World Series game and 108 to win it all. Life is now complete for all Cubs fans and we can rest in peace! "Wait till next year" takes on an entirely different meaning now.
  2. Worthwhile - although it took 108 years, the pain, time (and money) I've invested into the Cubs over the years was a worthwhile investment and has finally paid off.
  3. Want - Cubs fans have never wanted anything so bad in our lives.
  4. Watchful - this team was able to pull it off under so many watchful eyes - fans of past (my dad and grandfather included) and present plus all of the Cubs legends that we've lost (Ron Santo, Harry Caray, Ernie Banks) and the living legends that had a hand in this victory one way or another (Len & JD, Pat Hughes & Ron Coomer, Ryno, Kerry Wood, Fergie Jenkins, Theo & Jed, the Ricketts family, Joe, the 2016 team, Steve Goodman, Eddie Vedder, Bill Murray and so many others).
  5. Worry - this word has been eliminated from the perennial Cubs vernacular. Cross this dreaded word off the Cubs fans' lexicon...we can now view life with high hopes rather than apprehension and replace worry with hope.
  6. Witness - my brother, sister, wife and I were able to witness the first World Series game played at Wrigley in 71 years and a piece of history that resulted in the first championship in 108 years!!!
  7. Wrigley (Field) - there is no better sports atmosphere anywhere in the world...period! Millions of fans have come and gone to Wrigley without their team pulling off a World Championship.
  8. Wine - what I needed to get me through this series, especially game seven.
  9. Weather delay - allowed the Cubs to regroup and win it all! I'll never be bothered by rain again...
  10. Waterlogged - to describe my eyes after Montgomery and Bryzzo retired the final out to raise the Commissioner's trophy. As much as I wanted to jump for joy and shout "Go Cubs Go", I cried (no, I sobbed) for maybe the second time in my life...the first time was when my dad passed away.
  11. World Champs - not much more to say here...we are the World Champs!!!!!
  12. What...happens now? What do we talk about as Cubs fans?
  13. When...do we win it all again? Will centuries or generations pass before Cubs fans get another championship?

Dad - this win was for you...I can see the smile on your face shining down on me, Mommy (Malinda), Todd and Kristin You taught me so much about life, but of all the lessons you taught me, being a Cubs fan is ALWAYS the one that sticks out the most to me. I remember before the internet was around, I'd come home from school and tune into the Cubs games on WGN and you'd call from work for periodic updates...I vividly remember the Kerry Wood strikeout record game; I called you in the fifth or sixth inning to tell you what was going on and it seemed like you called every ten minutes as he got deeper into the game to see if he was going to set the record for most K's...that is actually one of my fondest memories of you and I'm glad the Cubs provided the glue that strengthened the Carlson family bond. I miss you so much, but now I know you, Ba, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks and Harry are truly resting in peace!