Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is vital for your overall health and wellness in life. The way that best fits for me to do so is through conscientious routine and consistency.
Since 2012, when I went on my first International competition outing in Puerto Rico, I kept a training log to monitor my progress. I started this log to have a form of accountability for myself when my coach (Dad) wasn’t around. This log consisted of everything from how my mood was that day, the weather, and how fast my intervals were or how many miles I ran. I also logged how I felt emotionally because in the sport of track and field, I believe the majority of it is mental.
I found that even if the log did nothing for me, it was a consistent routine of self-reflection. When analyzing areas within yourself in which you desire to change, it is a good Idea to keep track of how you feel and what the aspects of it are so that you can attain your goal and monitor progress. My training log is also psychologically vital to my overall health because in high school when I didn’t always have others there to talk to during stressful home life, I was able to shut my door, focus on my reflection, and vent anything that was bothering me onto paper.
Even if I didn’t ever reevaluate the log that I wrote for the day, it was good to get it off my chest so I can sleep better and prepare for the next day of work.
At the top of each page of this college ruled composition book I wrote a statement or quote to live by for that week. I often wrote my goals in this space as well, that way I keep them fresh in my mind and constantly remind myself of them so I do not lose sight.
Reflecting on my past, physical activity has had a huge impact on my life and without it, I do not know where I would be today. My upbringings weren’t all that great, I lived in 23 different houses, and attended 10 different schools up until I was 18 years old. I come from a very low (if any) income household with 6 siblings and a total of 9 family members under the same roof.
I lived in a very stressful environment with a dysfunctional parenting style being one that my parents never agreed upon anything. The dysfunctional relationship between them had a negative impact on our family atmosphere. Overall, there was a lot more to it than just them arguing. Their un-agreeableness and their lack of financial support led to many problems within my family life that were very challenging to cope with at a young age.
Ultimately, my “norm” was one of pure chaos, stress and agony. Exercise for me, was an escape of my reality. It allowed me to exit the building of pain which I lived in at home. It gave me hope, it restored my emotions, my attitude, my stress levels and my spiritual well being.
That’s when I found that running, to me was much more than just a competition or a leisure activity that most people do simply to stay in shape. I found the love for exercise through my unhealthy home lifestyle that I was trapped in yet I could escape it in two ways, my dreams, and my running.
At a young age I knew I was in a place in my life where I was unsatisfied, and I wanted change. My biggest dream was to travel the world and do what I love. What would be better than doing something that you are gifted at, and earning a salary for it? I did not know exactly what that would look like but I knew I wanted it. I knew traveling the world is very expensive, so how could I possibly travel for free? Seems impossible.
The way that I was able to make that transition to change was that I had an endless amount of focus on my dreams and visions because I wanted it more than anything. I thought about being great every single day, not a time passed when I wasn’t thinking big, imagining myself being great, and one day being free from stress.
After years of running consistently, I was able to develop quite a skill for something I did for fun. I have a competitive edge that flows through my veins and whatever the activity may be whether its back yard basketball or a friendly game of kickball, I wanted to win!. I started to see that I have special abilities that come to me more naturally than others, this is when I found my true self, I found hope for my future, I found my vision.
Self-belief was a huge factor to maintaining not only a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally, but having a small minuscule amount of hope can go a long way. I often think of quotes that motivate and inspire me and one that I came up with is “If you take a simple word, give it direction and purpose, it can go a long way.” So I would think of simple encouraging words and phrases that are uplifting and I gave them purpose and direction. “Bailey you CAN succeed” “BELIEVE in your abilities” “TRUST in your training.”
What I mean by this is through various forms of self-efficacy, self-assessment and monitoring self-progress, there is a lot more to maintaining a healthy spirituality than it may seem. I developed my self-confidence through positive self-talk, trial and error, and testing my abilities by pushing my limits on the track and in life. I would climb trees, go exploring, run up the wall and do a backflip, breakdance, ride a unicycle, walk along tall and narrow fence lines, all of which are random skills.
Once I compiled and established all these random skills. I was able to realize that all these activities that seemed purposeless actually played a huge role in who I am today. Little did I know that the more back flips I did, the more trees I climbed, my desire to explore, create, and accomplish allowed me to form a foundation.
From my adolescence, my abilities, visions and mentality have exceeded my physical age by being aware of my surroundings. I am very observant and constantly learn from my experiences. I learn from other people’s actions, people I’ve met, places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen. With that being said I have always been good at forming my own ideas and goal setting. I know exactly what I want, and I work backwards from that to my current situation and develop a plan of action.
My dreams of going to college, running on team USA, and becoming financially independent for example would not have come if it weren’t for my focus and determination. Factors that I took into account on a daily basis such as nutrition, sleep, hydration, preventative maintenance activities, and positive reinforcement were those of which I focused on in order to achieve my goals.
I was so focused on my goals that the big picture was much more beautiful than instant satisfaction of leisure activities. I would rather be getting the right amount of rest needed to perform well in my next interval session than to be staying up late at night with friends. In our society, it is very easy to give up on your dreams if you’re not careful.
Too many things in my life atmosphere were telling me to give up, quit, stop trying so hard, the odds are against you but I would never quit, so I did the opposite. Deep down inside of me there was that will to succeed that outweighed anyone’s negative remark or doubt in me because the most important aspect is that I believed in myself more than anyone could ever doubt me. I believe that if you’re going to do something at all, might as well give it 100%. I’m not sacrificing my whole lifestyle to be mediocre, I am in it to be great. Those were some words that I lived by in all areas of my life. None of the less, I stayed focused and accountable to myself through monitoring my progress in my training log and stayed consistent throughout because consistency is key in this game.
My dad always said, “Son, if you want to be so great, you need to master the small things in life and the big things will come easier”, this gave me a perspective that changed my life. All the small things I did such as stretching, ice baths, rolling out, and getting a good amount of sleep allowed me to be ready for the tough challenges I faced in both running and in life. It is not always what you go through or experience in life, it’s how you handle them that shapes who you are.
Another quote that my dad always said was, “Small successes are the stairway to great performances,” this was a reinforcement to my self-confidence because I was setting myself up for success not failure. He always believed in me 100% and with that, my outlook on this had a huge impact on my performance because I did not fail, I set realistic goals, and I attained them. If I exceeded my goals whether short or long term “icing on the cake” as my dad would say.
Throughout my upbringing of struggle, I was able to become resilient to adversity. Through the various places I have lived and the exposure to real-world environments have allowed me to form the ability to adjust. As simple as that may sound, I consider it one of my finer qualities because without it, I would not be able to cope with the amount of stress and overload that my body withstood.
Running has allowed me to maintain a healthy stability throughout any form of hard ship I have encountered and meet my goals regardless of the situation. I am a survivor and I use that to my advantage when I need to adjust to a new environment, situation or place in my life. I use my survival instincts to fuel the fire for my success. Instead of letting stress get the best of me, I make it work for me not against me. I apply my developed resiliency to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and focusing on my priorities.
I am currently a sophomore in college, living my dreams and enjoying a healthy lifestyle.
I’ve traveled to multiple foreign countries, I’ve won national championships, I’ve crushed national records and I’ve won a Pan-American gold medal. Little did I know that this all came from a little hope, a little boy with a big dream. From staying focused and monitoring my steps of self-planning, I’ve been able to consistently attain a healthy lifestyle. With my competitive edge and my will to succeed, I am always looking for avenues to improve on within myself.
Being a sophomore now, I have adjusted to the life of being a D1 student athlete and it is quite tough to balance all that entails. With that being said, I constantly monitor my progression and still keep a running log to this day. I have come up with ways that I can better myself through evaluating areas in which need improvements.
I started a “Life Log” a few months ago that allows me to keep track of my priorities, goals and steps of action because the journey to the ultimate goal is how the goal will eventually be attained. Each day I set time out and use my Life Log as an accountability check that forces me to prioritize what is important and allow me to stay focused. Even if it 5-10 minutes and a few sentences of reflection, it keeps me in check with where I am, and where I want to go.
I choose to prioritize this plan of action so that I do not allow any negativity that I can control to affect my life. I have control of my current life situation as a student athlete, and I have big goals. I’m going to keep continuing to use these methods to allow the big things in life to come easier from the mastery of the small things.
She found the lump.
At age forty-eight, it must be empowering to look cancer in the face and give it the finger. It must be harder when twelve years down the road, it comes knocking angrily at your door again. The breast cancer was more aggressive this time, and a lumpectomy simply was not sufficient. The cancer had spread and more extreme measures needed to be taken.
She would need to undergo a mastectomy, a surgery that would take away part of what we consider our womanhood. But if we’re being honest, she handled it like a champ, and she was once again considered cancer free.
They say the third time is the charm.
It had spread to her other breast and she knew this meant a double mastectomy. We had never seen her so frail and fragile, but never once did her will power and audacity cease.
Doctors say my Nana is a very rare case. Being diagnosed with breast cancer three times over the course of fifteen years, and beating it every time, is unheard of. She once told me, “It’s not the obstacles you face, but how you overcome them.”
Persevering through the loss of both of her breasts, rounds of radiation, chemotherapy, and the loss of her hair, she not only inspired me to get involved with organizations that support finding a cure, but also to live by that quote each and every day.
Breast cancer awareness is obviously something that is near and dear to my heart. It is astounding that about one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
Courageous, spirited, independent, and strong are just a few words I would use to describe my Nana. But these words describe all cancer survivors. It’s our job to support them and raise awareness and funds so that we can eliminate the “C” word forever.