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Go Easy on Yourself: Setting Realistic Expectations as an Athlete

Guest Author: Sarah Gariba, BSN, RN

Hey athletes! Whether you’re a hardcore competitor or just an enthusiastic weekend warrior like I’ve become, it’s common to put tons of pressure on yourself to perform at higher and higher levels. But what happens when our bodies and minds hit limitations that prevent us from reaching our lofty athletic goals? 

As someone who has struggled with multiple sports injuries and burnout from pushing too hard, I’ve learned the importance of getting real about what my body can ACTUALLY handle. 

Sometimes I think I’m super woman… but my body will snap me back to reality REAL quick. Through trial and error (ok, mostly error!), I’ve discovered how to set realistic expectations so I can keep pursuing my goals without completely crashing.

Here are a few kind-hearted tips:

– Check your mindset. Be aware of an inner critic setting you up for failure with rigid demands. Are you beating yourself up over normal setbacks? Catch and question those unrealistic expectations.  

– Know your current fitness level…intimately! Don’t pretend you can instantly handle a performance goal that requires abilities you haven’t built up to yet OR used to have.  Respect your real starting line.

– Focus on self-competition, not others. Don’t worry about what level your teammates, friends or opponents are at. compare yourself only to your own personal records, and aim to incrementally better your skills rather than take quantum leaps.

– Appreciate all progress. Every tiny gain still counts as a ‘win’ – a second shaved off your time, 5 more pounds lifted, getting in an extra rep. View small steps as markers of growth over needing instant dramatic breakthroughs.

– Make time for rest, recovery and SELF-CARE! Don’t minimize these as optional. Schedule them into your training calendar PURPOSEFULLY to prevent strain. Ask yourself, what does self-care look like to me? 

Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way that pushing relentlessly just sets you up for major regression when your mind/body breaks down. If you can let go of rigid expectations and approach athletic growth from a place of compassion rather than criticism, you’ll appreciate each step forward so much more!

Let me know if these tips resonate with your inner athlete’s journey! What realistic expectations are you working on setting for yourself lately?

Sarah is a heart-centered coach who helps cooperate employees and caregivers to realign their impact through mindful presence. Drawing from her diverse experiences as a former competitive athlete, registered nurse, and wellness coach, Sarah blends embodiment practices, nervous system regulation, and emotional intelligence strategies to empower people.

Connect with Sarah at https://www.thecaregiverhub.co/

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