Olympic Withdrawal

As I headed home from work, last night I was struck by the reality that the 2016 summer Olympics ended this past weekend. The competition was over. I had no reason to turn on the TV. It was something of a letdown. Then it got me thinking of what the actual Olympic athletes might eventually be experiencing after the glow of the games has faded.

Certainly, there would be a hometown parade, appearances on talk shows, a book or two might get written, but then what? Some Olympians might go on to be motivational speakers or reality show stars, but most would have to face the fact that they had reached the pinnacle of their careers at age 16 or age 26. What do you do now with the remaining 50-60 years of life in front of you?

What would that be like? To train with all your heart and soul from early childhood for ten to twenty years. To become one of the world’s best in your field before you can get a driver’s license or be able to vote. Once your dream has been achieved how do you continue to look forward to each new day without always looking back?

Michael Phelps, after competing in the 2012 Olympics took a tailspin into drugs and alcohol. Suzy Favor Hamilton, a former Olympian from the 1990’s to 2000, became a high-end prostitute and struggled with depression. Olga Korbut, the gymnast from the 1972 Olympics, went through two divorces, a failed business, and bankruptcy before being a motivational speaker in Arizona.

There are probably countless other stories of athletes who reach their zenith and who do not have a strategy for continuing life after reaching the top. I am curious to know if the International Olympic Committee has consultants or specialists who work with athletes to help prevent tailspins in life after the games.

I believe the same “tailspin” is experienced by many people who have a goal of weight loss. They focus on a specific number, a finite moment when that number is achieved; but then what? How do we continue to keep the extra weight from creeping back on? A lifestyle needs to be molded which is healthy and sustainable. Perhaps having small achievable goals rather than one big one? It is wonderful to have goals, but it is also essential to have a plan for after the goal has been achieved. If you have experienced a yo-yo weight loss, weight gain, way of living perhaps getting yourself a coach to take you past that is the way to go. It is that or become a motivational speaker or reality television star.

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