Why You Should Call Yourself an Athlete
Would you call yourself an athlete? Maybe it’s time you start! Thinking of yourself in these terms can help you tap into a more dedicated mindset, boost your workout motivation, reframe food as fuel, and prioritize quality sleep and stress management.
Let’s refine our definition of an athlete. Yes, it includes those who play professional sports, compete in the Olympics, or participate in internationally televised competitions. But it should also extend to those who exercise regularly and push themselves to keep improving.
Who Is an Athlete?
Simone Biles, Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe, Serena Williams: These are the people we most commonly associate with the term “athlete.” But what about those who work out consistently, striving to become stronger, faster, and/or more powerful, but don’t have endorsement deals with Nike or Gatorade? Are they athletes? We would argue yes!
As our January Fit Body challenge winner, Kirby Charles, put it, “I live by the mantra ‘This is who I am now; this is what I do.’”
If you run, you’re a runner. If you do CrossFit, you’re a CrossFitter. If you dance, you’re a dancer. And if you do athletics — of any variety — you’re an athlete. And by the same logic, if you consider yourself an athlete, your focus is to “fuel and train,” not simply “diet and exercise.”
“I believe we become what we think, and I found when I kept talking negatively to myself, I would doubt myself and hold myself back,” Charles says. “Telling myself it’s who I am made me keep going and reminding myself that one day the hard moves will be my warm-up.”
Adopt the Athlete Mindset
We’re not alone in this belief.
“One of the best parts about thinking of yourself as an athlete is that tacks your whole lifestyle toward supporting your sport, rather than concentrating it to the half hour you're in the gym three times a week,” Casey Johnston explained for She’s a Beast.
That doesn’t mean your world revolves around working out. You don’t have to wake up at 3 a.m. every morning to hit the weight room or hire a coach, nutritionist, and physical therapist to optimize your training plan. But you do need to shift your mindset.
“Athletes don't just work out and leave it at the door,” Johnston writes. “They eat and rest to support their workouts too (within reason and according to the actual priority that sports takes in their lives).”
In fact, a 2015 study from the Journal of Sports Behavior found that the more strongly participants identified as athletes, the more they worked out. And Ian McMahan writes in a Washington Post piece, “The converse might be true as well, that when you start to behave like an athlete, you will begin to identify as an athlete.”
Or, in the words of another great athlete, Bruce Lee, “As you think, so shall you become.”