Not an Athlete? That is Such BS!

I’ve caught myself having these thoughts, recently, while working out. I’ve been going to this gym I love for many months now. It’s a mix of circuit, rowing, boxing, it’s awesome! And really hard. I go on average 4x a week.

So a funny thing happened the other day. We’re going through a circuit and I realize I’m well ahead of everyone else. And my initial thoughts were, “Am I not doing this right? Did I not count enough reps? Something must be wrong!”

Woah, woah, woah!

I had to stop myself (thought-wise, not rep-wise) right there and wonder what the hell! Why when succeeding did I immediately assume I’m doing something wrong? Why would I not instead recognize that all my hard work over these months is paying off, and acknowledge how much I’ve improved? 

The answer is that these thoughts go a long way back. I was never what I would consider an athlete. I was more the art-room, newspaper-editor type. As a result I created an idea in my mind that I’m not and am never going to be an athlete. That label is reserved for people who played sports in school, or who run triathalons. The people who seem to have been born fit and do the 25 burpees in class when I only get to 12. 

In labeling myself a ‘never-athlete’, I put a self-imposed limit on how much I can achieve. I am actively telling myself I can only go so far, so hold back, and let those other people succeed. This is their thing. 

I caught myself again. today, in fact. Attempting to balance on a Bosu® and falling off, at first I smirked. And then I thought, hold on. That smirk comes from your never-athlete label. Which is telling me I’m not coordinated, so it’s funny and quirky that I fall.

Woah, woah, WOAH! 

What that says is I don’t have to try because there’s a limit to how much I can achieve.


I wiped that smirk off my face and focused. I lifted a heavier weight than normal. I balanced, I faltered, and I got back up. I tried and it felt amazing. And I know that next time I’ll be even better. I believe that I can achieve new levels of fitness, and I know I belong there. 

It made me think about how many of us settle in life, because we tell ourselves these false stories about how far we can really go. What’s the limit on fitness, happiness, wealth, success, energy, love, and fun?

Why would we want to limit any of that??? Doesn’t it feel so much better to think of what we can have, do and be in life, vs what we can’t?

I will tell you right now, living in the limitations isn’t good enough for me. 

Is it good enough for you? 

If your answer is no, then I challenge you to think of an area in your life where you feel you’re settling. When you hear those words, “I can’t…, I’m not…, that’s for ‘other people’, not me,” ask yourself, is that really good enough? 

Then immediately shift it into a positive ‘I am’ statement. For me, when I hear that scratchy old never-athlete soundtrack I immediately change my tune to: "I am killing it! I am capable of this and more! I am an athlete.” It feels sooo much better. 

I’d love to hear about a label you overcame! Please share.

Tired of settling in work, fun, success, or life in general and ready for change? That’s my favorite topic! Schedule some time to chat here:

Christine O'Neill