We all know what they say about how important our ‘why’ is in what we do. Like many of you, I have spent many years exploring my ‘why’ – questioning whether it was authentic, if it was my true ‘why’, or if it was really just a representation of what I was seeking from the world.
Many of you will know me from my role as the Founder of Body Positive Athletes, a blog and community which re-defined the concept of an ‘athlete.’ For some time I was very prominent on social media, featured in news articles and blog posts all over the world. I was even heralded as one of the ‘New Top Fitness Motivators on Instagram’ by US Cosmopolitan. And then in January this year, I quietly let go of it all.
There were a number of equally compelling reasons for why I chose to do this. One was that I was so close to a full-blown state of burnout. Another was that I had started giving up during training sessions. And the final reason was my desire to stop talking about people fearlessly pursuing their best lives and actually start working one-on-one with folks to help make that happen.
So for the last ten months I have been researching and learning everything I can find about the psychology of what makes us function optimally as athletes – how to develop mental toughness, build resilience, enhance emotional intelligence; and how to prevent overtraining and burnout – selfishly to optimise my own performance and to develop ways to impart this knowledge on others.
When I was at uni, my strengths in Forensic Psychology were diagnostics and profile building. Luckily our lecturers taught us how to translate this knowledge across from the justice sector to general practice, so I have been able to turn my knowledge to developing what I call the Whole Athlete Profile, a tool which allows me to paint a picture for you of how you function as an athlete – what motivates you, environments you thrive in or stifle in, the presence of overtraining risk factors or behaviours, and how you can possibly optimise your psychological make-up to achieve your goals. I am incredibly proud of this assessment tool and look forward to sharing it with more athletes.
While researching Overtraining Syndrome, it became apparent that whilst there were key indicators of psychological underrecovery, the instruments designed to assess this in athletes were long to complete and incredibly complex in interpretation. I decided there had to be something easier for athletes to complete quickly as a ‘check-in’ – no more than 5 minutes to complete and return and that covered the key factors related to mental fatigue and overtraining. So I spent months devising and trialling the ‘Athlete Check-In’, which is very self-explanatory and an easy way for me to see how you’re going during your build phases and training weeks.
So you could say that my ‘why’ is that I believe we are all worthy of our best performances and our efforts are worthy of being respected and supported adequately. The ‘all’ is very important in this statement. Many of us grassroots and age-group athletes have a big habit of underplaying our pursuits and cheapening our experience of them. We cut corners with training and preparation not because of an arrogance in thinking we don’t need to prepare as much as others, but often as a sign that we have trouble asserting the significance of what we are trying to achieve and acknowledging our identities as athletes. We think that sports psychology is only for the elite – and I am here to change that. My services are designed to bring top-level support to the everyday athlete, and it is done with the utmost respect for you as an athlete and the goals you are working to achieve. I want to support you on the journey outside your comfort zones because I have respect for your courage to explore them.
I look forward to working with you all in some capacity in the future.