Ask anyone who knows me very well to describe me and I bet a large percentage will depict me as some type of fitness fanatic who is into this odd new sport of obstacle racing.  They might also describe me in other less-flattering ways, but let’s pretend that the assessment ends there.  I have not always been this way.  In fact, I was not this way for the vast majority of my life and it was just a little over 2 years ago (Oct 1, 1999 to be exact) that I intentionally started living an extremely healthy lifestyle.  As I’ve pondered my life history (which I’m often prone to do nowadays), that word “intentional” continues to emerge whenever I think of the defining accomplishments of my life.  It’s also emerged (in the non-existent sort of way) in those areas that I am not accomplished. Rarely do great things occur by happenstance.

When conversing with others about my nutrition, fitness, and obstacle race training regimens, I’m often met with looks and/or words of mild bewilderment.  “So,  you’re telling me that you haven’t eaten a piece of candy or drunk a soda in 2 years???!!!  You get up at WHAT time to work out??!!  You do this every day??!!  Aren’t those exercises really hard??!”  I then have to explain that yes, it’s sometimes difficult to live that way, but I don’t give myself the option to live any other way.  Merriam-Webster defines intention as a determination to act in a certain way.  I personally have determined to act in a way that gives me the best chance of performing at optimal levels in physical activity, particularly in Spartan Races.  To me that means that I intentionally eat foods that fuel my workouts and do not eat foods that signal my body to store fat.  My exercise routines are deliberately chosen to make me functionally stronger, make me quicker, make me  more agile, and promote endurance.  I am certainly not the fastest, the strongest, nor the most mentally tough, but what I lack in those areas I compensate with a stubborn determination to get the most out of my ability.

Like most things worth doing, things done intentionally aren’t always popular.  I’m intentional about how I spend my money and that often conflicts with desires of family, friends, and some charitable organizations.  My wife and I are intentional about how we rear our daughter, which is often quite different than the rest of society.  Yes, some most people view my lifestyle as borderline crazy.  Who wants to eliminate foods from their diet that they find tasty?  Who wants to go to parties and not eat a single solitary item because everything is sugary, refined grains, or unnatural saturated fats?  Who wants to push their body and mind to points they have never been?  The answer to those questions is that most people do not want that.  Sometimes I don’t even want to do that, but my desire to be the best athlete I can be overwhelms all those other basic desires.

It’s not particularly easy to live this type of lifestyle.  It’s not easy waking up at 4:30 a.m. to go through extreme workouts for an hour and a half.  It’s not easy to turn down pastries that smell heavenly or to plan your nutrition around parties with only platters of unhealthy foods.  It is not easy to make your body do 10 more burpees when your legs, arms, and shoulders ache and you can barely breathe.  It’s not easy. It’s not easy.  It’s not easy.

It’s not easy to be the best athlete you can be, but oh is it SOOOO very worth it!  The rewards from living a disciplined lifestyle far outway the pain and troubles but those rewards absolutely do not occur without intention.  Hard work is the great equalizer, but intentionality is the spark that makes it happen.