Olympians and Ice-Cream

The 2016 Rio Olympics ended last week, and I have all the feels. Why?

Because of something I accidentally saw on TV.

It was a morning news show, and there was a cheesy montage of US Olympic athletes telling everyone what they were going to do when they got home from Rio. Some of the responses:

  • eat ice-cream
  • sleep for two weeks straight
  • have a pizza night with my family
  • hug my dogs
  • rest
  • go to a spa
  • get a massage
  • settle into my beautiful new apartment
  • go on vacation


Maybe it was the peppy editing. Maybe it was the my own longing to do things on that list. Maybe it being in a different time zone at the crack of dawn. Maybe it was Simone Biles with a huge grin on her face as she said she wanted to be pampered. (Maybe it was Simone Biles in general?) 

But I think what really stuck with me was the inherent personal acknowledgement in their answers. The combination of glee + exhaustion + longing for comfort + a healthy dose of "I deserve this."

Regardless of medals or wins, each of the athletes Rio put in an extraordinary amount of work, lived dedication and sacrifice for years, and had just gone through something huge, transformative, exhausting, epic.

So what were they going to do when they got home? Freakin' rest, get a massage, and eat ice-cream! Treat themselves.

Treat themselves. Okay, that's definitely what made me emotional. That self-acknowledgement. The feeling deserving of something. Celebration of self. What I didn't detect in any answers (thank you, cleverly manipulative TV editing) was a hint of guilt. There was no "well...I should be training more, but I'm going to take a week off" or "I feel bad about taking a break but my coach is making me get over my injury."

Ah, I am so, so bad at celebrating myself! It is very hard for me to notice when I've achieved something worthy of celebration. (I know, I know, we shouldn't tie self-acknowledgement with external markers of success, and that's a pervasive problem in our shallow, capitalist, overly-work-driven society, etc., etc., I GET it, but...)  I'm not sure when I can take breaks, pretty much ever. My last true day off was on March 11th (my birthday), and wow it was the best day ever, but I had to mentally prepare for a month in order to ensure I'd be guilt-free.

I'm currently typing this post on a Saturday morning, and I see on Facebook that my friend proudly has nothing planned for the weekend but a Netflix binge and reading marathon. Talk about true goals. I love that. Wonder if it'll ever be possible for me. 

Here's the good news: I am actually getting SO much better at acknowledging myself (SO MUCH BETTER)!  But that cheesy Olympic montage is going to stick with me for a long time. I shall look back at it for inspiration, validation, and motivation in my continuing self-care and self-celebration efforts. Also, I sincerely hope that Laurie Hernandez enjoyed her family pizza night and that Simone Biles had the best spa day of her entire life.



PS: I am fairly certain that my Facebook friend is more evolved than I am, as I recently heard on the Happier Podcast that it's important to give oneself treats that aren't tied to accomplishment. That giving oneself "just because" treats every now and then actually makes us work more happily and productively. It makes us instinctively know that we are fine and taken care of. I also learned from one of my favorite books, The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal, that willpower is a finite resource that we can deplete and run out of. Just more food for thought.