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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Olympic attitude

Oliver E. Hopkins, Flickr

Side note on healthy eating:

Daughter R came back from school complaining that a classmate called her a "health nut" again. I said, "What were you eating when he said it?" "An apple, then a plum", says R. I roll my eyes. "Eating fruit makes you a health nut now? Plus, we don't even eat that healthy!" Just as I pronounced those words, I looked down: in my hand was a half-peeled avocado; on the cutting board, a tomato and a bell pepper; and on the counter top, a bag of spinach. "Well, maybe we are health nuts after all. But it's a good thing dear. You should be proud of it". When D came back from work and heard the story, he added "Just tell him your epigenetics will be much better than his!" R said "Sure, and now he's gonna call me a brainiac on top of it all!"

That family of mine cracks me up.

Now on to our main topic:

Every four years, we watch the Winter Olympics, and each time, the same set of questions are raised:

  • How much does one and one's family have to sacrifice in order to get to that level of elite sport? (So much time, money and energy spent on training and its facilitating factors.)
  • How dangerous is it to go down those hills at that speed? (Downhill skiing, bobsleigh and the like exceed highway speed limits.)
  • Why do they hold Winter Olympics in places where there's no winter worthy of the name? (It's been around 10 °C the whole time in Sochi, and Vancouver was only slightly colder.)
  • And last but not least, how can the figure skaters dance together like that during the day and not sleep together at night? (Put your face in my neck, I'll grab your inner thigh... seriously!)

Joking put aside, those questions could be generalized to our lives; why don't we do it now.

Sacrifice questions

From what I hear, the Dufour-Lapointe sisters spent each and every weekend on ski slopes form their youngest age. My first question is, they didn't have birthday parties back then? (I seem to constantly be driving either one of my kids to one of those.) My second question is, when did the parents clean the house and do the groceries? My third question is, didn't they become bored over time, doing the same thing every single weekend? I know I would. (Which is the first and foremost reason why I'll never be "THE BEST" at anything.)

Busy life put aside, I don't think I would be able to do the same thing over and over again, weekend in, weekend out. Throughout my "athletic" journey I have somehow felt the need to change sports every couple years or so. I played loads of tennis in my teens. Then in my twenties I swam. My thirties saw the beginning of long-distance running. Who knows what my forties will have in store for me?

One could argue that I still seem to devote a decade to each sport, which should yield interesting results. The difference between me and the Olympians, however, is that sport is only one little part of my life. As one of my young students wisely said, "You have to give up a lot to become an Olympian".

Those words of wisdom might apply to most things in life. Specialize and give all you have to something, and you have more chances of becoming excellent at it, but there is a cost. For example, if you decide to focus on your career or creative outlet (great artists/virtuosos fall into that category) , there comes a point where your family life and life balance in general will suffer.

There is a fine line between striving for excellence/looking for optimal stimulation/putting one's talents to good use/getting out of one's comfort zone (which is all fine), and going too far and actually hurting yourself (physically or mentally) in the process (which is not fine). If you've ever pushed yourself too much, you know what I mean. You eventually reach your "level of incompetence", or simply become overwhelmed. The consequence is usually stress and eventually injury/illness, whether it's in your joints or in your mind. I don't want that for myself nor do I want it for my kids. 

That all being said, most of us "regular people" still make sacrifices in order to reach some goals. I might not be willing to take my kids to the ski slopes every Saturday and Sunday, but I am willing to put money aside (in a "travelling account") so that we can take them on trips abroad on a regular basis. Parenting wise, that might be our biggest "sacrifice" (it doesn't really feel like one though, and it's so worth it: travel definitely broadens the mind).

What is your biggest chosen sacrifice, that you consider to be worth it?


Safety questions

I would never go down a hill at 130 km/h on skis, in a bobsleigh or what not. Never. Yet I am willing to take some risks, and so are you.

I've been on taxi rides, in other countries (namely Italy, Greece and China) that were scarier than roller coaster rides - and in which the danger was real, as opposed to the safety of most roller coasters. Getting on a plane after slaloming in traffic at high speed was a relief and a sure way to cure flying phobia!

My parents themselves took us to dangerous-animals-infested Africa when we were little (interestingly, nothing bad happened at all).

For the sake of travelling, I am willing to take some risks. If we wanted to be 100% safe we would never leave our house, let alone our country!

Next summer we are planning to tour the States, which makes me somewhat nervous since all Americans seem to carry (and use) a gun to their heart's content, but hey, I really want to visit the "land of the free"!

What risks are you willing to take?

Weather questions

My weather questions these days don't fly very high: I just want the darn weather to be warm enough to run at 5 in the morning! Minus 20 (or 30 cm of snow, that we receive almost every week) just is too much! K and I are no wimps; we'll happily run in the dark by minus 15, or in the rain and the wind. But minus 20? I still care about my lungs (asthma) and cheekbones (frostbite) a little bit too much for that! Lately we have been running most of our runs indoors, on the treadmill. Boooooring... I can't wait for this crazy winter to end.

How's the weather in your corner of the world?

Lust questions

Apparently, the Olympic village is, even-numbered year after even-numbered year, a "hotbed for sex" (pun intended).We already knew about the large quantities of condoms distributed and used by Olympians. Now we learn that there is an app to facilitate "encounters of the flesh". It's called Tinder. Based on this article (click here), Olympians make good use of it, and it goes something like this:

"Potential mates pop up on your screen, you swipe right, and if they did too, you talk and say, “Let’s sex.” Then, you sex."

Talk about abbreviating courtship! I guess that's what my recently divorced friend, S, was talking about when she said there's no more "wine and dine" - the new way to do it seems to be straight to the bedroom. Boom.

In any case, I've never used the Tinder app, but I do admit to having a twisted mind (i.e. figure skating allusion above); in my defense, and to my great relief, some have taken the analogy even further. This article (click here) in particular will surely inspire you! (Slide show with hilarious comments.)

For a longer article on what really goes on during the Olympics, click here.

What do you think of that "hidden side" of the Olympics?

For another post from this blog on the Olympics, click here.

And if you're more in Valentine's Day mood, you can read this past post of mine (click here) on the power of a kiss. You can also do a search for LOVE in the search box. Happy reading!


  1. I think that all Olympic athletes sacrifice a lot (and their families do to) - I know that in the summer Olympics when they talk about the gymnasts those kids don't do anything social!! And, it's true - we all make sacrifices to do the things that are really important to us.
    Since I live in the states, it's funny to me that the idea of a trip here would cause safety issues but I think that most people feel safest in their own country. So cool that y'all are going to tour the states!!!

    1. Thank you for adding that about the gymnasts, Kim! I always wanted to be an Olympian... until I really grasped what it implied. :-)

      Canada is so safe that going anywhere is kinda scary! LOL

  2. Loved your topics today. I've been idolizing the Olympians all week and dreaming of turning my boys into pro- snowboarders . There has to a true gift/talent and a certain fearlessness to take those risks - have you SEEN slope skiing?!).... And yes, the streamlining of your life. Variety is the spice of our life. And I'm fine with that!

    1. Those Olympians definitely have some characteristics/personality traits that I don't have! I saw on the website of a skier that she enjoys bungee jumping... not me!!!

      Love variety, agree fully. :-)

  3. 1) Becoming and being a surgeon took as much time as any Olympian would spend honing their skills.
    2) I don't take risks, I do carefully calculated fun.
    3) I've felt the least safe in countries where guns are seen everywhere.
    4) This has been one of the worst, coldest winters I remember in Florida.
    5) I live in a college town that always ranks top five for partying, there is no hidden side to me.

    1. 1) And this is why I do not want to become a specialist! :-)
      2) That's the right way to do it.
      3) Me too.
      4) Ditto for Canada.
      5) No hidden side? Are you sure? ...

    2. No, cause it's hidden, lol!

    3. You should hide it better. I have X-Ray eyes, heheh...

  4. I am in awe of those athletes....I say, get all the sex you can at the games. You're totally pumped up, of course the hormones are running high!

    The question I always ask about the games is, how many families around the world could be lifted out of poverty on the money they spend on the opening ceremonies?

    1. Your question could be raised by many other "overspending celebrations"... Thank you for commenting!

    2. Our Air-force could build one less f-35 and the money saved could repair the entire countries infra-structure :-(

  5. Hi Julie, and as usual, you haven't dis-appointed - you seem to have put so much into your article.

    I love your healthy eating piece and that quote "epigenetics" brilliant. It is important to encourage healthy eating - we owe it to our children to give them as best a start and chance in life as we can.

    With regard to sport, work etc. If we truly want to excel and be ultra successful the 'goggles' have to go on. Some find it easier than others - it must come down to each individual, family background and back-up etc. It is never easy finding that wonderful balance in life, once you do find it, and some never seem to - try and keep hold .... before it slips away again. Life is for living, being together and building memories.

    Once again I enjoyed your piece -- thank you

    All the best Jan

    1. Agree with you on children and healthy eating. They deserve to build themselves on good quality fuel!

      Maybe some personalities are better suited for pursuing one big goal in depth, while other personalities prefer skimming the surface in many fields. :-)

  6. So much information in this terrific post! The word sustainability spoke to me this morning - that is so important.