The Thrill of Victory

[ A+ ] /[ A- ]

As a kid, I remember watching ABC’s Wide World of Sports. One line in particular, by announcer Jim McKay, has been imbedded in my brain since 1978. “…the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!” To this day, I can hear the tone and conviction in which these words were stated, but lacked a personal connection. As an enthusiastic spectator of competitive sports, I have rarely experienced, first hand, the thrill of victory or agony of defeat in the traditional sense of these words.

Surprising to most people, God gifted me with a naturally athletic body ( insert lol here!). Hilarious as that might sound, athleticism and great eye-hand coordination, nurtured a super competitive urge. Unfortunately, physical limitations stifled this competitive yearning, especially in athletic situations.

As a kid, my love for tennis was undeniable and, I must admit, I had a pretty mean backhand! Playing tennis with my mom, Mary Ann, either in our driveway or, occasionally, on the court was one of my favorite things in the world! She was a tremendous tennis player, herself, whose skill and accurracy placed the ball in the precise spot, allowing my racquet to perfectly connect with the ball. Zinging the ball farther and harder than the time before, while keeping my balance on two unpredictable, wobbley legs, was my only goal. Zapping those balls across the net made me experience the thrill of victory! There was nothing to win, but I felt like a winner! The sole competition was me. Now, if all my other competitors would hit the ball directly to me, just like my mom, I knew I could take the tennis world by storm!

I learned it wasn’t about winning or losing. Out-performing myself was my only goal when hitting those balls. To quote Steve Young,”The principle is about competing against yourself. It’s about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before.”

Every day, I compete against myself, to better myself.

Recently, these competitive juices did more than overflow into my daily workout routine. They come bubbling up with a vengence! Strengthening my arms, core, and upper body was my main focus. Slow, yet continual gains in muscle climbed during the spring months. Frustratingly, August and September 2014 reflected stagnet readings with both upper arms resting at eight and five-eighths inches in circumference. No matter how hard I worked, I couldn’t push my biceps over the nine inch mark. The measuring tape did not reflect a spike in muscle strength which I definitely felt. I had to remind myself that I was doing everything right. I had to continue to run my own race, keeping my eyes focused on the road in front of me, not looking too far ahead. Despite my fortitude, the agony of defeat was rearing it’s ugly head.

Persistence dominated the month of October. Reaching that nine inch mark was my goal for October’s evaluation. Determined not to experience defeat, I exerted relentless effort while my trainer, Bob, increased my reps and intensity for a more challenging workout. Burning arms and a boost in muscle mass were the direct rewards from the extra effort I put into my workouts. Ecstatically, my upper arms reached the goal of nine inches in circumference. The thrill of victory prevailed! The only thing missing was the gold metal around my neck.

Well, a month flew by, and it was time for the November evaluation. My November workouts remained on the same caliber as October’s workouts. Overall, I expected measurements to reveal slight progress, but nothing as grand as last month’s evaluation.

Tom, trainer and Elect Wellness owner, kicked off our monthly measuring ritual by yanking out the ol’ pink measuring tape and wrapping it around my right upper arm. His measurements are always precise up to an eighth of an inch, and he’ll NEVER give me an unearned increment, no matter how minute. Tom usually measures twice to double check for accuracy. So, I found it odd when he measured again, and again, and again. He turned the pink tape around starting from the other end. Then, he tried starting from the middle. All of his tape gymnastics didn’t change the cold, hard facts. My biceps that I had worked so diligently to build up to nine inches last month decreased a quarter inch. Huh?! Tom, Kelsey (nutritionist), and I were scratching our heads. Never before had the pink tape reflected such a dramatic decline in any of my evaluation measurements.

Tom moved on to my left arm, thighs, calves, and shoulders which all fell short about a quarter of an inch. Luckily, this pattern continued with my stomach and hips. Finally, two places on my body which are moving in the right direction!

Everyone had their theories. My unprofessional opinion hypothysized that cold air contracts and, as a native Texan, my body was protesting/reacting against the extreme injustice of being the coldest day of the year. Tom and Kelsey theorized that my increase in exercise was directly proportional to my decrease in fat while maintaining muscle. I liked the sound of that , but bummed to think I had that much arm fat!

In this case, I had to adjust my thinking as to what was victory and what was defeat. My goal was one of tunnel vision; only gaining muscle. I could not foresee my body maintaining muscle and losing fat. Therefore, my brain was anticipating a higher number on that pink tape. Initially, disappointment filled my heart because I didn’t reach my goal. After my V8 moment settled in, I gladly welcomed a healthier end result. Wasn’t that the entire point of my workouts?

Each day has potential for the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.
But, with pure determination and God’s love, victory will ultimately triumph!