I would like to see more extra-curricular options that give children pleasure through sports without adding stress to their lives. As an adult, when I go to the gym, I do it for pleasure, to unwind and to stay healthy. I have been doing this consistently since I was young. I don’t need a competition to force me to be in shape and to be consistent.
Some people think that competition is necessary to inspire results. It is not. Instead, people can want to achieve because of the pleasure of the process that they are doing. Competition is an extreme. Unfortunately, some do not trust themselves to maintain good habits consistently. But it is possible to achieve without yo-yoing between extremes. Life is about balance. And there is enough stress out there, so your hobbies should certainly remain relaxing hobbies and not turn into stress from competition. At least, it’s nice to have that as an option.
I had some subtle all-or-nothing tendencies as a child (like eating a whole bag of carrots all at one sitting, which I know is a minor sin, but I still noticed this and chose to learn to just eat the amount that I truly want and stop the crunch mode.) It is possible to snap out of the need for the all-or-nothing approach by using the HeartMark Health methods described in other sections and in my book The HeartMark Health Method to Nutrition. It is a method that teaches a person to think and visualize what they will do and visualize success. It is a method of being mindful and one can apply it to any habit that they want to break/develop.
My children, unfortunately, do not have the option for non-competitive activities. My children love to swim and dance. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find a non-competitive program nor a non-competitive environment. I understand that schools around here feel obligated to have competition teams to win awards to draw more students to their business. So parents—Wake up! Your children have enough competition in school. They need an outlet that is relaxing. They shouldn’t have to be at war wherever they go! Teach your children the value of doing what they love because they love it, and they will succeed. Stop teaching them that competition is the end goal! Enjoying to learn/enjoying to do your hobbies is the goal.
Now even though I do have such a strong opinion against competition, I did agree reluctantly to participate in this year’s Dancing with the Stars with my husband. I was really afraid that the competitive demon will come out of me. We only had two months to go from out of shape and clueless to giving the illusion of a top professional. I did not want to force my body into a more rigorous routine than the one that I can maintain in my realistic lifestyle. So how did I manage to come out relatively safely out of this event?
1. I told myself often that it’s for charity.
2. I made sure my husband raises money, which wasn’t hard because he was very dedicated to the entire project. The more he could meet his quota, the less pressure on the dancing. Thank you so much to everyone who pitched in!!!
3. I asked the National Kidney Foundation to make a prize for every dancer, and luckily, they did. And that’s how it should be everywhere in life. We make up the rules, so why not make them comfortable and fun for everyone? Who says life has to be made tougher every second?
4. I planned to ease into a workout routine that I could maintain even after the competition would end. (Thanks to having three children, a “rigorous” routine may not have really ever been a threat.)
5. I choreographed the steps to match every word in the song exactly, so that the funny and clever interpretation will make up for any dancing skills. This reminds me of the “Tainted Love” performance from 9th grade Dance PE.
6. I focused on the adventure in it and had fun every second of every moment.
Thank you so much to everyone who took part in the Dancing With the Stars! It is so inspiring to work with so many highly talented people who contribute their gifts. Gail Gilmartin with the National Kidney Foundation of AZ did a fantastic job getting to know people personally in the friendliest way, inspiring us to want to fundraise in such a subtle way that she may not even know she did it. Galina of Galina Mihaleva of Galina Coutoure contributed her genius tailoring to produce such high quality talented costumes that I just want to salivate. She made us look like stars. And of course, the most intelligent, talented, super smart, beautiful teacher who taught us the routines—Mariyana Vasileva of Arizona Sun Dance Studio in Old Town Scottsdale. (What a fun location!)
With this beautiful event behind us, I have been looking for activities for my children to keep them active, so that some day they could participate in fun fundraisers and enjoy them as well. But it seems like most places in this town just want to teach sports with a competitive edge. Swimming can’t just let them play in the pool. Dancing can’t just let them move their body to music without criticisms. I am not against learning rules and surpassing challenges. I just don’t want the challenges to become barriers that keep them from being active in a class with their peers.
With all the concern about obesity , how does everyone not miss this fact? Exercise is not just for those who want to compete! And every adult who manages to maintain a regular fitness routine should give their children what they have for themselves.