Be the Milk

I was reading, and by reading I mean listening to audible while driving, to the recent Stephen King collection called “Bazaar of Bad Dreams”. A collection of short stories, which I really enjoy from him, where he narrates the introduction to each one. I have always liked it when King takes a moment and describes what he was thinking, where the thought came from, etc. He always makes me think about why I don’t write things down more as they come to me. How many good ideas have been lost to the cosmos because I didn’t take a moment and scribble it down somewhere.

Anyway, before one particular story he began talking about how his mother had a saying for everything, and how one specific one always stood out;

Milk always takes on the flavor of what it’s next to in the icebox

This is something I have heard from my own parents and grandparents, so it automatically strikes a chord in me, but the inner meaning began to worm its way into my psyche as I drove home that night.

We, as athletes and coaches, are a lot like the milk. We take on the flavor of what we are reading, who we are listening to, what people we are around while we train. It’s inevitable as humans to not have this happen.

The trick, as they say, is not to become the onion if you are the milk.

Now, what do I mean by that?

Humans are adaptable. We take on the cloak of what is around us in order to survive. Over millions of years we evolved to meet the climates where our ancestors found themselves. What we, as athletes and coaches, need to do is adapt to the things we learn and the people we train with or coach.

The danger is taking on too much of the things around us so that we lose what is our own essence, and our own belief system. Most of us want to be liked, so we tend to become what we need to become in order to be accepted and liked by the people we are around. Joseph Campbell’s theory on Masks speaks to this in great detail. We assume the mask of what is accepted, but underneath we are the same person we have always been, and eventually, if we don’t tend to the real person, the mask cracks. This is how women end up married to abusive men when nothing while they were dating showed that he was abusive. Eventually the mask he was wearing cracks and the monster emerges.

The trick is, then, to assume what is around you, take it all in, but never lose or hide who you are as a coach or an athlete. No matter how many onions are sitting next to you in the icebox, never try to be an onion, because no matter how you taste, you are still at your core, milk.

As I am working through my coaching certification I was hit with things being taught that I knew I would eventually come across; nutrition and the belief still being held by most dietitians that an athlete’s daily food intake should be 60-75% carbs.

Big sigh as I read this, and I started to react, but then it became clear to me that it really didn’t matter what they were teaching. The lessons, and most of the coaches, are geared toward elite level athletes, not obese clients. For them, this level of carb intake might be correct because they burn constantly. What I do know is that this type of eating will not work for overweight athletes trying to lose weight. I know this not only because of my own experience, but because of studies I have read, books on the subject, and people I have trained with over the years.

And it doesn’t matter …. it just doesn’t …

I will take in what they are teaching, answer the questions as they taught them in the final test, then throw it out once I attain my certification. As part of the venture, you are asked to develop your own coaching philosophy; are you a LLD type of guy, or maybe a LLDLD person? Do you believe carb loading works? Are you a paleo/wild diet/asprey/tortorich/abel follower, or do you agree with Rich Roll? Some love Gatorade, while some prefer plain water.

All of these decisions make up who you are as a coach. I am still developing that, but I know that I want clients who are new to the sport, are overweight and feel they cannot lose it, who think that a triathlon, or a half marathon, is out of their reach. Clients that feel they are too old to start something new, or have too many medical issues. These are my people.

I have met many people since becoming more of a presence online. I became a podcast host because I met Andrew Weaver through another show, and then ventured off to do a spin-off of that show on my own. I have had arguments with people on those forums that I eventually ended up agreeing with, and I think I have had the same effect on some others. I have had to accept that no matter how much science you throw at people there are some that will always believe in carb loading, ice baths, and Greenfield followers who think bio-hacking is normal.

I have to accept that and just stay the course, but at the same time keep an open enough mind that might come to agree with some of them in the future.

That … I am still working on. 🙂

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