Your Athlete Within…

We all have dreams.  Some of us let them slip away because “life” just happens.  Living in our modern world of go-go-go with family priorities, work commitments, running errands, and trying to squeeze in time to make a fresh meal – usually leaves little time to workout or simply “breathe.”  Who are we kidding?  That is just an excuse to never reach the best version of ourselves, or that goal we always wanted to accomplish.  Years ago I had a dream to complete a Ironman triathlon.  But that dream never became a reality due to excuses and not making my goal a real priority in my life.  Now don’t get me wrong, we are meant to serve others before ourselves; but it is healthy to take time for ourselves to “breathe”, “pause” and “de-stress” with exercise and to strive toward that athletic goal you want to see come true.  Having the discipline and diligence to cross a finish line will only help make you a better spouse, parent, work colleague and friend to others.

Back to that Ironman goal.  In 2010, after hearing the story of Rick & Dick Hoyt, known as “Team Hoyt” I was inspired to train for a triathlon.  Team Hoyt is well known within the triathlon community and competed for years at the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.  A full Ironman triathlon race consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, followed by a 26.2 marathon run.  A 70.3 Half Ironman consists of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 half-marathon run.  Considering I hadn’t swam since I was kid, and definitely had not been on a bike since college, this was looking more and more like a pipe dream.  For a year I would dive into every triathlon resource known to man – books on running by the legends like Dean Karnazes, Scott Jurek, Chris Cooper and Jeff Galloway; and training stories of the elites like Chrissie Wellington and Craig “Crowie” Alexander.  I had all the knowledge and resources to begin, but yet I made every excuse to not train.  Heck, I’d sign up for a 10K and barely run a few miles before the race day.  I would finish, but only feel defeated and embarrassed that I hadn’t committed as much as I knew I could have.  This cycle would continue for years.  Even in 2011, when I had the privilege to meet Team Hoyt at the Boston Marathon, I thought, “This is it!  This will be the year to get to that triathlon goal!”  But within weeks my training logs would be empty and no progress made.  With the wealth of knowledge I had in triathlon training, you would think I was a professional athlete.  But I had never ignited that athlete within.

Years passed by, and our daughter was born.  You know, a funny thing happens when you become a mother.  You start to view the world differently and all of a sudden your priorities are in check.  You live to serve.  You look into your child’s eyes and your heart says, “Dude, I’ve got to get it together so she can grow up with a stellar role model.  So she can know that any goal is not too great, and she can achieve what she once thought was impossible.”  All of a sudden that flame inside that was dwindling to a mere flicker was ignited to a full-blown wild fire.  I signed up for my first sprint tri, hired a coach to keep me accountable, actually put in the hours of training and crossed that finish line with my husband and daughter cheering me on.  Eight months later I crossed the finish line of my first 70.3 Ironman race.  When I look back, it is almost as if they were meant to both witness that accomplishment with me.  Everything had fallen into place exactly how it should have in perfect time.

I believe that we all have an athlete within us, waiting to be unleashed.  When partnered with a plant-based lifestyle, our exercise goals are always within grasp.  There are two men who have transformed my life into the athlete I am today: my amazing hubby, and ultra-athlete Rich Roll.  I had first heard of Rich back in 2010 after he completed the “Epic5 Challenge – a odyssey that entailed completing 5 ironman-distance triathlons on 5 islands of Hawaii in under a week.”  This past year, James Lawrence, “The Iron Cowboy,” conquered 50 grueling Ironman triathlons in 50 days.  But Rich…he was the pioneer.  After learning how he transformed his life and reach his Ultra-Ironman goals, I discovered how many similarities I had to him.  I read his books, ignited that athlete inside, and never looked back.  Life is funny how it plays out.  My husband, a Lifestyle & Sports Medicine Physician, now speaks at national healthy-living conferences with Rich.  When you are on your journey of becoming who you are meant to become, life hands you little blessings along the way that make your heart smile.

There is a quote I love and I’ve painted on my bedroom wall: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  The paint sparkles surrounding my medals hanging on the wall from races over the years.  It reminds me each day that we have the power to decide our future.  We have everything within us to become who we are meant to be.  Sometimes we have to just shut the brain off and simply do.  Simply swim, bike or run to that goal.  It reminds me that we are blessed to be able to move our bodies and compete in races that we are passionate about.  Remember that it is never too late to pursue a dream or cross a finish line.  So get out there and ignite your athlete within.  God speed and I will see you on the roads!

Tiffany Esser CPT Iron Man 2014 Tiffany Esser CPT


– Tiffany Esser CPT


Words to Live By

A colleague and dear friend of ours, Dr. David Katz MD, has spoken the words for all of us to live by…

You can not outrun what you are carrying; you can only choose to set it down.

That phrase cuts right through me and enters my heart.  At some point we have to take a good, hard, long look at ourselves in the mirror and get a grip on what is dragging us down emotionally, physically and spiritually.  For me, that moment was August 19, 2013 and I choose to set down and let go of a crippling negative outlook on life.  Normally, I would not share this personal information, but I realize that it might help some of you to turn around your life for the better.  That’s my goal…to help you change your life to be the best version of you that you can be!  You see, I was choosing to carry a negative perspective toward my athletic potential.  I’d hold myself back with thoughts that I could never accomplish the one thing I always wanted to do…a triathlon.  The end goal being a Half IronMan (70.3 miles: 1.2 mile swim, 56 miles bike, 13.1 miles run).  For years I’ve been reading and learning about the training process, but never really put it into action.  Well on August 19th I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “Self, if you want to be an example of health to others and to your daughter you’ve got to put one foot ahead of the other.  After all, goals without plans are mere wishes.  So make a plan and put one foot in front of the other toward this goal.”

That was it.  Two months ago I started training for a triathlon with a group of moms.  It required getting out of my comfort zone….a lot!  Training was hard, getting up before 5 am was tough, and there were tears shed along with sweat.  But what helped me stay consistent was the unconditional support I had from my coach, teammates, and family.  My husband believed in me, my family believed in me, but I didn’t believe in myself.  They could say over and over how proud they were of me but it didn’t matter because I didn’t have the confidence that I could complete this goal.  Ever felt that way?  Let me tell you, that is the worst feeling to carry around!  But over time the constant positive comments from loved ones and this amazing group of mommies started to sink into my subconscious.  When you are running sprints uphill at 5:30 am, the “Way to go!” and smile from your coach makes you start to believe in yourself.  I showed up on time, never missed a workout, and it resulted in getting stronger, faster and more confident.  One of the best feelings in the world is crossing the finish line toward your goal!  Now I can’t imagine going a day without swimming, biking or running.  I’m eternally grateful to my coach, husband, family and teammates.

I stopped trying to outrun what I was carrying.  Setting it down freed me spiritually, emotionally and physically.  I’m now a triathlete.  The goal became a reality.  I’ve got more triathlons lined up and with the help of my kick-butt coach, an IronMan 70.3 in 2014.  It may seem impossible to get started in whatever your goal may be…but all it takes is placing one foot in front of the other.

I believe in you. Now it is time for you to believe in yourself. Go ahead…tri!