Last week we took a look at three particular ways I still focus on my health since deciding to devote health and fitness as a part of my everyday life. This is not to say there aren’t other ways to proactively do much for your well-being, remember everyone is different! That’s the beautiful part of this process; everyone has their way to achieving their fitness and wellness goals.

Today, we are going to zoom in on three (big surprise) significant surprises and lessons I learned reflecting on this process. It wasn’t a natural process coming up with these either, because the experiences and blockades encountered were and still are endless. After substantial debate, these hold the most significant importance amongst most. Without further undue, here are Mike’s reflection of an eight-year fitness and health journey.

Learn how to push and test your limits – this one applies to a quote from the Man of Steel. There’s a particular scene in the film when Jor-El, Superman’s biological father, sees him in an entirely mature grown state. He tells his son, “You’ve grown stronger than I ever could’ve imagined. The only way to know how strong is to keep testing your limits.” This may sound pretty hokey on the surface, but it’s true. The only way to know what potential and capabilities your muscles, endurance, mental tenacity, and commitment have are to push them continuously. I was able to achieve this by completing six races in 2016 as well as start engaging in CrossFit in the Fall of 2015. These were brand new horizons for me. And I am sure you can find new horizons for yourself, physical activities are endless! In the beginning, a coach or mentor will be extremely helpful in guiding you; someone will be there. Later on down the road, the mentality is second nature.

Develop your listening skills – We have some overlap here with the above first point. To know how to push and test your limits, you’ll need to sincerely take your coach, trainer, mentor’s advice to heart. Make it a priority to write it down. In CrossFit, a lot of the workouts require progression and on-the-fly learning to application. In hockey, it comes down to hearing what a coach says about how to enhance your play (help the defense in the corners as a center; make sure to trail the first forward heading into the offensive zone; crash the net on shots on net). For soccer, it was trying to utilize my running speed and shuffle backward as a sweeper (after playing most of my life as a forward). Tips, form, and progressions in tactics will all be enhanced as long as you actively listen to your coach, or whoever leads the instruction.

Have FUN – As cliché as this one sounds, it’s the truth. If you hate the activity you are doing, why bother? There are countless activities to engage in (cycling, yoga, CrossFit, basketball, baseball, running, soccer, hockey, tennis) and sometimes seasons limit those. I found two wonderful communities of people who brought me into their fitness families – Elite Athletic Development of Arlington Heights and Final Round CrossFit. There were two reasons I decided to join those families: the coaches are those that care for every single person in the room and the community Is a family. The same goes for your teammates; they will become your brothers and sisters, a new family in which you’ll engage in activities outside of the game. Some of my favorite memories were those times in the locker room, just talking with the guys about school and what else you do outside of hockey.

Bringing this all together, you’ll notice this is a very personalized account of fitness and health. We’re all fortunate to have different paths and destinies, but we can share with others and give them advice and ideas to strive towards in the short, mid, and long-term. It’s a blessing to be able to share this two-part series with all of you – it’s the first time I’ve opened up and reflected on what’s been accomplished and what remains to come. Your journey is endless. Make the best of it, rise from it, push your limits, always listen – but most importantly, have fun along the way.