Meet Hazel Clark, our DripDrop ambassador, and this week’s guest blogger. Hazel is an American middle-distance runner who specializes in the 800 meters middle distance race. Clark was a member of the U.S. Olympic team in 2000, 2004 and 2008. She has won six national titles and two USA Olympic trials during her career.
Life transitions are always daunting and the first step is having the courage to reinvent yourself. This can mean anything from adopting a healthy lifestyle to pursuing a new career. After competing as a professional athlete and an Olympian my entire adult life, the question “what’s next” created a paralyzing fear comparable to the feeling I experienced before my biggest races. What could I do that could possibly compare to the feeling that competing as a world class athlete provided? What if I was unsuccessful in my next phase? What does a person do when they retire in their mid-30s?
I asked God, my friends and my family for answers and, although they all provided solutions and advice, the piece of advice that truly resonated with me came from my father who said, “Find something you are passionate about, something you enjoy, something that you would do for free. Find your raison d’etre.” I looked at him with a confused look and responded, “Dad I have no idea what that means.” He quickly shot back with, “look it up!” before walking away.
So I Googled the term and found out it was French for “existence.” Well at least I had a road map now – find something that I was passionate about, that I would do for free, my reason for existence.
I sat and thought about the things I loved:, the exhilaration that comes from exercise, motivating and helping others to reach their goals and improving the lives of others by sharing my life experiences. After my retirement I often found people seeking advice from me concerning their health and fitness. I guess that the title Olympian gave me credibility and made people assume I had to know something about fitness and exercise.
They were right - my inherent ability to connect with others and my experiences coaching and training allowed me to look at health and fitness from a unique vantage point. I enjoyed educating and empowering individuals and learned that many times people just need to start. The hardest step is the first step, and it is terrifying to think about the possibility of failure.
Many people I spoke to talked about failed diets in the past, not being able to maintain exercise regimens and a lack of information as the reasons they were struggling. I realized that the fear of failure they experienced was not much different from what I felt when my career was over. I shared my fears and insecurities with them and, together, we identified the obstacles that hindered success in the past and practical ways to overcome them.
I want to emphasize the word practical because it is one of the most important aspects of an effective fitness regimen. The road map my father provided is easily applied to a healthy lifestyle - find exercises, products and healthy dishes you truly enjoy. Find the real reason a lifestyle change is important to you and let your passion for life guide your actions and choices. If you have a meaningful reason behind your efforts you will be more likely to accomplish your goals. Adopting a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, it should be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences you have. Never be afraid to fail; inevitably you will have setbacks, but you must never quit.
I am happy to say that I am running toward a new Gold medal now. My gold medal is the opportunity to positively change the world through health and fitness and I am grateful for the partnerships with companies like DripDrop Hydration that have provided me with a platform to share my passion!