I remember the first time I ever swung a golf club. While I played nearly every sport growing up, despite my avid-golfer-father’s many attempts to try and get me interested in hitting the links, I just had no interest in what-I-didn’t-consider-even-a-real-sport. It seemed boring, tedious, slow, and made for old people. However, knowing me too well, my father finally realized just what he had to say to coax me into picking up a driver.
One morning when I was 17 years old, my father and brother were headed to the driving range, as they so often did together, and my father, as he so often did, was trying to convince me to come along. After much resistance from my end, he finally said, “You know what, I bet you wouldn’t be any good at it anyway. It’s really a sport that requires a lot of skill.” And boom, he got me. “Um, what? Of course I’d be good. I’m your most athletic child, and it’s not even a sport.” “Okay,” he replied, “Prove it then.” So I caved in sheer determination to prove him wrong, and headed to the driving range. 3 hours later, countless blisters, and a surprisingly sore body, I finally could hit the ball straight. And then I was hooked. I agreed to take some lessons, after which I could not only hit the ball straight, but I could actually hit it pretty far. Finally (after two consecutive weekends of double booked lessons), I was deemed ready to play on the course, and started to learn both the glory and demoralizing frustration of this sport called golf.
One of the things I love so much about golf is how it reflects life and healthy living. It is most often through my mistakes and “failings” on the course, that I learn so many lessons in both golf and in life. And what it takes to be successful in golf, is the same as what it takes to successfully keep up a healthy lifestyle:
1. Tee Yourself Up
This is the very first thing you do on the golf course and at the beginning of any hole. While there are some basic factors to teeing up for your drive, this is something that is actually very individual. The height of your golf tee is set to the amount of loft you want out of the ball (which could tie into how you swing, or just where you want the ball to go on that hole). Teeing up also involves assessing the hole ahead, how you want to play it, what club you want to use, and getting yourself mentally and physically prepared for the game. While it’s a simple moment, it’s one of the most important moments in the game, and can set the tone for the rest of your round. And thus, it is key to not overlook this step, or rush through it.
This is similar to the way you approach your healthy living. Each week and each day, you must tee yourself up for the best possible start into your journey. While this is different for all of us, setting up for a healthy lifestyle takes planning, preparation, and patience in order to tee up both mentally and physically. This could mean creating your meal plan for the week, making a workout schedule, or setting goals for what you want to achieve - mentally, emotionally, and physically. How you tee yourself up can determine so much of how the rest of your health course goes. So take the time to do this, and I promise you will feel so much more in control of your life and your health - day by day, week by week, and year by year.
2. Find Consistency
There is a reason most people (including myself) have a love/hate relationship with the sport of golf — so many of us just don’t get to play consistently enough, to play as well as we would like to. The game of golf is all about consistency - both on a micro and macro level. The more consistently you play, the more consistent your game will become. Learning consistency in your golf swing — whether you are driving from the tee box, hitting from deep grass, or getting yourself out of a sand trap — requires a calm consistency, or you will find yourself in a game of massive ups and downs, and 18 holes of solid frustration. While this can be the case no matter how consistently you play, the more consistent you are with your game, the better chance you have to be successful on the golf course.
This couldn’t be more true for your healthy lifestyle. Along with eating plenty of leafy greens, staying hydrated, and exercising regularly, consistency is truly one of the key factors in staying healthy. While it’s understandably hard to find the time to play golf on a regular basis when you are balancing it with work and life, it can often be equally challenging to find the time and energy to be consistent with your health, diet, fitness routine, and mental health practices — but the difference is, your health is not a game. This is the one thing you must ALWAYS make time for consistently. If you can find the time to eat a meal, you can find the time to eat a healthy meal. If you can find the time to show up for a meeting, a date, or party, you can find the time to show up for a workout. However, it has to become a constant in your life, or not only will you not gain the results you want, but you will always be going through “good streaks” and “bad streaks,” highs and lows, and entering a massively frustrating course if you don’t stay consistent with it.
3. Have Patience
When I first started playing golf, I was not experienced enough to have any sort of consistency to my game. I would hit a beautiful drive, just to follow it up with shanking the ball onto either side of the fairway, until I finally reached the green 10-15 strokes later. (With countless golf clubs nearly snapped in half by slamming them into trees or the ground out of sheer frustration.) By the end of the hole I would be red faced, sweating, and feeling defeated, swearing I would never play this bloody sport again. Then I would sink an amazing putt, hit a beautiful drive on the next hole, and POOF, my love for golf was back. It was exhausting. After my father told me he would no longer let me play with him if I didn’t learn to keep my cool on the course and learn a little patience with the game, I took a new approach. For a while, I just stopped keeping score and allowed myself to enjoy the game for what it was, enjoy being outside on a beautiful day in great company, and not put any pressure on myself for results in numbers or performance. I would celebrate my good shots, shrug off the shanks and slices, and focus on getting myself out of many pickles. I also learned to breathe.
And this is now how I approach my health. I don’t keep score. I don’t let myself get defeated and give up at a setback, I enjoy the process of fueling my body with nutritious food, pushing through a tough workout, feeling strong (both mentally and physically), and taking the time to work through a challenge or injury when faced with one. Staying healthy is a journey. In fact, it’s the journey of a lifetime, and you must be patient with it. It’s not always going to look like what you thought it would, or turn out as you hoped, but you just breathe, stick through the highs and lows, keep yourself in good company, and enjoy the ride.
Which brings us to our featured episode this week: swinging with the golf pros at Chelsea Piers, the only year-round driving range in Manhattan. We also hear from the training team at Drive495 about staying in your best golf shape, and about life on the PGA tour from pro golfer Ben Silverman.
The rest of our content this week is all about getting yourself tee-ed up for your healthiest life: warm and toasty breakfast bowls from Strala yogi (and pregnant mama!) Rae Broderick; 10 tips to tee yourself up for the upcoming flu season thanks to Dr. Nancy Simpkins; an essay from Soulcycle instructor Halle Murcek on why changing our hair is so entwined with our ideals of beauty; and the new athleticwear collaboration between WeWoreWhat blogger Danielle Bernstein and Bandier.
Getting healthy (and staying healthy) just like the game of golf, should be fun and rewarding, no matter what your score card says at the end of the day. If it’s not, you need to come up with a new game plan!
Until next week,
Founder, CEO, and Host
The Sweat Life