Lessons Learned from Olympic Super Stars

Capture the Olympic spirit in your medical weight loss program by learning a few lessons from these inspiring athletes.

Have you been watching the Olympics over the past couple of weeks? Every day athletes are running, jumping, swimming and rowing to the limits of their considerable abilities as we sit at home and get inspired by all of their hard work. It is hard not to root for the USA to win the gold medal, and feel sympathy for the athletes who settle for the silver or bronze or don’t make it on the podium at all with the look of defeat so clearly in their eyes. But every once in a while there is an athlete who truly celebrates the experience of being in the Olympics and jump for joy at the accomplishment of simply participating, making you take a step back and applaud them for such a fantastic attitude.

This happened during the second week of the Olympic Games, and almost poetically during the 100 meter dash hurdle event. We saw two Olympic athletes celebrate the accomplishment of overcoming their emotional and physical hurdles (including surgery, pressure to win and doubted athletic ability) as they placed second and third in the 100m hurdles event. Most of you who saw this moment would probably agree it was incredibly moving, and there is a lot we can learn from it.

100-meter Women’s Hurdles: London 2012

The race lasted just over 12 seconds, but the anticipation for it built up over four years. After winning the gold medal in 2008 Dawn Harper was haunted by suggestions that she didn’t deserve the medal since her teammate Lolo Jones knocked over a hurdle and fell, giving Harper the chance to take the lead. Holding a gold medal, Harper felt she didn’t deserve it. She had to do it again to prove to herself she was capable of the title Olympic champion. She had her chance to do just that in London.

Harper and Kellie Wells, both US track runners, ran the races of their lives. Harper crossed the finish line exactly .02 seconds after the Australian Sally Pearson. You wouldn’t be able to blink in the time difference between these two women crossing the finish line, with Kellie Wells crossing just one-tenth of a second later, and the 2008 favorite Lolo Jones crossing another one-tenth of a second after that.

The race was so close that no-one knew who won for a few seconds. Harper and Pearson stood with their eyes peeled as the rest of the world looked on. Who won? When Pearson was announced the winner she was overcome with joy—for good reason. But the camera quickly shifted to Harper who could have reacted in two ways. She could have shown instant disappointment in the fact that .02 of a second lost her a gold medal, or celebrate the fact that she ran an Olympic race and has a silver medal to show for it.

The look of disappointment crossed Harpers face, but she shook it off and started to smile. Her teammate Kellie Wells was already jumping up and down for her own bronze medal accomplishment. From the way these women celebrated jumping those hurdles you would have thought all three won gold medals.

It turns out that both Harper and Wells ran the race they set out to run. They reached the time they strove for and were proud of themselves, as well as of their competitor who ran a faster race. Harper even joked after the race that she clipped one of the hurdles, but she smiled and shrugged it off.

We can’t always be the winner, but satisfaction can be just as great knowing that you gave it your best shot and reached your own goals.

We can put aside the fact that these women displayed such endurance and positivity after leaping over hurdles and all of the metaphorical relevance that has to our own lives. These women could have been swimming, tumbling or throwing darts (which no, is not an Olympic sport). They were proud of themselves and displayed such happiness that you would not have guessed someone else beat them.

Eighty percent of success is showing up. – Woody Allen

Weight loss is not a competitive sport. Participation and attainment of goals no matter how modest they may be is what really matters. Because someone else is losing more weight than you or losing weight at a faster rate than you should be a cause for celebration, not discouragement. Celebrate the victory of others and use their success to inspire you to achieve your personal best.