The Boys

There is something beautiful about the congregation of adolescent males. Sure, most of the time something gets broken, the noise level goes through the roof and no one, not even the participants, understand what’s going on. But the camaraderie and jocular affection displayed among teenage boys is an experience worth having.

As I end my time here at OVS, I want to pay tribute to some of The Boys. The next blog posts will each describe one or two individuals who have been important in my time during high school. Some have been great mates in the musical, others on the field, and some by helping me with crosswords. But each lad in one way or another has made the last four years of my life better, so this is my way of saying thank you.

Evening Runs

Sundays are long runs.

I usually end up doing them in the evening much later than I should. I tell myself I’m being strategical and avoiding the heat, but if that was true I would run in the morning (that RARELY happens). In reality, my procrastination and dread for long runs are the reason why my long runs happen in the evening.

Yesterday though, my run was pleasant. I never thought I’d say these words, but it was almost enjoyable.

Around 7:55 I told myself, “Bella, get up, you’re running.” I grabbed my headphones, running watch, a headlamp, and started to run.

It was cool weather.

My music was good.

It was dark to the point where I could see my shoes and three feet ahead of me, but nothing else.

I had no light to see my watch screen, so I just ran. I didn’t constantly check to see my mileage or pace, or how much time I had left: I simply just ran.

And then there were the shadows.

What I’m going to say next will sound like some philosophical bs but while I was running it totally made sense, if you’re a runner, you know that the mind starts to lose sanity after about five miles.

The newly set sun and distant street lights served as an invitation for three shadows to join me. One ran about four feet behind me, one right by my side, and one ran far in front of me.

I stared at the three shadows for a good twenty minuets because, like I said, running is a tedious thing that causes a bit of insanity, and I started to think.

I thought about my progress with running, the struggles I’ve faced with it, where I am, and where I want to be.

The shadow behind me represented where I started: my first time running without someone forcing me to do it, the first time I competed in a race, and all of the first steps I took in my running journey.

The middle shadow right next to me represented where I am now: I am not in as great of shape as I was at my peak, but I’m in better shape that when I started. I am working to improve my skills.

The shadow in front of me represents where I want to be: my goals, the times I want to achieve, races I want to compete in, and mental toughness that I want to acquire with my running.

On my evening long run, in my philosophical state, I stared ahead and placed one foot in front of the other, in a rhythmical pattern, as I chased down my running goals and the shadow that ran ahead of me.

Photo via runningmagazine.ca

Persistence

Persistence is key to being successful. It’s hard to find someone who became successful with the inconsistent mindset. Especially during this period, where people have zero motivation to do something productive. It is crucial to maintain your persistence despite the situation unless on special occasions. 

Frankly, I’ve been not doing a good job of being persistent, but I always try to be more optimistic despite the harsh environment that we are in right now. 

I’ve been trying to set up a daily schedule to be more productive and persistent, once you started to get lazy, it is extremely hard to get back on track.

So I recommend getting out of bed and do anything you can to have the motivation to do other works. Once you get used to that routine, being persistent will be easier. I am also trying to maintain a lifestyle that is not lavish, and I hope this mindset will not change throughout time.

Stay safe and wash your hands.

PC: Steemit.com

Mind Games

Throughout my athletic career, I’ve struggled with comparing myself to others. Not only has it affected my performance in sports, but it has affected many other aspects of my life. From not raising my hand in class to ask for help because I’m scared people will think I’m dumb or make fun of me, to quitting a swim team because I thought my teammates judged me and thought of me differently because I was the slowest on the team. But in reality, there were at least ten other of my classmates who were just as confused as I was, and the good people on that swim team liked me because I tried and was kind, and the people who treated me differently because I was the slowest weren’t worth my time anyway.

But still, my fear of being judged has had me in chains for years and I still fight it every day.

Yes, I have been viewed differently by people when my athletic abilities were less than theirs, but I’ve come to the realization that the true athletes are ones who accept and help others succeed.

Dear anyone who needs to hear it: We all start somewhere. We all have our insecurities. Not everyone has the same strengths as others. Comparing yourself to others will only bring you down. The most important thing is to focus on your journey.

Whether you run a 15 minute mile or a 5 minute mile. Whether you can bench 40 pounds or 400 pounds. Whether you swim a 1:40 for a hundred or a :40 for a hundred. The point is you are trying, and that’s what matters.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a pro athlete and I am not saying I am in any way, but I have recognized one of the main things that holds me back, and I don’t think I am the only one.

Please know that where ever you are in your athletic journey, don’t look at what others have accomplished, look at the improvement you’ve made because that’s what matters.

I don’t care how talented an athlete may be. If they judge or make someone feel bad because of their abilities, all of my previous respect would be gone. Sportsmanship is building one another up, not tearing each other down. A team is a supportive group of people, not enemies. Athletics is a field meant to empower, inspire, and be available to all people, not just the pros.

If you share this same anxiety as I do, please know that it is your journey that matters and the people worthwhile will support you no matter your skill and ability.

“Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter”- Doctor Seuss

Photo via huffpost.com

TRACK SEASON

My feeling towards track season is ambivalent. 

I’m hyped and concerned about the track season at the same time.

I’m happy that I get to contribute with the skill that I’m familiar with, however, infamous track practice in my school is my only concern.

From my prior experience of football and wrestling, I believe that I’ve been through quite intense training, so joining track wasn’t my biggest concern. However, when my friends explained how excruciating the training is, I frankly got scared.

Despite these concerns, I still decided to join the track team because I know it’s going to be really fun. 

The more effort you put in the better result you would get.

I hope this track season would help me get in better shape and push my limit mentally and physically for self-improvement.,

PC: The Denver Post

bicycle

Riding on a bicycle should be a very simple thing, but it is extremely difficult for me. When I was a child, I could ride the four-wheel and three-wheel bicycle very well, and I liked to ride around in my neighborhood. I felt myself was as cool as the police riding on his motorcycle. 

pc: rei.com

However, I cannot ride the bicycle anymore that I rode when I grew up. I started to learn how to ride the two-wheel bicycle, and it is much more difficult than I expected. This kind of bicycle is totally different from what I used to ride, it has no balance at all. Someone told me that you can get balance when you’re riding. So I was trying to pedal and let the bicycle move forward, and it was quite smooth at first, I even could felt the breeze touch my face gently. But, this condition did not last longer than one minute, I felt that I was just like a clown performing acrobatics when the bicycle started to shake left and right. I was too scared to continue pedaling, then the bicycle started to tilt to one side until it touched the ground. Then I was sitting on the cement floor with a scrape on my knee. 

The end of this story is I will never ride any bicycles again, even if it is more than two-wheels. 

End of Brady Era.

This year’s Super Bowl was indeed interesting.

I’m Cowboys fan, but I knew they were not going to make it this year.

However, I thought the Ravens or Patriots would make it to the finals but it did not happen.

Ravens had phenomenal season, and most of the spotlights went to Lamar Jackson, Quarterback for Ravens whose running skills shocked a lot of people.

Lamar Jackson ended up winning the MVP award.

Patriots are known for having even stronger team during playoffs, and it is unfortunate that Tom Brady can’t get another ring this year.

It’s probably a good time for him to retire. He is not the greatest Quarterback anymore. Brady is old compared to other Quarterbacks.

Tom Brady was one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time but not anymore.

PC: Fox Business

Black Mamba

While I was enjoying the beautiful weather of Ojai this morning, I got a text from my friends that made my heart drop, “Kobe Bryant was found dead with his daughter after the helicopter crash.” When I got this text, I thought it was some kind of joke or rumor that some people were spreading, and after checking all types of social media, I realized that it was true. I just couldn’t admit that my all-time favorite basketball player would leave us like this. There have been a few tragic events like this, but Kobe’s death just hit different to me. Kobe Bryant was the first player that I knew from basketball, and while me and my friends were playing basketball, I remember shouting “Kobe!” when I took the shot. He was a great mentor for a lot of people including me in and out of the court. Kobe Bryant might be gone in real life, but he will always have a special place in our hearts.

Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant.

PC: Basketball network

Rekindled

I ran 17 laps over the course of two hours, I was winded, but hardly exhausted. These were the days I lived for. I was in first grade when I first participated in the Terry Fox run, an annual international charity track event meant to raise funds for cancer research in honor of Canadian hero, Terry Fox. This event is where I believe my relationship with sports or athletics in general really began, racing my friends across the long stretches of the track until we collapsed on the grassy ditch to catch our breath, just to do it again countless times.
 
For the next three years, my passion for sports grew even further. At school I participated in badminton, dodgeball, fitness, swimming, everything they had to offer. I was by no means a stellar student-athlete; outside of school my childhood consisted of next to no physical activity, having busy parents, no siblings, and neighbors I was unfamiliar with, my outdoor activities consisted solely of digging holes in the backyard. All of that aside, I still loved physical activity, making sure to fill my recess with as much tag and soccer as I possibly could.
 
In fourth grade, however, I found that my affinity to athletics had shifted towards food instead, and as I slowly gained an appreciation for eating, I slowly lost interest and ability to participate in sports. I began an exponential weight gain that lasted, thankfully, only five years, but took a tremendous toll on my body. At my peak in seventh grade, I would strain myself climbing the stairs, I’d wear shirts two sizes too big to conceal everything I could, and I was eating a family-sized bag of chips every day. So to sum things up, things weren’t looking too hot for me. In those five years, my relationship with athletics had become estranged and I intentionally belittled sports as primitive to somehow justify to myself my current condition. However, being the aspiring hypocrite that I was, I still tried desperately to get onto every sports team offered at my school, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, whatever team sport that would have me, but unsurprisingly, every time, I was nowhere to be seen on the lists.
 
Even after I got my weight problem under control and ended up going too far in the other direction I found the same issues with sports. I had no strength, no energy, no agility to participate in any activity apart from golf, but I was awful at golf so that was out of the question for me anyway. In the last four years, I’m proud to say I’ve finally gotten my weight under control, I no longer count every calorie that enters my body out of fear of losing control again. I know what went wrong and how to avoid those same mistakes.
 
Basketball is where I’ve been able to express this change the most. My freshman year I had 12 minutes of playing time the entire season. I can’t blame my coach for any of that, I was 6’4 inches of skin and bone, I didn’t have the strength to shoot a basketball from the free-throw line, and I could jump maybe a foot off the ground. The past few years, I’ve grown taller and stronger and I’ve trained relentlessly. I’m by no means the MVP I had hoped I would be. But now being one of the main contributors to my basketball team after my tenuous past with sports, I can finally look back and feel proud about my athletic ability, something that once meant so much to me, for the first time in nearly 10 years.

A Much Needed Switch: Dying to Thriving

Photo credit: pinterest.com

I’ve been trying to get my dad to stop eating meat since I was four years old. We traveled to Ireland and I remember watching him eat bacon day after day and wanting nothing more than for him to understand the terrible health risks. I’ve always been worried about his health… His “weight loss” diets would always consist of meats and cheese (protein fads) along with Diet Ginger Ale… He would lose weight and looked fit so it worked for him, but I became more and more worried.

I tried to explain to him that natural sugars are okay and animal products were truly the problem. He was raised in a family of ten siblings so if he didn’t eat what was served (unhealthy crappy foods) he wouldn’t eat, period. Meats, processed foods and dairy was on the menu during his upbringing. So when I was young he was hard on me for my decisions because he simply didn’t have the proper knowledge. 

As I got older he started to support my lifestyle more and more, eventually taking me to vegan festivals and even dining with me to enjoy high quality vegan foods. He even asked me where he could get a metal straw to help with plastic pollution.  I figured this was as far as he would ever go. I accepted this reality and kind of gave up on him, sadly. I figured he would never change and that was okay…Because everyone is different right?

When I got the call last month…it was my dad on the phone telling me he is going plant based after watching “The Game Changers”  documentary on Netflix. I was in utter shock. Out of everyone in my life, he would have been the last person on my list I would ever expect to go vegan. For me, this showed me hope for humanity! He is the most “manly” guy I’ve ever met so for him to make this change is amazing.  With all the stereotypes about vegan guys being weak, feminine and all that other nonsense animal product companies endorse, this shows me how anyone can do it just letting go of their ego. My dad said, “All the research supports the vegan diet and this way of life is by far the most healthy. I have always known that you are on the right track. Now I am seeing that eating plant based can even build muscle, strength and healthy blood flow. It seems that it can also lower my cholesterol which is elevated at this time. I am so proud of you for paving the way. You are a great inspiration to me and I’m never eating meat again.”

A lot of the time people will tell me they would totally go vegan if they could, but it would be “too hard,” “I tried and just couldn’t” or it’s not the time and they will eventually make the switch… But the time is now. We have the resources. Nobody cares about getting the right nutrients until veganism comes up. People will be eating McDonald’s all day and act like veganism would just be detrimental to their health. Another excuse is that it’s too expensive. It is simply not expensive to go to your local grocery store and buy a can of beans or some vegetables.  Research the right foods and stop saying you “can’t.” Stop making excuses to make yourself feel like a better person because it is total BS. 

This is a lifestyle. And yes, changing your lifestyle is a big deal but crucial for your health and well being. This switch will change your life, and the ones in it, but only for the better. I hope my dad can be an inspirational success story and help you and your family on your own health journeys.