The Ingredients for Gold—in the Olympics or in Life

The Olympics to date have shown us the triumph of the human body and of the human spirit. Records have already been broken and new “personal bests” have been set. As I watch the Olympics, I am becoming more aware of the traits that got these athletes to the top and that the ingredients for their success—the ingredients for Olympic gold— are available to us all.

Let’s take a look.

Ingredients for Olympic gold

Physical Fitness

The training schedule is grueling and relentless. They work out in the gym, they run for endurance, and they do everything they can to achieve and maintain a high level of physical fitness. Those who had a past injury that prevented them from this kind of training over an extended period of time, are concerned that they are not “in shape.” It is a must—the foundation that everything else is built on.

We non-Olympians are in need of exercise as well—our bodies need to move and stretch and tone. For us it is more about putting down the remote control and going for a walk or a run, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and spending some time outside enjoying the fresh air while we get some exercise.

Proper Nutrition

Their diet is generally tailored to their sport so they get adequate calories and the right proportion of the basic food groups to maintain their strength and endurance. They seem to understand the concept of giving their body the high octane fuel it needs to win. It is designed for their particular sport. Certainly, the meal that is prepared for the downhill skier or the speed skater is not the same as the female partner in pairs skating. Their needs are different but both need good fuel.

For us, can we add some meals each week that have fresh fruit and veggies and skip the pizza, burgers and junk food several days each week? Can we get our weight under control so we don’t fall into the morbidly obese category? Can we begin to choose balanced meals for balanced nutrition?

Understanding of and love for their sport

Can you remember one medal winner saying in the interview, “I’m glad I won. Now I never have to do this again?” Me neither. Each has talked about their love of skiing or skating or hurling themselves down the mountain on a luge or bobsled. They keep coming back for the sheer love of it until their bodies just won’t do it anymore.  The passion for hockey, curling, skating, or snowboarding won’t allow them to walk away. They know the rules that apply to their sport backward and forwards and they understand the moves and strategies that make them successful.

For us, we need to understand the rules of our own game or job and love it enough to give it our best shot. If you don’t love what you do, perhaps you need to consider finding something that you do love. (No, please don’t tell me that isn’t possible.)

Practice, Practice, Practice

How many hours do they put in each day on refining their skills? Whatever it takes. Some have to work to earn a living along with their training for the gold. They work at jobs that allow them maximum freedom and some barely get by financially. They sacrifice because they have a dream and every spare minute is spent in practicing their sport or working on fitness.


They have a clear vision of what they want. Gold. And they see and feel themselves performing their absolute best and receiving the medal. Each sees the flag raised and hear the music played in their honor and the honor of their country. It is a vision that remains with them when they fall, when they crash, when they have a bad day. Their vision is greater than the distractions and the setbacks. It pushes them on.

How healthy and clear is your vision?


They possess the undefinable attribute called “heart.” It is that quality that brings out the best, that keeps you improving and excelling, that propels you the extra mile, or the “whatever it takes” mentality.   In the play, “Damn Yankees” they sang the song “You’ve Gotta Have Heart” which applies as much to the Olympics or life as to baseball. The lyrics say:

You’ve gotta have….Heart! All you really need is heart!
When the odds are sayin’ you’ll never win, that’s when the grin should start!
You’ve gotta have hope! Musn’t sit around and mope.
Nuthin’ half as bad as it may appear, wait’ll next year and hope.
When your luck is battin’ zero, get your chin up off the floor.
Mister, you can be a hero. You can open any door.
There’s nothin’ to it, but to do it.

You’ve gotta have heart! Miles and miles and miles of heart!
Oh, it’s fine to be a genius of corse!
But keep that ol’ horse before the cart!
First you’ve got to have heart!

Do you have heart?

These ingredients to gold are available to each of us. There is no magic potion here.

Be honest with yourself, though. Do you put the kind of effort into your own endeavors that will allow you to succeed? What do you sacrifice for it? Do you hold your success as a permanent vision that keeps you going?  How well do you take care of yourself so you have the stamina and endurance needed to perform? What about heart? Do you have”the heart” to see it to completion?

If so, “Go for the Gold”!

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