Focusing on my strengths: Early mornings and oatmeal

Last weekend I had the glorious opportunity to wake up after 7 a.m. Both days. Today is a recovery day and what happened? I woke up at 7 a.m. Glorious! Of course, part of me feels like the day is half over already. See, most days, my alarm goes of at 4:45 a.m. in order to get to run with my friends at 5:30. Heck, sometimes waking up at 6 a.m. feels like sleeping in. For the record, I have always been an early morning person. I take after my dad in that regard. Mornings are when I am at my best and so I try to take advantage of it. Work with my strengths.

This perhaps is one of the biggest secrets I’ve learned this past year — play to my strengths. This season, St. Bonaventure women’s basketball coach Jim Crowley often talked about the need to “be who we are.” In other words, the idea was to play to their strengths (good defense and shot clock management) and not get caught up in a game they don’t play very well (a run-and-gun, high-scoring game). It’s a sentiment often touted by coaches, the idea of playing your game and not getting sucked in by outside forces. It doesn’t mean you ignore your weaknesses. You still work on the skills which are wanting in your repertoire, but your focus lies in what you’re good at, where you excel, and not where you fall short. That’s what brings success.

What are my strengths? I’m pretty sure I have more than I recognize. Because often, what I consider part of my everyday life, others consider a strength or a blessing or a gift. But things I know are true about me: I show up. I’m consistent. I laugh at myself. I dream big. I keep my heart open with love, concern and compassion. If I revel in my strengths for a bit, more start to show up. Slowly, those strengths create other strengths, or perhaps more accurately reveal strengths which already were there, just unnoticed by me.

So this weekend, as I have long and hilly bike rides and training runs, I will turn my focus to my strengths. I will play my game. And let everything else fall where it may. What strengths might you focus on this weekend?

Overnight Oatmeal: Breakfast of champions

Oh, and of course another strength of mine is food. Or at least, I’d like to think of my particular version of healthy eating as a strength. Last month at the Seneca 7 relay race, Alison showed me her favorite breakfast before a race or big workout. It’s an overnight oatmeal recipe adapted from the website Oh She Glows. I now love this and need to think of excuses to make it more often. Feel free to substitute regular milk or soy milk for the almond milk and peanut butter (or any other nut butter) for the almond butter, but below is my variation:

Combine in a bowl the night before. Cover and put in the refrigerator.

  • 1 small banana
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup regular oats
  • 3/4 cup almond milk

In the morning, stir in a tablespoon of almond butter. Heat in the microwave for a minute, stir, then put back in for another 30 seconds.

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