I’m a three-time national gold medalist in aerobic gymnastics. I retired in 2010 and now own a gym, Inspired Fitness Training Center in California. If you were to meet me today, you would see I’m at the top of my game. But what you wouldn’t see, and what I’m here to share with you, is that I started at the bottom. Here's how I used that initial loss to get stronger, mentally and physically, and accomplish my goals:
1. I turned my defeat into an opportunity.
In 1999, when I was 24 years old, I trained and braved the gymnastic national competition. I couldn’t stop my thoughts or settle my breath. My palms were sweating and it took every ounce of my resilience to get through my practice. I was terrified. It was no surprise when I came in dead last.
In that vulnerable moment of being the worst in the country, I somehow inherently knew I had what it took, deep inside. I could see beyond this moment of defeat and know I could be a winner. I could do this.
2. I worked hard and put serious time into the sport.
The next eight years, 2,920 days, 416 weeks, 12,480 hours to come, my life revolved around winning. I was going to TAKE the United States gold medal for aerobic gymnastics.
I researched coaches and quickly found Rocky. I spent the next 11 years, four hours a day, under his guidance. Every practice was a dress rehearsal. Whether we were training jumps, flexibility, strength, or skills, every practice was treated like a day of Nationals. It was part of my visualization process. He coached me to win three gold medals before he passed away in 2013.
3. I realized my desire does not dictate the outcome.
After I came in fourth in 2005, I saw that defeat and loss had become my teacher. It was transforming me. I was evolving into a version of myself that I had yet to see.
And that is when my training ascended to a new level. Every day, I visualized being a winner. I went to bed visualizing walking on stage and giving a perfect routine. I woke up visualizing what it would feel like to go to practice as a winner. I visualized having the gold medal put around my neck. Training my mental muscles became just as big a part of my training as the visual.
Winning creates winners. I had never won. I wasn’t performing as a winner. I went into every practice, every day, every hour winning that gold. Winning is a mindset. Prior to that, I was visualizing “what happened if I lost.”
4. I learned that failure is the best teacher.
Looking back I can see that it wasn’t my desire to win that kept me moving forward. It was my tenacity in failing. The desire to kick my failures to the curb. To have the ability to stand on that podium and look back. To be able to say “I remember when...” was more important than the win. I would not let my failures define me. I would define THEM by the path I walked to the gold.
What we DO with our failures is up to us. I used my failures as building blocks. I let them build up inside of me until they became bigger than the desire to win. My failure gifted me with the opportunity to take on the supposed "impossible" and find all of the possibilities in that experience. It became a gateway for me to walk through the doors of success. I did not let failure define me. I allowed it to transform me.