I’m delighted to welcome Dr Erin Ayala to the podcast this week.
Erin is a Licensed Psychologist, a certified Mental Performance Consultant and is listed as a licensed mental health provider on the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s Mental Health Register.
What I love about Erin’s perspective is that it’s holistic: she recognises that daily life, health and athletic performance are intertwined and inseparable from one another.
When she’s not at work, Erin is also an endurance athlete (having completed 9 marathons and 1 Ironman) and these days is focused on life as an elite cyclist.
On top of that, she recently co-founded a cycling team called Stamina Racing Collective which prioritises people who would traditionally struggle to find a home in cycling (especially, black, indigenous, people of colour and non-binary and trans athletes)
What’s interesting about Erin’s story is that she wasn’t always an athlete. Another podcast she appeared on described her journey as:
"Erin’s story is not one of always being an athlete but rather one of recognising the kind of person she wanted to be, the values that type of person had and changing her life to become that person”
In this conversation, we discuss:
* the importance of trusting what people say about you
* that her self care at College consisted of “cigarettes and beer”
* when she realised the life she was living didn’t match who she wanted to be,
* why endurance sports give us an opportunity (or reason) to prioritise ourselves
* the power of values and living a life that aligns with them, and how to identify your values,
* the importance of focusing on what you can control
* her decision to end a cycling sponsorship because the brand didn’t align with one of her values (justice) and then launch her own cycling team that did align with that value,
* whether trans athletes have an advantage over a cisgender athlete, and that most of the discussion on this point is simply another form of policing women’s bodies,
* that mental health is a spectrum (not a box you tick) and the early warning signs to look for (in ourselves or others)
* her surprising definition of self-care and why you should think about the connection between your values and self-care,
Some key points I’m still thinking about:
- my values. As I share in this conversation, I could name what I think are my 3 values, but I certainly haven’t thought about how I live them on a daily basis or how they could impact my self-care practices.
- self-care. I love Erin’s definition. If you have any resistance to the idea of self-care, I’d encourage you to explore how you define it, the meaning you give to it and the assumptions that are built into that. And I think Erin’s definition will help you think about it from a completely different perspective. I know I am.
Notes and resources:
To find out more about Erin or to say hello, you can find her on Instagram.
To find out about Erin’s work, visit Premier Sports Psychology
You can find the Values List from Brené Brown that Erin references here