I’m big enough to admit that I’m often inspired by myself

If you know me, you know I love the show “Parks & Rec.” My libertarian views align with those of Ron Swanson. My annoyingly perky, over-enthusiastic approach to running and wellness is scarily similar to Chris. And, like many of us, I share a love of #TreatYoSelf with Donna and Tom. Yes, I quote and live this show often IRL.

One of the best parts about Parks & Rec is lead character, Leslie Knope. Leslie is great. She’s funny, she works hard, she gives credit to others, she’s genuine, and she’s kind. Although I don’t always agree with her, I think the world would benefit from more Leslie Knopes.

I also think Leslie shows great examples of how to successfully live well. Whether you’re a runner, triathlete, CrossFit nut, or a combination of them all, here are 5 things we can all learn from Leslie Knope to live a balanced, well lifestyle.

1. Passion Pays Off
Nobody – and I mean nobody – works harder than Leslie. That’s obviously one of the reasons she accomplishes as much as she does. But to her, the hard work isn’t the same as others perceive it because she enjoys it. She’s incredibly passionate about government and public service, making her poised to succeed.

In order to succeed with a balanced lifestyle that includes running or other fitness discipline, there has to be passion. If you’re not passionate about it but want to be, that’s a start! Focus on what makes you want to do it, the way you feel after a workout, how great it is knowing you’re well.

2. Eat and Enjoy It
Like Leslie, I love waffles. Like Leslie, I love breakfast food in general. Like Leslie, I would eat nothing but breakfast and be happy forever.

Waffles. Breakfast. Mmmm.

To live a well lifestyle, you need fuel, end of story. While running, cycling, or and working out in general isn’t an excuse to binge with reckless abandon, it’s important to have balance. Enjoy your favorite foods, eat them when you want. And do it unapologetically – like waffles. In the hospital. While recovering from the flu. Even when someone offers you chicken soup.

3. Leverage Connections – and Return the Favor
When Leslie attempted to revive the Harvest Festival, she needed a ton of support from the community. One of those groups, the local police department, was happy to help out, saying, “What Leslie Knope needs, Leslie Knope gets.” Clearly, she had a great relationship with the group.

Whether you need advice on meal prepping, support for your charity run event, or sometimes just a buddy to make you go to Friday a.m. cycling class, it’s important to have connections in the wellness arena. And be sure to lend your help to them just the same.

4. Celebrate Victories – Even the Little Ones
It would be hard to be friends with Leslie – not because she’s difficult, but because she’s THAT good of a friend. She remembers and marks every friendship milestone, even the smallest ones, and makes it a big occasion. To Leslie, everything is a reason to celebrate.

Don’t forget to celebrate your own little milestones in your ongoing wellness journey. Drink a gallon of water every day for a week – give yourself a high-five. Complete Day 1 of your Couch to 5k program – enjoy some R&R with Netflix.

5. It’s Okay to be Dramatic
“Everything hurts and I’m dying.” Famous words from Leslie. She has also been known to check – and double, and triple check – with others to make sure tasks and things are in order. Overkill? Maybe. Valid? Absolutely.

This has been me…many times

While I can’t speak for all athletes, runners, especially while tapering for a big race, can be a bit…okay, incredibly dramatic. For those of you who lift hard, swim hard, cycle hard, or meal prep hard, some days it can quite literally feel like everything hurts and you’re dying. And that’s okay. It may, but you’re not. You’re going to be okay.

Parks & Rec fans, are there other ways you can relate to Leslie on a health and wellness level? Comment or tweet me @LindsayIRL. Share photos and moments from your wellness journey on Instagram and Twitter using hasthtag #wellirl.


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