November signals one year since I started Crossfit at “Respect the Corners” here in Hawaii.
I immediately fell in love with the activity and the community! I’ve come a long way since I began, both in fitness and technique, but even more important, I think I’ve realized a few things about myself that I can apply to life in general.
Because thats what Crossfit is about right? – functional fitness. Becoming a better version of yourself. Increasing fitness so that life quality increase. I just don’t want to lift weights for the sake of looks, I’ve been down that road, and its chasing the wind.
Besides growing in strength that will help me in everyday life – there are a few lessons that have surfaced that, if I apply and adapt them, I think will make me a better man. Not just a stronger man physically, but also in character and mind.
So here is my attempt to jot them down. Hopefully they can help bring some awareness to you as well, to help you reach your goal of becoming more functionally fit!
• My mind is weaker than my body
And I don’t always like what I see.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many days I am happy with my workout. Days where I’m like “ok, that felt good! I kinda crushed that!”
I went the distance and didn’t back down. I kept on fighting and didn’t give up!”
But unfortunately, more often than not, that’s not the case.
I have come to find that my mind is weaker than my body.
I’m standing there out of breath and muscles acing.
I have 30 seconds left of the amrap and could squeeze in 10 more thrusters.
But the thought of cleaning that bar and getting it over head, just feels overwhelmingly heavy. It feels like I’m gonna die if I do that.
So I take some time to chalk my hands…nobody will notice that I am trying to avoid touching that bar.
Maybe I can get away with just doing one more at 5 seconds left. At least then it will look like I went all out until the timer stopped.
The funny thing I’ve come to realize, is that the thought of lifting the bar, is heavier than actually doing it.
The times where I’ve managed to push thru and get that bar up hasn’t been as deadly as I thought it was going to be.
That same process takes place in everyday life. It’s the reason I am so prone to procrastination. It’s the reason I hit the snooze button 4 times before finally getting out of bed. It’s the reason it took me 3 weeks to write this post. It’s the reason I put of cleaning out the garage, or making that phone call. You get the idea.
I find that I kinda become the idea and state I embrace. It’s like my mind wants to tell me how I bad I fell and how sorry I should feel for myself.
And then my body follows.
But if I can remind myself that if I can just get my hands on that bar, activate my muscles, and lift – there is more in me than I realize. I am able to do more than I think. I am not done yet, I am not dead yet. So don’t lay down and surrender just yet.
I am happy to know that my mind is a muscle that can be trained as well – and the more I learn and keep going and “not listen to myself”, the more I am able to get the work done.
• Form is more important than reps.
There is a temptation to plow ahead frantically to get the amount of reps up in order for your score to increase. You want to beat your friends, you want to increase the numbers. You want to get that time down from last time you did Diane, even if it means busting out those last 9 reps of deadlift with improper bracing and a rounded back.
But we all know it will eventually come back to bite you.
In the long run, even with what looks like a temporary increase in fitness, actually can be the start of a decrease in fitness.
It is hard to slow yourself down sometimes. To focus and make sure you are doing it properly and safely when the clock is ticking.
It often feels like doing the movement properly is heavier and takes more energy out of you.
But the funny thing is that doing so will actually make you a stronger and fitter person down the road.
If you take the time to slow down and focus today, you will be faster tomorrow. You will be able to do more and lift heavier and be an old healthy individual.
When I feel stressed and overwhelmed, the temptation is to just go for the fast food and fast comforts of zoning out thru Facebook and TV.
Or for some people perhaps going to the office to “work”.
Things like checking the email for the 12th time, to give me a false sense of doing something.
But if I take a breath, focus in on getting into position and activate the right muscles, I will actually do work that matters and that leaves me free from injury so to speak.
Spending time being present in conversations with my wife and family.
Cleaning up the kitchen, taking the trash out, etc. You know, making sure the foundation is solid and firing.
• Taking shortcuts will come back to haunt you
Oh yes, it’s easy to loose count sometimes.
How convenient it is to skip a rep or two, for the toes to not touch the bar completely or the wall ball not hit the target all the way. Nobody will notice, right?
You start playing these mind games that it’s not that big of a deal if you missed a rep or two, or didn’t fully extend.
But what if you instead of erring on the side of too few reps, you instead did one extra, just to make sure you got the count right?
Not only will it make you stronger, but maybe next time you do the exercise and get the count and movement correct, you will find that your score increased?
The small stuff matters. The integrity you show yourself, will make you respect yourself more.
Eventually people will notice. If you make sure you do your work properly, even when nobody is around, “you will one day serve Kings” as Proverbs tells us.
The bible also gives a good lesson in Luke: “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”
• Water taste amazing!
One thing that I have realized after starting crossfit is how amazing water is!
You just finished Murph on a hot memorial day. Your t-shirt is soaked from what could be mistaken as being hit by a heavy rain shower, but it is your own body sweat.
Your mouth is parched from the hour long exertion..
In your hand is a bottle of ice cold water. You unscrew the cap and take a big gulp.
The cold fluid runs down your throat and fills every crevice that has been drained by Murph.
It feels amazing! It’s just over the top satisfying and exactly what your body needed!
It’s funny how much we substituted water for other drinks here in America.
I wonder sometimes if it’s because we have grown bored of this natural thirst quencher due to becoming just too darn comfortable. We feel we “need” something “more” to satisfy us.
But we all know that water is what nature intended for us to use to fill our bodies with and replenish us.
Lord knows how much damage the substitutes have caused over the years, maybe because we have forgot how amazing water really is.
Sure it’s simple and without much taste, but who said that you have to have some exuberant taste and sparke every time you drink?
You know when you get sick, like with constipation or the flue? Isn’t it then you remember how amazing it was to be healthy and normal bodily functions? Things that we so easily take for granted when we have them readily available.
I find it very helpful having times of removing stuff for a short duration, just so it can help me remember and appreciate how blessed I am to have them in the first place.
And also not to fall prey to all the false additions that are out there to give me “excitement” just because I’m are “bored”.
I think one of the big reasons Crossfit has become so popular is because people find that the short duration of pain and “uncomfortableness” , helps you appreciate life afterwards, right?
Which brings me to the next point..
• Pain is temporary
It might not seem like there is much light at the end of the pain tunnel when you are going thru an EMOM on the assault bike round 5 of 10.
And to add to that, you started waaaay too hard.
All you want to do is curl up on the floor until you can to see straight again.
We’ve all been there.
And hopefully we’ve all experienced how amazing it is to come thru. Knowing that you went all the way and finished the race.
Crossfit has shown me that I do indeed have untapped powers in me to push thru, even when it feels impossible. I just need to not listen to my pain and take the easy way out.
I’ve realized that this takes place in everyday life for me, perhaps on a smaller and more subtle scale.
When I’m mentally tired or overwhelmed, it often starts this chain reaction of shutting down too early. Stopping before I have finished my chores – the things I should be doing rather than taking the easy way out and zone out in front of the TV or YouTube.
I grasp for anything to escape this “mundane and painful activity” that I don’t really like and which keeps me in a tension filled state.
But if I can just remind myself not to stop. To not listen to my mind saying that you can escape “pain”. Take the easy way out!
I know that I will be much better off if I can complete the task.
Not only that, but I will grow stronger, more fulfilled. And next time I will find myself more disciplined and enduring.
We need to remember that if we can just push thru a little bit longer, a few more reps, we will be out of the tunnel and can stop to catch our breath and recuperate.
Sure it is hard and very tempting to slow down before the finish line..or even to give up because it feels like there is nothing left to give..We just want to be comfortable, right?
But that’s exactly when you need to dig deep and remember that you will find light, breath and air just a little bit further down the road.
Being uncomfortable may be what you need to be comfortable. To be the best YOU you can be.
Thankfully we are not alone in the fight..
• I need community.
The last point CrossFit has helped me realize, is the importance of community.
What would a crossfit class be without all the people fighting along side you?
What makes you look forward to that Friday evening class if not Paul, Christina and John?
Friends that encourage you and champion you on as you struggle thru the WOD.
People in the box that help you dig deeper and find the untapped power for those last reps.
Doing life on your own is difficult. I have realized that when there are challenges I’m going thru, I have a tendency to draw in and retreat from people.
This is usually not a good thing and I find myself falling further down the hole.
Having people reach their hand down and pull me up, makes all the difference. We need that.
People that challenge you and keep you accountable. People that make sure you squat below your knees so you don’t get no repped later.
Friends who encourage you to keep going when you feel like you are not capable of doing the task set before you.
I’m thankful that I have those kind of people in the CrossFit box and in my life.
Without it, I know I wouldn’t have been able to lift as heavy as I do or be where I am today.