A year ago, I did my first workout at CrossFit Thermal. The first thing I noticed (beyond how nervous I was to be in a new gym) was the jumble of numbers and terms on the board reading things like Open 14.5, 21, 18…, thruster, and burpee over bar. I didn’t understand the lingo so luckily, I didn’t know what was about to happen. If I knew what I was reading on the whiteboard, my deconditioned self would have run screaming from that garage gym back to the safety of my treadmill-driven fitness endeavors. I was about to push myself to a level that I didn’t even know existed for ANYONE let alone myself. I didn’t know that a complete stranger was about to scream, cheer, and coach me through every horrible rep like my life depended on it. Truth is, I didn’t know it at the time, but so much of my life did depend on it. Here’s a three of the most important things I’ve learned over the past 365 days at CrossFit Thermal:
BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF
There was a point in my life where I decided I was never going to get on a scale again. My logic was that if I didn’t get on the scale, the amount of weight I was carrying wouldn’t actually be real. I wouldn’t have to deal with the reality of being in my 20’s and weighing 250lbs. I stopped going to the doctor, avoided my reflection at all costs. I used food as a weapon against myself. When you take that road, you lose everything except the weight. It wasn’t until I looked at a photo and didn’t recognize myself that I knew this path, probably to an early grave, was not the direction I was meant to go. Honesty was the only thing I had left in the arsenal and that meant getting to know and love myself as I was, and setting goals for who I wanted to become. It meant being real. Honesty is a tool that you can use to guide you to being the athlete and person you want to be. Identify the things you need to work on both inside and outside of the gym. Could your nutrition be better? Could your overhead squat use some improvement? Mobility holding you back? Embrace the things that make you who you are. And then honor those things, both good and bad, every single day. Whether it’s nutrition, exercise, or self-esteem, honesty isn’t easy. If it is, you’re doing it wrong. Be honest about what you need to work on, and then do the work.
FIND YOUR “WHY”
Thinking about it now, I realize it wasn’t the actual physical workout of 14.5 impacting me as much as what I chose to do at the moment when it got difficult. We all know that moment when our head is screaming, there’s nothing left, and your lungs and legs are on fire. Then your heart yells, “ONE MORE REP”! That moment. That is the moment you are changing your life. Change doesn’t happen without something propelling it. Why did you start CrossFit? For most of us, our “why” is not an external thing or tangible goal. Sure, we all want to be experts at muscle-ups & get sub-3:00 Fran. WHY? A year ago I’d be asking who the heck is Fran?! Sure, the Thermal community is unlike any other gym around but, a year ago, I didn’t know any of you. Our “why” is our most personal motivation . It does not waiver under the harshest of WODs. It does not rely on others. It’s that fire that pushes us to do things we have never done before. It comes from the inside. My “why”? I have been a version of myself I never want to be again. I want to live every day of my life instead of letting life happen to me and around me. My “why” is because I deserve to happy and healthy and being a CrossFit athlete does both of those things for me. My “why” is because I have a passion for CrossFit and pursuing it makes me feel completely alive. Find your WHY and fuel it.
PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION
Are you doing everything you can to get better? (Hint: Refer back to point #1 before answering this question) When you see progress, hit PR’s, and work on form & technique – be proud of that! Give yourself some credit for moving forward. But don’t stay there. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a newbie, remember there is always room for improvement. Strive for progress not for perfection. Be mindful of your ego. Ego has a lot of sneaky ways of sabotaging progress. One of these is comparison. I’d be lying if I said I am not tempted to compare myself to other athletes and how they look and perform. (Who doesn’t want to look like Camille and perform like Annie?) Whether it’s the elite athlete, or the person on the rack next to you, the only person worth comparing yourself to is the person you were yesterday. Stay grounded, stay humble, put your head down, and go to work. Strive for progress according to your terms and not perfection according to others.
After 20 minutes, just as I got to my round of 15 on the descending ladder, fighting for every breath, burpee, & thruster, Coach Vin called time for me. He knew I was done. Deep down, I knew I was just getting started. I never finished the Open 14.5 workout. Maybe someday I’ll go back and complete it but I try not to think about that too much. Besides, that day wasn’t about finishing a workout, it was about starting down a new path.
No matter who you are, I think everyone can identify with something in this piece. Great write up Aileen, thanks for sharing such a personal perspective!