4 Reasons Athletes Stay at a CrossFit Box When Perhaps They Should Consider Switching

Foreword: I want to stress something key because I do not by any means want to sound self-righteous or like I know how to run a CrossFit box. I am basing this post on my own experiences and conversations I have had with many other CrossFit athletes.

I have blogged about why people leave CrossFit boxes (link here) and so it only makes sense to follow it up with reasons why people often stay, even if they really do need to leave.

  1. Loyalty. This is legit a common reason. Often members feel like they would be abandoning their box or owners or coaches by leaving. They have been there perhaps from the beginning or they feel that the they owe it to the box to stay. Perhaps they have seen gains or perhaps they are friends with the owner.Guilt comes along with loyalty and I totally get that. It is like any relationship or friendship. We feel like the other person stuck by us through some tough shit and it would make us pretty crappy people if now that we are not “in need” we are abandoning them.

 

  1. Athletes don’t know what “better” is. 

    I see this often with first time CrossFitters. They love CrossFit and where they are but they also have no benchmark to compare it to. So they stay.For many, their first choice was stellar and they may be there until the end of time. Which is amazing. It just does not always happen like that for everyone.

    I bring this up because at some point for many athletes, they do get a taste of what else is out there. Often it is in the form of a drop in. Maybe athletes go home to visit and drop in at a local box. They start comparing that box to their own and notice the short comings (I like to refer to this as “box envy”). Maybe they experience more methodical, dynamic warm ups that they do not get at their home box. Maybe they notice the coaches are giving far more specific cues. Maybe it is the physical space and they are jealous of the high ceilings for rope climbs. You get the idea. It can be a million difference reasons that attribute to box envy.

 

  1. Fear of losing the community we have come to love. 

    I have experienced this and I have heard people say the same countless times.  “I am not happy anymore at this box, but I do not know want to lose the friendships and community I have built here.” And I think there are a few ways to look at this.Evaluate your goals. Are your goals being met even if perhaps the environment leaves something to be desired? Can you reach your goals if you stay even if it means having to compromise on something else to stay with your community

    People and circumstances in life are fluid. This is just a given. It is like when we stay at a job even if we hate it, but loves our boss. And then that boss leaves and we feel shafted. I look at it like yes the people we are around are extremely important, but the fear of losing them is not always a reason to stay. We get very comfortable with our workout buddies and coming into any class and feeling familiar. Anyone in your community though could leave at any time. It just happens. I personally feel that it is a balance and if you truly are not happy or not getting out of CrossFit what you want, I do not think the community should necessarily be the thing that keeps you.

    Also, remember, the community you built, that did not happen overnight. You had to build that. And you can build it again.

    Guys, I get it. I’m a few days into my latest box change and I have not yet found my community. I think the other athletes are still trying to figure out what my deal is or if I am just dropping in from somewhere far ,far away. And that is totally cool. Camaraderie happens organically.

 

  1. We feel like we are “cheating” if we go for a test drive. 

    There is guilt even before we make a decision to leave. Typically athletes want to have their next box lined up before making a switch. Naturally we start doing local drop-ins to kind of test drive other options. But heaven forbid the box we go to even has an inkling that we are thinking of switching. We fear being ostracized or not coached (because why should they bother investing in us if we are half way out the door?) And so often we just stay. We stay out of fear of being almost devalued. We do not even look because of this fear.In my humble opinion, if that does happen, that your box sort of turns on you, then take that as a sign you DEFINITELY should be switching boxes. I have had both experiences.  I have had an owner who wanted to know why I was leaving so he could make some changes and address them. And I have had owners who were basically like “ok cool got you cancelled.”  (aka don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out).

    This personally has never stopped me from looking around. I am on my 4th box (and I really believe this could be “the one”). If anything I had actually been fairly vocal about it this time around which thank goodness I was. The box I have switched to was not even on my radar as an option, and because I had posted in a Facebook group about looking for a box, one of the owners actually reached out to me. So sometimes, you just have to get over the fear because that could potentially prevent you from finding what you really need.

 

Deciding to do CrossFit in and of itself is not a trivial thing. Many of us CrossFit because we want to be the best versions of ourselves. We want to constantly push ourselves beyond what we think we are capable of. We CrossFit because we want to be healthy, fully functional people at all ages. We CrossFit because our health and fitness are freakin important.

Switching boxes is also not a trivial thing.  I cannot stress enough the importance of being at the right box for YOU. Switching boxes multiple times does not make you needy or high maintenance. It is you recognizing what your needs are at that point in time. What you needed last year may not be what you need today. There should be no shame in making a decision to leave a CrossFit for another because at the end of the day you only get one body, one brain, one life. You have every right to do what is best for you even if you feel that there may be some drama or baggage associated with it.  I say screw it because nobody can tell you what is right for you but you.

2018: Let’s Get Real

Well hello 2018. I am looking back at this past year and for probably the first time in my life, I can say it was a good year. And I do not mean that I have never had a good year before. Because I have. The difference is I used to (note past tense) fixate on the bad parts. Forget if I got a promotion or if I hit a new PR at CrossFit, I would gravitate towards the bad shit that happened. And when you have bad shit happen, it can become a cycle you just cannot get out of. I used to very much be “Woe is me! Why do bad things happen to good people?”

And today I am more like, shut it, sister. It ain’t all bad.

Don’t get me wrong guys. I am by no means minimizing the not so fun things that have happened to any of you this past year. I have had my share of sadness and stress this year as well (things I have not even posted about on social media or blogged about). I have lost someone who was like a father to me. I have seen friends and family go through some pretty scary health stuff. I have almost lost people I have loved. I had plenty of restless nights and a whole lot of tears in 2017. 2017 was not all rainbows and unicorns, I had a lot of heavy and heart wrenching shit go down. I say this not for sympathy or pity but because I 100% get what it is like to have to go through really unpleasant stuff.

 

The thing with New Years is that as that as it gets closer, we all just are ready for it. We want to escape whatever the last year brought us. We want fresh beginnings. We want 2018 to right every wrong from 2017.

But we also have expectations without doing our part. We cannot expect 2018 to bring us all our hopes and wishes if we do not release 2017. We can choose to leave our baggage or travesties or whatever negativity was there but we often take it with us. And then the new year becomes an extension of the previous year.

So if we really want 2018 to be our year, we have to accept all that has happened in 2017. We have to leave it behind. We have to also give ourselves permission to not carry guilt from whatever mistakes or failures we feel we had into 2018. (I may be sounding like I have watched too much Long Island Medium)­.

To me, a new year is a great time to reevaluate ourselves, our lives, our relationships, our jobs, our health routines, our finances. All of it. Whatever it is that we feel may be holding us back from what we want. We probably should have reevaluated them during the year, but let’s be honest. We get complacent. And it takes a milestone, like a new year, to light a fire under our asses. We get awakened when we realize  “FUDGE! A new year and I am still doing X.” Or “A new year and I still have not done Y”. You get what I am saying.

A new year also mean we cut a lot of things from life. We cut out toxic relationships or toxic food or toxic habits. Which we absolutely should do, but we need to do more than that. We also need to really get in our own heads and understand “why” we had those things in our lives in the first place. (When we don’t, it is why we have patterns. Look at dating. The horror!). When we just let things go without understanding the “why”, they are like boomerangs. They will come back to us in some shape or form.

We also forget that a new year is an ENTIRE YEAR. Which means it is 365 days. There is such a tendency to get pumped for January and go after our goals like we are sprinting instead of treating them like a marathon. Then before we know it, we forget even what our goals were. I am not going to give you a how-to set a goal because that is a post all in itself. What I really mean to convey is that it is ok if our goals take more than a few days or a few weeks or a few months. Just do not give up on them. We get discouraged so easily because we fixate on what we still have to do instead of appreciating and applauding what we already have done. Deciding to make a change takes a lot of self-awareness in and of itself and that’s no small feat. Knowing is half the battle, G.I. Joe.

It is like we view a new year as if it is this being sent from the gods. Like it is this creature that is going to bring us everything we want. Call me Debbie Downer, but it is no such thing.  It is just another 365 days in which we can choose how we want it to be. We give a new year so  much power when really we need to give that power to ourselves.

 

 

 

Sometimes It Takes Stitches to Find the Right CrossFit

I have done a lot of really clumsy, stupid, embarrassing shit that I normally can just laugh off without thinking twice about it. I have had countless near accidents that were probably a hair away from cracking something open or needing stitches. Basically I have tempted fate many MANY times, and it finally caught up with me. In the most embarrassing way I ever could have imagined. It also gave me cause to pause (and re-evaluate).

As you probably know, I have been on a serious quest to find a different CrossFit box to switch to. I have taken this more seriously than when I have gone car shopping or even job searching (well in a past life at least!)  It is my health and well-being that are going to be affected and well, I take that very seriously.

Finding a CrossFit box is more than just finding a place to workout that has the right class schedule and is less than 7 miles from where I live. It is about finding the right environment, coaches and programming that are going to keep me getting progressively stronger all the time. I want to look and FEEL better every year because I do not want my 20’s or 30’s to have been my peak. (I say this about my experience, but I also encourage everyone to take that into consideration. A lot of people stay at a box often that is not the right fit for a slew of reasons, one of which is they may not even know what better is. This could be another blog post in and of itself so I digress).

I had found a box that I was going to try for a month, but I was not 100% sure if it was the right fit for me. I figured I would not know until I tried and was set to do just that until I had posted a blog I wrote earlier in the year called “4 Common Reasons CrossFitters Divorce Boxes” (link here) to a CrossFit Masters group I am in on Facebook as the members share information and questions. Anyways, I am glad I did it because an owner of a box that is just under 7 miles from where I live reached out to me to drop in. I think he just really wants masters athletes there which I am happy to represent (although after my embarrassing incident, he is surely going to reconsider).

I did drop in and I did like it. I was excited too because he invited me to come back the next day when he would be working out. I should mention, he’s a Regionals/Games athlete. I felt like I got invited to hang with the cool kids. So when I got there for my second drop-in, it kind of felt like meeting CrossFit celebrities. (It was him and 3 other equally bad ass coaches). Despite feeling intimidated, I was digging the vibe. It was a bit exhilarating to know I would potentially be a member at a box where there is that kind of caliber (and for the record, I am NOT insinuating I am ever going to be a Games athlete! I just mean it is inspiring as a unicorn to be working out alongside that talent and coached by the best of the best).

The workout that we were going to do had chest-to-bar pull-ups.  After the warm up, I figured it would be wise to do one or two before the actual workout since truth be told, I am not the best at them. I hopped up on a bar and swung (probably violently as I tend to do that to make sure my chest makes contact with the bar). It happened pretty fast so I’m not 100% what went down (or up) exactly, but at some point in my swing, I smacked my forehead at full force into another bar maybe 6 inches above the one that I was on. Yeah, I somehow managed to not see that when I picked my spot to do a pull-up.

I do not even know how to explain the pain of having my head go crashing into pure metal other it felt like this sort of slow shattering sensation. It was then very quickly followed by pure shock like “What the FREAK just happened?”  It is also possible that due to shock or denial, had someone not said “hey get down, you are bleeding” I would have proceeded to attempt another pull-up. (I never said I am the brightest bulb on the porch).

When I got down from the bar, I went totally numb at that point other than a little tingling in my nose which thankfully I did not break. I was being asked if my head hurt while we were attempting to stop the bleeding. I felt no real pain at that point. Just sheer and total humiliation. (And I probably said at least a dozen times, “I am fine. I am just so embarrassed.”) My ego hurt far more than my head, at least for the ten minutes until I left to go to Urgent Care.  I was also annoyed that I did not even get a workout in which made me even more so embarrassed. (Have I mentioned how embarrassed I was??)

Anyways, I did have to get stitches (3 of them) but it could be worse. I did not break any teeth. I didn’t crack my skull. It is just a bit of a gash prominently on my forehead that may or may not scar. (Also for the record, I typically cannot hit a target to save my life. You should see me trying to do wall balls. Yet, I somehow managed to hit my head dead center. I aced that one).

So I will probably be known as the new girl who needed stitches from a pull-up, but it also made me realize a few things.

For the first few days after my sweet little injury, I was freaked out about the realization of just how many things can go wrong. Because like any sport, there is always the risk for injury. I have already had my share of injuries, and really wanted to believe I was beyond that. I realized I could either continue to wallow in self-pity and fear what may or may not happen, or I could just get over it. I chose the latter. I knew that it would take more than 3 stitches to keep me away from CrossFit.

Despite how much of a drama queen I may feel like, it has made me very aware of something that I did not really want to admit to myself. I had lost my zest for CrossFit. Over the last few months, I have not been enjoying it. I have just wanted to get in and get out.  I have not really cared a whole lot about what my WOD times have been or how many reps I have done or even how much weight I have used or if I felt stronger than yesterday. And that is no way to be.

The fact that I am still looking forward to going back and becoming a member is very indicative of how much I am in need of a change.  The reputation of their box is astounding and getting a small taste of it has like reawakened the bad ass hidden in me (well I guess re-awaken is up for debate. I am not a bad ass, I just want to feel like one. Again).

I know that when I can get past this little blip (because in due time, it really will be just a blip), in the long run, I will get stronger there. I also know that I am sure to discover my areas of weaknesses and problems with technique that will be hard on the old pride too, but a necessary evil to get better. If I can handle walking out of a box after 15 minutes to get stitches, I can handle anything.  My point? The experiences that leave us humbled are often the ones we need the most.

 

 

Sometimes You Just Need a Kick in the Butt From the Universe

I have been waiting a long time to write this. Actually, I have been waiting a long time to post this. I have been writing this far before I even knew this post would be a thing. Because I have been manifesting for this to happen. I have been 100% believing that it would. I just did not know when. Or how.

I am leaving my corporate job.

 

Microphone drop.

 

I have put it out there that I want to leave and have been mentally getting myself ready to do that. So getting the push to go has not been scary for me. It’s been liberating. I have known I would leave, I just did not know when or how. When I got the news I am part of a surplus, I felt gratitude and relief. It is so easy (and if we are honest with ourselves, how many of us are feeling this way?) to stay complacent and not act. Because to act is to go into the unknown. It’s to go into something that is seemingly less stable or unpredictable (but let’s be real, how many corporate jobs are truly secure anymore?). I have been dipping my toes in other ponds for a while and now the universe is giving me the push to GO ALL IN.

 

While I have been remarkably and surprisingly cool, calm and collected, when I really think about what I am giving up, I have moments of “what the F am I doing?” My entire career all my job choices have been made on two very basic things: stability and money. I was taught at an early age to never be without them so as soon as they were in my control (aka I started adulting), I made decisions based on that.

 

Yet, every time in my life I have accepted a new job, I always had this knowing feeling it was not right for me. I of course pushed those feelings down as far as I possibly could. Today though, I am at the point in my life where I simply choose to no longer ignore that. It will not serve me going forward.

 

I am a firm believer in timing. I should say that this life changing decision was not one I made on a whim or on a feeling. It has been years in the making. With the help of my spiritual healer, she has taught me to trust in myself, my abilities and the universe. To trust that I would be guided at the right time to make changes, and that until then I need not worry about it or proactively seek out whatever it is I am meant to do. I have spent years working on myself and overcoming my own demons and roadblocks. I have also manifested the shit out of good things to come my way because I have known in my heart of hearts that I was playing a role in my job that was not something I wanted or could sustain.

 

And so the day has come that I am going to start my transition into a new world. A new world of opportunity of positivity and validation. A new world of doing something that I know will have an impact on many people. I am finally being true to who I am and who I want to be. I have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up!

 

For decades I have had so much passion for health and fitness. I am one of those people that actually freaking loves to workout (I know, weird huh?) I absolutely love talking about working out and I can’t really understand those people who do not love it. One of the great things about being an Independent Promoter for Pruvit is that it has forced me to broaden my network. Conversations I am having, regardless if people are interested in ketones or not, have lead to being inspired over and over again. There is no shortage of inspiration in this world when you take the time to hear other people’s stories.

 

I feel like ketones are my gateway drug to so to speak. It has given me a taste of that euphoria of helping someone feel all the feels. It has given me a taste of what it would be like to really listen to someone and understand what it is they need, or what they are missing. I am also starting to realize and understand that while I have that drive and grit to workout and to not shy away from it, not everyone does. There are endless valid reasons why people fear it. Or maybe they want it but they do not know where to start. Maybe they feel like a fish out of water at a gym, which I get because I am completely uncomfortable when I step into a Home Depot. And it’s like everyone there KNOWS I do not belong. And so I quickly find what I need (by find, I mean I have to have someone direct me) and then I get the hell out as fast as I possibly can. That’s how people feel about working out I believe if they have any kind of hang up or roadblock.

 

Or maybe someone wants to workout but they are overwhelmed by choices or they do not know what type of workout suits them. So instead of trying them out, they may not do a thing. Which by doing nothing is really doing something. We have choices and there are so many options out there. I want to be that person that helps someone find what they like so that they can make their dreams and goals a reality.

 

I want to help people stay accountable and be that extra support they need to become healthy and fit.

I want to do this because I know how amazing someone can feel if they take action. It is common and very easy to talk about wanting something, but never do it. Then as soon as you do, and you start seeing results, you ask WHY did I wait this long?
Between what I see myself doing and the skills I am fortunate to have learned over my current career are all lining up to make me kick ass at my dreams. I wish I knew what my “job title” is, but that will come as I work more on the business and marketing side of my journey. (Which p.s. I do not see myself being called a health coach. So for all you marketing geniuses, I am open for suggestions as to how to brand myself).

 

I always thought I would transition into a new career when I had every last detail sorted out and not a second sooner, but I am realizing I don’t need that to go all in. In fact, over just these last 3 days of talking to my colleagues about leaving, I am getting even more validation and support that I ever anticipated. I keep waiting for someone to tell me I am crazy or stupid or reckless. But guess what? Nobody has said that. It’s validation that because I am SCREAMING into the universe that I am more than ready to trust it, and that is what I am getting back. Nobody is trying to talk me out of it because it is meant for me to be taking the biggest leap of faith ever. Being open and honest not just with myself but with those I work with, interact with, friends, family, hairdresser, you name it is opening me up even more for what is in my power to have. The universe gives back what we give to it, and that is why I am more than confident in knowing I am making the right choice, the best choice, for myself.

Mineral Baths Got Me Like…

Spending time in mineral pools and baths this past weekend did something to stimulate a deeper interest and understanding in what keeps people coming back and making sacrifices to get what they want. I will also cut to the chase as it really is quite simple: how badly do you want it?

My friends and I were comparing our stories of our first times… we each stepped into a CrossFit box. None of us walked in and thought, “Wow, yes this is home! We have found the motherland!” We all felt confused, overwhelmed and intimidated. Warm ups were difficult to follow. Understanding the movements had us like what is happening?  A clean is what? You want me to bring my knees to what? Many people try CrossFit and find it is not for them. So they quietly retreat back into the night. I did not know that CrossFit was for me for probably 6 months. I loved it yes, but I also felt like a fish out of water. So what kept me, and my friends, and other athletes from giving up on CrossFit? What kept us coming back?

What makes me different than someone else? What gives me the motivation to go back that someone else does not have? And while I am predominantly referring to CrossFit in this post, feel free to insert your sport of choice (albeit running, kickboxing, Pilates, etc).

There are so many other components or factors that go into the perfect formula for getting on track:

  • Having stellar coaches who pay attention to you and put you at ease.
  • A supportive community that keeps you accountable and builds camaraderie that draws you in.
  • A box that is logistically feasible to get to.
  • Programming that you can get on board with.
  • Having gorgeous workout clothes (oh wait, that’s just me)

 

But if you do not have the will and the confidence to go back, none of these other factors will be enough to keep you going. Where this is a will there is a way.

As I mentioned earlier, I cannot quite say in all honesty that I really loved CrossFit the first few months. I mean, I did not hate it, but I also do not think I really “got it”. I kept going though. Why? Why did I stay with CrossFit over trying something else or giving up completely?  I had an overpowering desire to get my muscle tone and strength back. I lost so much of it from having a broken foot that I was pretty depressed about having years of hard work reversed in just a few months. I missed being able to run (well I did not actually miss the act of running but I wanted the choice to run to be mental and not a physical limitation). I had that will. I had a taste for what it felt like to be fit and happy in my own skin. I wanted that again. Very badly. And I knew that CrossFit would keep me accountable.

For anyone to keep going, they need to find their own motivation and use it to fuel them. I believe it is different from person to person. It could be that you got a reality check at the doctor’s office. It could be that you found you got winded just playing with your kids. Maybe you have 10 pounds left of baby fat to shed. Whatever your motivation is, you need to have the mental will to implement it. You need to want it badly enough that no excuse is going to interfere. Not even those summer bbq’s or chili dogs at baseball games are going to take you off your course. You have to want to hit your goals, to get healthy far more than you want anything else.

I remember coming out of 2 weeks of Fundies and going to my first “real” CrossFit class. I was completely over stimulated and did not enjoy it one bit. I easily could have declared that CrossFit is terrible and never go back. But I didn’t. I had that passion to keep going and see it through. It is far too easy to have one bad experience and rule the whole damn thing out. Maybe you try one yoga class where you did not like the instructor or the vibe of the class, but you generalize that all yoga sucks. And so you never go back. Well maybe it was just the wrong studio or just the wrong day for you. You should not give up. Go find another one. Same with CrossFit. People often feel like they did not connect with the energy of the class or found one athlete to be arrogant and territorial. Or they thought the programming that day was too difficult or too scary. So they do not return.

hat I suspect is really happening in some cases in my unprofessional, pure speculative opinion is that we often WANT a reason to quit. Because it is so damn hard to be healthy. We know there is no short cut for losing weight or getting healthy. It does not happen overnight.  This is not ground breaking news. Yet, so many people give up and give in without really fighting or what they want.

(Please note, I am by no means insinuating this is 100% of the time. I recognize people may have addictions or illness, for example, that may limit them. This post is not about that population).

It is like when your mom told you as a kid to try asparagus or fish. You stick your tongue out, lick it and say “I don’t like the texture. I can’t eat this.’ It’s the same deal with working out sometimes. We tell ourselves we should try it and do it, but we LOOK for that reason to validate that we should not ever do it again.

That is what distinguishes those who go back, every day, from those who do not. We want it. We want it badly. We may not love it when we are in it but we sure as hell love what CrossFit does for us.

Fear 2.0

Disclaimer: Hi friends! I admittedly have writer’s block. Well, that’s not entirely true. I actually have A LOT of topics whirling through my brain faster than I can really process them. So, since they are not quite hatched and ready to be written, I looked back at posts from last summer. I came across this one and thought that it is very fitting. The blog in its entirety I still stand by. I do believe fear is one of the biggest obstacles people face in CrossFit when it comes to progressing and reaching goals (and any other sport really). It had me thinking though how it ties to so many other things in life. I know I am in a period of transition and change in many ways so what if I took the same post and added a little extra commentary? It sounds grand doesn’t it? Well then please, read on. 

Note: I have deliberately made a distinction as to what was in the original post compared to today’s, with the latter being in italics.

 

It’s been a week box of retesting 1 rep maxes.  Snatches. Squats. Cleans. Jerks. You name it. What do they have in common? Fear. 1 RM brings out fear in the best of us. There is the fear of failing. The fear of letting the mental override the physical. The fear of committing to a movement. The fear of experiencing what suck really feels like.

Fear keeps us from reaching goals. Sometimes you have to be uncomfortable to get to where you want to be. Sometimes you have to let go of a friendship or relationship to allow space for new ones. Sometimes you have to experience the suck of a diet or giving up your favorite vice to reach your health goal. It is a give and take in life in general in my opinion. We all know you don’t get things for nothin’.  If you want something badly enough, how uncomfortable are you willing to get to achieve that?

 

The thing is though, we use fear as a reason to not push ourselves. It feels safer that way. Or maybe it feels easier. It’s better to successfully press 100 lbs and not even try 105 (that’s just crazytown) than it is to attempt 105 and fail.  Psych! Read that and tell me it makes any logical sense. If you do CrossFit, it’s a safe assumption that you are there for the challenge. We don’t walk away from a metcon typically saying “that was fun”. We are there for the suck. The suck is what makes all of it gratifying and challenging and therefore fun.

Think about what you procrastinate on. Is it laziness? Is it being overwhelmed? Or is it perhaps the fear of pushing ourselves? Do we not push ourselves because to push ourselves means it might hurt in some way albeit short lived or not? The thing is though, sometimes pushing ourselves leads to new great things, but we fear the unknown. I know I have been guilty even of pushing myself with the topics I should to write about out of fear of being judged or too vulnerable. Yet I know the times I do push myself to go a little deeper or a little more into unchartered waters, I often get great results and inspire others.

 

Fear means getting comfortable being uncomfortable.  In CrossFit, the whole idea is to push ourselves beyond our limits. We can never do that if we stay comfortable and never get on the other side of fear.

 

 

 

To take this one step further, let’s get into the difference between feeling challenged and feeling like you are doing the near impossible. There is a fine line between the two yet the distinction is so powerful. Take back squats for example. If you have ever done a squat cycle, this should sound familiar. The volume and load methodically increases and decreases throughout the cycle. You slowly build strength. When you are in one of the last weeks of it, you’ll likely be doing reps at a high percentage of what your starting 1 RM max is. Or you may be doing higher reps at somewhat lower percentage. It’s not likely you will fail (even if you fear you will) as squat cycles are brilliantly programmed to avoid this. So you go through the reps, and no, they are not easy, but you do not fail.

Even if you do fail, it is not the worst thing in the world. If anything, it fuels you to want it even more. Failing also just means when you do succeed, you will appreciate that glory and gratification exponentially more.

 

Then comes the retest day. You start working your way up to your 1 RM and then you test the waters and increase the weight to get a new PR. When you get to that say 110% of your 1 RM, the difficult y of that squat should feel subtly yet distinctively harder than when you squatted during the cycle. There’s that defining moment right after you complete the descend and start to stand back up. It’s that really sticky make or break moment where you dig deep inside and push like hell through it. And you do it! Yet, when you are on the ascend there’s a split moment where you make the choice to give in or keep going.  If you give into it without trying, you have gained nothing. If you power through it, you may actually experience a really wickedly awesome moment. Even if you fail trying, it will benefit you far more than not trying at all. Giving into fear just kills the drive and motivation to ever push harder. Fear despite the connotation, is actually a good thing, if you let it power you as opposed to inhibit. If we wanted to stay comfortable all the time, we would not be in CrossFit.

If we wanted to stay comfortable, we definitely can. Many of us do and are content. But is content enough for you? Are you ok with having the same 1 RM in any lift for life? Are you ok staying in a job that leaves you content but perhaps not inspired? Is comfortable more important to you than happiness?

 

Those sticky moments are uncomfortable. The first time you experience it, it may even be intimidating and feel icky. I encourage everyone to find that sticky moment. It’s difficult to even explain that feeling. All I can say is once you do, you will fear those moments less. The element of the unknown is gone and you will feel far more confident to keep testing yourself. Find that and then watch and see all that you will accomplish.

Well said if I do say so myself. I encourage you to proactively find those sticky moments. Choose to work through them. Choose to not let fear deter you. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. The reward will be infinitely invigorating and satisfying.

 

Original post here: https://prthislife.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/fear/

 

 

One Week Left in the CrossFit Open: Time to Get Smart

Foreword: What is the CrossFit Open? Well according to the CrossFit games website https://games.crossfit.com/about-the-games it is a test to find the “Fittest on Earth”. To get there, the first step is the Open which anyone over 14 can do at affiliates around the world. Thousands and thousands and thousands of athletes register not to make it to the games, but to test their own fitness for 5 weeks enduring 5 grueling workouts.

With just one mysterious and sure to be harrowing workout left in the 2017 CrossFit Open, it is the perfect opportunity to regroup and remember what is important as we go into the final stretch. To date, I have seen so many inspiring moments that make me pretty emotional actually. (I love seeing my fellow athletes triumph and conquer).  I have also been witness to many of the downsides of the Open. In all the hype, it is quite easy to lose focus. Many athletes forget that The Open is not about where you place on the leader board. It is about how you tackle it, both mentally and physically.  It is about exposing weaknesses so that you stop running from them and start working on them. It is about how you did compared to yesterday and about where you want to be tomorrow.

  1. There is no shame in scaling. There’s a misconception that when it comes to the scaling option that it will not be challenging or it is seemingly easy. For those who are not quite at RX but (they perceive themselves) to be above scaled, they often are torn as to which to do? Do you go out of your comfort zone to RX or do you scale and just haul ass? The question should be, which makes sense for you and your goals?Athletes need to understand there is no shame is scaling. People often want so badly to RX because they think it has more prestige. Maybe it does but it is not about prestige. It is about doing what your body can handle and using it as a benchmark. Take 17.4* for example. The women’s deadlift weight was 155 (RX) versus 95 (scaled). If 155 is close to your 1 RM, my personal philosophy is why why WHY would you want to do that? You may get a few reps but you probably will not advance to the next part. 55 reps are A LOT which will inevitably lead to form being compromised (which is not a good thing)-if you can even lift the bar after a few reps. A friend of mine thought the scaled would not be hard at all, and despite that her 1 RM is about 160, she contemplated doing RX. Fortunately (and thankfully after our coach told her hellll no), she did decide to do scaled. And guess what? It was still a challenging workout despite that it was not RX. And guess what else? She killed it scaled and walked away feeling gratified.
  1. The Open is not the end all be all. Many athletes get so hell bent on achieving greatness in an Open workout as if it is the only ever true defining moment. The Open ought to be viewed as a milestone to set new goals to work towards for the next year. The Open is not the last chance to successfully ever complete a movement or get a new PR.  Doing 17.4* twice in one day just to attempt to get your first ever Hand-Stand-Push-Up (HSPU), for example,  is not advisable and can be argued that it is rather foolish. (athletes get Rhabdo making choices like that).  Not to mention, that perceived ego is what gives the CrossFit community a bad rep.

    Similarly (and in my own personal experience), for 17.3*, I knew going into it my goal was just to get to the chest of bar pulls up in the 4th round, and then gracefully call it quits. I was asked why I didn’t even try to snatch 95 pounds, and my response was because it’s 20 pounds over my 1RM. It’s like a 0.00421% chance I could snatch it. If I ever want to challenge my 75 pound PR, I rather do it strategically and not in an open workout where not only am I beyond my capability, I would be extremely fatigued with bad form (which would  be compromising to my health even if I failed). I would prefer setting a new PR on any old day when the strength portion calls for snatches.  I would be able to SMARTLY work up to (jumping from 65 pounds to 95 pounds as was the case in 17.3* is a ridiculously big jump for an average munchkin like myself). I do not want to go that heavy when I am racing against a clock. I am confident I can snatch more than my existing 1 RM, but I don’t need the open as the forum to try it.

    There are plenty of chances after the Open to reach your goals, so do not put unrealistic pressure on yourself to achieve something when you are quite frankly just not ready for it.

  1. Focusing on the “can’t”. There are always going to be times that even the best of the best will come across movements they struggle with or simply cannot do. Bitching about them though is counterproductive. There were a lot of complaints, for example, on social media about how unfair it was to have pull-ups in 17.2* for the scaled workout. “But I do not have pull-ups!” and  “This is ostracizing a lot of the CrossFit community” and other sentiments were expressed. If you look at the history of the CrossFit Games, the programming gets increasingly more difficult every year. Take last year’s Games where ring hand-stand push-ups  and the peg board were introduced. Many of the most elite competitors struggled with them.  It took them further out of their comfort zone which is the point.  I strongly believe it is symbolic of how much more evolved CrossFit is getting, and that the standards are constantly being set higher and higher. It demonstrates there are always scales with varying degrees of difficulty to achieve. Never stop at the next progression and never focus on not being where you want to be. If you can only get jumping pull-ups today, that just means you will work harder to get to pull-ups. And once you get pull-ups, you will find yourself one day doing weighted-pull-ups and bar muscle ups. It is about where you go and not where you start.

 

For the most part, I kept my sanity throughout the Open. Yes, I had moments where I wish I did better (like why the hell was it so hard to lunge with two 35 pound dumbbells? And why am I a snail on the rower? I wanted a HSPU!).  What prevailed for me is constantly reminding myself that this last year has been the first year since I started CrossFit that I have not been injured.  It is like every prior year of CrossFit for me was practice and full of mistakes, bad form and bad judgment. This is the first time in ages that I consistently have felt healthy and strong. In my recovery, I have focused on solid form, training smartly and progressively gaining strength back (and beyond). So during the open when I had moments of self-doubt or longing to be higher on the leaderboard, I reined them in by telling myself well this is far more than I would have been able to do a year ago. And I am damn happy with that. I cannot worry about how I ranked against other people because as we have established, it is not about that. It is really about me. I want to walk away feeling good about what I accomplished and not beating myself up for what I fell short on.

snatch.jpg

Do not become one of those people who are ruled by the whiteboard or the Open. It is just 5 weeks and 5 opportunities out of hundreds a year where you will have endless chances to continue to be a bad ass. And to continue to be an even more fierce bad ass than you thought you ever could be. Go into this last week of the Open with an open mind and a mature perspective. Do not worry about what the person next to you is doing. Do not worry about what you cannot do. Focus on what you can and you will leave this crazy experience feeling accomplished.

 

*To see the 2017 workouts, click here

 

 

I Love “This Is Us” as Much as Pittsburgh Loves the Steelers

Foreword: Wiki sums up what the premise of This Is Us (more details  here):

The series follows siblings Kate, Kevin and Randall as their lives intertwine. Kate and Kevin were originally part of a triplet pregnancy, conceived in the bathroom of Froggy’s, a bar, during Super Bowl XIV.[4] However, their biological brother was stillborn. While their due date was October 12, 1980, they were born six weeks early on August 31.[5] Their parents, Jack and Rebecca, intent on bringing home three babies, decide to adopt another newborn (Randall), a black child who was born on the same day and brought to the same hospital after his biological father abandoned him at a fire station.[6]

Episodes weave through the stories of the past and present of the characters, with most scenes taking place in 1980, 1989–1990, and the present day (2016–2017). Flashback scenes take place in Pittsburgh, while current scenes are typically split between Los Angeles, New Jersey, and New York City.

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I tend to be drawn to movies, television shows and books that keep me thinking even after the story ends. I am drawn in because they leave me wanting to understand the characters or think about how I may be similar (or not) to them. They force me to put my own judgments to the side and really look through the lens of others. Given that, it is no wonder that I have been hooked on the television show, This Is Us, from the first few minutes into the first episode. I love how every character in the show could have its own episode where you almost forget there are other kids or parents involved. It is because they all have their own identities, their own struggles. The show has so many basic (but complex) and simple (yet powerful) messages that resonate.

As a 1970’s baby, my generation was raised to pick colleges, majors and jobs that would provide money and stability. I wanted to major in writing but I remember being advised against that. After all, what could I do with a risky and noN lucrative major like that? I settled on minoring in it and majoring in Child Development and Child Care, which might I add I never pursued professionally. And here I am, years later, working for the man but often wondering what life would be like had I followed my passion, my talent. Now as we are well into the 21st century, that kind of thinking has changed.  We are realizing that life is short, life can be stressful and life is definitely not meant to be indebted to jobs we do not love. This is why so many people have career changes and the norm of working for the same company for 30 plus years is a dying ideal.

When it comes to This Is Us, we see so much of this theme play out. Jack, the show’s family patriarch, did take the path of stability and money to work for his friend, Miguel, abandoning his own dream of starting his own business. Not that I can blame him (after all he had 3 kids and a wife who depended on him). But that was in the 80’s.  Look at his son, Kevin: an LA actor, age 36 in our modern world.  Sure we can mock him for having high class problems where he walked out on his demoralizing, unfulfilling acting gig as The Manny and decided to pursue a career as a serious stage actor. While his circumstance may not be completely relatable, his reasons and emotions are.  Kevin struggles with not wanting to feel like a sellout (Sound familiar? How many of us feel like we have sold our souls to big corporations for a cushy pay check, a 401k and a slew of vacation days?) He also struggles with confidence issues, which is crazy when you look at him. I mean the man is incredibly, ahem, HOT and he exudes ego. Yet, he questions his abilities and if he will even be taken seriously in his new career venture. He is taking a major leap of faith, which to his credit, is something that I dare say most of us shy away from.

While we are on the topic of Kevin, this brings me to the next important theme and message of this show.  He seems like a guy who has it all right? Good lucks, money, charisma, no shortage of women and amazing biceps. Same as his brother, Randall, who has the picture perfect family, career and house. He’s got a smart, savvy, beautiful wife and two adorable, charming, endearing daughters who live in an upper class NJ suburb. On the surface, like Kevin, we would believe he has it all.

These characters remind me of also growing up in the 80’s and into the 90’s, coincidentally in a middle-upper class NJ suburb. We judge people often by how things look on the outside: well landscaped front lawns, fancy cars, designer clothes. We assume their biggest problems in life are which Ivy League college to go to or which European country should be their next vacation destination. We assume people in these situations have everything handed to them, that they do not have to work for any of it. It just is not true. Behind closed doors, there are harrowing stories of abuse, eating disorders and financial ruins. Randall may have the perfect job, the perfect house and the perfect family with his wife and two daughters, but that does not mean that he is immune from real problems. He has struggled with finding his biological identify, of growing up an African American child in a predominantly white populated school. He is a perfectionist to a fault. I actually admire a bit that his character struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. It shows that 1) he is human and 2) even someone as tough as nails as he is has limits.

I am a strong believer that timing is everything. We see implied scenarios of this throughout the show. Randall had searched for his biological father and when he finally did find him, he discovered that he had only months to live. This seems like a horrible twist of fate but in reality, Randall met him when he really needed him the most and was open to learning what William had to instill in him. William taught him in a short time to let loose, not always be so rigid.  He taught him that not every risk in life can be mitigated, and you certainly cannot always avoid taking them. William reminds us that sometimes we need to venture to the unconventional.

William’s character is also another reminder of nothing is ever as it seems on the surface.  We may have judged William from abandoning his newborn son or for fighting his demon, drugs. It would be easy to dismiss him and label him as someone not worth knowing. Yet as his core, William I a wonderful, strong man who experienced his own hardships. He did what he thought was best at that moment, and not without regrets.  I like to think that had  Randall met William as a 9 year old or as a 16 year old or even as a 30 year old, that his story line would have been drastically different and maybe not for the best.

Like her brothers, Kate has her own demons. She struggles with insecurities and weight issues. While she is on the extreme end of the spectrum of this, it is something that is so prominent in many of us. I am by no means overweight, but I completely understand what it is like to be consumed with body image issues. Many of us do. Have you ever counted the number of decisions you make a day that tie to weight or body image? Think about it. On any given day, I may choose to wear my beloved LuLaRoe leggings over jeans because I feel a tad bit pudgy. I may refrain from eating that taunting bagel at a work breakfast in fear that the carbs will go straight to my thighs. The amount of time I spend a day willing myself to go back to CrossFit for a second workout that day is ridiculous. Yes it is neurotic, but it is a reality that I know I am not alone in. So imagine someone like Kate, who has real health threats of being overweight (much like her fiancé who had an unexpected heart attack). Imagine the struggle of making choices every minute of the day to break habits and a lifestyle that has been with you for over 30 years. Imagine constantly comparing yourself to others (Kate does this with her beautiful, thin mother and even her fiancé’s ex-wife). This is an exhausting and stressful way to live and takes a toll on us just as much emotionally as it does physically.

One of reasons I feel America has fallen in love with This Is Us is that we feel connected to the characters, even those that perhaps we had different struggles than. It reminds us of  allbeit obvious reality that at the end of the day, all of us have one thing in common no matter what our circumstance is: We are human.  We all have limits to what we can take on without cracking. It is totally normal yet people feel shame when they are in a situation where they just do not feel like they can get through it independently. It is fascinating to follow the lives of 3 siblings who grew up with the same family, the same environment, the same opportunities yet they all evolved into 3 very different adults. It reminds us that we all have our own identities, our own complexities, our own struggles and our own triumphs.

Time to Get Schooled On Common CrossFit Cheats

I recently came across a quote: “Cheating on your girlfriend is like cheating on your workout. Neither is acceptable” (CrossFit London ON).  Cheating happens more than we may like to admit, and it undermines and defies what CrossFit is about. Having said that, there are those who cheat deliberately, whether it’s miscounting reps or shorting movements. And there are those who cheat unintentionally. It might be due to not knowing what the movement standards are. It might be because someone is limited by injury or mobility (in which case, it is more of a scale than a cheat). It also can be because an athlete goes heavier than their abilities or needs to scale down to their level (which there should be no shame to do. It is better to scale and look solid than go too hard and look like a tool).

Whatever the reason is that someone cheats movements, this is the perfect time to get a little schooled on movement standards as the CrossFit Open is right around the corner. Let’s all understand what an honest rep is on a few different movements so we can all follow suit and help those around us who may need some extra guidance or assistance.

*Note: Cheating reps in many cases also indicates bad form which can lead to injury. I implore everyone to keep that in mind as above anything else, this is the most dangerous aspect to doing movements incorrectly or illegally.

**Note: This blog also by no means is intended to be an all encompassing technical reference nor am I claiming to be an expert in this domain. Any of the movements in the list below could be its own post, which in fact there are plenty out there if you google. I am including some references I found if you want to click to get much more information and perspective (and supporting expertise).

  1. Squatting to full depth. This means below parallel, ass to grass as we often say. This applies to ALL SQUATS: front squats, back squats and overhead squats. Also, full cleans and full snatches as they end with (front) squats. Thrusters have front squats too as do wall balls (more on this movement in #2). Do not forget the basic air squat (which are frequently shorted too). Squats may be done with just body weight, barbells, dummbells, kettlebells, med balls, etc. The point being, get full depth on any squat to have an honest rep. squat.jpg

    If you are not sure if you are squatting to full depth, firstly, do not assume you are. That just fosters bad habits. Secondly, ask someone, preferably a coach, so that they can help assist you in getting the right form to ensure you get full depth. Also, if a coach does tell you that you are not getting full depth, lose the ego and fix it, even if that means that you have to go lighter in weight.

    I found these 2 posts to have candid commentary as well as tips on how to squat correctly (and honestly).

http://crossfitoneworld.typepad.com/crossfit_one_world/2012/05/when-a-squat-is-not-a-squat.html

http://www.tabatatimes.com/why-deep-squats-are-good-for-you/3/

  1. Wall Balls (my favorite!) Firstly, I am kidding. I hate wall balls. Secondly, as they are not a short person movement, I have in my day cheated them in every way possible at some point along my journey of trying to hate them less (therefore, I can claim to be an expert in how not to do them). I fully understand how difficult they are but that does not mean it is ok to cheat them.

    Alright, so with that out of the way, remember as mentioned in #1 above, wall balls are 50% squats. SO GET LOW! A rep does not count if you do not complete a full squat. Similarly, when you throw the ball up, it must hit whatever the target required is. So if that means it has to be 10 feet, make sure you get it to 10 feet. Also, the ball has to make contact with the wall or target. If it’s all air, it’s all wrong. No rep.wall ball.jpg

 

  1. Push-Ups: the all American movement. They are difficult movements that require a lot of strength, and that is why they get so much respect. They are one of the most commonly cheated movements though, and I just find that to be rather unpatriotic.  There are too many ways to cheat a push-up so please read here for a post I wrote two years ago that gives many more details as to how to ensure you do an honest push-up.

 

  1. Burpees. We love to hate them. ­You know without a doubt they will be in The Open. One of the most common ways I have seen them cheated is by not either clapping overhead or touching a target (and yes, even burpees have variations. Often, you have to touch a 6 inch overhead target with both hands). There is a tendency when trying to quickly and ferociously crank them out to not get full height on them, so to speak. Same deal on the descend. Burpees can be cheated by hips and chest not making contact with the ground.

    On http://girlsgonerx.com/standards/, the standards are well outlined:

    Burpees Over Barbell
    The athlete must be parallel to the barbell at the bottom position, with the athlete’s chest and hips touching the ground. The athlete must come to her feet and must jump over the barbell with two feet to the other side where the athlete will start the next rep. You must jump over the barbell from both feet and land on both feet. One-footed jumping or stepping over is not permitted. Do not need to fully extend hips during jump.

    Burpees
    The athlete’s chest must make contact with the ground before the athlete can jump back up to the starting position. Athlete must jump and touch hands over head at top of burpee, reaching full extension of hips. Feet need to visibly leave the ground at the time of full hip extension during the jump.

    Bar-facing burpee
    Each burpee must be performed perpendicular to and facing the barbell. Your head cannot be over the barbell. The chest and thighs touch the ground at the bottom.
    You must jump over the barbell from both feet and land on both feet. One-footed jumping or stepping over is not permitted. The next rep will then begin on the opposite side facing the barbell.

  1. Gymnasty stuff on the bars. I am lumping a few movements together in this last point as they all have a common cheating trend: not making full contact or clearing the bar as prescribed.

    When it comes to pull-ups, often athletes can use whatever grip they fancy as long as their chin goes over the bar and that they fully extend their arms in between reps.  Chest to bar pull-ups require your chest to actually make contact with the bar. No contact, no rep.pull up.jpg

    Toes-to-bar. Your toes have to make contact with the bar at the same time. This is what I see as the most common way of cheating. If you don’t know for sure if your toes touch, most likely they didn’t. If you can’t get your toes to the bar, well then they are more like knees to chest. Girls Gone Rx explains the standards well:

    The athlete must go from a full hang to having the toes touch the pull-up bar. Both feet must touch the bar together at some point. The arms and hips must be fully extended at the bottom and the feet must be brought back to behind the bar, not out front.

I am calling all these out so everyone can be aware of encouraging and promoting  good honest reps. Often we do not even realize we aren’t doing honest reps so let’s just put it all out there. Let’s all agree to withhold the standard in which this crazy thing called CrossFit has fostered.  Let’s all hold each other accountable and help one another to learn how to do full honest reps. (And yes, I am deliberately repeating the word honest not because I have run out of synonyms but rather as I want to instill that CrossFit is about being honest as much as it is about being strong and fast). When we do honest reps, we are better CrossFitters. Let us all strive to not cheat or short movements. We will all be better for it.

 

Injury is an Opportunity for Improvement

Special thanks to Tabata Times (www.tabatatimes.com) for posting another article I wrote:

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a physical therapist or anything along those lines. I write this from my own experiences.

I have had my fair share of injuries.  Aside from the one that broke a bone, I have not let them stop me from still being active. With my most recent injuries of bursitis and tendinitis in my shoulder, I have taken on a very different mindset that I want to share. Injury is an opportunity for improvement.  This is not me sugar coating how much injuries can suck. Let me explain.

We assume injuries typically sideline people. Depending on what the injury is (and what restrictions your doctor has put you on), it does not mean that you cannot remain active while recovering.  It is very common when injured to immediately start rattling off all the things you can’t do. For me when I got my diagnosis, it was no more practicing to get my first butterfly pull up. No more muscle-up attempts. No more push-ups. No more push presses. I went through a few moments of being irritated (and that’s putting it mildly) that I had to break up with some of my favorites.

Like many injuries, mine are caused by over-use and bad mechanics. (A side note to anyone thinking CrossFit breaks you: CrossFit does not break you. Bad habits and over training break you).  There was no point blaming it on bad luck as that had nothing to do with it. It was my own doing and not listening to my body. I had been having symptoms in my shoulder and arm for months and months that progressively got worse as I didn’t let up on things that aggravated it.

Now that I am in Physical Therapy, I am learning how our bodies find ways to do movements (albeit incorrectly or not safely) to make up for something not correctly working.  I am sure my shoulder has not been working the way it should for years.  I need to now retrain my shoulder to be healthy. I have to consciously focus on in engaging my lats and scapula so that I can properly perform the movements I had to temporarily kiss good-bye.  Doing rehab for my shoulder is not easy physically but more poignantly it is mentally a tough pill to swallow that I can’t perform them at the capacity I used to. As I mentioned though, I was doing them incorrectly so getting injured was bound to happen. Now as I learn the right way to do things, I take solace in knowing it is an opportunity to improve. Sure, I will probably see major dips in what were my PR’s initially, but over time as I reintroduce movements into  my workouts, I will actually do them better and more efficiently.  I will reach higher potential with a good shoulder than I ever could have with a bad one.  While it’s now been 6 months of limited shoulder work, I am optimistic I will fix this for good.

That’s not all. There is another perspective to consider when thinking about my new mantra of being injured is actually an opportunity to improve. As mentioned earlier, when injured, there is a tendency to think of all the things you can’t do. Sure, this is helpful in terms of steering clear from them. Don’t stop there though. If you are going to list off the no’s, come up with the things you can still do. Give yourself new goals and find something else to improve in or get stronger. There are tons of ways to be creative in CrossFit where you will still get a maximal workout without compromising an injury. Can’t do shoulder work? Fine then, focus on squats. Fix your form and make certain every squat you do is absolutely gorgeous. Work towards a new back squat or front squat PR. Give your brain (and your body) a break from having an injured pity party and focus on the positives.

When you get stronger at one thing in CrossFit, it inevitably leads to being stronger in others.  There is no reason to assume or fall victim to all injuries by letting them slow you down.