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.

Working My Way Back

I never thought I would hope a doctor tells me I need surgery until I had a tear in my meniscus. My MRI came back inconclusive.  After trying a PRP shot, physical therapy and cutting out a lot of movements, I was pretty much just over being restricted and in pain all the time. I was seriously relieved when my doctor and I decided I should have arthroscopic surgery. A week later, he went in there, got rid of the tear (yup there was a tear despite that it wasn’t visible in the MRI) and cleaned up some other cartilage damage under my femur bone. After a few days on my couch, I was feeling mentally ready to get the healing show on the road.

It’s now been two months since surgery and my knee is progressively improving. My mindset with this injury compared to others is different. I used to be all gung ho on CrossFit and my goal with any injury was to get that shit fixed ASAP so I could get back to CrossFit 5 times a week like a nut. This time around, I took a step back and started really thinking about how do I have a healthier balance of CrossFit with other areas of fitness? I have hit a lot of PR’s and milestones and am damn proud of them. But I am also ok that I am not at that level right now. I am not dissing CrossFit by any means. I am just reevaluating my former obsession with it. There are aspects of it that I do thrive off of (like the varied workouts, being pushed hard, gymnastics stuff and lifting).  The main distinction I have this time around is that I absolutely never want to get injured again. I have said that before  without actually being smart about making that realistic. Like with tendinitis in my shoulder,  while I essentially rehabbed that body part, I fucked up my knee in the process. I am over the days of swapping injuries.

So it is a shift in my mindset. I have accepted that 5 days of CrossFit right now would not be the smartest move for me.  I have too many imbalances as a result of my knee injury that I need to focus on. I favor my right side and have to consciously engage muscles on my left side. For example when I do a back squat, I literally have a conversation in my head of ‘ok, slowly go down, stay in heels, don’t rush coming back up and don’t lean to the right.” Over time I will get these habits down without even having to think about it but my muscle memory is not there… yet.

I do seriously love love LOVE lifting. I would be lying if I said I did not miss lifting heavy. I do get somewhat humbled and bummed when I back squat weight that used to be my warm up weight. I get over that pretty quickly as I am honestly just grateful to be able to have an almost fully functional knee again. I will never take for granted that I can do things again like squatting and jumping. I am on a path to do them at optimal form so I can be consistent and safe.

I can’t benchmark off of my previous PR’s to gauge percentages for lifts. My new benchmark is my knee and how much pain things cause it (it will take many more months for my knee to be fully functional and pain free… and that is ok as it is giving me the opportunity to focus on doing things the right way).

I am fortunate to have the best Physical Therapist and aide (who is now my personal trainer) as they support me in healing and helping me reach my goals. I often question if I should really ever do high impact stuff and I share those thoughts with them expecting them to tell me I should never squat again or run or do anything that I enjoy. That never happens. They tell me I will get there and they will help me in that journey. My physical therapy has now become full on workouts where they program specifically for me. I still have goals as that is what will forever motivate me. I have said it before and I will say it again. I LOVE WORKING OUT! Even when it’s fucking miserable or I feel like I may puke. I am extremely ecstatic that my workouts once again make me sweat my ass off and leave me winded.

Ok so I am sure you are wondering what exactly are my goals? Here they are in an email I sent my PT team:

1. Stay injury free
2. Lose some weight and get leaner/more toned (I want to get back to
where I was before I had tendinitis in my shoulder)
3. I don’t care about things like snatches or overhead squats. All other movements
are fair game for me. I don’t necessarily expect or care (ok maybe a
little) about squatting as heavy as I have before. I do want to work
my way back though to it. Same thing with cleans and deadlifts and
other movements.
4. Improve on gymnastics stuff! One day I’d like a muscle up. And I
want to learn butterfly pull ups.

So basically I want to be a bad ass 😉
But seriously though, obviously not at the expense of being injured again.

There you have it. I am practicing patience right now in my workouts and putting my ego aside as much as I can.  It’s ok if I sacrifice shaving a few minutes off a workout time as that’s less important that compromising form or risking injury. It’s ok if I scale my workouts to what seem to be a beginner level. It’s ok because I honestly get a feeling of euphoria when I can actually do a workout in its entirety without having to swap out movements.

Life is good. I cannot complain. I am fortunate I am back to working out frequently, only now with a different routine. I have 2 days a week of Crossfit, 2 days of personal training (aka physical therapy) and spin class twice a week. I rest when I need to without the guilt I used to have of missing a day. My body isn’t where it was before fitness level wise and while  I know I will get there, I recognize I have to pace myself. Overall, I am on the road to recovery and to safely get back to being the bad ass that I once was.