This is the primary thought on my mind today and one that gives me a great deal of peace, especially going into the CrossFit Open. This time of year is typically one of stress and high emotion for me. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well in the Open… which often makes me cranky and “high maintenance” according to some. I can’t deny this is probably true, but I’m hoping to be a bit less high strung this time around!
Last week was tough. A particular workout made me especially upset because I didn’t do as well as I thought or hoped I would and then, almost out of nowhere I was hit by this overwhelming awful feeling. In my mind, I was supposed to be pregnant by now. I wasn’t supposed to be training hard for the Open. I wasn’t planning to try to make it to Regionals. No. I was just going to do the workouts at a nice easy pace with my cute little prego belly and cheer for my friends. Well, I’m not pregnant and my belly is just… well, the same. And it’s hard because reality looks different than my expectations… as is often the case.
And here I am. The thing is, I still want to do well in the Open. I still want to make Regionals. I never stopped wanting this. I am competitive and I love being able to compete in CrossFit, but I am also afraid. I’m afraid of not doing as well as I want or as well as the other girls I train with. I’m afraid that I’m going to really suck on a workout. I’m afraid of not meeting the expectations of others. To be completely honest, I was hoping for a reason… an excuse… to take a step back this year, because of my fear. And though I feel more ready than I ever have to “start a family”, it’s not my time yet. All I can do is be in the present and the present is the 2014 Open.
Yes, I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
I have trained hard and well this year. Though my gains are smaller and slower coming these days, I feel calmer and have a better understanding of myself… of my body and what I am capable of. I got my first wave of butterflies this morning thinking about what the Open workouts might be this year, but along with them came confidence and excitement… not just for me but for my gym and my training partners. We have all worked hard and have come a long way in the last year. I also realized that I don’t need an excuse in order to not feel pressure or fear. All I need is to let these things go and do what I love doing (which is competitive exercising, I know…).
I am exactly where I am supposed to be and I am planning to seize this moment.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”
-Oliver Wendell Holmes
So it turns out that the things we really want most in life usually take a lot of hard work. This is shocking, I know. Honestly, I think many of us (me included) still live with the delusion that things like relationships, successful careers, skills, and strong, able (or perhaps good looking) bodies will just happen for us… that if we wish for something enough, we will get it.
I got to thinking about this the other day and I will use a rather basic example that I’ll most likely apply to CrossFit and to life, per usual.
I recently decided to learn how to play my guitar. I’ve had my sweet Ibanez since high school when I had a crush on a boy who played guitar. (Yes, it’s true.) I’ve picked it up dozens of times over the years, playing the few chords that I knew, but I’d always get frustrated and quit fairly quickly. I knew if I really wanted to learn to play this time, I would actually need to stick with it for more than a couple weeks. I would need to practice. I would need lessons and accountability. Perhaps most importantly, I would need to go into it with the expectation that its going to be hard and frustrating work, and that I won’t be good overnight… or more realistically, ever… but that I still wanted it regardless.
Then I started to think about CrossFit (here we go!) and how I was when I started. I have written about my beginnings before, but for those of you just joining my sporadic blog, I was not good at it. Despite my fairly new personal training career, I knew next to nothing about lifting, didn’t have the strength to do a pull-up and was afraid to jump on a 20 inch box or kick up to a handstand. For a long time, CrossFit was very frustrating, scary and hard, but I wanted it and I was willing to put in the hard work to get better at it. Five years later, it is still frustrating, scary and hard at times, but I can clearly see the ways in which I have improved and the ways I have changed because I have stuck with it. I couldn’t have even imagined when I started that I might actually be competitive… do a muscle-up, Snatch over 100 pounds, or go to Regionals as an individual. If I could experience so much growth though commitment to CrossFit, surely I could get better at guitar (or most things really) by putting the time in.
I also thought about my 30 years of life (see, I told ya I’d do it!). I am learning very slowly that the life I want to live takes a lot more hard work than I imagined it would. While quitting guitar each time I didn’t get what I wanted out of it is no big deal, it’s a whole other thing to quit on school or a job, on being healthy, on God (or who/whatever you believe in), on an important relationship or a marriage when things get hard or maybe just aren’t as easy and exciting as we thought they would be. I say this because I have quit or been tempted to quit on more significant things in life than guitar and honestly, I don’t love this about myself. Please don’t hear me wrong… there are certainly times when we do need to leave something or someone behind, but giving up on what we want just because we’re uncomfortable is not a great reason. It may seem easier at the time, but (at least in my experience) solves very little… “wherever you go, there you are” right?
I’m sure it’s no secret, but I think some of the best things in life come when we see them through not just the easy, exciting times, but when we stick with them through the really challenging, messy, scary ones as well… the times when we most want to throw in the towel. Though things may not turn out like we expected, we might be surprised that they turn out better, or that we have become a stronger person simply by seeing them through. I have no doubt experienced this in CrossFit, as well as in other areas of life.
Who knows? Maybe I will surprise myself with this whole guitar thing, but for now it’s simply serving as a reminder for me to not give up on what I want and that the things worth having take work (and patience and grace). The songs I play may be unrecognizable now, but I’m hopeful that eventually you’ll be singin’ along with me.
Yeah, I know… we are only 28 days into the New Year, but so far it’s off to a pretty good start. I was thinking today about some of my favorite things in life right now and almost posted them on Facebook, but I’d rather include links and such, which would get too busy for a measly little status update…
These are in no particular order, and it won’t hurt my feelings if you could care less about my “Top 5″. Ok, maybe a little, but just don’t tell me
1. Chicken Tortilla Less Soup. Counting last night’s batch, I have made this recipe 6 times in the last 2 months and it feeds Jeff and me for several meals. You’d think we’d be sick of it, but I (we) love it every time! It’s so easy, especially if you buy a rotisserie chicken, rather than cooking the chicken yourself. I’m also guilty of putting tortilla chips on top… and cheese… and sour cream. It’s even better this way, obviously. Try it! Or invite yourself over to my house and I’ll probably have some ready to heat up!
2. Spike Ball. Pretty much every day at 1pm, my workout team and I play a game… knockout, 4-square, dodgeball… the classics. This in and of itself has made life better. It’s good to just have fun, even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day (wow, that seems sad). Anyway, every so often we try adding a new game to our queue. Spike Ball has been our most recent add-on, and let me tell you, this game is fun! I think it’s best played with 4 or 6 people. We’re all addicted, and end up playing for much longer than we should. I’m really looking forward to going to the beach with it.
3. Barbell Warrior. My friend Kristina started blogging this year, and her blogs are my favorite to read at the moment. She is honest, genuine, smart and funny. I look forward to reading them each time she posts. Even though she writes mostly about CrossFit, there is a little something for everyone.
4. Battlestar Galactica (as in the TV show). I didn’t put this first, even though it probably consumes more of my time than the other things, but I didn’t want you to disregard the rest of my list by reading this one first! Seriously guys, this show is good. Jeff asked me if I wanted to watch it with him years ago, and then maybe a couple more times and I always brushed it off as a lame sci-fi show with an annoying female character (Starbuck). I finally gave in about a month ago and we are now well into Season 3 (out of 4). Sometimes I get grumpy when we make other plans at night because I know I wont get to watch BSG. And Starbuck won me over quickly (for the most part… she’s being dumb at the moment). So, if you are out of shows to watch until Game of Thrones starts again, consider this one… and keep in mind this is coming from a major skeptic. I’ll say no more.
5. The Volcano Choir. Maybe it’s old news, but I recently discovered that one of my favorites, Bon Iver, has now evolved into a group called The Volcano Choir. It’s still totally him, just with a little more pizazz. I don’t know yet if I like it as well as some of his old stuff, but it’s definitely nice background (or hammock) music if you enjoyed his sound before. This song is probably my favorite…
So there you have it! Not to mention my first blog post of the new year, and first in probably almost a year. I would love to get back to writing more once I figure out to say the things I want to say. Until then, a reminder… to notice the things in your life that you enjoy… that make you laugh, that make you think, that make you feel peace. I know how easy it can be to become discontent and always waiting or searching for the next best thing. Let’s not forget to enjoy the season we are in and the cool things that come our way, and just be grateful.
As a CrossFit trainer… coach… whatever you want to call me, I see a lot of people working out. Like, a lot! One of the many things I like to watch is people’s facial expressions while doing a workout (please don’t be freaked out!). A face can be very telling of what is going on in the mind. It can show frustration, anger, disinterest, exhaustion, determination, focus, joy… to name a few (yes… even when exercising). I would try to describe to you what each of these expressions looks like, but I think you can probably imagine. As a CrossFit athlete, I know I have felt all of these emotions at one time or another during my workouts… and thank goodness I can’t actually see my own face mid-workout! (Side note: don’t you kind of love how there are no mirrors in our gym?)
Odds are, if you are in the middle of a workout that is especially challenging for you… like, maybe the weight is really heavy for you or you are doing a movement that you aren’t very good at yet… or perhaps you walked through the gym doors with something else weighing on your mind or heart… your face will show it. And by show it, I mean, it will likely get all tight and squished up, or you’ll grit your teeth a little. Maybe you feel tightness in your chest too and your breaths get shorter and quicker. These are things I’ve experienced anyway.
Something I have learned that is still very helpful for me to remember when I start to feel some of these things is to relax my face. I sometimes have to take a step back from whatever it is that is making me so frustrated and tense, take a couple deep breaths, and tell myself just to relax. It is a little mental reset for me. I have no doubt that our facial expressions can affect our mental state, and I’m sure there are some studies out there that have concluded the same thing. I am only sharing with you because telling myself to relax my face helps me, and perhaps it will for you as well.
On another note, a “quick” recap of the first Open workout. It was an emotional week for me. Though I didn’t necessarily feel stressed, I know I must have been because I was grumpy and easily irritated and I felt like crying at random times. Not normal… I don’t think. However, when it came time to do the workout, I felt calm and ready. I felt sure of who I am, what my goals are, and how I wanted to tackle the workout. I knew the third set of snatches at 100 pounds would be heavy for me, and my goal/hope was to get 10 (making 160 reps total for the workout). When I did the workout at noon on Friday, I got 4 snatches at the weight (so, 154 reps). I had lots of time… somewhere between 4 and 5 minutes. I probably took at least 10 attempts in this time, but only ended up standing up with 4 of them. I still felt good. I also knew I would try again. I had so much time to get more reps… how could I not?!
On Sunday morning, I gave it another go. This time around I was pretty sore. For the last 6 weeks, due to my back and shoulder injuries, most of my workouts have been mostly PT and cardio, but virtually no weightlifting, and boy, could I feel it! All that to say, I was so thrilled that my body started to feel better just in time! So the second time around, I used a different strategy. I broke my early sets of snatches up into smaller sets… giving myself less time at the end to get reps at 100 pounds, but hopefully feeling less exhausted. I got 1 more rep… 155! Still not 160, but one rep is worth it, and I will take it. I was so relieved at the end that I hugged/collapsed on my judge and started to cry… thankfully it was just Bobbie
Tonight, the second workout will be released, and I’m thankful to feel much less anxiety over this one. At the end of the day, it’s just a workout… and I love working out.
A year has gone by. A whole year. They say time goes by faster the older you get. Turns out this is true. It’s strange though because I remember this time last year like it was yesterday. The beginning of the CrossFit Open. No matter how hard I try to prepare myself, something about competition seems to bring up the same old feelings and fears for me. It’s not stuff I can measure or explain, but it’s there, lurking beneath the surface… all of the pressure that I put on myself to look and be and perform a certain way.
I was never very athletic growing up and I don’t think anyone, including myself, expected me to do well at anything involving physical fitness. I’m not sensitive about this… it’s true. I just kind of lingered in this weird in-between place, and as far as I know I was just fine there. I remember sometimes wishing I was better at things but didn’t believe I was capable of actually achieving them, so I didn’t try… not really. CrossFit has been life changing for me in this area. It took me a while (longer than most I think) to realize that I could do things like pull ups, handstand push ups, and heavy snatches… that I could push myself to a breaking point and then keep going… and once I got a taste, I wanted more.
CrossFit has always been fun for me, despite the physical discomfort and usually draining workouts. It has always been freeing, despite the negative voices that sometimes creep in and try to trap me in a box. And it has always been empowering, despite the many missed lifts and “off days” that I’ve had over the last four years. I have cried and laughed, lost and gained, struggled and grown. I am the same but different… hopefully better… definitely stronger than I ever thought I was capable of (in all areas). I’m grateful for this and I try to remember it, even when it’s hard.
So, the Open. The first workout will be released in less than an hour. These next five weeks are a test of sorts… grading me on how well I trained over the past 10 months since Regionals. On one hand, I feel completely unprepared… like I need just a little more time to get my body and my head right. Yet, on the other, I know I am as ready as I can be. All the work that can be done up to this point is done, and now it’s go time.
If I may be completely honest, the thoughts that often run through my head are that other people (you) will think less of me if I don’t do as well as I should (whatever that means). But somehow just writing this makes me realize how silly I am for letting it worry me, because I know deep down that most people don’t care one way or the other… that no one is as hard on me as I am on myself. I am also fairly confident that what you or anyone else thinks of me won’t change a thing. I don’t compete for anyone but myself, and I didn’t train this year to make anyone else happy. I did it for me. I did it because I like it and because I like my community. I showed up even on the hardest days because it matters to me and because it makes me feel more alive. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone but myself, and in this moment I actually believe it.
So here’s my plan: Breathe. Work hard. Don’t quit. Have fun. Have grace. Repeat.
Yep, I’m ready.
Yesterday was one of those days… the kind where it felt so hard to start my workout… not because I didn’t want to do the work, but because I felt I might break down at any moment. My mind was getting the best of me. Again. I am learning though, and reached out at just the right time to a trusted friend… or two, for a word of encouragement. Anything to remind me to keep going. I took a few deep breaths, put on my shoes, pulled my hair back and got moving.
I am doing what I can to keep working out with the group. It’s fun for me and makes me feel like I am a part of something greater. However, with the back and shoulder still on the mend, I am pretty limited. Yesterday’s “Bear Complex” was definitely a no go for me, so I did something I knew would kick my ass and not aggravate my injuries. I started with a long warm up and all of my PT, then pep talked myself into doing 5 rounds for time of 15 calories on the Airdyne and 15 burpees. I’ve done this before and tried to find my previous time in my old workout journals, but I couldn’t, and I decided I didn’t really want or need to know. At the end of it, I felt proud, and that was all that mattered. Based on how I was feeling going into the whole thing, I really pulled it together. I did what I needed to do and I pushed myself hard. At 8:11 on the clock, I had finished my 5th round on the Airdyne and I dug deep to get the last 15 burpees done before 9 minutes. I finished in 8:59… with a smile on my face. I then did a little circuit of movements… not for time, and capped it all off with a good solid cool down, ice bath, and a chicken breast. Small victories.
Following my workout yesterday, I was reminded of something I believe to be true, but had kind of forgotten about. Here it goes… If we want to become better, we have to be willing to be uncomfortable. If you are content with where you are in something (be it your workouts, your body, your work, your relationships, etc), fine. Don’t change a thing. However, if you are not content (and I think all of us have areas where we aren’t), you may have to make some changes. You may have to do some things in the short term that you don’t feel like doing so that you can get where you want to get. It’s uncomfortable and it’s work. Hard work. And, unfortunately, no one else can do it for you.
Here is my example. I want to be competitive in CrossFit. For me, this means I cannot just come in to the gym and go through the motions. Sometimes this is acceptable, as life happens and there are days when all I can do is show up. However, most days I have to leave my shit at the door and do my workouts with intention. I have to be mindful of how my body is moving. I have to make some sacrifices outside of the gym walls… sleep enough, eat well, and rest. I have to foam roll, stretch, ice, do PT… all of the boring stuff that will keep me recovered and healthy. I have to do push-ups, handstand walking, and 30″/30″s… the things I don’t like or am not so good at. In my workouts, I have to push myself to go a little faster and give a little more when my body is screaming at me to stop, and my mind is more like a loud whisper telling me that I’m going to fail, that I should slow down, that it’s not worth it (oh, how I hate those whispers). All of this takes choosing to do it. It takes practice. It takes work. It takes falling down many many times only to get back up again.
The things worth having do not come easily, and I hate to break it to you (and me), but it’s going to be uncomfortable. So, remind yourself often of who you are, not who you aren’t. Make small goals. Find support from people you trust. Ask for help and be willing to learn. Practice your weaknesses. Take risks. Have fun. Be hard on yourself, but also have grace. And at the end of the day, if you gave it (whatever “it” is) your best effort (and again, only you can be the judge of this), then there is nothing more that anyone could ask of you.
As I have become accustomed to telling myself… one day at a time.
Yes, one day at a time.
I am learning in many ways this year that pain is an excellent motivator… physically, emotionally… and in all ways really. I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase, “If it’s not broke. Don’t fix it.” I think I would normally hear this and think, “Yeah. Of course. I agree.” However, I am changing my mind! I’ve decided that if you wait until it’s broke (it being anything from your car, to your body, to a relationship), it can really be challenging, or sometimes too late to fix unfortunately. So, here I am, realizing that “If it’s not broke, you sure as shit better maintain it. And, whatever you do, don’t ignore it!”
I’m going to talk about the physical here for a bit. A little over two weeks ago my right shoulder started bothering me. It hurt to rotate it, to hang from the pull-up bar, to extend it overhead… pretty much all the things I need it for, especially in CrossFit. I had some ART (active release therapy) done and was given some shoulder rehab exercises to do with a set of 2 pounders… the same exercises I’ve done hundreds of times before. This isn’t the first time my shoulder has bothered me. I’m a little embarrassed to say I should have been doing this PT all along, even when my shoulders felt fine, because I knew the exercises were good for them… maintaining them and making all the little muscles stronger. But, I got lazy. So now I’m back at it… motivated by pain… and hopefully this time will learn my lesson and stick to what I know is good for me.
Wait, there’s more! Last week, I hurt my back deadlifting. Let me tell you, 29 is a bitch! My body is getting all creaky and achy. It makes strange popping noises… and it’s way less forgiving when I do dumb stuff. The back thing was a good example of “dumb stuff” and was my fault entirely. I went too heavy too fast, and after 3 reps at my 80%, I knew something was off. I’ve never hurt my back before that I can remember. It’s a whole other can of worms, and as much as I love to workout, I know that the smartest thing for me to do is rest and ice it. Did I mention how hard this is for me to do? On a positive note, it’s feeling a little better each day, but still nowhere near weightlifting ready. With 13 days until the start of the Open, this is making me nervous and antsy and especially hard on myself.
I am one of those suckers who believes that things happen for a reason and that in the end it all seems to work out. I’m not saying that I think bad/hard things are intended to happen or that God wants us to suffer, but that through them we can learn and grow and and become stronger people… if we choose to. All day Monday I struggled with trying to keep myself out of the fearful, shameful, negative place. The place where I don’t perform well in the Open, don’t make it to Regionals, am not as strong as her, or as fast as her, and all around just plain suck at life. I hate being in this place… it’s so not me or how I want to be. However, at the end of the day, I’m only human…a hormonal female one, I might add. All this to say, I don’t have it all together all the time, but I’m learning some good lessons.
Anyway, back to pain being an excellent motivator. It’s true. If I bend over the wrong way then I feel strain in my back, so I’m motivated to stick my ass way out every time I pick something up off the floor. Pain has motivated me to slow down, to be conscious and intentional, do the things that I know are good for my active body like stretch and ice and take time off. I am reminded to be grateful and careful with what I have, even when it’s kind of a challenge right now and things feel a little broken. I am reminded to have grace with myself for feeling the way I feel… sometimes discouraged, overwhelmed and cranky, but mostly hopeful. The hardest part will be to stay motivated when I start feeling good or am seemingly pain and problem free, because that’s when stuff will really sneak up on me, catch me off guard, and sometimes knock me clear off my feet.
When painful things happen, be it physical or something else in life, we have a choice to make. We can choose to let it get the best of us or we can choose to pick ourselves up, keep going and do what we need to do. It can seem so much easier to play the victim, to give up, to take the easy way out, but I’m thinking and hoping that if we choose instead to press on through the painful stuff and to keep working our asses off, then things will turn out ok. They may not turn out how we expected or originally hoped, but ok… and maybe even better. All I know is, at the end of the day, I want to be someone who chooses to press on.
I have a little time this morning, so I thought I would write. I hope you haven’t given up on me by now!
It’s always in December that I find myself reflecting back on the past year. Of course Facebook has some fancy little app where you can view your “20 biggest moments of 2012″. By the looks of it, I’m assuming this is based on the number of photos posted or comments on some random status. As I glance over my 20 things again, I can’t say that they are all that accurate. There might be two of the 20 that I would include in my own list. I guess it just goes to show that what we put out there on the interwebs for all to see does not necessarily represent what is actually going on in our lives… or at least what is significant. Maybe this is a good thing… because who really wants to see the unflattering, messy stuff anyway? On the other hand, if you are anything like me, it leaves us feeling like everyone else has their lives together and we must be the only one who doesn’t… the only one who makes mistakes, who has bad hair days, who says the wrong things, or who could possibly feel this way.
The truth is 2012 was a hard year for me… one of the hardest that I can remember. Things are not always how they seem to be on the outside… and I am no exception. When I look back, I honestly don’t know where the time went and sometimes I feel like I was a stranger in my body… disconnected and going through the motions. I am more than aware of how imperfect and how capable of sin I am. I am also incredibly humbled by the grace of God and of those who know me better than Facebook.
“A certain darkness is needed to see the stars.”
I love this quote and I believe it’s true that dark times have a way of allowing us to see light. They have a way of making us desperate for the things that matter, and of showing us the people in our lives who are truly there. It is only by falling that we can learn to get up. So, even as I think about how hard 2012 has been, I can’t help but be grateful. I can’t help but see the ways that God has been there, even when I have not reached out or felt his presence, or the ways in which he is redeeming things in my life.
For me and many others I’m sure, it is very common to make resolutions this time of year. While I am not at all against making goals, I know from experience that we often set ourselves up for failure… we get discouraged when things don’t go exactly as we hoped or planned, and instead of trying again, we give up. I read a blog post this morning that really resonated with me and gave me peace on this topic and going into the new year. The author gave only one bit of advice, “Begin, again.”
Because she says it better than I could, I’m just going to quote her and I hope you’ll stay with me, as I know this is getting long…
“We are not locked into our maniacal craziness. We are not bound to our small ways. We are actually, through the grace of God, free. So we can stop. Our minds. Our mouths. Our hand-wringing. And we can decide to begin again . . .
In our marriages In our parenting In our sobriety In our creating In our forgiveness In our attitude In our thankfulness In our meditation In our anger management In our health pursuits In our time outdoors In our desire to read more In our hopes to cook a real meal every now and again.
If today, if this hour, if this year has not been what you had hoped, you can begin again. And, in fact, if today, if this hour, if this year was perfect. You still—must—begin again. We must wake up and choose to live in each minute, each day, each year. Moment by moment. Beginning again.
We must choose to love, to create, to breathe, to return, to quiet down, to believe. Over and over again. So, if I can gently suggest, perhaps don’t bite off the entire year in one overly-ambitious, shame-inducing list. Perhaps, commit to one thing: Beginning again.” -Leeana Tankersley
It is so good, I’m stealing it for myself! Beginning again. This is what I am doing in 2013… perhaps every day, and being ok with it. Starting over isn’t for sissies, and having grace with yourself and others is often times much harder than quitting or giving up on someone. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to take the easy way. So come at me 2013… I’m ready for you!
Hey guys! So, I was thinking this week about intensity, and thought I’d write a few of my thoughts on it.
First, the definition (from the online dictionary): in·ten·si·ty (n-tns-t)
n. pl. in·ten·si·ties
1. Exceptionally great concentration, power, or force.
We throw around the word “intense” in CrossFit a lot. In fact, I’d say most people’s perception when I talk with them for the first time about CrossFit is that it is super intense and they are going to puke, faint, and/or die. Apparently these are common markers of intensity! Sounds fun… sign me up! CrossFit does feel intense for most people at the beginning, because it is usually very different from what they are used to (if they are used to anything at all). Even those who consider themselves in pretty decent shape often end up collapsing on the floor after their first go at “Fight Gone Bad”. There is no doubt the workouts are challenging.
As with most things in life, the newness does start of wear off at some point. Even with the constant variance of CrossFit, we can begin to get comfortable… fall into a routine or get stuck in patterns or habits that are keeping us from reaching our full potential. We mindlessly squat because we’ve done thousands of them by now. Or maybe we don’t quite get our chin over the bar on our pull-ups, or chest to the ground on our push-ups because no one is really watching and it’s all about finishing first, right? We may find ourselves at the end of a workout saying “Is that it?… That wasn’t very hard.” Not always, but in some instances, this may be due to a lack of intensity.
I don’t believe intensity is dependent upon the task you are doing necessarily, but on your mindset in that task. There is a big difference between going through the motions of a workout and working out with intention and focus.
The definition above says first, before power or force, “exceptionally great concentration”. I like this. Concentration takes place in the mind, and mind and body are connected. To work with intensity, you have to be mentally present. No one can do this part for you. You have to choose it and practice it… sometimes every day, over and over. For me, this can be as simple as reminding myself before a workout, “Ok Linds, you are going to workout now… don’t just go through the motions. Be aware of what your body is doing and how you are feeling.” Even on days where I’m sore or unmotivated, I start with my warm-up and I make sure that I’m not getting sloppy with my form. Maybe today will be a light day or maybe I feel good and I’m going to really go for it. Either way, I try to stay aware. At the end, I may ask myself, “Did I give my best effort? Could I do something different or better next time?”
I want to be clear that I wouldn’t expect someone to be 100% focused or go “all out” all the time. I definitely know that there are just some days where it takes everything in you to get your ass in the gym and just move. Totally fine. On those days, I would say to you, do what you can do and for goodness sakes have grace with yourself, because you are not likely to be at the top of your game. However, on the days that you are feeling good, push into that, challenge yourself to get full range of motion, go a little faster, lift a little heavier, do one more rep before dropping the bar. See how far you go into that uncomfortable space, and then go a little further. This is what will make you strong, confident, better… badass, even
“Because I presume awareness and competence I often fail to point out that, going through the motions, without presence, intensity or commitment does not produce positive psychological effects. To be transformed by effort, one must dig deep, surpass one’s expectations or self-imposed limitations, risk failure, blow up, and as cycling guru Keith Bontrager aptly described, ‘get the full dose.’” -Mark Twight, Gym Jones
I just started asking myself this question again recently. It had been a while, and honestly, it’s still a hard one for me to answer. I think this is because sometimes I just don’t know. Yet other times, I think it is because I want so many things and I’m not sure how to make them all work together… or pick which ones will take priority. However, I am thankful to be in a place where I am at least asking myself again and trying to really figure it out. I know from experience, that it can be all too easy to start going down a path, get in a rhythm, and forget to look up every once in a while to make sure you haven’t veered off course or missed your turn or maybe just hopped onto someone else’s path. You following?
I will try to be more specific. I’m going to talk about my CrossFit training a bit, because you all know that it has been a big part of my life these past few years… and this is a blog on a CrossFit website after all, so hopefully I have some like-minded people out there who “get it”.
A couple of years ago, I watched a friend compete and I said “I want to do that.” I felt it and I just knew I wanted to do it. So, I started training with a purpose… to compete. And compete I have done. I’m sure I’ve bored you all enough with how far I’ve come, so I won’t go there again, but I do have several competitions under my belt now, and this year even made it to Regionals as an individual. This was a goal of mine and a huge accomplishment for me. I love this stuff. I love being able to work toward something and it is fun for me. I’m not just saying this… I mean, I really like it.
Anyway, time goes by and things change, as they tend to do. I feel myself getting to a point where my priorities are shifting… like I am coming into a new phase of life. When I started training to compete, I had big goals of winning competitions and making it to the CrossFit Games. While these are perfectly acceptable goals, I’m not sure they are mine any longer. CrossFit and competing are a part of me, but not all of me. Before, making changes to my fitness goals and routine scared me, so I ignored and resisted them… but now, I just feel grateful for the growth and good things that come from change, even if it is a little (or a lot) uncomfortable at times. I am learning to let go of some things, so as to let others in.
Don’t hear me wrong… I am still planning to train and intend to continue competing (and hopefully kicking ass), because I still love to do it. I would be stoked to make it to Regionals again this year, but I am just not in a place where I want to commit most of my energy to doing whatever it takes to get there. And I’m perfectly fine with this, because there are other things that are more important to me.
That being said, my goal is to make the most of the time that I do have (in all areas)… in my training, to be focused, consistent, and to work with intensity; in my work, to keep my eyes open, to learn from those around me and to coach to the best of my ability and with passion; in my relationships, to be present… to listen, to be respectful, and to treat others as I would want to be treated; and with myself, to have grace, to rest, to breathe, and to take one day at a time.
I realize these things are much easier said than done, and I have days when I just don’t care at all… when I want to be selfish and lazy, or give up because it’s hard work. Who doesn’t?
So what do I want?… really want?
It is not to be perfect, because I’m not, or to have everything together, because I don’t. What I want is to really live my life… to take advantage of opportunities to learn, to face challenges with patience and trust in God, to enjoy the things and people that I have been blessed with, to ask the hard questions, to take responsibility for my actions and my place in this little corner of the universe without shame, to trust my instincts and be honest with others and with myself.
I want to see life, not as something that I have to accomplish or conquer, but as a journey of ups and downs, hellos and goodbyes, tears and laughter, and lessons learned, to see the good and not so good as all part of the bigger picture. I want to participate in it, not simply sit and watch it pass me by, or be in a constant state of striving to get someplace else and in turn miss what is right in front of me.
I’ll try to keep you all posted on how it’s going.
And lastly, in the words of Marcus Mumford, who I will hear live at the Hollywood Bowl in less than 48 hours (!!!)…
“Keep the earth below my feet
For all my sweat, my blood runs weak
Let me learn from where I have been
Keep my eyes to serve and hands to learn.”