January 2017


I am climbing the mountain of CrossFit. It has no top limit because there is always, always, always the possibility of more – more weight, more reps, less time. There is room for continual improvement. There is no limit to how far we can go.

And that’s my problem. I’m in the foothills struggling to climb an insurmountable obstacle. This mountain has no peak.

I started down in the valley, below sea level, and worked incredibly hard to get to these foothills. What I do today would have stunned me in times past. I am awesome. Maybe. See? I know I’ve come really far and achieved many things. I also know there is a whole mountain in front of me.

I recently got a one rep max on a clean and jerk and it was a whopping 73#. You can read that any way you like. It was a huge improvement over my first clean and jerk which was a poorly executed one done with a PVC pipe becaise I couldn’t get the 22# bar over my head. And I executed a good form clean and jerk with 73#.

But, the WOD weight for women on a clean and jerk is 95#. That’s not the top weight for women to do a clean and jerk, but what is expected during a WOD with repeated lifts. So perhaps the “whopping” up there has a sarcastic read to it.

Comparison is the thief of joy. But CrossFit, according to CrossFit, is all about comparison. Write your score on the board. My box has a penalty if you don’t tattle on yourself and put your score up there. This is something we would never do to our children at school. I wouldn’t have minded there. I would have had if not THE highest score, at least up there near the top. Here, I’m usually near or at the bottom.

We even have a website where we can record our scores and it posts them to a “Leader Board” where there are two leaders, one male and one female, and the rest are not the leaders. I’m not supposed to say losers here, but …

Inside my head are two competing ideas. I’m awesome for doing this crap. I’m old and feeble and have heart rate issues and I keep on with the work. I’ve come from the depths of the valley into the sunshine of the foothills. I’ve worked hard and consistently. And then there is the other side. There is this mountain in front of me. A mountain I will never climb to the top because I will not work as hard as it takes to get to the top and because I’m old and feeble and have heart rate issues.

There is only one person who has said, after I say something like I just got a one rep max clean and jerk of 73#, “Well, the WOD weight is 95#.” That person is me. No one has ever been anything more than supportive and encouraging. Except me. I’m the only one obsessed with this mountain in my face.

I have no idea how to appreciate myself. I’m terrified someone else is going to see the mountain and say, “That’s not so good, chicklette. You aren’t even up to WOD weights here. Can’t you do better?” The only person saying that is good old me.

There are blogs and videos and they all celebrate the awesome achievements of people who are way more committed to this than I am. I’m guessing the woman who at my age did a 127# thruster works a lot harder at this than I am willing to work. She probably spends a bit more than four hours a week at the gym. She probably doesn’t eat chocolate every day. She probably has a whole different attitude about the mountain and she may have never even visited the valley below, let alone wallowed there for more than a decade.

I love my workouts and how much I can accomplish. I’m thrilled with how far I’ve come. I’m terrified someone is going to point out that I’m giving myself a trophy without having earned it. I can’t even do the WOD weights.

But I didn’t die, which is a plus. I didn’t quit, which is amazing.

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I made no resolutions. Yesterday wasn’t a demarcation line, but rather one more day in a lifetime of days. If I was going to put a mark in the sand, it would probably have been two days earlier when it was my birth date, a true beginning. But I didn’t make any resolutions then, either.

About six months ago I decided – I did not resolve or wish or hope or dream – I decided that CrossFit had to change. I was killing myself with negativity. I was an old fart doing awesome stuff and all I saw was the failure and disappointment. I have no idea who I was failing or disappointing, but it clouded my every moment.

And so I decided to have fun instead. Just like that. I have slipped once or twice in the last half year, but overall, I just go and work hard and have as much fun as I can. It only took me years to learn the very basic lesson of CrossFit, it’s for everyone and we can all succeed.

Today, my light back squats were more than one-and-a-half times my first deadlift weight. They were low weight and high reps and I managed without any problems at all. And it was fun. And it was alarming when I thought about how easy it was and how much I have grown and changed and progressed and then I thought how sad it was that other people I know have just gotten older in the last four years.

I would beseech all my friends to do something. It doesn’t have to be CrossFit although it is awesome and you get to learn incredible things and do stuff you never even imagined you could do. But if it isn’t for you – and it isn’t for everybody and I get that – then please do something else. Do something to push yourself away from the American dream of fast crappy food and immobility while watching the television selling fast crappy food.

I beg you to get out of your comfort zone. Walk. Run. Skip. Jump rope. Dance. Squat. Lunge. Do push-ups or sit-ups or anything at all. Buy some equipment for the house – dumbbells or a kettle bell or some bands or anything. Please. This is your only chance to be here and I would wish you a long and healthy life. Our sedentary American dream is killing us all. Even I sit too much after I’m done with the gym for the day.

Our bodies were meant to move. We are built to be mobile. So be mobile. Get out of the chair or off the sofa. Please try some of the daring things out there. There are You Tube videos showing you how to manage certain moves. You can go online and find yoga videos. You can find CrossFit how to videos. You can simply get up and walk. There is an actual proper technique to running and you can find that online and improve your runs by falling forward into your gait.

Whatever it is you think might be able to manage – manage it. Dare it. Live your life better. You aren’t getting any younger, but you can trick your body into thinking it is. I know because I have done it and I want this gift for you. I can walk easier and with greater stability. I can manage my daily activities without the stresses because my body works like it used to back when I was younger.

I don’t take the stairs two at a time anymore. I can’t run as fast or as far. I can’t be thirty because even my kids are older than that. But I can do so many things I couldn’t manage four years ago. It hasn’t been easy and because of my own mindset, it wasn’t always fun. But after I decided to make it fun – it’s been wonderful. Fun times; good times. I’ve gotten stronger and more confident.

Whatever it is you can manage, please go do it. Not because it is a new year, but because this is your only life and you should get to live it to the fullest. Enjoy the journey. This is done by conquering your fears and overcoming obstacles. Don’t let the biggest obstacle in your one precious life be you.

Carpe diem. You deserve it.

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