It is so tempting to stay in the land of the familiar. We know stuff about this place. We have figured out the way to be and how to get the most out of the here and now. There is comfort here.

But out there … there are unknowns. Scary things. Things we know nothing about. There are lands and people and ideas out there we have never been exposed to. There are so many possibilities for disaster. And how will we cope with that? It is so much safer here.

But out there … lies all the new stuff. We might find out we are very adept at that new thing, but only if we try it. Perhaps it will be just as suckass as we imagined it to be, but maybe not. What if you find out you love coffee ice cream? What if you find out you really can draw? What if you find out your limiting shell of existence in the here and now was made for expansion.

We urge our children to try … whatever it is we want them try – anything from broccoli to tap dance. We believe our children should experience many new things so they can have an idea of all the possibilities out there.

But when was the last time you tried something new? Maybe you will like curry. Maybe you will find out you can keep a journal. Maybe you will meet a stranger who turns into a friend.

It doesn’t have to be big, Earth shattering adventures. Life is really all about the small pleasure. You don’t have to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, you don’t have to take up sky diving, you don’t have to do anything. But how fun would it be to try? Maybe not anything too extreme, but something outside your current rut.

Take a different route to a usual place and see what’s different on that path. Try something new on the menu from your favorite restaurant. Small steps. And when you find you survive these small steps outside your comfort zone, you might choose to step even farther afield.

Your life will expand … if you let it. Choose adventure, even in the small things. Then you might be brave enough to try a larger adventure. Wouldn’t that be cool?

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When I signed up for CrossFit, I expected certain things. I was expecting to be able to open my own jars. I expected to be able to learn how to lift heavy shit and put it back down again. I was expecting to perform constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.

I expected that I would be stiff and sore until my unused muscles got the message we were stepping it up a bit. I expected to improve over time.

I didn’t realize I would be stiff and sore on and off because of my constantly varied workouts. I expected to improve rapidly and constantly because of the high intensity. And while I have greatly improved, it wasn’t rapid. I was more tortoise than hare.

I didn’t expect as many tears as have fallen. I know I’m competitive. I was used to winning in my arenas of choice. Not so much here. Unless … as the Lorax said.

But the greatest gift of CrossFit was completely unexpected and shocking when I noticed it. I’ve become a lion in a world of sheep. I dare. I dare greatly and with intrepid desire to overcome fear and loathing in Las Vegas or anywhere else. I am a CrossFitter, and that means I’ve lived outside my comfort zone for a long time.

And that means my comfort zone continues to grow which means I then step outside that larger circle into new fears and then I conquer them and my comfort zone enlarges yet again. And yet again, I step outside and quest.

I have gained incredible amounts of core strength, so much so that when I walked off a step, I didn’t even realize I didn’t fall over, I just planted and held myself upright, looking stunned about the whole “no step” thing. My son had to point out that my core strength, my stability, my CrossFit saved me from a fall. It was, to me, just a natural not falling over. I failed to think of how many reps it took to get there.

I have increased all my Olympic lift weights over time and I now have muscles. Real muscles. Like a weightlifter might have. I’m not Arnold Schwarzenegger or anything, but even Arnold doesn’t look like his Conan days.

But the part that remains the most amazing and the most incredible and the least talked about is my overall confidence. I’m still scared by many things because the world is scary and full of fright. But … I have faced so many fears inside the box that facing fears outside the box seems a natural response.

I have tried many new things in the last four years. Some of them inconsequential but still things I wouldn’t have tried to do without the confidence I’ve built while struggling to strict push press or get a pull-up.

My overall outlook is now how I walk through the world like a competent, able, mastering person. I can do things, incredible things. I will do more. I work for an hour at the box and then I go home and I have the ability to face fears and step outside my comfort zone, knowing how I’ve already mastered so many things.

This is the unexamined gift of CrossFit. This is the benefit of struggle and defeat and more struggle and victory. I know that defeat isn’t fatal or final. I know that there is a way to step outside my comfort zone and excel. I’ve done it before.

I’ve won CrossFit. Not the Open, not the Masters Garage Games, but CrossFit itself. I’ve mastered the difficult by failing until I succeeded. I remain constant in my attendance even when it is easier to stay home. I overcome the fear by listening to those with advice/knowledge (I’m coachable).

Unless … as the Lorax said. I look beyond the numbers and realize the overall improvements in my life – that’s where all the magic resides.

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I am so conflicted. There is an opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and it is making me so uncomfortable I can hardly stand it. Tempting me. Scaring me. I could embarrass myself. I could strut my stuff, so to speak. I could publicly fail. I could triumph. I am, as I said, so conflicted.

I have been doing CrossFit for almost two years. Well. One year and ten months – ish. I can still do nothing as written. Everything has to be scaled for me because I still suck at this even after all this time. I’m a special case. I need things catered to me. I can’t do what the athletes do. Everything has to be pared down so the old fart can manage somehow to get through it.

CrossFit is scalable. It is built so that everyone can manage the workouts. That’s the idea behind it. Fail your way to success. Get incrementally better until you are the best you can be and it is awesome.

While I can’t do anything as written, I can do everything in some fashion or another and I keep going back to try again. Over and over and I can see vast improvements between two years ago and today. I have weights on my weights for most of the lifting stuff. I do much better on all the body weight moves.

I have muscles and have met my goals from joining. I’ve lost the fifteen pounds and totally reshaped myself into a not-old-lady body. I can open my own jars.

There is a chance to go to a public place and workout in a public venue and show people that CrossFit is for everybody and fun and we can all do this.

I’m sorta the poster child for this.

Except I can’t really do it.

But that’s the point. I can’t. But I do.

I’m unsure if I’m a selling point or a detriment. I don’t know if I want to be the worst at this in a public place. I don’t want to embarrass either myself or my friends. I don’t know if it is a good thing that I fail so miserably or not. It is so scary.

I can’t decide whether or not I should go or if I should stick to my normal plan, workout early in the morning and probably by myself. Safe. Unencumbered by expectations. Knowing it is scaled but it is the best I can do. Knowing it is much more than I could do when I started.

But maybe I should dare.

Expect more of myself. Let others see that this is possible even for the crappy people who can’t do shit and just show up and keep trying. That each baby step is closer to some goal, some future that isn’t full of asking someone else to open your jars. That it is full of small accomplishments and minor victories.

It is simply frightening. I don’t know how brave I can be.

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I work in a small office. Two bosses, two staff (both part time). I’m half of the staff. One boss is out on family leave with a brand new baby daughter. The other boss is out on family leave with an adult son who had to have emergency surgery out of state and was alone there and needs to be brought back home to recover. We, the staff, have been holding down the fort without much in the line of work to do.

My office is the one with all the copy machines and files and a pile of detritus that needs to be recycled but just stacks up and gets larger and larger and larger. The other office is where the tiny fridge and the microwave are. So we wander around this spacious environment during the day.

I was on a trip to the fridge to retrieve my salad for lunch when I saw my coworker with a bowl of something indefinable. I asked what it was. Her husband is from a more rural background than either of us and he was accustomed to eating rutabagas. This was her first rutabaga and she was eating some of the leftovers for her lunch. We discussed food for a while and then I had to look the vegetable up online. I found that what I was picturing in my head was kohlrabi and not rutabagas.

Mandi said they tasted like a cross between potatoes and squash and didn’t quite have the consistency of a potato. The pictures I found showed many different whole rutabagas but also French fries and hash browns and mashed rutabagas were shown. According to Wikipedia, they are a cross between a turnip and cabbage.

I had to stop for pistachios, bananas, and unsweetened almond milk on the way home from work so I picked up a rutabaga (and some parsnips) along with them. I knew Dick had a pork roast in the Crockpot and I figured we could try the rutabaga with it. He also cooked an acorn squash, making a wonderful meal – if we liked the rutabaga.

Herb roasted rutabaga

Herb roasted rutabaga

Now get this – we did. It’s not like the “bird seed” he tolerated for me. We actually liked it. One rutabaga was huge and it has to be peeled using a real sharp knife and then chopped up and boiled, just like potatoes. It could have stood to be cooked a little longer, but it wasn’t bad. There was a huge dish of this stuff if we didn’t like it. But we did!

Rutabaga fries

Rutabaga fries

Tonight, we will have leftover pork roast and I’m taking leftover rutabaga and making hash browns out of it. It tasted like a regular dinner without the starch and glycemic peaking afterward last night. I’m looking forward to the same tonight.

Rutabaga hash browns

Rutabaga hash browns

I would never have tried such a thing without the WLC. I’m not an adventurous eater. I’m picky. I’m probably more than picky. I’m very, very picky. I don’t like many things and I hate taking the time and making the effort and then not liking what I have in front of me. When we go out to eat, I usually get the same old stuff because I don’t want to waste the money on food I can’t or won’t eat.

Today’s blog post at the Whole Life Challenge is about spices. You need to spice up your food so it doesn’t get boring. Almost all the spices listed were for hotness stuff. I have never tried a curry because even the smell makes me retch. I don’t like hot; I don’t like jalapenos and pick them off my nachos; I’m not all about making it so hot that I can’t tell it is boring crap underneath the hot.

I’m not even adventurous with my spices! I know I like sugar and sweetness in all its forms. I’m also partial to salt. Salt is good. I need food to have the correct consistency or I can’t eat it – the whole problem with mashed potatoes that I’ve been spitting out since I was an infant (or so I was told).

I think one of the most amazing things about this journey is that I’ve been hungry enough and outside my comfort zone far enough and for long enough that I am actually trying new foods.

Thirteen months ago I started something new and different. Something I was sure I couldn’t do and would be a failure at, CrossFit. When I started, it was nothing short of pitiful. The warm-ups were kicking my ass and WODs were simply beyond me in every respect. But I kept at it. Each day was a victory not because I did anything – but because I didn’t quit.

And then a miracle happened. Some of the days became a victory because I did something. It wasn’t just about not quitting, it was about actually achieving something.

I stepped outside my comfort zone. I tried something totally different. I had never lifted a weight (other than sacks of groceries) in my life. I’m not anything to really write home about now, except when you look at where I was just 13 months ago. I have incrementally improved and continue to do so.

These forays into the unknown are a challenge. They are scary. They are daunting. They are a really frightening way to see if you are still alive or merely living. At my age, there is a lot of merely living. We old coots are stuck in our routines. We’ve been doing stuff this way for fifty years or more. This is how we’ve always done it, whatever it is. To take that chance and risk failing and embarrassment and shame is so fear-inducing that it is easier to just pick up the remote and change the channel. Instead, I’ve changed my life.

Risk. Risk it all. Take a chance. You might find a rutabaga.

The lowly, lovely rutabaga

The lowly, lovely rutabaga