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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