I like to win. I don’t know if that makes me a bad sport or not, but it is the truth. Winning is better than losing. I like to win.

So how does one define winning? I belong to a writers’ forum and we have a thread entitled “the last person to post here wins” and I have won it probably at least a thousand times. And then I lose the win and someone else holds the title and we banter back and forth and each takes our turn on the podium, waving the blue/red ribbon and holding our trophy. Until the next person strips it all away.

That’s a fun place to win and I love the wit and abilities of many of those who play the game with me. But in reality, I’m talking about something a bit more substantial. How do we win life?

There is a saying, “He who dies with the most toys, wins” and that seems to be how the Western or First World looks at success and/or winning. But I believe it is in error.

Kim Jong-un seems like an entirely unhappy and paranoid idiot. He seems to not only own a country and their military machine, but had taken to nuking the Pacific Ocean with pent up rage for years now. He doesn’t seem to be a winner to me, just a sad little man who would like to be praised, loved, accepted. He is not any of those things, even under pain of death.

Maybe winning isn’t in possessions but in moments. And we each have access to so many moments. They are zipping past us all the time and all we need do is pluck one and win.

Maybe it is the moment you open your eyes in the morning and realize you are alive in an amazing world. Or maybe it is when the coffee is done brewing and includes the first sip.

Maybe winning is noticing a butterfly, perfect rose, or sunset. These moments are often cited as something special not because they are rare, but because we so often fail to notice them. Life is full of abundance. The wonder of nature, the mystery of the universe, the creativity of mankind.

We live in such a world, filled with so many precious things, we forget to take notice. When was the last time you were thankful for cool, refreshing water? We walk into the kitchen and grab a clean glass, go to the sink, turn the tap, and voila – fresh water. This isn’t true everywhere. This basic need is a problem in many parts of the world. Some people are literally dying for clean water.

Maybe winning is meeting life head on. Taking chances and either getting a hit or a miss, but learning in the process and going forward to either try again or having learned it isn’t something you need to experience ever again. This would be like meeting an alligator. I am willing to never do that again, but since I did and survived, there is a frission of thrill involved in the thought.

Maybe winning isn’t getting the scholarship, the award, coming in first. Maybe it is stopping along the way to help those less fortunate. Maybe it is being rich enough to be able to give of your time or talents to help others. Maybe, just maybe, winning is simply making the world a better place and leaving behind a trail of kindness.

As my mother used to say, over and over again, “Be nice” and that may have been the best advice I’ve ever been given. I believe that is truly how to win.

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I am not Samantha Briggs (Women winner of the 2013 CrossFit Games). Hell, I’m not even Sharon Lapkoff (Masters Women [60+] winner of the 2013 CrossFit Games). In fact, I have RX’d exactly ONE CrossFit WOD since I started and that was because it was row for a bazillion meters and I didn’t quit rowing.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, an elite athlete.

I am so conflicted about my status as an athlete. I do shit most people don’t. Not just in my age bracket, but across the board – most people. When we take into consideration my age and gender, I’m way out in front on the athlete status thing.

Therein likes my problem. I recently got a PR. I have a boo-boo and squatting isn’t all that easy for me, but I got a full clean PR. I rang the bell. I was thrilled with this achievement. The rest of the 6 AM class was thrilled along with me. It was way cool.

I wouldn’t write it on the PR board.

My number was pitifully low. It was laughable. Hell, newborn infants can probably manage the weight. How embarrassing that after more than a year and damn half I’m still only able to move a weight that is less than my age. How could I advertise that on the PR board? It is humiliating.

Except that it isn’t. And no one is telling me that. The entire conversation took place inside my head. Coach Kim even said to make sure I put it on the board.

But I couldn’t. It was such a small number.

It was bigger than the first deadlift I managed. It was bigger than the first picture of me lifting that teeny tiny deadlift.

I went from not being able to do squat – literally – to managing to have weights on my weight as I did a full clean, squat included. Why am I ashamed of this?

On Wednesday, Chris managed a deadlift of 505#. I managed one a little lower. But it was more than my bodyweight. I lifted up more than I weigh! And I’m old enough to be Chris’s mother although I might not quite make old enough to be his grandmother. Why am I comparing myself to a young man who has spent his entire youth and young adulthood lifting weights?

I don’t even have an answer for all this nonsense. I talk myself out of my wins.

New people come in. They are younger than me and in no time at all zip past me as they continue to accomplish many things. Or they quit.

I have not quit. I have accomplished many things. I’m embarrassed by my slow progress. Very slow progress. Snails whiz past me, toss a few plates on a larger bar and knock out a 21-15-9 rep scheme. Me? I pant a lot. My heart rate goes too high. I’m unable to ever do anything as written.

I do so much more than I could a couple years ago. I am my competition and I’m kicking my ass. I have come so far, so slow. And … I vacillate between proud and chagrined.

I don’t want to go the CrossFit Games. That’s a job in itself and those who arrive have worked far harder and longer than me. It isn’t my goal. Most of the time, I don’t even expect to ever RX any WOD we have. They are simply beyond me. But sometimes I pretend I’m strong and capable and fit and an athlete. I hate to have to face the reality of being weak and an old coot.

All this CrossFit stuff is harder than it looks. Not because the lifts are hard or the WODs are ridiculous. It is harder than it looks because I have talked myself into the penalty box far more times than I have committed an infraction.

Maybe someday, I’ll get brave – and strong.

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I am competitive. My baby sister just read that and said in a very sarcastic tone, “Ya think?”

Yes, I think so. I enjoy winning. Always. Set up a contest and I want to win it. There doesn’t have to be a prize, I just want to win. I want to be the best, not just the best me I can be, but the actual best. It is disheartening how often I fail at that, but it does keep me striving.

My biggest obstacle for CrossFit is how pitiful I am. Putting thing on the white board is often embarrassing. I’m supposed to feel good about the fact that I at least showed up. And I am. It is really hard to show up so many times a week – especially when the numbers on the white board are so crappy. Day after day, week after week, month after month. They are crappy numbers. They are much better numbers than they were before which is the only thing anyone can hope for and why I keep going back.

When I saw the invitation to a dinner party in the midst of this WLC, my first reaction was to just decline. I didn’t have to do this. But I enjoy spending an evening with our friends. This is the Whole LIFE Challenge, not a death sentence. It is supposed to show me how to have a better, more balanced, life. I am not supposed to hide. Health shouldn’t be something you tack on to the remainder of your day, but the foundation for the rest of your longer, healthier, stronger, fitter, more able life.

So after a few moments of stark terror and perhaps even getting misty eyed, I took a deep breath and opted to go. I knew I would be losing a point or two, but what the hell. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed and this was going to be enjoyable.

I brought along fruit with homemade complaint (at beginner level) dips and figured it was a way to avoid what I knew would be tempting, tasty treats. It worked. We were served chicken Marsala with a pasta side and a salad. So I took a hit on the pasta. It was the first pasta I have had in six weeks and it was fabulous. So was the chicken. The salad was safe. I stayed away from the bread.

Steve brought some stuffed tomatoes that looked great and everyone said were wonderful. They had three different kinds of cheese and bread crumbs for the stuffing along with I don’t remember what else. But they would have been another point. Maybe next time.

Chris made something called potato candy which was mashed potatoes with confectioners sugar and other stuff in there squished between two graham crackers and topped with chocolate. I’m not sure about them no matter what. I don’t like mashed potatoes at all, ever. But I would probably have tried a bite.

The hardest thing to stay away from was Dianne’s tiramisu. It looked like it wanted me to take a slice and enjoy the moment. I could have. I have extra bonus points. It wouldn’t have killed me. But the deal I made with myself was fruit for dessert because I could. The only person I would have cheated was myself – the only person who really matters.

I made a promise to myself to not talk about either CrossFit or the Whole Life Challenge and this stupid diet and its dumb restrictions. But I couldn’t manage to keep my mouth shut. Everyone was kind and didn’t try to encourage me to eat outside my dietary restrictions and I was truly grateful. I got asked some quite lucid questions and I did my best to answer them.

I believe strongly in this health stuff I’m doing. I want to continue with some – but certainly not all – of the dietary stuff when this is over. I am totally astounded every time I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror. I’ve only lost between 15 and 20 pounds over the course of an entire year with just five in the last few weeks. But the packaging is so totally different.

All the hard work shows in what I look like now. But that is only the superficial part. I am stronger. I am more flexible. I am more balanced. I have more stamina. I am faster. Even my heart rate is better. I’m even more confident, which is probably something I didn’t need.

In fact, I’m winning at my life. This is the best me I can be at this age. I’m not the same as I was when I was playing racquetball as obsessively as I am now doing CrossFit. I was much younger back then. But I don’t shy away from stuff like I did a year ago. I’m still old and I don’t ever have a chance to forget that. But I am one strong, powerful, bitchin’ ass old broad. I’m totally rocking this old fart thing.

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