So I have been going to CrossFit for the last month–just twice a week, in place of my regular strength training regimen. I was very resistant to CF for many reasons–one big one which was my past in weightlifting. Sometimes the past is best to remain there, after all.
I have been swimming, biking and running since 2010–and I’ll admit, the same things can get really monotonous, especially for long-distance training.
Also, triathlon consists of linear, forward movements. There’s no jumping or lateral engagement or pushing or pulling or explosive motions (unless you’re racing ITU).
In summary, triathlon is an exercise in “head down, forward, and go.”
At the time I entered the sport, those were three things I needed more than anything in the world:
- to keep my head down
- to move forward (#justkeepmovingforward)
- and go (translation: do anything–for the love of God, just go and move your body.)
Triathlon is still my sport of choice. But over the last year, I have been mixing things up with yoga, strength and more–not just from a boredom standpoint, but from a body-wellness standpoint.
I worked with a fabulous strength trainer for the last two years or so. Working with Kendall woke up my glutes and taught me how to overall function better as an athlete. He was the one who re-opened my eyes to lateral movements, and explosive motions. I learned how to do “real” pushups (24 unbroken was my record) and push a sled with 200 pounds across a gym floor, Rocky Balboa style.
Oh, and he made me stop making self-deprecating fat jokes. (Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of all).
Amid schedules and finances, I made a change. I couldn’t ignore the pull of my past and weightlifting.
It was time to turn some things upside down.
I was getting too comfortable. I was eating too many cookies and not caring. I know from my past, when the cookies and ice cream come out more than a few times a month (while not fatal), it is a smoke signal– meaning, it’s time to move and quickly.
So off to CrossFit I went. And I learned the advantage of flipping things.
1) Flip Things Upside Down for Breaking the Comfort Zone Wide Open
I have posted a few times about my massive fear about being upside down. A bat in my prior life, I was not.
Recognizing this fear, I made myself practice wall handstands in the house.
Turns out, getting up the first time really is the hardest part.
On the first day of CrossFit, the warm-up called for thirty-second handstands. I walked up to the wall #likeaboss, and just did that shit. It was great. (Then I proceeded to literally die and fail at everything else. But it didn’t matter. I did a handstand.)
Being upside down is a simple analogy for getting out of our comfort zone, for readjusting our spine, for feeling the blood rush to our heads.
Do it once, and after a bit… it’s like you’ve been a bat all along.
2) Time for a New View Point
Putting ourselves and our bodies in a new plane and perspective is not only a challenge, but it gives us something new to see. Try looking at the world upside down and being still for a bit: it’s a whole new vantage point.
Without belaboring this very obvious point, I do find that by flipping myself upside down, I feel a wave of calm come over me–even for twenty or thirty seconds–and I know that things can be different, just by looking at everything another way.
In flipping, there is hope.
In flipping, there is proof that everything can change in an instant–just by motion.
Same thing with jumping and sprinting and moving my body in a “new” way. It’s a brave new world, when the body moves in a weird new way.
I love that.
3) Uncertainty is a Gift of Life: Embrace that Shiznit
Being upside down brings on a wave of uncertainty and a most-likely fall or crash, at some point.
The same with lifting weights overhead. You are banking that you are strong enough to do it. You must believe you will do it.
But sometimes, it’s not certain whether that weight will go up… or crash down.
By taking the risks in life, we are trusting our strength and plowing forward. We are looking fear in the face, and we are moving forward. In pushing and pulling and going, though, we learn valuable lessons.
Sometimes we learn: I am so effing strong. Go me!
Sometimes we learn: I really messed that one up. Guess I was not ready.
Sometimes we learn: All I can do is try tomorrow. But I will not quit.
And maybe, sometimes the answer to plowing forward is, I am done. With this. With them. With _____.
Who knows what the outcome and lesson will really be, and that, my friends, is precisely where the magic falls.
For instance, today in CrossFit we did split jerks. This is what a split jerk looks like. Not a great one, mind you. Just a split jerk.
Well, what did I learn from this?
- I learned that I was stronger than I thought. I managed 135 pounds for one lift.
- I also learned that I still struggle with the mental aspect of having a weight over my head. Hence only one lift–we were supposed to nail two reps.
- Finally, I realized that I have some real-life PTSD associated with missing a jerk. But that’s another story for another day. #MoreIssuesThanSportsIllustrated
When I think about it, I learned a whole lotta lessons from just lifting some weights today.
Uncertainty is a beautiful thing.
4) Stop Flipping Out
Comparison culture and perfectionism are the death of our progress. We must, in this upcoming “Year of No Nonsense” get to a place where we know that we are doing the best we can–for us… and no one else.
Sure, lots and lots of people “do” sports and triathlon and CrossFit a helluva a lot better than me.
But at some point everyone started a sport, one day, one workout, one hypothetical push-up at a time. That’s all. A little swim. A little bike. A little handstand. A little walk or jog or run or whatever you want to call it.
We all started somewhere–and we are all going somewhere, too–just depends on how determined, patient and kind we are (to ourselves and others) along the way.
Those simple truths just keep me going and going and going… lifting and flipping upside down.
Love to you all,
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The Year of No Nonsense is coming. Take the pledge and get ready to flip your world upside down!