Things I Needed to Know About Life…I am learning at Crossfit – If you know my story, you know I didn't start working out until I was almost forty. I did sports in high school and college but after that, nada. I joined a lot of gyms, but I didn't know what to do, how to do it and I never saw great results so it was just hard without any of the payoffs, in my book.
When I did start working out, I started with strength training.
And I didn't go back for 6 months. Because it was HARD.
And then when I realized how close 40 was looming, I went back. Because, well, I didn't know where else to go and I HATED treadmills.
Now, it wasn't Crossfit but it still remains one of my most favorite gyms in the world (www.startlivinglean.com) and if you live in the eastern Cleveland area, you should totally check it out. However, when I moved, I had to find an alternative. Also, because I travel a ton, I needed to find something that I could also pop into when I was on the road.
Crossfit was it.
But it was so much more than what I thought it would be. I went in thinking I was just finding a “close second” to my amazing experience at the only other gym I really knew, but it really has done more for me than get me leaner and stronger. It's taught me about life and I just realized it this week….here’s how.
8 Things I need to know about life…I am learning at Crossfit.
1) Take breaks.
Let's face it, a WOD (Workout of the Day) can't be done unbroken. You have to take a breaks throughout. Today, I had to do 7 different exercises, each of them 50 times. I couldn't POSSIBLY do 50 Chest to Bar Pull Ups in a row. There was no way I could have done 50 Wall Balls without stopping. I HAD to take breaks. It was BECAUSE I took the breaks that I could do the whole workout.
Yet, in life, I find myself going and going and going without taking a break at all. I am up at 5:15 and I literally don't stop until I hit the pillow at night, usually later than it should be, still trying to read that book I have been trying to get to, and falling asleep, never getting past the first couple of sentences.
Yet, in Crossfit it’s because of the breaks, I can do the THINGS. I literally wouldn’t be able to finish the workout, or even get halfway through if I didn’t take breaks. It’s because of the breaks I can finish the workout. It made me realize that in life, I have to get better at breaks so I can more effectively and probably more efficiently, get the THINGS done in my life.
So, I have adopted a practice of building margin in my life. I am starting by doing this in two ways. First, I am leaving a few minutes, when possible, between my to-do list. It gives me a little margin to breathe, reflect and move slowly into my next task. Secondly, I am also setting aside 15 minutes, in the middle of each day, to read a daily entry on margin. Each daily entry takes just a couple of minutes. By reading it, I am learning more and more why it is important and just the 15-minute break rejuvenates me.
2) You can do a lot in 30 seconds.
Yesterday, I was so close to finishing my last set, but there were only 30 seconds on the clock. I went for it, thinking, “I want to finish and let's see if I can.” And you know what? I did. I realized as I was reflecting while I was cooling down, it could have been easy to just let those 30 seconds skim by as no one would have really noticed. But I didn't.
I finished the set and it was hard. It was purposeful.
I am pretty sure it contributed to my soreness I still feel as I am writing this, but it reminds me of making every moment count. Be present in the moment, don't let it waste away because it can fly by fast, but it can also make all the difference in the world.
3) Have a rest day. Or two.
There is significant research and data about why athletes need to take rest days. Crossfit is set up so that it can be done daily and because of the diversity and timing of the workouts, it is really designed to do 5 or 6 days a week. But not seven.
We need a rest day from the gym, or two, as I like to do, because our muscles need time to rest, recover and repair. It is actually HOW they end up getting stronger and leaner. When the small , purposeful tears we make while lifting heavy weights is given time to regenerate, it builds back stronger and gives us the toned look we are all going for.
Yet we go seven days without stopping in our lives. Where is our rest day? Where is a day we stop looking at our emails, or doing one more thing on our list? Where is a day we spend with our kids, so that we can grow together stronger and more toned as a family?
THIS is hard for me. It is honestly even hard for me to take a rest day at the gym. I have this feeling like I need to be doing, I need to be productive, I need to be purposeful.
Yet, we couldn't get stronger at the gym without it. We will likely impeded progress and likely get hurt. We need a rest day at the gym. We need a rest day in our lives.
4) Encourage others.
There is no place like a Crossfit gym for encouragement. When I travel, I drop in to Crossfit Boxes all the time and although I know no one there, I have never been to one where I wasn't welcomed and cheered on. I was encouraged to do more, or keep going or was celebrated when I reached a new milestone for myself. It didn't matter that no one knew me. They were all encouraging, kind and welcoming.
Yet in life I hear angry horns from cars beeping at people all the time, assuming the the worst in others and the need to let them know. We get frustrated when our food comes out late at a restaurant, assuming the cooks are shirking in their duties. We pass by people on the street and don't do so much as smile at them as we pass.
Yet at CrossFit I never experience that. AND we are literally competing against each other every time we work out. It’s the expectation of that culture. Let’s work to make it the expectation of ALL culture.
5) Be open to coaching.
It doesn't matter if I have done an exercise a million times. For example, I am pretty good at Power Cleans and Burpees. Give me those all day and I am a happy girl. So I should be able to do them well, right? Well, sure…but inevitably every single day I do them, my coach will come up to me and push me to do it better, harder, different. At Crossfit I am never done learning and perfecting a move. We are all coached. Today I worked out with my coach and he was given feedback throughout the entire class. He could have pushed back, he could have acted like he knew what he was doing, but he didn't. He took the feedback and improved.
Yet in life we get frustrated with feedback. We often get defensive and justify why we did something instead of taking it, determining how we can use it, and moving on. Feedback and coaching is about getting better and stronger, so why do we struggle with it so much in our lives and ASK for it in the gym?
6) Push through the hard.
Let's face it. Crossfit is hard. It can totally be modified and I really do think anyone of any age can do it and benefit from it, but for each of us, it is hard. Lifting weights and doing physical work that pushes you SHOULD be hard. We can't get stronger without lighting heavy weights and doing hard things in the gym.
We accept it in the gym. We EXPECT it in the gym. That is why we are there. If we go through a workout that seems too “easy” we often think it wasn't worth the effort. And when it gets hard, as we know it will, we push through it. We might take a break, take the weight down a bit or get gritty and breathe hard and do another rep. We push through the hard so we can get to the other side and finish the workout.
Yet at life, sometimes when it gets hard, we give up before the “workout” is done. We do it with our nutrition, with saving money, with keeping a house organized, or pushing through crappy situations at work.
Life is hard, and when we can push through it and use resources around us like accountability partners, coaches, or even lowering the weight, we can push through it. The key is not to quit. The key is to make it to the end of the workout.
7) Plan a strategy.
That workout I was telling you about? The one where I had to do 7 different exercises in sets of 50? Immediately I starting thinking about my strategy. Most of them I did in sets of 10, resting a bit between each one. It allowed me to be steady and consistent throughout the workout. I can't imagine attacking a Crossfit WOD without a strategy. None of them are designed to be able to do without one. Each one of us looks at the situation and then, in our head, thinks about how we will accomplish it. Will we break it up in sets of 5? 10? Go as hard as we can and then rest?
Each of us does it our own way, in our own style, with our own level of challenge.
Yet in life, we often attack the day, the week, the month and the year without a strategy or a plan. The day flies by and we rarely get accomplished what we plan and as a result, feel chaotic, stressed and unproductive. Having a strategy in Crossfit allows us to get through the workout as successfully as possible and that is what we have to do in life.
I use Power Sheets to help me plan out my big goals for the year and then use my planner to time block my days, ensuring that I am doing things that will help me reach my goals, while also trying to plan out my margin and my social time.
8) Be held accountable.
In Crossfit your name goes on the board when you workout. It doesn’t matter if you have to modify the workout. It matters that you DO the workout. You write down your time. You finish it. You also sometimes look around you and try to keep up or beat another Crossfitter’s time. Competition and accountability drives us!
Yet in life, we start nutrition diets and then fall off with a plethora of excuses. We make plans with friends and then cancel because we are tired. We have plans to organize our home, eat less sugar, drink less alcohol, go to church more…but yet we don't always hold ourselves accountable. So who can hold you accountable in your life to show up, do the things you said you were going to do and see it through to the end?
Who can you call on to be your accountability partner?
So what does this all mean? Do I want everyone to join Crossfit?
LOL, I think Crossfit rocks and I love it. Do I think it could benefit most? Sure…but that isn't the point. Using these key points in our lives is a formula for our own life's PRs! (Personal Records!)
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