I have been CrossFitting for nearly 3 years now. At my first class, my coach said that CrossFit would change my mind more than it changed my body. I rolled my eyes and laughed at him. More and more I realize just how right he was.
15 Life-Lessons CrossFit has Taught Me
1. Keep Moving. There are times when the only thing your body is telling you is to stop. Your mind is shouting, “Lay down.” Your soul is whispering, “Give up.” Don’t allow the dirty waters of anger and lethargy and despair to wash over you; to sweep you away into a place of complacency. Keep moving. Keep fighting against whatever is fighting you.
2. Your Body Will Not Defeat You. Through a struggle with infertility, I felt like my body was in control of me, and that it was working tirelessly to defeat me. A specifically grueling workout, one full of all of the movements my body protests (thrusters, wall ball shots, running, and burpees), was poised to knock me down. My mantra through the movements was this, “I am in charge of my body. My body will not defeat me.” I said this over and over and over and over. Possibly until my lips were moving in silent conversation with myself. But I finished. My body did not defeat me. Yours won’t either. Your limitation/disorder/syndrome/injury/illness will not defeat you. You are in charge of your body.
3. Scaling and Modifications are Fine. There are going to be times that you will have limitations. That is okay. You might have an injury that is restricting your mobility and strength. Instead of skipping out, adapt. In all areas, adapt. Make modifications to allow you to do your best in a way that honors your abilities.
4. Show Up. When you are feeling stabby and stubborn and grumpy and pessimistic about life and activities, go anyway. Because accomplishing something and moving and being a part of your community is an instant mood enhancer.
5. Suck It Up. Just as every lift isn’t going to set a personal record, every life event isn’t going to be your best moment ever. Deal with it. Things aren’t always going to go your way, and that’s good – because what awful, selfish creatures we would be if they did.
6. Keep a Positive Attitude. If you think you are going to fail, you will surely fail and fail hard. You mind and outlook can enhance your ability and give you the confidence to succeed, and possibly set new records.
7. Smile (or At Least Don’t Grimace). My coach is always telling us to get rid of our “pain faces.” I used to think this was silly. But, according to recent studies, smiling releases stress and increases endorphins. If you can approach whatever is causing you stress or discomfort without grimacing, your chances for success are increased.
8. Ask for Help. Because sometimes you need it. And there is almost always someone willing to help carry your load, ease your burden, and bandage your wounds.
9. Try Again. Bumps and bruises and failures are the worst. They can knock you down both physically and emotionally. Get up. Try Again. If you let all of the small disappointments control you and your mind, you will never give yourself the chance to achieve anything.
10. Laugh at Yourself. There may be a time where you are literally stuck on the floor with a sandbag on your chest – and that sandbag has knocked off your glasses – and you are kicking like an overturned turtle trying, with no avail, to get up. It’s funny – laugh. You are going to do and say awkward things (or maybe that’s just me), and sometimes, all you can do is laugh.
11. Be Your Own Cheerleader. At CrossFit everyone cheers loudest for the last person to finish. Unfortunately life isn’t always the same. Cheer yourself on. My dad has this habit, when golfing and bowling, of saying, “Come on D, you can do it” or (if it’s a particularly bad shot) “Damn it D!” We used to giggle at this. As growing up often has it though, somewhere along the way I have picked this up (because each year I prove to be more and more like my parents). Quite often I say, out loud, “Come on Kelsey. You got this.” I “Damn it Kelsey” myself sometimes too, but my attitude and performance are greatly improved when I choose the cheering rather than the criticism.
12. Don’t Phone it in. Anything less than your best effort is unacceptable. A personal best, while nice, isn’t always the goal. But your best effort for the day is what is necessary. You are stronger than you think, give yourself the benefit of the doubt by trying harder.
13. Comparison is the Thief of Joy. So maybe it was Teddy Roosevelt that said those actual words, but CrossFit has taught me the lesson instead of just the words. You are not going to walk into a new situation and be immediately the best – unless you are some sort of prodigy, and in that case, well, good for you. And there are times when someone new comes in and surpasses your abilities. It can be pretty easy to let that comparison rob you of your happiness. Don’t let it. Be proud of your abilities and of where you are at today. No one else inhabits your skin and bones. Do what you can do, and that is always enough.
14. Breathe. Sometimes things are really hard. Sometimes you want to hold your breath and kick and scream and throw a tantrum that would make a toddler proud. Take a step back, take three deep breaths, compose yourself, and carry on.
15. Rest. It is easy to overcommit, over-exert, and over-extend ourselves. Rest. Your soul and your body and your mind need rest. Take a Sabbath, take a nap, take a moment, take a day. Give yourself the time you need to rest, recuperate, and recover. Lack of rest and recovery will cause you to burn-out and eventually crash.
Give CrossFit a try. Change your body, but most importantly, strengthen your mind. Thank you for keeping me In Good Company.