Please be patient as I make some changes and additions to my blog. So far I have added a few extra pages and will be adding more soon. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ready, Willing, and Able

I attend a CrossFit class three days a week and the first part of every workout is a fairly standard set of warm up movements. Every day we can expect a few rounds of jumping jacks and other movements to get our heart rate up. Then we have at least two rounds of squats and push ups to get our muscles warmed up. After that we will do some combination of more active movements like punter kicks, broad jumps, and lateral lunges then take off on a 400 meter run.

Some days I show up to workout with a passion and I take on the warm up as if it were some grand challenge and spend my time trying to get deeper in my squats, stronger in my push ups, and faster in my run. Other days I show up in some sort of funk and use the warm up as some kind of recovery exercise and thus begins the ever changing list of bargaining and justifications rolling in my head.

"No one can see how far my knee goes down on this lunge."
          "I've had a long day. I deserve a break on these push ups."
                    "I ran yesterday. I don't need to push it in the run today."
                              "I'm squatting deeper than I used to so who cares."

It turns out my creativity with excuses knows no bounds. I have even used my cat as an excuse not to push myself on a bear crawl. I only wish I was kidding.

So there I was last Thursday, after a busy day of meetings, rolling through my list of excuses why these lunge rotations didn't need to be the best lunge rotations I could possibly do when an image popped into my head. I had the most vivid memory of one of my first weeks at CrossFit a little over eight months ago. There I was, completely out of shape and wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into, trying my best to do as much as possible and still struggling with modifications. My lunges were barely a bent back knee and I still had to use my hand on my front leg to help myself out of it. I didn't even attempt the rotation because I could barely hold myself steady in the lunge. As that image went away I made sure my knee touched the ground during the rest of the warm up, because now it could.

Part of our workout that day was a set of ten burpees. As I started my first round of burpees another set of memories came back of my first few months when I had to step back instead of jumping because I couldn't jump my feet back up to my hands. Then I remembered how amazing I felt in the living room of my apartment when I finally did my first set of three burpees without stepping back. The next week involved some very triumphant burpees at the gym and I felt like a rockstar. Fast forward back to last Thursday and there I was doing ten burpees in a row without even thinking about it. I took off on my 200 meter run and actively created a new train of thought.

I have absolutely no excuse for a messy burpee, a weak lunge step, a shallow squat, or any other half ass attempt at a movement. In the past eight months I have gone from squatting to a 20" box to squatting at full depth with ever-increasing weight. On day one, I was unable to do what was asked of me and that was perfectly acceptable as long as I did my very best. Today, there is never any reason excuse why I should be unwilling to do what is asked of me.

So now, in honor of the girl who
...spent weeks doing sets of squats every morning and evening until she could hold her own without a box or med ball safety blanket
...ended up with carpet burn after some sad attempts at burpees but wouldn't stop until she could do them correctly
...refused to stop running and finally ran that full 400 meter warm up, then finished an 800 meter run, then ran in two running events
I will not half ass a single rep.

To the voice in my head that tells me it's ok this one time, you're on notice. No more. I'm done. A break isn't something you deserve. It's not a treat. If I want to reward myself, I can go get a pedicure, go see a movie, or get myself a delicious ribeye. A break is something you use when it's necessary to stay healthy.

I deserve to push myself.
I deserve to get stronger.
I deserve a body I love and treat well.
I deserve confidence. No, I deserve swagger!
I deserve to be outrageously happy.

A break? That's just a tool to use to help me get there.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Will Brake For Doubts

The past few months have been full of activity and have resulted in a plethora of learning experiences for me. It's an exciting time in my life and I'm so grateful for all of the support I've had from my amazing friends. As I go about making some major changes in my life, I've noticed a pattern and, as I am wont to do, I have spent some time pondering this pattern. I realized that the majority of the times I have made changes, in the direction I really want my life to go, that I was actually met with relatively little resistance. More often than not, one change would open doors that I didn't even know were there and it led to a pretty amazing snowball effect. It's the best kind of slippery slope to be on, let me tell you! What I noticed, though, was that as things gained momentum, in the very direction I truly wanted to go, I would start to slow things down. I would press on the brakes and look around wondering how to pause or whether I should turn back. How strange! As I kept pushing myself forward and tried best to stay out of my own way, I really wondered what was going on in my crazy little head.

Last week, I scheduled a personal training session with my amazing coach, Jess. We went over my fitness and health goals for the year and started laying out a plan to get there. One of the goals I set was to be able to finish a 400m sprint in less than 1:30. As luck would have it, the fabulous Ben Palmer, one of the CrossFit Endurance coaches, happened to be at the gym and available to chat. He watched a warmup run to give me his critique on form and to be able to give me a few drills to do on my own to improve. He said something that has been stuck in my head since. When you get your legs pulling correctly and you start to run, you have to lean into the run to pick up speed. I had spent a fair amount of time repeating drills to move my legs and arms properly and I was starting to add up more and more miles completed each week. After all that, I was still leaning backwards when I would get going. If I wanted to pick up speed and move forward, I had to lean forward not backward.

How simple is that?

As I went about my day, I started to see myself delaying meetings that would propel me forward in my career goals. I noticed myself putting off decisions that would move my closer to my financial goals. And I was avoiding contacting even my close friends for fear I might have to let them in on everything I'd spent time dreaming up! Then it hit me. Another frying pan moment. I had the right shoes, the right form, my legs were moving, my arms were moving, all I had to do was lean into it. All the work I had done to prepare myself was useless if I didn't lean forward and get going.

So here's my challenge to myself and the only way I will reach my 1:30 run time and all the other goals I've set:
Lean into life.

Now that I've updated my old bumper sticker,
"Will Brake For Doubts Real Problems Only"
I'm ready to hit the road and conquer all these dreams!
"There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Cheers to a year of forward motion.