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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.


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