the spaz of fitness has arrived

Keep Walking

In General, Training, Writing on January 26, 2013 at 12:06 am

I would like to share with you all this post by Juli Bauer of PaleOMG (a host of fantastic recipes for those more culinarily inclined than myself… all her food looks fantastic, but I never try any of it because it looks complicated and I’m lazy :p). Anyway, Juli is a major figure in the paleo world, and a rather accomplished CrossFit athlete. Last year, she placed 8th in the Southwest regionals. However, this blog post announces Juli’s hiatus from competitive CrossFit. She says:

I noticed that I hadn’t been happy for a while. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. And for me, that is very important. I started competing because it made me happy. And made me confident. I never cared if I did poorly, I never worried about not finishing a workout. I just tried my hardest and tried to smile through it. But when disappointment began to appear on others faces, I knew it was absolutely time for me to take a step back. I never want my performance in the gym to disappoint someone. That is not why I work out. I work out to better myself. To improve myself physically and mentally. Not to upset someone because I didn’t do all my wall balls unbroken. Or because I didn’t set a PR.

This has been a hard thing for me to come to terms with. I haven’t wanted to admit it, but I don’t want to compete right now. I don’t want to train to the point that I’m spending hours in the gyms, aching constantly, and gaining 15-20lbs to be able to keep up with the amazing CrossFit ladies in my Region. That’s not what I want nor is it what my body wants. And since I’ve stopped training to my max every day, I feel better. Even though I’ve lost a ton of strength and endurance, I’m happier. I feel better in my own skin and I’m finally not crying on a regular basis because I was unhappy with how I looked. Yeah, I cried because of that. No fun. I’m an emotional mess without that crap on my mind.

I have the utmost respect for professional athletes– for the discipline they have, the dedication, talent, and exceptional masochism– but Juli’s above post is one of the many reasons I could never become one. I actually enjoy CrossFit too much to turn it into something so laden with anxiety and pressure. We know I’m anxious enough… when I underperform or when my progress backslides, I somehow feel like I’ve failed my coaches who probably really don’t give a damn if I lifted 5 lbs more or less this morning beyond whether or not it makes me gripe at them for the next ten minutes. Moreover, I wouldn’t want to go so far beyond that line between training for health and training for competitive performance.

Interestingly (I’m playing it fast and loose with the term “interesting”), I kept thinking about Juli’s post in conjunction with a book I’d heard about: The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, written by a palliative care nurse, drawn from her experience with terminal patients. According to nurse Bronnie Ware, the top five regrets of individuals at the end of their lives are:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

I’ll be frank… there’s a lot of shit I want to do in life. I want to write– I want to write things worth reading, things that move, things that challenge the boundaries of language. I want to teach– in a way that provokes and inspires. I want to travel and see and experience and try to understand. I want to coach and to help people find their bodily potential… to help them feel more confident and capable. I want to love– to care and to be cared for, to protect and be protected, to give so much of myself to communities and friendships and the power of human interaction. But of course it’s easy to say all of this– a lot harder when I look at the long, daunting list at the end of a day when it was an accomplishment just to don all my winter-wear and trek to my classroom.

So the only way I’ve been able to continue caring about these ambitions yet maintain my sanity and still live my daily life is to try and keep things in perspective. There’s no end to the things I could do in pursuit of all of these goals… I could spend day after day planning lessons, and still fall short of helping my students find their potential. I could dedicate an entire life to writing, and still have so many stories untold. I could train until everything hurts and everything aches, but there would still be an infinite number of ways that I’m doing things inefficiently… ways that I could tweak my schedule and my diet to be better.

So… I’m taking things one day, one step at a time with the longer journey in mind. I continue to work hard each day because it matters– because I think the extra time I spend lesson planning here might help my students write a better story, or because I think these extra ten minutes on the pull-up bar might improve my form. But also, I try to keep the scale of things in perspective… will the two hours I spent talking to a friend instead of working really ruin my career in the long run? Will one extra rest day or one bad WOD prevent me from becoming an effective coach? It’s helping me arrange my priorities… I will need to sacrifice things in pursuit of others. Not everything will be happy or perfect or even pleasant… but I’m trying to figure out which sacrifices are worthwhile, and which I would regret… what will I care about when all is said and done? Chances are, that two hour phone conversation will mean more to me than the perfectly-researched essay. That friendship will carry me further than the right transition between paragraphs. I can’t be the best writer, teacher, student, athlete, friend, girlfriend, daughter… human being all at once, every single day. I can do my damnedest and apply myself to what’s important, pray that those who love me will forgive me when I slip up, and just… keep walking, and hope  it’s enough.

————-

Also, today’s WOD– just because it was fun and, I think if there were a “girl” WOD named “Jo,” this would be it…:

21-15-9 Pull-ups and Burpees. 6:27… I had to drop from the bar more times than I would have liked. By the end, I was doing them in sets of twos. I started with 12 kipping pull-ups, so I’m guessing I need to work on muscular endurance… Ah well, something more to add to the list!

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