Around this time last year, I sat down with the Head Coach of Windsor CrossFit and told him that I wanted to take CrossFit seriously. I wanted to train hard, compete and have my chance at making it to Regionals in a few years. He looked at me and asked, “How badly do you want to make it? Out of 10.” I didn’t think twice, and easily answered 10. He further explained that training seriously would mean huge life changes. I would have to cut back on socializing, stop drinking, eat with discipline, dedicate hours to the gym (a place I already spent hours working as a coach), make changes to my job, sacrifice a lot of the things I loved and do it all willingly because at the end of the day, it would have to be what I wanted to. I would have to spend money on physiotherapy, massages and other forms of rehabilitation. I would have to hire a coach for myself. I would have to go into debt with a smile on my face if it meant I would succeed. I would have to put CrossFit above absolutely everything else in my life. That, he said was a 10 out of 10. He asked me again how badly I wanted the make it to Regionals. I looked at him with steady determination and answered, “10.”
My answer since then really hasn’t changed. What has changed is my perspective, and my awareness of what a ten really, really meant. Here is what I learned my first year taking CrossFit seriously.
- Comparison truly is the thief of joy.
My first venture into serious training started with a strength program that I designed for my training partner/best friend and I (Hi Nat!). We spent about two hours a day working through the strength portion, then we would hit a WOD that one of us designed. And I lost. Every. Single. Day. Nat is just stronger than me – it’s as simple as that. But I had to learn the hard way that it’s okay to lose, and that hyper-focusing on what someone else is doing will bring you nothing but disappointment. Every day that I spent comparing myself to Nat, is a day I left the gym discouraged and beaten down. I would hit 20# PRs and all I could think about was how much more Nat had lifted. It was a terrible mindset to have, and it sucked, but I’m grateful for the experience. Because now, working out next to people like Krista in the advanced class, I can be okay with watching her easily cycle snatch weights that I have to hit as super heavy singles. Because it doesn’t matter that she’s a more skilled athlete – there will always be a more skilled athlete. I’m better than I was last week, last month and last year, and that is really where my focus needs to be.
2: CrossFit is a lot less fun when you care about how you perform every day.
When I first joined Windsor CrossFit, I loved the atmosphere. To me, there was literally nothing better than coming to a WOD and trying my best to crush whatever challenge had been presented that day. So when I wanted to start taking it seriously, I thought that was going to be the easiest part. But let me tell you, that working out for enjoyment, and trying hard when you feel like it, is a hell of a lot different than feeling compelled to perform well every single day. It is mentally exhausting to give a shit – I can’t put it more simply than that. When you do a WOD that is programmed for the gym, and you work hard and you get a good sweat and you feel like you got a great workout in – that’s one thing. But when you’re expected to get under a certain time cap, or to hit RX weights, or score a large amount of reps, and not doing those things means you’re simply not good enough – that is a completely different beast. When you’re training like you mean it, every workout is going to be slightly out of reach. Every weight is going to be heavy enough to suck. Every movement is going to be outside of your abilities or comfort zone. Every WOD is going to be too fast or too long or too fricken hard for your liking. And that’s because every day is a day to get better, and doing what your good at isn’t going to get you there. And it takes a lot of mental strength to tackle that kind of challenge every day. Which means you’re going to need to want it at a 10/10.
- Working out alone sucks.
I quickly realized that following a training program that is different than everyone else’s meant that I would have to train alone – a lot. One of the best parts about training at Windsor CrossFit is having a community of people to sweat and suffer along side you. But that all changes when your programming does, and suddenly you’re trying to tackle the Assault Bike and Thrusters by yourself at 2pm in an empty red room. And even if you get through it and you did your best, there’s no one there to fist bump you or give you a high five. You have to be happy with your progress, by yourself, and know that you did well. No one is going to say it for you. This is potentially why I post a lot about my PRs online – I still want to celebrate the way I did when I first started at the gym.
- The decisions you make on day one, will come to get you on day two.
When you dial in your nutrition, and your mobility, and your sleep and your lifestyle, anything that throws it out of balance is going to make your performance suffer. If you start eating well every day, you’re going to feel it the night you decide you want to relax and eat pizza. If you’re training seriously, drinking alcohol is literally your way of saying, “I don’t give a shit about how I perform tomorrow.” And being out dancing until 3:00am? This will literally ruin your WOD the next day. Because the workout is going to be grueling and your going to have expectations of yourself, and you’re going to regret drinking Kronenburg on a patio at John Max on a Friday night. Every time someone offers you chips, or ice cream, or wine, or a burger, you’re going to have to make a mental decision. Do you want your body to be at its best, or do you not? And that decision gets harder and more stressful to make as time goes on. I promise. But I’ve learned that the best way to say no is to have a bigger yes inside of you. And that ‘yes’ has to be your performance in the gym, or your results will suffer.
- Your body will change, and it will not always feel like a good thing.
Since last year, I’ve put on 15lbs. And not 15lbs of fat from a summer of binge drinking and shitty food that sat on my hips, boobs and butt. I put on 15lbs of (mostly) muscle. My shoulders blew up, my legs got big and now my body is beginning to look like I feel. In the gym, this is great. I’m more confident than I was, I feel and look stronger, and I’m proud of every scrape, scar, callous, bruise and tear. But outside of the gym, I’m met with quite a few struggles.
I’m used to being a small, slender, feminine looking girl. I used to put on summer dresses and go out and talk to people and feel like – well, like a girl. For lack of better terms. Now when I go out, the dynamics are different. I’ve had guys tell my guy friends that I was “awesome” but they couldn’t date someone who looked like they could beat them up. I’ve had guys tell me that women shouldn’t, “look like that,” and in general, people have had a pretty open opinion about my body that they didn’t have before. Just this week a guy I had been talking to literally stopped speaking to me when he asked me what my max deadlift was. That is a true story. And although it’s funny, and I tell myself that those guys are obviously little b*tches and I wouldn’t want to date them anyway, it is hard to adjust to. And I’ve often made the mistake of letting these instances make me feel ugly.
- It will be challenging, and sometimes shitty, but it will be worth it.
If you truly believe your goals are a 10/10, you are going to make them work. Because making them work is what is most important to you. For me, CrossFit is the most important thing. Even though it means going to sleep early every night, and saying no to long trips that will interfere with training, and eating really, really healthy, and being a single bird forever, and giving it my all every damn time I walk into that gym. Even though it is the hardest challenge I’ve ever presented myself with, it is worth it 100%. The feeling of accomplishment after a long hard week, and the pride I hear in other people’s voices when they tell me how far I’ve come – that makes all of it worth it. And I’m looking forward to another year of training, and going through it all over again.
-Coach Kim 🙂