Here is the pull up progression chart I use to track my journey toward that elusive unassisted pull up.
I just open this is MS Paint and add the dates in which I reach each milestone.
Yep, that’s me. I was a wide-eyed, 13 year old.; all knees and elbows…all 100# (at about 5’8″) of me. Obsessed with the, “Heroine-chick” supermodels of the day, I wanted nothing more than to be a stand out. However, at the same time, much like most teenage girls, I wanted nothing more than to fit in.
At my inner-city middle school, the girls who stood out, while fitting in better than anyone, looked nothing like me. Most were shorter, curvier, with assets I still did not possess.
Popeye’s best girl, Olive Oil, to whom I was often compared, was not the embodiment of female perfection in my little world (or in any world outside of Popeye’s and Brutus’)
Puberty was taking its sweet time kicking in. Like many girls, I stuffed my bra. Like fewer girls, I stuffed the back pockets of my Levi’s (if I’d only known about the effectiveness of heavy squats back in the day…).
I spent years attempting to fit into a world with standards I didn’t come close to meeting.
So, what’s with this little trip back in time?
Well, if I think about it (which, if you know me, you know I do), things really aren’t a lot different now.
Though I LOVE my still new found life as a gym rat, I cannot say I’m not still a bit of an outlier in most every way. Just as I tried and tried to fit in as a one-dimensional teen living in a three-dimensional world, my attempt at becoming a super-athlete is taking much more time than I formerly anticipated.
Just as my transition from skinny, awkward girl to bodacious teen vixen (haha) took much longer than I would have liked, this transition is taking longer than most.
As I’ve mentioned before, I am sincerely over-the-moon happy for my friends who are making giant strides in the gym. I often tell some of them that I live vicariously through them as they pick up big weight and channel their inner beasts during metcons.
Still, I cannot say I do not envy my gym-mates, just as I once envied every 8th grader sporting a pair of respectable C-cups.
For whatever reason, early on in my Crossfit journey, I deemed kipping pullups the holy grail of Crossfit movements. At 5’9″ and a “hearty” 165# (yes, I’ve finally blossomed), I now realize I’m aspiring to do one of the most difficult movements for a person like myself. See this interesting NY Times article about women and pullups (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/25/why-women-cant-do-pull-ups/).
In addition to being taller and heavier than the average Crossfitter, I was (and still am, to a degree) a LOT weaker than the average Crossfitter. Actually, a short time ago, I wasn’t even aware I possessed “lats” and “traps.” Apparently, these muscles weren’t terribly aware of their existence either, as I now believe they were practically atrophied just 19-months ago.
Some Things Change. Some Things Stay the Same
20 years ago, I sat in my bedroom drawing horns on the yearbook photos of the girls who could better fill out a pair of tight-rolled jeans than myself. Now, though I occasionally still find myself suffering from a case of “PR envy,” I’ve learned there are things I can do that will both build strength and character (actually, at age 15, I finally figured out that peanut butter and milk shakes were the key to attaining a healthy body weight and a respectable rack…Having only discovered heavy squats in 2011, I’m STILL working on carving out that perfect ass).
A few weeks ago, after months of lagging gains in strength and a couple of minor injuries (that, I’ve since discovered, were the results of weakness in my core, glutes, and hams), I dived head first into 531.
531, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, is a strength program created by former powerlifter, Jim Wendler. The athlete completes 4 major lifts (deadlifts, OH presses, squats, and benchpresses) and assistance exercises in cycles. For me, I’m doing 531 four days per week. So, each cycle takes me four weeks to complete. At the end of each cycle, I add 5# to my bench and OH press and 10# to my squat and deadlift and recalculate my repetition weight percentages. Then, I start a new cycle.
For a quick overview of the program, see Jim Wendler’s page: http://www.jimwendler.com/2011/09/531-for-a-beginner/.
I plan to continue doing 531 four days per week for a few more months (I’m completing my first cycle now). After that, I plan to start doing more metcons (I only do 1-2 short ones per week now) and to begin working on Olympic lifts again (I’ve taken a break from most Olympic lifts, as I heal from my recent lumbar strain and continue to build core strength).
I feel very optimistic about this program. I believe it’s going to make me stronger. I think I’ll soon be better at most everything I do in the gym. I hope to finally compete in an obstacle race sometime next year. ‘And, most importantly, I WILL finally get that unassisted kipping pullup.
I think I’ve been posting this pull up progression chart for about a year, since I moved from the big blue band to the green + black bands. Not knowing just how long it takes to build strength from nothing, I had no idea then that I’d still be posting this; that I’d still be using a band at all.
I guess that’s the reason I rarely post this nowadays. I am proud of my continued progress. Still, because it’s taken me so long to get to this point (FINALLY using the 1/2″ red band for multiple reps), I feel that with the chart must come an explanation as to why it’s taken me so long to get here. I can go on and on about “atrophied” traps and lats, about being taller and heavier than the average CF girl, etc. Still, in the end, those still sound like a bunch of excuses. This CF thing seems to have given me a bit of a no-excuses mentality. Therefore, I suppose I’ve withheld the progression chart instead of posting it with an excuse laden caveat.
Regardless of all of the above, I know 100% that I am SO, on-pins-and-needles close to my elusive goal. I WILL have my first unassisted pullup by January 1st, 2013
Me vs. Crossfit: Getting in Where I Fit In
If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I’d tell my 14-year-old self that, despite being tall, thin, and awkward, despite not fitting the middle school status quo, that I was still pretty f-ing awesome. I was smart, creative, and much more.
Now, despite the fact that I don’t really fit the bill as great female Crossfitter, I refuse to believe that my efforts are in vain. I’ve chosen to define success differently than most. Defining success the way most Crossfitters do would, for me and many others like me, essentially, be self-defeating. If the “reward” for my/our efforts is posting big numbers on the whiteboard or making frequent trips to the PR bell (a new fixture at my CF gym), then, really, my efforts would be, more often than not, fruitless.
No one does something for nothing, at least not something we pour hours of time and lots of money into. So, of course, in order to sustain my presence and efforts in the gym, I’ve determined what “reward” means to me.
First of all, my physical transformation, though not quite “made for television” is nothing to discount. The added self confidence is priceless.
Also, even more valuable to me, is the fact that I’ve essentially broken a very unhealthy lifelong habit. I am and always have been a big, fat, scared sh–less quitter. I NEVER did things for which I could not, with a fair amount of certainty, succeed. I hate failure with a passion. In the past, not seeing quitting as its own form of failure, I’d quit in a heartbeat to save face.
For the last 19-months, I’ve persevered despite not being overwhelmingly successful. I am not a BAMF, a beast, or a WODkilla, at least not in the traditional sense. If you are reading this, you are likely a Crossfitter. If you are a Crossfitter, you very likely do it for a different reason than I.
Whatever the case, the take-home here is that WE ALL MUST DETERMINE WHAT REWARD MEANS TO US. Behavior is only sustainable if it is meaningful. It is only meaningful if we get something out of it.
In a gym full of “round holes,” I’ve carved out a spot for my “square peg.” Call me a rogue. Still, as poet Dylan Thomas stated in his poem “Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night,” “rage against the dying of the light.”
This may not be a matter of life and death, as in Thomas’ poem. However, it is a matter of sustaining my performance and presence. I choose to rage against anything that could jeopardize all I’ve worked for. I choose to do this on my terms. If you are anything like me (don’t be afraid to step forward and admit it), I suggest you do the same.
Well, once again, it’s been a while! Life has taken a turn for the wacky (work, disorganization, etc, etc, etc).
However, things have been going quite swimmingly lately for me (Sam) in the gym and with my weight/fat loss. I will update you on Derek later in this post.
Ever since we celebrated our 1-year CF anniversary (exactly 1 month, 10 days ago, to be exact), I’ve intended to create a Year-in-Review blog post. Well, here it is; a recap of the good, the bad, and the pretty darn ugly events of the past year in slow, chubby CrossFit happenings…
The Way We Were: Before Hardening the “F” Up!
Before starting CrossFit, things seemed pretty good on the surface. We had (and still do have) the love of our families and a great group of friends. However, we were both at our peak weights. I’d just left, as the say on The Biggest Loser, “one-derland,” tipping the scales at appx. 205#.
I had recently received a bit of a punch in the gut, realizing I could not, myself, carry a child. I believe that realization was the catalyst that contributed to me gaining that last 20-25#.
That added weight, and the need to get my mind off my problems, finally (I’d heard about CF about 6 months earlier but couldn’t quite get myself there after watching those damn intimidating YouTube videos) led me to a local CrossFit gym (the best gym EVER…but that’s another post). Derek followed along, mainly because I was terrified to go alone.
Walking in those garage doors, our first day of Fundamentals class, was the beginning of a good thing…a very good thing.
Leaving ALL our Pride at the Door
***I cannot seem to find Derek’s shirt-on Before pics (the only ones he’ll let me show online). Perhaps, someone deleted them? Hmmm…
21-15-9: 200m run (3 rounds), pushups, squats, ring rows!
That was our MetCon on our first night of Fundamentals class. Derek’s time was just over 21 minutes…mine was just over 16 minutes. Both of our times represented the LOWEST times for the women and the men in the class of about 20 people.
After that meager WOD, both of us could barely move for the next couple days. Derek’s legs buckled if he unlocked his knees. Squatting to sit on the toilet brought tears to my eyes.
Likely, to the surprise of our coaches and the rest of our class, we showed up again 2 days later for class-2.
After a month of bar-weight deadlifts, snatches with a PVC pipe, and the discovery that I was FAR FROM being able to do a banded pullup with the biggest damn band on the planet, we did the night-1 WOD again and reduced our times to 14+ minutes for Derek and 11+ minutes for me.
Getting our Crossfit Legs and WOD-ing with “The Beasts”
After our 12, 1 hour Fundamentals classes, we dived right into regular CF classes. We’d watched the other Crossfitters finish these classes when we had arrived for Fundamentals the month before. The WODs posted on the board intimated us. The more experienced Crossfitters intimidated the heck out of us!
It’s interesting to do hanging knee raises, only lifting your feet a few inches off the ground, while next to someone knocking out a dozen toes-to-bar at a time…or seeing people do Turkish get ups with 35# or 53# kettlebells while using a PINK 5# KB.
Still, despite the uncontrollable desire to compare ourselves to others, we did the best we could to persevere while keeping our eyes on the potential prize.
Over the late-spring and summer of 2011, Derek and I both lost 30#. Derek attended classes 3 times per week. My flexible, work-from-home schedule allowed me to attend 5 classes each week. Also, though neither of us were even close to Rx-ing metcons, we’d both added some weight to the bars, and I’d finally managed to begin doing pullups with a giant, blue band.
We were excited, committed, and extremely proud of all we’d accomplished in a few short months.
Fall/Winter: Adding Weight!!!
Our little Crossfit story was virtually made-for-television…until early-September (2011). Our story certainly didn’t end. It just changed..reality kicked in and challenged us immensely.
In late-August 2011, Derek received a promotion. Wonderful news! Still, with this promotion came lots of additional responsibility. He began managing around 15 times the number of employees he had managed as a supervisor.
Also, in early-September, we moved to “the burbs.” A Heavenly concept for some. For us, it was a necessary evil or sorts. We are city folk to the core. However, we owned a house 20 minutes outside Memphis. Our tenant relocated to the West Coast. We needed more space…so, we moved. We were also now twice as far from the gym.
Unfortunately, the move and decreased time with Derek, due to his increased responsibilities, caused me to become a little depressed. Derek could no longer come home for a healthy lunch. Our beloved Whole Foods was now 30 minutes away (it was a quick, 5 minute drive from our former abode).
We didn’t adapt terribly well to all the changes in our lives.
I maintained a 4-5 day per week gym schedule. Derek, having gone 3-4 days per week for months, could only muster 1-2 trips there per week.
Lastly, slowly but surely, our 80/20 to 90/10 Paleo Diet went to crap. I have since learned that, if it’s 50% Paleo, it’s not Paleo AT ALL!
Throw in the chaos of the holidays…you’ve got a couple of jaded, bloated, and down-right pissy Finleys.
Derek and I were both up 10-15#. My confidence, on the other hand, was WAY down.
Sam vs. Sam: Early 2012
I suppose I (Sam) needed a nice jolt. I’d gained weight; weight I’d worked damn hard to loose last summer. The “Novice Effect” was wearing off, as my progress was no longer terribly rapid. Derek wasn’t able to come to the gym regularly…and he’d started having quite a lot of problems with his lower back; problems that kept him out of the gym even when work permitted him to come.
Worst of all, directly for me and indirectly for Derek, the green-eyed monster of jealousy (unfortunately) had reared its ugly head!
This is not easy to admit…but as my progress slowed, I began envying the heck out of others whose progress seemed much faster.
The straw that broke the camel’s back: A beginners’ CF competition at my gym. I’d wanted to do this competition for months; ever since hearing rumors about it in the fall. However, since hearing about it, my confidence had waned and I’d gained 10-12#. Still, I agreed to do it.
Despite the awesome numbers on my arm, I (again, unfortunately) did not have a good time at the competition. I felt slow, wobbly, and weak. I couldn’t stop looking at the people in the lanes beside me. Rather it was true lack of ability or total lack of confidence, I finished the day in 13th (of 14 women) place.
I SHOULD HAVE taken this learning experience and moved on. However, much to my own detriment (and to Derek’s sanity, having to live with me), I held on to this perceived “defeat” and proceeded to beat the sh– out of myself (figuratively). I (again, this is embarrassing) cried off and on for days. I questioned WHY I was doing this (CF) to begin with. I publicly (well, on Facebook) threatened to quit CF. I wrote NUMEROUS depressing blogs (those are still posted if you feel the need to ruin your day ; ).
I am now ashamed of my post-competition behavior. However, I cannot express HOW GLAD I AM that I did that competition!!!! It was, eventually, the jolt I needed to get myself back on track.
Re-HTFU and Learning What it’s All About!
Yes, it took me a couple months of whining, crying, and (again, publicly) proclaiming, “I suck.” However, eventually, I mentally recovered from the events of the winter.
Not only did I recover, I have totally gained a new understanding of why I or anyone else does or should do Crossfit.
First, this is the best community EVER! When I was at my lowest, selfishly degrading myself, my CF friends not only lifted me up, they legitimately threatened to come get me if I didn’t show up to the gym. In the crappiest times, my classmates and coaches (friends) cheered me on harder than ever.
Second, I am no longer jealous of people who are progressing faster or who are doing better than me. I feel true pride watching them kill WOD after WOD. I challenge people to do more than me; to load a heavier bar, to use a bigger KB. I cheer for them when they kill my WOD times. I love watching them and am proud to call these badasses my friends.
…and what do ya know????…as soon as I had this epiphany, as soon as I underwent this change, my progress picked back up.
Since the competition (late-January), I’ve lost all of that winter weight PLUS a couple lbs. ‘And, with the exception of work on the rig (pullups, toes to bar, knees to elbows, ring dips), I ALMOST always Rx WODS. A couple weeks ago, I began snatching 35# KBs (Rx), I’ve increased my 1RM clean from 65# to 95#. I finally got 80# over my head (jerk), and I’ve even started using the second to smallest band for pullups.
Also, I FINALLY got 3 x 24″ box jumps in a row and can FINALLY use a 20″ box in MetCons. Praise God!!! ‘AND….unassisted pull ups are on the horizon…
Life is good. Life in the gym is GREAT! I no longer doubt why I Crossfit. It all makes sense now. The progress of my friends is now as important to me and my own progress. We ARE a team, after all!
Here are A FEW (sorry, if I neglect to give anyone their props!) of my CrossFit heroes!
Looking into the future (and a Derek update)
We live in volatile times. No need to elaborate (economy, etc.). Those of us who have an escape or a channel for our energies are very fortunate. I am one of those people.
Not only have I gained an amazing group of friends (the people pictured above + many, many more), I’ve honestly gained a new lease on life. I feel amazing, emotionally and physically. I am looking better and better. I am conquering fears. I am doing things I NEVER thought I’d do…and I am so grateful and so proud to be a part of Crossfit and a part of an amazing gym!
I am a lucky, lucky, lucky girl; a girl who’s getting in damn good shape! Yay!
….and now for a little Derek-UPDATE!
My (Sam’s) story has not been without major hurdles. Derek’s story, however, has not been without major mountains to climb.
I briefly mentioned earlier that Derek has back issues. These back issues have always existed. However, with the addition of vigorous exercise + a new position that causes him to have to sit all day, the issues have worsened immensely.
Derek has arthritis in his lower back (L4 and L5 vertebrae, I believe). He has degeneration in these discs. He has a spur on one of them. Also, in layman’s terms, the spacing between these discs is uneven; causing one of the discs to slip easily and increasing the chances for pinched nerves.
Between Derek’s back issues and his increased work responsibilities, there exists a pretty bumpy road between him and the gym.
Even though I frequently nag him about “staying Paleo,” I do understand how stress and feeling overwhelmed by these obstacles could make one want to throw in the towel.
However, although Derek indulges in “cheats” more than I’d like, he has not thrown in the towel.
He wants to be more active in the gym. He wants to eat right. He wants to loose the rest of his weight.
Right now, we are both trying to figure out the best way to make all that happen. We will not give up until we make it ALL happen!
Finally, Derek is getting a nerve block in his lower back Wednesday morning. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Let’s hope and pray this will alleviate his pain and allow him to get 100% back on track.
This is NOT reality T.V. This is reality! We savor every victory and work through every defeat.
We have the support, the knowledge, and the resources to achieve great things.
I want to thank ALL our friends, inside and outside the gym for your continued support.
Stay tuned. The future looks bright!
Just as I said nearly a month ago (when I last posted); WOW, it’s been a while!
Honestly, life has been complicated as of late…AND that’s definitely been evident in the gym.
A few of you who know me well know I’ve battled anxiety and depression my whole life. These issues have often been accompanied by a lack of self confidence.
Early on, this lack of belief in myself led me to sit out EVERY field day in grade school. I refused to take on any challenge outside my comfort zone. No sports. No music. No…nothing (with the exception of anything bookish…gotta’ love an area where I excel and get to look smart in the process).
I’ve had A LOT of jobs; about 7 of which I quit after being hired but before my first day of work (yes, I am unfortunately serious about that). With the exception of my first job at Taco Bell (where I was f-i-r-e-d after two months), I quit every one of these jobs because I believed I couldn’t do them well. Each of the jobs I quit before my first day of work…I quit because I felt I would let someone down. I have very high standards; standards that I’ve almost always felt I could not meet.
My husband and I will celebrate our 1-year CrossFit anniversary a week from today. Though we’ve both accomplished a great deal…though I can now do things that I could have never imagined doing a year ago, I still feel I haven’t done enough.
I still compare myself to others…A LOT! With the competition element of CF, it’s hard not to do so. I am not naive enough to compare myself to the elite athletes in the gym. I do, however, compare myself to newcomers. I watch others come in, slow and awkward, panting and fearing impending death after their first WODs. I typically soon watch them kick my behind in MetCons. I’m happy for each and every one of them. However, as the months have passed, I have become increasingly unsure of myself. I sometimes wonder if I am hopelessly out of my element.
The last couple of months, I’ve struggled more than usual with my depression. Inside and outside of the gym, I’ve felt depression tugging at my feet, attempting to drag me down. I question my abilities in every area of my life. I no longer give my self the “noobie” benefit of the doubt in the gym. Slow, sloppy MetCons bring tears to my eyes…and, frankly, they PISS ME OFF!
Self pity (which is an attribute I loathe in myself and others) engulfs me! I downplay my strengths and exaggerate my weaknesses. I become angry at the body the Good Lord gave me. I find it to be too big, too slow, too unbalanced, too weak, and too uncoordinated. I determine my progress to be far too slow. I find it difficult to celebrate the successes of others (which I SO want to do) due to the fact that, when others succeed, I am typically in the midst of berating myself for what I deem to be personal failures.
With all that said, I am STILL doing what I’ve been doing all these months. I am still doing something that, until starting CF, I’d never done before. I am STICKING WITH SOMETHING. I am consistent with my attendance at the gym. No matter how I feel about my daily performance, I must remind myself of this HUGE obstacle I’ve overcome.
Honestly, I AM growing tired of being an underdog. I don’t embrace physical adversity as well as I did a few months ago.
But….Darn it! It’s time for a change. It’s time to escape this BOX I’ve built around myself!
I have not discovered the self pity/lack of confidence cut-off-switch. I have another HUGE task ahead of me. I’ve overcome a lifelong of what you might call “quitt-ery.” NOW, it’s time to tackle my lack of self confidence.
It’s time to allow myself to do my best and to be happy with my best.
Finally, I have a strong feeling that if I can learn to accept myself and my performance that my performance will rapidly improve. I mean, without that little voice telling me, “you suck” or “you’re about to fail again” echoing in my brain during every workout, I have every opportunity to become better.
It’s a process that must happen! Let it commence!
***There WILL be a post next week that will chronicle our CF anniversary! We will even discuss the ever elusive Derek…
Long time, no see!
Life is moving along. Time seems to be flying by. The first thing I know, I haven’t posted to the blog in weeks.
Last we spoke, I was in the midst of an epic funk. I was indulging in LOADS of self pity and was critiquing myself at every chance.
However, through all that, I persevered. I am still persevering.
Despite finding fault in myself at every turn, I wasn’t about to toss all my progress to the side and throw in the towel. If finding my way out of that funk meant going through the motions for weeks, that’s what I would do (and that’s what I did).
I spent much of February “just showing up” at the gym. I went through the WODs; feeling pretty depleted both physically and emotionally. Still, I was there. I never stopped. I attended classes at least 4 times per week, even when I felt my worst.
YES, I am, in a way, patting myself on the back for displaying such fortitude. : )
Even more, however, I am emphasizing what I have learned is the true importance of sticking with something…even when it isn’t going so well.
I feel that by sticking with my workout routine during a time when I actually wanted to grab my dignity and run the other way, I overcame a lifelong habit of running to maintain face (or, at least, to remain in a state where my abilities were not in question).
A.K.A., I stopped running away from perceived failure.
Not only have I learned the importance of persistence…of grit, I have learned a lot about myself:
Self acceptance: I believe that, in order to be successful, in order to meet BIG goals, we must accept who and where we are RIGHT NOW…
Right now, I may be less of THIS kind of “beast…”
…and more of THIS kind of “beast.”
However, I am much more ferocious than any run of the mill quitter.
Even if I am not “Rx-ing” WODs on a daily basis…
Even if I am bringing up the rear after many a MetCon…
One thing I have learned from 11 months of CrossFitting: QUITTING IS NOT AN OPTION!
This lesson is one that can and should transcend most every area of our lives.
“No battle was ever won without one.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” -Booker T. Washington
Also, my hard work may not yield the same results as your hard work. Just as not everyone can be the protagonist in a Steve Jobs-like success story, not everyone can be the strongest and fastest person in the gym. Heck some of us may not be terribly strong or fast at all.
Still, that doesn’t make our progress any less outstanding.
It’s all in how you look at it. I’ve learned to see things differently…to perceive my performance differently. Attitude really is everything.
With that said…What do you see?
Wow! Somehow, I’ve gone from blogging every day to skipping more than 10 days. Sorry about that. Busy, busy!
Anyhow, things are going well. YES…I said WELL!
The only unfortunate incident that occurred over the past couple weeks concerns Derek. During our warm up Monday, he twisted his knee. Due to that injury (it seems to be a knee sprain…however, “someone” refuses to go to the doctor to confirm that suspicion) and long hours at work, D missed going to the gym all but one day this week. On that day, Friday, he did a nearly 40 minute MetCon and again aggrivated his knee. I am STILL recommending a doctor’s visit for him. However, we will see how that goes. Please keep your fingers crossed!!!
Additionally, the Paleo Challenge ended two weeks ago and I have maintained most every habit (Derek is doing well when he is not business lunching…which is a lot lately). The only small small changes I made were: 1) The addition of 1-2 servings of fruit per day and2) A reduction in fat from nut sources.
I will likely discuss how the challenge positively impacted our lives in an upcoming post.
Also, I am back in the gym 5 days per week (6 this week) after falling to three days per week for several weeks. I am logging/tracking every bite of food I put in my mouth. I have big goals once again and am reinvigorated!!!
I even, unofficially, did the 12.1 Open WOD today and actually surprised myself with a few more burpees than expected : )!
We will post again very soon (I actually ((no surprise)) have quite a lot to say : ).
For the meantime, let’s say we are (especially me, Sam) are Under Construction.
My confidence is higher by the day. My passion for CF, health, and fitness is intact. We are only 6 weeks away from our 1 year Faction (our gym)/CrossFit anniversary and have HIGH HOPES that we will make even more great changes in that short time.
Life is good!
Also, if you have not already “liked” our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/From-Fat-to-CrossFit/190313417685485, please do so. We are only 4 likes away from 500. YAY!
Above is perhaps the “spaciest” blog title I’ve come up with to date (insert comical drum beat).
No, I am not deviating from the theme of this blog with a post on astrology.
Lately, more than ever, I’ve been thinking a lot about goals and the attainability of those goals (I promise you’ll get the connection to the title very soon).
When I started CrossFitting in April 2011, I had big goals. I weighed more than I had ever weighed in my entire life; having just gained an additional 20-25 lbs during the winter of 2010-2011 alone. After coming to a sad personal realization back in the fall of 2010, I needed more than anything to channel ALL my energies into something positive; to stop being depressed, to stop eating emotionally, to stop gaining weight, to stop the downward spiral into bad health.
So, after fearfully watching CrossFit videos on You Tube for close to 6 months, I dived into CF head first as soon as the scale tipped 200 lbs.
Day 1, my big goal was simply an aesthetic one. I wanted to wear a two piece bathing suit again and knew that an intense program like CF could get me there and make me feel better about my life in the process. Other than that, my day-to-day goals revolved around mere survival in the gym.
The goal of loosing that weight and improving my overall well-being was a big one. I was “shooting for the stars!”
However, I quickly began to thirst for more.
Before and after WODs, I would stand and watch the more experienced CrossFitters, especially the women. I’d never in my life seen women doing pull ups and lifting Olympic weights. More shockingly, these women didn’t look big and bulky (the way I’d imagined women this strong should look). They looked hot and had the best damn butts I’d ever seen.
I wanted what they had…YES, I wanted what I soon learned was termed a “CrossFit butt.”
To want to be THAT functionally fit redefined my goals entirely. I was no longer shooting for the stars, simply wanting to loose weight and look better.
I was shooting for the flipping rings of Saturn!!!
A recent Again Faster article deemed the driver of this mission, the type of motivation behind CrossFitting, “the drive for physical superiority.”
Attempting to become “physically superior” is an arduous task for even the most seasoned athlete. For me, it is perhaps little better than a pipe dream (YES, that was a tad bit of humor…not a punch at myself).
The reality is (and I’ve mentioned this before), I am not at all athletically inclined. Coordination and balance seem to be bigger issues than anything else. I think I may have already broken the record for the number of times a member has fallen on her a– in my ten months at the gym. Sometimes, I wonder if there is a stronger gravitational pull on my body. Hmmmm….
However, despite the issues I have that prevent me from being an elite CrossFitter, I DO REALIZE that much of my problem is between my ears. I’m struggling with confidence in the gym. I tell myself that I am “a struggler,” that I am imbalanced, that I am uncoordinated…slow…etc, etc, etc.
Somehow, I must convince myself otherwise. I would imagine others who are less “physically inclined” might struggle with this as well.
The fact is (and I encourage others who struggle to do the same), I WILL NOT GIVE UP! I WILL NOT QUIT.
As long as I persevere, I am accomplishing something great; something I was never able to do prior to joining CF. Perseverance has never been my strong suit. This is coming from a woman who’s quit 5…count em’, 5 jobs before my first day of work (This was a pattern in my late teens/early 20’s).
So, I am breaking my mold.
As I work to build my confidence, the knowledge that I am persevering will have to be enough.
I will likely never be a competitor at the CF Games. However, I can become pretty darn amazing. Anyone who continues to attend classes, who listens to their coaches advice, who takes the time to work on physical deficiencies will, in time, do great things in the gym.
I will (WE WILL) get beyond our physical and mental issues that prevent us from being all we can be (Sorry for borrowing that old U.S. Army recruiting line).
As much as I (we) believe I face more challenges than some, I must believe the above! Perseverance will get me (us) there!
Disclaimer: As I mentioned in my last post, I will no longer speak of the catalyst that caused (or contributed to) me loosing my “CrossFit confidence.”
However, as a friend and fellow CrossFit Memphis (Faction) member told me yesterday (paraphrased), I am a real person, with real emotions. I cannot be expected to be ready to dish out motivation on a whim. I will have good days and bad ones. That makes me real.
Yes, I am a real person (I hope you all guessed that much ; ).
On top of my recent promise to not speak of “the catalyst” again, I also made a promise when I began this blog to be honest and candid.
This blog is essentially a diary. However, I hope that others can relate to my experiences. Also, I greatly appreacitate feedback from those of you who experienced similar emotions and situations in the past and have since overcome them.
So, again thank you for following this blog and for liking our Facebook page. I (we) appreciate your feedback more than you know. —Sam
So, on to the issue/topic of the day….
If my confidence (in regard to CF) were a car, it would be miles away in a bad part of town, likely stripped down and sold for parts. Yes, I’ve come to the conclusion that it “really is THAT bad!”
However, confidence is an emotion, a feeling, or, in Applied Behavior Analysis; a Hypothetical Construct.
Here’s a Wikipedia definition of that term I just threw at you: “An ideal object, where the existence of the thing may be said to depend upon a subject’s mind. This, as opposed to a “real” object, where existence does not seem to depend on the existence of a mind.
Essentially, “confidence” is a product of the mind and is a very different type of “thing” than, say, a shirt, an animal, or a car.
Therefore, I cannot smoke out my confidence. If I do believe it is lost (and, I do), it’s going to take a while to regain it. Yes, I am willing to do the work to get there and will keep you posted as I progress.
Also, spending a little more time in the behavior analytic realm…..Let’s talk reinforcement!
Let’s talk Phelps, Michael Phelps, that is…
Yes, Michael wins swim meets!
Yes, Michael wins medals!
However, would Michael have EVER become a champion swimmer if he hadn’t shown some sort of talent at a very young age?
Would Michael have continued swimming had he not liked to swim?
Finally, would Michael have continued swimming all these years, returning for his third Olympic Games this summer, had he not consistently received reinforcement for swimming (Reinforcement: a rewarding process that strengthens a directly measurable behavior,” for Michael, that behavior is swimming.)?
So, this is where I get to my point!!!!
Am I the Michael Phelps of CrossFit?….Um…NO!
Am I at least the Mark Warkentin (a lesser known member of the 2008 men’s Olympic swim team) of CrossFi?…Again…NO!
I am the kid who never makes it to the Games.
On a good day, I am the kid with more heart than heat. On a bad day, I am the kid who never gives herself a chance.
Why? ‘Because I do not receive the same amount of reinforcement for what I do as a Michael Phelps-type athlete would receive.
Actually, what I and others who struggle to complete WODs, who bring up the bottom in competitions receive is something that is nothing like reinforcement.
What we receive for what we do, again in behavior analytic terms, can actually come in the form of punishment. Yep, I said it…Punishment.
Loosing SUCKS! Even for the person with the best attitude known to man, it SUCKS! It is MUCH easier to win than to loose (and that’s putting it lightly).
Typically people do that for which they are good.
For example, I remained in college for 11 years because I was damn good at being a student. Though, I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life (hence, the psychology/journalism/marketing/education/behavior analysis concentrations and degrees), I excelled and was reinforced consistently for my efforts. I maintained a 3.8 GPA and received consistent praise from professors for my efforts. Maybe, I was not the Michael Phelps of college students. Still, I would NOT have remained in college all those years had I been a struggling student!!!!
744 words into this post, I’m guessing you are getting my drift.
Since people typically do what for which they are good, it’s rare to see the person with the heart to continue doing something for which they continually struggle.
Because of this struggle, I and others DO deserve a hearty pat on the back for continuing to persevere through adversity.
Again, as I noted earlier, I am innately human; a REAL person with real emotions.
I must admit it is, at times, very difficult to stand in the middle of my gym, to look around, and to see most everyone absolutely kicking a$$, while I struggle to do a simple box jump.
Also, I must admit that I am jealous of my friends who are much stronger CrossFitters than I. It’s very hard to be left behind over and over. People join and within a few weeks or months, they are running both literal and hypothetical circles around me (that was painfully evident during the “catalyst,” as I was one of the most tenured beginners there…and I came in very, very near the bottom).
With all that admission, I must also admit that though I am a REAL person, I must also be a gracious and good person. Therefore, I cannot dwell on my feelings of inadequacy or jealousy. I will not continuously reprimand myself for having these feelings. However, I will work to overcome them by working on myself as hard as I can possibly work.
Despite the still freshness of my feelings of insecurity, I must push forward, as I hope all of the rest of you who struggle will do as well.
We must defy the odds by trudging forward despite NOT often receiving reinforcement for our efforts. ‘And, yes, we must watch our peers excel as we struggle…AND we must do that graciously (and you all do not even have to admit your feelings of jealousy, as I have done that for you ; ).
How amazing will it be to see more and more people struggle against the odds? Eventually, some of us are bound to “cross over” to elite-status!
So, fellow nontraditionals, STICK WITH ME! It won’t be easy….but again:
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led diffcult lives and led them well.” — Teddy Roosevelt
“Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.” –Author Unknown
So, despite our adversity, let’s move forward. Let’s “reveal” what we’re made of!
First, I want to apologize to our readers. I (Sam, who writes most all of the Facebook posts and all of the blog posts) have let you down!
Our Facebook page’s and this blog’s primary messages are to let EVERYONE know they CAN DO ANYTHING in regard to their health and fitness goals.
This past week, I have been anything but motivating. I have emitted a message of failure and self-pity. That is exactly the opposite message I want to send to you. Any person who has a public platform, no matter how modest in size, owes it to his or her readers to be consistent; to be consistent in regard to what he or she stands for. I promised you that I would tell you and show you that anyone can be a CrossFitter.
However, the last several days, I let my emotions and pride skew that message.
For most of my life, I engaged in those bad habits…wallowing in self-pity and allowing myself to see change as impossible.
When I started CF in April 2011, I STOPPED pitying myself. I stopped seeing myself as helpless in changing my life and my body.
Through our Facebook page and this blog, I wanted to share that change with you. I wanted to let you know that even the most stubborn person, with the most engrained bad habits could change in an AMAZING way!
As many of you requested, I will not again mention the “catalyst” that led me off track. I will however, make a vow to NEVER again repeatedly engage in public self-pity. I may have a bad day from time to time. That is normal. However, I will not drag our readership down with me.
Again, I am truly sorry for breaking form in such a dramatic way. Old habits die hard. However, I owe it to you and to myself to soften the public blow of those habits.
—-Don’t let your bad day be someone else’s bad day. –Author Unknown
NOW…we can OFFICIALLY put all that negativity behind us.
Let’s talk new habits; good ones!!!
Derek and I are now on Day 20 of our 28 day Paleo Challenge.
I mentioned before that it took nearly 10 days to acclimate to this way of eating.
However, now, things are running quite smoothly. Here are some of the changes D and I have made in the past almost-3 weeks…
So, even though we deviated from this challenge in what has to be record time (cheating with pizza and cupcakes on Day-1), we’ve already gotten a lot from the 3 weeks we’ve been in this challenge.
I hear it takes 3-weeks to build a habit. We intend to keep these good habits, adding back only coffee and fruit, for a lifetime.
Finally, in the spirit of positivity, I would like to leave you with a few more quotes…
Here’s to seeing the glass as half full from here on!!! Thanks for sticking with us!
Whew! What a couple days; an emotional couple days.
The days following last Saturday’s competition were, in some ways, tougher than the competition itself.
Accepting my performance at the competition has been hard. I blogged this weekend about working to be at peace with this. However, I have struggled to gain that peace.
No matter what EVERYONE has told me, I do not think I will ever be 100% at peace with my competition performance. I may have to accept that I will always look back at that day and wish I did more, wish I had been more prepared, wish that I was leaner, faster, more balanced, wish that I hadn’t stopped so often, wish that I had pushed myself to the absolute brink.
So, I have to be at peace with the fact that I am not really at peace. Also, I ask that all my friends and family try to understand this.
Yes, again, I am proud of myself. I am proud I competed. I am proud I didn’t quit. I am proud I did something that I could have never done 3, 6, or 9 months ago. I AM proud!
Now, let’s hear an AMEN for….MOVING ON!
All I can control is the future. I want to take what I learned Saturday and from Saturday’s aftermath and USE IT to my advantage.
First of all, I MUST gain confidence in myself. I must not approach any WOD knowing I will come in last, knowing that I am slower, weaker, etc than others. If I think I “know” something, I need to forget it!!! I MUST forget it!
Also, I must learn to only compete with myself. Big deal if others beat me! It doesn’t mean a thing. I cannot continue to be angry with myself when others come out ahead of me. I cannot continue to feel like a loser when others progress faster than me. That has NOTHING to do with me. I must respect the body I HAVE! It’s mine. It’s all I got!!! It’s what I have to work with.
The competition brought a lot of my insecurities to a head. ‘And you know what, THAT’S A GOOD THING!
This needed to happen! I now need to not only focus on my body. I need to focus on this stubborn head of mine. I need to learn to love myself.
Respecting, loving, and being confident in myself must be added to my list of goals. These things are perhaps even MORE IMPORTANT than my functional/physical goals. If I ever want to meet my functional/physical goals, these “mental” goals must be at the top of my list. They must stay at the top of my list!
It’s time for a change. This change may manifest in my performance. However, it must originate in my head and in my heart.
Tomorrow is a new day! Let’s do this!