The super duper short answer is that I had my computer and purse stolen recently, plus my cell phone went haywire, and trying to replace and regroup has taken an inordinate amount of time and energy. I still am not totally over it – still haven’t found an adequate way, for example, to do emails the way I “want to” – but I’m getting there.
Losing 20+ years’ worth of email tags, flags, folders, etc. is like losing a part of your brain. Though I have “chronological” backup, I lost all my email folders and flags, because I didn’t set up the backup correctly. It’s not as gut-wrenching as losing things that are “irreplaceable” – like the chamsa from Israel or my USMC dog tags that were in my coin purse – but still miserable. Just the other day a client asked for the name of an expert I’d told her about a few months ago, and I went to get the name from my “expert folder” which is . . . gone. No way to remember the name, as it was snuggled in that folder for years, where I would pull it out on the random occasions I needed it. Harrumph.
But this post was to be about Crossfit.
About three weeks ago (more or less) I also was given the medical opinion that I should basically quit Crossfit. The short story (I know, I know, my stories are never short) is that doing the 5 marathons and triathlon in a year-ish totally messed up my hormones, and that the ‘metcon’ [METabolic CONditioning] portion of Crossfit wasn’t allowing that to heal. Hence the continued 30% body fat percentage (and dreaded, unbudge-able, “back fat”), draggy-ness even on a handful of meds and supplements, etc.
I parsed through the “Why” of quitting Crossfit with medical professionals, and what it came down to was that I could keep going, if I concentrated on the Strength portion, walking, and “some sprinting, but not right now.” This follows the basic prescription from books such as Younger Next Year and innumerable podcasts that I’ve blogged about. Just no metcons or long, endurance-type workouts.
So Coach Bo (our Programming Director) now does up a week-in-advance schedule for me. It basically takes out the metcon portion of whatever is programmed. As an example, I might be doing the same movements as the program, but not “for time,” or I might be “going heavy” where the program is to go less heavy and to sprint.
Since I now have to really concentrate on form because I’m trying to “go bigger” with lifts, I also had to change my workout time.
I’ve been going to the 9:00 a.m. WOD for over a year now. Recently, it’s gotten a lot more “social” – people talking, etc. There are also now a lot of people in the box, and with lots of people, one coach, three different programming tracks, etc., you wind up being coached more reactively (“No, don’t do that!”) than “proactively” (“Let me show you how to do that in the best way for you.”)
So I swapped out to the 7:15 a.m. WOD. It has, max, 4 other people besides me in it, and all are men concentrating on “getting’er done.” Some mornings, it’s just me, or me and one guy. So this allows me to get proactive, personal coaching. There’s no “share the bar, gossip or chat between sets, sass mouth, sandbag, don’t-squat-all-the-way-down-in-wall-balls-if-the-coach-isn’t-looking” vibe.
A big part of why I wanted a switch, too, is that I continued to be far and away the “worst one” in every activity. New women would join, and within a month or so, they’d be out-squatting, out-lifting, out-whatever-ing me. (And no, they were not 20 to my 50.) I’m not particularly competitive, but this sort of thing just grinds you down, especially when you feel you are trying so hard at everything.
This is what came out for me yesterday. There is a new coach at our box, Coach Chelsea. And yesterday, it was just the two of us in the WOD at 7:15. So, basically, I got a private.
Part of the WOD prescribed for me that day was “weighted walking lunges.” I have had stabilization/balance and pain issues with lunges for years now, so I have always done these either forward but holding on to a vertical with one hand, or as reverse lunges while standing in place. When I went to do that, Coach Chelsea said, basically, “Nope.”
Just the day before, I’d done a WOD with Coach Bo, who was enthusiastically surprised when I could do an “ass to grass” squat with my heels still on the floor. Oh sure, I have to push up with my hands to get out of it, and I can’t just drop down into it, but when I first came to Crossfit, I couldn’t even squat down more than maybe about 5-6″ before getting “stuck.” It took me a year to get to the point where I could get my butt below my knee crease, and even then, it was with a box or wall ball under me. (I still do this for lifts that contain squats.)
Because I’m new to Coach Chelsea (and vice-versa), however, she doesn’t cut me any slack. She wants to “see” why I have to scale, and pushes me to do things where my constant, ever-present internal backtalk pushes back with “I can’t.”
I did this when she told me I had to do actual forward lunges – not with a weight, but I had to actually touch my back knee to the ground, and I had to travel doing it. When I said “I can’t,” she said, “I don’t believe you. Do it. Show me why you can’t.”
The first round was not the prettiest thing. But I did it. Then she stopped me and said, “You are always saying you ‘can’t’. You’re stuck in your own back story. It’s time to look forward from that, because you’re using it to get away with not progressing further. It’s a crutch.”
What did I want to say back? I wanted to say how far I had come. I wanted to say that she didn’t “know” how “bad I had been” and how “great” what I was doing was, comparatively. Heck, all the other coaches are amazed that I can lunge down while holding onto a vertical, why aren’t you? Why do you want me to do something I find not just scary, but super scary? What if I fail?
Why didn’t I say that? Because I knew she was right. So I teared up (which totally surprised her), and then we had a discussion about the issue (it being a private lesson and all).
The discussion brought up a memory of a friend of mine, who, to be crass, “thinks her sh*t doesn’t stink.” She objectively is not all that good at her job (we used to work together, so I know), at what she does in her personal life, etc. But she thinks she’s awesome. It’s a wonder for me to behold.
I admitted to Coach Chelsea that one of the main reasons that I didn’t try some things was not so much that I felt I would get hurt doing them. It was that I didn’t want to be embarrassed by trying super hard at something that wasn’t even a drop in the bucket for everyone else, and potentially failing. Also, I told her about the whole “being the worst in the gym” thing.
She didn’t disagree with me about that comment. But what she said was that I was looking at this from the wrong perspective. That sure, maybe I was the worst. But there were people who would love to have the will power to get off the couch and go to a gym to just ride the stationary bike and leaf through a magazine. Much less go five times a week to something as “bad ass” as Crossfit.
She also said that everyone in the gym felt the same way. In other words, if you were doing a move perfectly but without weight, you looked at the ones who did it with weight. If you did it with light weight, you looked at people doing it with more weight. If you were the top of the box, you competed, then realized that you were really just a big fish in a small pond.
That you want to use where the people that are better than you are to motivate you – and to use where you used to be to springboard from. (Which reminds me of my first BIG “Can’t” argument with Coach Chelsea – max box jumps. My max to that point was 15″ – I was stacking up plates to start at 13″ and “maybe get to” 17″. She made me go over to the gymnastics pit and practice and practice and practice. and “Shut up already with the ‘Can’t’!” By the end I did 24″. Still the “worst in the gym” – but way better than my previous best.)
And speaking of couch potatoes, I had, in fact, been one. That’s what had started the odyssey that ended with me completing the Ironman triathlon. I know that many people just want to run a half or a full marathon, and, gee, I did five in one year with a triathlon and a long distance swim thrown in. If someone marvels at that, I of course answer immediately that I’m a back-of-the-pack’er, and that I know that they can do it. But being a “back of the pack’er” doesn’t take away from the pile of finisher medals on my bureau, and I have to stress that in my mind, not the “back-ness.”
Coach Chelsea also said that she had had some of these issues herself, because she’s of larger stature. As she put it (when we were practicing rope climb drills), she had a “lot more to get up the rope” than the usual Crossfit woman. To progress, she had to not only compare herself only to herself, but also to constantly poke any “Can’t’s,” to see if they’re still true.
I hate realizing that my own mind is holding me back. Realizing that feeling I had gone “so far” from my beginning was making me sandbag to some extent. And, more importantly, that not wanting to “feel stupid” for trying a heavier weight that was still by far the lightest weight on the whiteboard – and failing at it – was causing me not to try that heavier weight at all. Also, that I was sort of depending upon the coaches who really had seen me from the beginning to tell me how great i was doing – when I could do better. Yuck.
Well, that’s enough from me. How about you?
Have you ever “not tried harder” because you felt you were “doing enough”? Or that even if you “did amazingly” you would still be last, so you don’t even want to put in the effort?
What are you sandbagging at?
What’s your self-talk like? Do you constantly “bad mouth” yourself to yourself, or do you think that your “stuff” doesn’t stink?
How do you handle defeats? Do you keep at it? Do you stay in the “safe” zone? Do you quit? Do you blame?
How does what people “think of you” affect you?
Where do you feel you could improve? If no one is pushing you, are you able to push yourself?
What do you aspire to? What inspires you? Or, on the flip side, what defeats you?