Alternate title: “That Time I Joined a Cult and Liked It.”
I was inspired by “Ten Things That Happen to You When You Begin CrossFit.”
1. I quickly stopped doubting the CrossFit philosophy. I had heard the hype, seen the photos of ice bathes and torn hands and bruises, and been annoyed with all the PR and WOD status updates. So, naturally, I figured it was another fad, and I viewed the whole community warily. Of course, I’m the type of person that tries to subscribe to a “don’t knock it until you try it” philosophy, so I finally went and tried it out.
After my first Workout Of the Day (WOD), I could barely walk for the next four days. It was absurd, but I hadn’t been pushed like that in ages. Something clicked, and I eventually went back for a second session. And a third. And…
2. I re-discovered the power of a team. I lamented a lot in grad school about how the lack of a team made working out incredibly difficult for me. I missed having my dance and cheer teammates around, and I missed the push and pull that comes with trying to better yourself while trying to keep up with others. At CrossFit HEL, I discovered teammates who were willing to get to know me and willing to cheer me on through the modifications and the scaling and the self-doubt. They keep me coming back each day.
3. I underestimated myself. I started at zero. Square one. Nothing. I was so incredibly out-of-shape and the images of CrossFit women who are cut and strong beyond belief didn’t help. Now, as I tackle each workout, I know that there will be challenges I run into. I know that I’ll still be scaling and modifying for a long time, but I am also realizing that I underestimate what I can already do.
In the past few weeks, I realized that my Grace benchmark time has dropped significantly and the weight I used had shot up significantly. I could be doing more in that case. I had a complex surrounding box jumps, and all of a sudden, last Saturday, I was hitting 20″ box jumps. I also hit my first double-unders (jump rope–two twirls, son) that same day–after whipping the jump rope into my shins multiple times the previous Tuesday.
Understanding that I’m balancing this underestimation with trying not to injure myself is going to be key. I’m already starting to push my limits a bit more, and the mental breakthroughs are already astounding.
4. I was scared. Period. Scared of being laughed at. Scared of hurting myself. Scared of not being accepted. But I found a team that supports me, and that made a world of difference. I tell people thinking about starting CrossFit, “You really need to find a team and a trainer that you mesh with.” Be intentional in seeking out the folks that will see you at your most defeated. Worked for me.
5. Then I wasn’t scared–but just nervous before hitting the floor. I did my first CrossFit Games WOD while I was in Las Vegas, and I was nervous. A judge would be watching me, I was going to an out-of-town box, my regular trainer wasn’t there, and I had just previously maxed my overhead snatch at 55lbs. the week prior. I had butterflies to the extent that I thought it was cheerleading try-outs all over again.
I’m usually anxious before any WOD because everything is different, and it’s constantly a competition with myself. From what I’ve heard, this anxious feeling doesn’t fade for some. I’ve always been anxious before my biggest and most important performances, and historically speaking, good things have come from those. I like the rush, even if it’s stressful beforehand.
6. I started thinking about fitness and wellness even more holistically. I am more conscious about what I eat because it helps me perform better, and when I perform better, I feel better. When I feel better, I am happier. When I’m happier, I’m more productive. I’m more dynamic. I’m not always going to “be on” every day, and CrossFit probably isn’t going to be a magic bullet for my love life, but I am incorporating much more of my individual wellness pieces into a cohesive structure.
7. Any ego I has been completely destroyed. If I thought I was the best or better than anyone at any point, that’s gone. I’m a fairly humble person to begin with, so CrossFit has been great for keeping me in check. There is always something to strive towards in this plan. That said…
8. I take ownership of my shortcomings–and my accomplishments. I know the things I cannot do yet, I know the things I can do better, and I know the things I have learned to do better. Maybe I can’t hit Rx’d WODs at this point in time, but I’m sure doing more than I did when a typical week was maybe two nights of yoga and lots of beers.
9. My arms came back! Enough said. (Although they are shot from last night’s WOD.)
10. I began to establish a home in Portland, OR. Does it sound funny to center my new universe around a gym? Not after reviewing the other nine reasons.
I love the area I’ve landed in. I’m almost one year in, and I can say that this transition out of grad school is going much better than my transition out of undergrad. I have many challenges to face and tackle yet, but in being intentional and continuing to reflect, I’m finding that things are taking on deeper and richer meaning–and that has made a world of difference.