Pull-Ups: A Metaphor for (my) Life

According to the dictionary, a pull-up is an exercise in which you hold onto a bar above your head and then pull your body up until your chin is above the bar.  When you put it like that, it doesn’t seem so bad.  But then there’s the reality.  You’re hanging from a bar, and without any countermovement or other kind of assistance and you need to pull your entire bodyweight up high enough for your CHIN to get over the bar.

Have you guessed yet from my tone that I’m not really a huge fan of the pull-up???  So, here’s the thing.  Pull-ups are pretty much a staple in crossfit wods (workout of the day).  In crossfit, you are allowed to “kip” your pull ups, which basically means you get to swing a little bit to generate some momentum to help you get up high enough for your chin to clear the bar.  Regardless, your chin still has to get OVER the bar.  Because of how and where I learned crossfit, pull-ups weren’t a core part of my workout regime.  So, it’s not a skill that I’ve repeatedly practiced.  And because of that, and my inability to practice them on my own, I stink at them.  Meaning, I’m lucky if I can get in one decent strict pull-up in a day.  Kipping, I can sometimes pull of miracles . . . but those days are few and FAR between . . . as in the sun, the moon and the stars all have to be in alignment for that to happen.

So.  This fall, I announced to the Coach that I wanted to tackle the pull-up.  It was high time I learned this skill.  Enough was enough.  I was going to work on this skill until I could pull-up with the best of them.

But since then . . . I’ve done nothing about it.  Sure, I’ve done a few here and there (when I’m training with the Coach), but I haven’t put in the time, work, or effort when I’m training on my own.  It’s as if I’m hoping/waiting for the Coach to turn into some sort of Crossfit (Fairy) Godfather, wave some sort of magic wand/barbell and grant me the gift of pull-ups.

Today at the gym, there was NO hiding from pull-ups.  We were instructed to do 6 rounds of 6 pull-ups.  In my first set I did a sort of jumping pull-up.  In the second set, I tried a few strict, and then a few kipping.  Then I moved on to 6 kipping.  Then back to 3 strict, 3 kipping . . .you get the idea.  All the while I was moving from bar to bar basically trying every plausible way possible to avoid putting in the ACTUAL hard work of trying to get my chin over the bar, I was watching my training partner bang off her pull-ups like they were nothing . . . and looking good while she was doing them.  And in my head, I pitched a hissy fit.  I WANTED TO DO THAT TOO.  (and look that good while doing it).  Rest assured, I then proceeded to have a full internal dialogue about why the situation was my own damn fault.

As I drove home, and started my daily routine, I kept going back to this idea of wanting to learn pull-ups but then doing pretty much nothing abut it.  And that got me thinking about my life in general; pull-ups are just like that issue you have in your real life; the one you LOVE to complain about, but do nothing to try and actually fix it.  Sure, you might work on other areas of your life, hoping that it will somehow rub off and magically start solving your other issues.  But just like in the gym, no matter how many accessory strength movements you might work on, they will never magically provide you with the specific strength you need to get your chin over the bar.  If I’m going to succeed in mastering the pull-up, or solving any life issues, I’m going to have to buckle down, get to work, and WORK HARD.

Looks like tomorrow might be the start of a long period of sheer hard work for me.  In the gym, and in life.

Speaking of which, tomorrow is also the start of my Thanksgiving dinner preparation marathon. Because of that, and the fact that the little ones have swimming lessons after school, dinner tonight is simple: sausages and roasted cauliflower and sweet potato.  We made a double batch of banana muffins this morning before school so the kids have breakfast/snacks for the rest of the week/weekend.  All that to say, likely no more new recipes for me until after we’re through with Thanksgiving.  I’ll probably post some of my thanksgiving staples as I make my way through my cooking to-do list, though . . .

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