For the month of February, I “practiced” on a daily basis. While I chose a rather broad theme to “practice” (“What would love do”), I found by focusing on this theme, I ended up practicing a whole lot of other, smaller things that I might not otherwise have chosen to focus on, and on the whole, I’m a whole lot happier for it . . . yes, I found joy in practicing.
Let me explain. When you put things into the context of love, things that might otherwise seem like chores become a lot easier and more enjoyable to undertake. I found this to be profoundly true when I used this logic on myself. About half way through the month, I realized that despite eating pretty well, and exercising pretty consistently, my body just wasn’t looking the way it had a year ago, and I just didn’t feel as good as I would like to. (To put this a bit into context, it’s been a bit of a rough year for me having been put back onto meds for a pituitary tumour after being off them for a year – my hormones are still stabilizing and it seems that some weight gain has been the end result of this medical experiment).
In the past, I would have beaten myself up for allowing myself to get bigger; workouts would have gotten longer, more intense, and caloric intake would have dropped. But this month, I took a different approach. I lovingly treated myself like I would treat the Husband or the kids if they came to me with a problem; I was patient with myself, I didn’t blame myself, and I quietly set about finding a solution. In this case, that solution involved sitting down with the Coach, reviewing my training and my nutrition and getting back into the practice of writing down when and what I eat along with my daily workouts. With just a few small changes, my weight started to drop, my energy levels started to go up, and I was palpably happier.
This weekend, the Crossfit Games Open started – for those of you who don’t know anything about Crossfit, this is a 5 week competition that anyone around the world can participate in. Each Thursday night, a workout is revealed, and participants must complete the workout and submit their scores (each workout is scored) by Monday night. The top men and women in each region around the world go on to compete at a regional competition, from which the top men and women then go on to compete at the Crossfit games. I participated in the “Open” two years ago. It was a terrifying yet thrilling experience and I loved it. Each week I loved seeing how well I completed the workout compared to the thousands of other people in the competition. But each week I also realized how much work I needed to do in order to get better at Crossfit – I turned something I had loved to do into a chore that I pursed with dogged perseverance, and in the end, there were some unpleasant consequences to my actions.
Once I was able to get back to that place of fun in the gym, and working out for the pure love of movement and physical activity, without the pressure of constantly needing to reach specific goals in specific time frames, I became happier, and more excited about my workouts, and decided never to risk doing another Crossfit Games again.
Fast forward to this Sunday – the first workout of the 2016 Crossfit Games was announced last Thursday night. Of course I watched the announcement, and was prepared to cheer on all my friends at the gym as they completed their workouts. But there was NO WAY that I was going to sign up to do it myself. I walked into the gym on Sunday, expecting to do a partner wod with my training partner . . . but before I knew it, I had barbell at my feet, a judge to my right and a countdown clock beeping out the seconds until the workout began.
This particular workout contained a movement called “Chest to Bar” pull ups. This means, that each time you pull up to the bar, your chest, at a point below the collar bones, must hit the bar. Judges are told to hold on to the support of the pull up bar so they can literally “feel” each time you hit the bar. I’ve said before . . . regular pull ups are a challenge for me. Chest to bar pull ups seem like an impossibility.
But, the rush of adrenaline that kicks in during one of these competitions, combined with the amazingly supportive atmosphere of my gym . . . and I managed to eek out FORTY chest to bar pull ups during the course of the 20 minute long workout. Now, to get those 40 “reps”, I think I tried at least 80 . . . and spent the last 5 minutes of the workout struggling to get the last set of 8 reps done. When the time on the clock mercifully ran out, my immediate reaction was to get upset with myself. “Why haven’t you worked harder on your pull ups” … “Why haven’t you worked harder to get lighter” … “You could have done so much better if you had dedicated yourself to working on your pull ups” … “Why” … “Why” … “Why”.
And then I stopped.
What would love do.
And then I smiled.
If the Husband or the kids had just done the workout I had done, I wouldn’t berate them. I’d hug them and tell them how proud I was of them, how amazed I was that they’d done what they’d done. And in that moment, I was able to release myself from the negative self talk, embrace the moment, and be proud of myself.
Sunday night brought my family together ostensibly to celebrate my birthday. But inside, I was celebrating so much more.