Monday, June 15, 2009

On the idea of being "Cross" "Fit"....

When you think about the term CrossFit, what does it mean to you? I know a lot of people think that CrossFit means that physically you are cross fit. It means that you are physically fit when you are compared to others across different disciplines like gymnastics, weightlifting, and cardio. It means that your fitness has crossed between many areas. To me I suppose that CrossFit does mean that, but for me, the word CrossFit has started to take on a whole other meaning.

So often I have walked into that box wanted to be stronger, faster, move more efficiently; there's always been something. I've wanted to do HSPU's, or I've wanted to get my ring dips back, or I've wanted to move faster. I've really wanted to be good at all those things. But, lately, or rather, for the majority of the past 8 months or so, I've really struggled to keep my head in that box. I've told several people over the last few weeks that this has been the most difficult school year I have ever had, both personally and professionally. No matter what it seemed like there was always something coming after me. School stress, relationship stress, friendship stress, financial stress, other work stress. This year for whatever reason, it just seemed neverending.

More and more I've found myself looking to CrossFit. But even as I looked to CrossFit I thought to myself how in the world could being "Cross" "Fit" help me with any of this? How could being physically fit across several different discplines be any help to me at all? I'm not lifting anything. I'm not dragging anything. I'm not pulling anything or pushing anything. How could this possibly help? Well, that's when I got to thinking. Maybe "Cross" "Fit" isn't just about being fit across athletic disciplines. Maybe CrossFit really means something else. Maybe it means that you're strong in both body and in mind. Maybe it really means that your fitness crosses between your mind and your body?

I can't tell you how many times in the last few months I've said to myself that if I can lift X number of pounds over my head, I should be able to make it through whatever it was that I was facing. I have said to myself that if I can do Murph, I can surely get through whatever trouble was headed my way. I have told myself that if I can survive doing things with torn calluses, bruised collarbones, skinned shins, sore muscles, and bruised thighs, then I should certainly be able to handle a little stress at work. So just like at CrossFit where I get stronger one rep at a time, I hunker down and get stronger by putting one foot in front of the other and taking one step at a time.

This goes without saying of course, or I guess with saying since I'm saying it, that this transition did not happen overnight. In those early days of CF, I think I quit a lot. I think I gave up too soon. But one day I just sort of stopped short and had a moment. You know, one of those "AHA!" moments. I realized that wow, I just took something in stride that a few months ago would have knocked me down and given me quite a beating. It was then that this idea of being "Cross" "Fit" sort of first originated.

CrossFit has made me fit across lots of different athletic disciplines, but what I'm now beginning to understand is that CrossFit is not just about physical strength. It's about discovering your own mental strength as well. The mental strength to perservere; to push through pain, weakness, fatigue, exhaustion, sadness, and the overwhelming desire to give up and give in. It also is about learning your mental strength in terms of your intelligence. A mentally strong athlete knows when to call the ball and try again another day, a strong athlete does not, as often they are more concerned simply with being strong or getting through the workout. CrossFit helps us as athletes gain that intelligence. It helps us learn to walk that fine line between giving up and just giving it a go on another day. And not only that, but I have discovered that CrossFit is giving me the mental strength to learn about myself and my strengths and weaknesses as an athlete.

I have discovered that I am 100% an emotional eater. I can guarantee you that my Zone will be much more successful as soon as the next four days are over. I KNOW I will be fine. But in the meantime, the added stress of still being in school and being surrounded by end of the year popsicles, cakes, cookies, brownies, cupcakes... you name it and I've probably seen it in the last week, has me jonesing for sugar and candy gallore. Learning this weakness and identifying this pattern is only part of the battle, but not something that I ever would have learned about myself had I not had the knowledge and power of CrossFit behind me. Now this summer it's time to get down and dirty and stop with the half assed Zone and get it back solid.

But getting back to it, this is not to say that I walk into every problem head on determined to tackle it with the fxd=p ratio of a 250lb power clean. I still have my off days, most definitely. Today was one such day. But what I am saying is that, when the dust of the day has settled, and the 20 minutes or so of tears are done, then emerges that knowledge that I will be fine. I will do what I need to be ok. I WILL somehow manage. I WILL somehow conquer what lies before me. Before finding CrossFit, I don't know that I ever would have been able to do that or say that. I can recall being down for days and weeks before and just wondering when things were going to get better. Thinking when could I get things under control. That doesn't happen so much anymore. But as I said before, that's not to say I don't have my down moments/days, we certainly all do, we're human. But I'm saying that over the course of the long run, CrossFit has given me that mental strength. That mental fitness that is enabling me to push forward through the insanity that life throws my way, using that internal fortitude to do just that. Push forward, and push through. CrossFit is truly making me "Cross" "Fit", body AND mind.


Justa said...

Grasshopper, you are learning much.

The Wigan Crossfitter said...

I've often wondered the same thing Katie.
Exercise does release those endorphins. Crossfit has given me highs on few occasions (particularly Murph or the first time I ran 10k).

I think that as crossfit demands dedication and endurance these qualities are transferable to the outside world too.

Katie said...

I like to think that CF has taught me a lot. Not just about fitness but about life and myself in general.

Steve, I don't know if everyone feels the way I do, but for some reason I just feel that if I can tackle the stuff that Jerry and CF HQ are throwing my way, I really ought to be able to handle some work stress. It's amazing how quickly with some of the CF stuff you learn perseverence.

Erin Gabriel said...

Love the post girl! So true. I used to think I was mentally tough, but after countless injuries I lost it. I feel it coming back with CF though--I feel alive with a whole new sense of self confidence that I just couldn't muster on my own!

Jerry Hill said...

This is what it's all about, good stuff Katie.

"Awakening the Devil Dog Within"

Tenacity; Bravery; Determination; Dedication; Unselfishness; and Camaraderie.

Adam said...

"Sit mens sana in corpore sano"
(a healthy mind in a healthy body)

~The poet Juvenal's answer to what one should desire in life.

Katie said...

Erin, I'm glad you liked the post, and I'm glad to hear that CF is doing lots of good things for you!

Jerry, I love it. Can we put that on a t-shirt?!

Adam, that's a terrific quote. I think I will use it somewhere... sometime... when I find a way...