Thursday, July 22, 2010

What does it mean to be a CF "badass"?

Before I start writing this post, I want to post a little disclaimer. If you take a look at that really big blog title up here.... look up, little higher, little... uh huh! Yup there you go... you got it... If you notice, it says KATIE'S Mindless Ramblings. Not Kristen or Amanda or Sarah or Jane... KATIE'S. That means that all the thoughts contained in this blog are my own. Love 'em or hate 'em, they're my thoughts and opinions. Of course my thoughts and opinions are ALWAYS subject to change... it's my perogative (Thank you Bobby Brown), but regardless they are still MY thoughts. Do you have to agree with them? Of course not! But if you're coming to read my blog and read my thoughts and opinions, I will only say one thing. Be respectful. I welcome and encourage other thoughts and opinions, regardless of whether you're a regular commentor, a lurker, or someone who has stumbled upon me for the first time. However, I will not tolerate stupidity, ignorance, or disrespect. You wanna attack me for sharing my thoughts? Pack a lunch pal 'cause I won't put up with it. Now, having said that, on to the day's ramblings....

This past weekend was a busy weekend for me with shifts at my restaurant and two swim meets, and needless to say, I was not able to glue myself to the computer to watch the live streaming of the CrossFit Games. When I got some down time on Tuesday to go check things out, I have to say that I became apalled. When I started to read the message boards and saw all the people tearing one another to shreds over one another's opinions, it nearly made me sick to my stomach. The CF community has thrived due to the support system that it has ultimately created. But on that particular thread, it almost seemed to be a case of "he who bitches the loudest and the longest wins". On and on the threads went about who's badass and who isn't and who should've won and how unfair it was... instead of just congratulating the athletes. Now, I understand fully that this is real life, and real life is not always, as my ex used to say, "happy go poppy". Things can't always be nice and full of bunnies and fluffy cute kittens (Did you see Despicable Me??? IT'S SO FLUFFY!!! Sorry... sidetracked). People have opinions, people start arguments, and people in general will be, well... people. But it seemed that the one thing that kept coming up on the threads was this idea of "being badass". People kept saying one thing or another made someone a badass and it really got me to thinking what all this "badass" stuff was about.

I have a hard time imagining what it must have been like for Coach Glassman as he sat dreaming up the idea of CF. How in the world could anyone have dreamt this up? I mean really. That aside though, I can picture him wanting a new type of fitness, a better way to train, but I have a hard time seeing him sitting in his basement going, "Well damn. I just want to make people badass." I don't see that as being part of the logic for him starting all this. But it seems to be an idea that is now running rampant in the CF community. Everyone is striving to be "badass". But what does that even mean? There seems to be, at least in this girl's opinion, a subculture forming in CF that is focused on their "badassitude" and believes that badasses are made more by appearance and personality than actual actions. It seems that they have the idea that just walking through the door with a certain type of image makes someone a badass.

Now, before you go all psycho, breathe. I think you know what I'm driving at. It seems that there are a lot of people out there coming into the CF world because it's the hip/cool thing to do. They seem to think that by showing up and looking/acting a certain way, it makes them a badass, which therefore is wicked cool. Being a true badass IS seriously wicked cool. But you know what, here's a clue. Tatting yourself until you're blue in the face doesn't make you badass. Wearing next to nothing to the box does not make you badass. Swearing so much that your mother breaks out the bible does NOT make you badass. So what does? In this girl's opinion, again MY opinion, there are a few key factors to being a badass. What are they you ask? I'm so glad you asked! I'd be happy to tell you! :)

Showing up to the wod

If you're truly going to be a badass, in my opinion, you need to show up for the wod. Not once a week, or twice a week when you're feeling great and ready to take on the world. Or not once or twice a week when it's something you know you're good at and you like to do. To be a badass you need to show up, regardless of the circumstances, and hit the wod. Whether you're sore, have 2 hours of sleep, two kids screaming your name, or a stack of work waiting at the office... badasses make the time and get it done. They show up regardless of how sore they are, how off they feel, how much they know they suck at the wod, and to put it quite simply, they put in the work. Does this mean they crush EVERY single wod? No. They have their off days and their chinks in their armor, but a true badass doesn't shy away from getting it done. A badass knows the importance of working out and working the weaknesses. A badass doesn't focus ONLY on the things they do well. A true badass knows that they are only as good as their weakest link.


Raise your hand if you think a badass is someone who starts a wod, then walks away when it gets hard. Ok, now raise your hand if you think that a badass is someone who is content to only go at about half speed on a wod? That's what I thought. A badass is someone who not only comes in and hits the wod, but has drive and determination to grit through and gut through every wod, as hard as they can. Badasses don't stop in the middle of a wod, shrug their shoulders and say, "I'm just not feeling super powerful. I'm going to stop today." Badasses don't say, "I'm going to just you know, take it easy today." Badasses don't pick the lighter barbell/kettlebell for the day, "just cause". No, wrong answer. Badasses are people who say, "This wod is kicking my ass, but I'm going to get through it." Or, "I feel like total poo, but I'm just going to go as hard as I can." Right there, that's what makes someone a badass. Literally just going down deep within themselves to find the guts to just keep going and to push it as best they can. Lord it sucks, but they find a way. It takes guts to be a badass.

The "Know When to Fold 'Em" Gene

Now, having said what I said about grit and guts, someone who is truly a badass also possesses a certain knowledge and understanding that I like to call the "Know When to Fold 'Em" gene. A true badass will push themselves to their limits, but a true badass also knows when a risk is not worth the reward. As CF'ers we flirt, DANGEROUSLY sometimes, with the line between hard work and just plain being stupid. A true badass is someone who knows when that line has been crossed. As CF'ers we want to push ourselves to the edge to become those elite athletes, but at some point, we also need to know when to pull back away from that edge so that we don't go hurtling over into an abyss. What good is finishing a wod if after doing so, you can't walk/work/move correctly for a month? That's not helping you continue to grow as an athlete. A badass knows when to push through, but a badass also knows when they just need to walk away. As Willie said, "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run." A badass knows. Kind of like Chuck Norris. They just KNOW.


Let's be honest. What would a badass be without a few stellar performances? Maybe it's their strength, maybe it's their speed, but badasses have some things in their wheelhouses, and man, WHEW! It's really impressive when they let them out. This isn't to say that a badass must have complete mastery of all areas and domains of CrossFit. Everyone has chinks. But it is saying that a badass should be a pretty good performer when 3-2-1 gets called.

And last but not least, perhaps the most important key to being a TRUE badass....


You know what struck me most about the comments on the CF Games thread? Aside from the name calling and general arguing, it was the comments from the athletes themselves. All through that thread, people were arguing about safety, the points system, how unfair it was, who SHOULD have won... and then in the midst of it all were calm comments from the athletes themselves. This to me was the EPITOMY of what it means to be a true badass, and why those athletes are badasses.

A true badass is someone who understands that there are days where wods will be crushed, and wods that will crush them. There will be days when their efforts are enough to win, and days when their best will fall short. A true badass knows these things, understands their abilities, and celebrates their successes and failures without insulting others. A true badass understands the value of having an opportunity and is grateful to those who made it happen and supported it while it happened. A true badass knows that there is always work to be done, and that there is no such thing as perfection. A true badass knows that they should always speak softly and rock your world when 3-2-1 goes down. True badasses don't need to laud themselves from the mountaintops. Their actions speak for them. They possess the ultimate characteristic of a true badass... humility. For these athletes, no words are necessary to let everyone know how badass they are... they simply are. However, if they happen to own a cool pair of socks that HAPPENS to mention their badassitude... well, that's ok too... ;)
Now is this saying that you can't be a badass if you like to swear a lot, wear next to nothing, and cover your body in tattoos? No, absolutely not. That's a lifestyle/body style/workout attire that some people prefer. But I'm saying that those things alone, which seem to be such prevalent indicators of badassitude in CF these days, do not automatically make someone a badass. If you wanna be a badass, you gotta pony up. Put the work in, and humble yourself down. A badass who tells everyone how badass they are, is really no badass at all. So, are YOU a badass?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

CrossFit for life? Or CrossFit for life?

Depending on how you read the two questions above, they can be absolutely the same, or they can have two TOTALLY different meanings. It all depends on how you interpret it. As I am going through some HUGE life changes at the moment, I've really been forced to sit down and analyze a lot of things. When you of course start analyzing some parts of your life, it's not such a far cry to start to think about other parts of your life. So I began to think about what my reasoning for GOING to CF was.

I've heard a lot of people say that now that they've found CrossFit they'll never go back to their old exercise routine and that they're CrossFitters for life now. Then I've heard other people say that they're not sure if they'll do CrossFit forever but they're going to do it for their quality of life, their ability to live. And I started to think about which of these statements really defined me as an athlete. I'd love to sit here and say that I am a CrossFit for life type of girl and I'll never have another exercise routine besides CF. But you know, the reality is, I like doing a lot of different types of things. I can't swear that for the rest of my life, I'm going to be a 4/5 day a week type of CF girl. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like CF, but I think that there are so many other ways to exercise, it seems a shame not to take advantage of them all. I love to swim. I swam for 16 years, but if you've ever done a swim practice, you know it's pretty tiring. Now try to imagine then turning around and doing a CF WOD that same day. You'd be whooped! I think trying to do 4/5 of CF plus something else would also be a great way to overtrain. I think that CF is a great compliment to a lot of other types of training, but I think that saying that it's CF and only CF for life is a way to sell yourself short. There are lots of things to experience in our world, and I don't think I want to miss out on any of them. Not to mention, what happens if I leave DC?? I have become successful with CF largely in part due to the team at my affiliate, and who's to say my training would be the same on my own without them? I don't know what my future holds, and I don't want to make broad sweeping statements. Do I think I'll do it as long as I can? Absolutely, but am I lifer? I don't know. That remains to be seen.

I definitely believe though that I am a CrossFit for life type of girl. Now, relax, cause I know you're aggravated that they sound exactly the same, but think of this. Almost 3 years ago, when I first stumbled onto CF through a recommendation, I didn't have a clue what I was getting into. I knew I wasn't happy with how I looked and I knew I wasn't happy being a former athlete who struggled to walk up flights of stairs without breathing heavy. It seemed a little rediculous to me. After about 6 months of getting used to CF, I started to get into the Zone. Through the Zone and some serious wicked training, I was able to lose, at my very lowest, 25 lbs. It was like I was a whole new person. I was able to do more and feel better about doing it. Now, having said that, I've also gained a lot of that back. Some of it in muscle mass, but not all of it, I'll be honest. I have a very hard time following strict diet plans and so the little things that would help me lose the weight, like not drinking coffee, I have a hard time doing. But regardless, overall, my quality of life is SO much better than it would have been had I continued to do what I was doing. I don't know what my future holds in store for me, I don't know if I'll always have an affiliate to call home, and I don't know that I'll always be able to do 4/5 days a week of CF. But I do know that right now, I don't care so much about my times or my weights, although it does feel good when they are fast and heavy, I care about making sure that my pants fit, and that I am a healthy individual. I want to CF and do other things like swim, and hike, and bike, because I can. That's the type of life I want. The ability to be healthy and enjoy lots of different types of things. CF can help me get there. It can compliment the other things I do. It doesn't have to be my life. It's a part of it and it helps to ensure that the rest of my life is just as great as the time I spend in the box with my friends. I don't swear that I'm going to CrossFit forever, but I swear I'm going to keep hitting the box for as long as I can so that I can CrossFit to have the quality of life I want. I'm never going to win the CrossFit games, and I don't have a desire to be an 80 year old woman with a 12 pack. What a do want though, is to be able to be a healthy person and have a quality of life worth having. So will I CrossFit for life? Meh, maybe. We'll see. But will I CrossFit for life? Absofreakinlutely. So, which one are you?

Saturday, July 10, 2010


fear   /fɪər/

1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

2. a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights.
3. concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone's safety.
4. reverential awe, esp. toward god.
5. that which causes a feeling of being afraid; that of which a person is afraid: Cancer is a common fear.

As a child, rarely did you stop to think before you did something like climb a tree. You never stopped to pause and consider the consequences before you lept from the coffee table onto the couch. You did not consider that speeding down the hill on your bicycle may end in a crash. Fear. It's not something we have when we're younger. It's an emotion born of experience. Fear of relationships stems from being hurt. Fear of being broke typically stems from at some point in your life having very little. Fear or weight gain typically comes from an overstimulation from the media or a personal experience with it in your own life. Regardless it comes as a result of some sort of exposure to it. The bottom line here is that it's not something we are really born with. It's something that grows and develops over time. Fear, in my honest opinion, is by far the worst serial killer ever known to exist. What exactly do I mean by that? Well by now you should know me well enough to know that I don't make statements and never explain them. So here goes....

Fear is something that as an adult we tend to allow to paralyze us. Have you ever tried to SERIOUSLY put aside your fears and do something your afraid of? It's INCREDIBLY hard to do as an adult. Ever tried to overome a fear of heights, spiders, or being alone? It's incredibly difficult. As adults, our fears are so ingrained that removing them seems virtually impossible. Fear of the unknown, or fear of being broke, or fear of being alone has killed more dreams and more aspirations than any mass murder I can think of. Fear. As adults we are really good at coming up with a million and one reasons why we CAN'T do things. Fear. We allow fear to kill our desires, our very spirits, and essentially ourselves.

For a very long time, fear held me at a place in my life where I was not happy. I was so scared of being without a job that I was willing to stay in one that did not make me happy and was essentially making me ill because I was too scared to leave. I was afraid of the unknown. I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to find a new job, and terrified about not having enough money or having health insurance. I was so scared that it literally petrified me. But I came to a point in my life where I was able to put the fear aside. I made a choice for myself. I got to a point where I knew that if I did not leave teaching the consequences could be potentially dire, and I was not willing to do that to myself anymore. So I left. For the time it took for me to write my resignation letter and hand it in, I was able to put my fear aside. For that block of time, I was able to be fearless.

However, now that that time has come and gone, I find myself faced with new fears. Fears of being unemployed without a source of full-time income, fear that I will have to leave DC, fear that I will not be able to live this life any longer, and more than anything fear because I don't honestly know what I WANT to do for the rest of my life. These fears have become a very real thing. Everyday I now sit and pound out job applications hoping that I figure things out, hoping that a job comes my way, and hoping against hope that I don't have to give up the life I've made for myself here in DC.

When I first quit my job, two of my older and much wiser friends lauded me quitting. They told me that it took a lot of courage and bravery to leave in the manner which I did. To be unemployed in an economy so fragile that it resembles a Ukranian pysanky egg takes guts. At the time, I didn't quite get it. I didn't feel like I was being brave or courageous. I just felt like I was doing what I had to do. But now, sitting here weeks later, I understand. I'm doing what a lot of people have a very hard time doing and that is facing my fears head on. I don't have much of a choice. I have to deal with them or I will not ever leave my house.

It's not easy, it never is, but life is forcing my hand a bit right now, and while these fears sometimes seem to be swallowing me, I also have to say, so what? No, really. So what? If I have to leave DC, will I be sad? Absolutely, but you know what, the only thing permanent in life, is death. There is nothing saying that I can't come back when the time is right. Will it hurt? Oh hell yes. I would hate to walk away from CFOT and the family I've made there, but you know, I can return. If the money runs out, and I have to make some sort of a piecemeal situation work, so what? I'm young... well, youngish, and I can get on the footing I want to be on eventually right? But what about health insurance? Well there is Cobra right?

The bottom line is this. Fear can be an all encompassing thing if you let it. Fear of being unsuccessful with weight loss keeps a lot of people from ever trying. Fear of failure keeps a lot of people from every giving ANYTHING a go. Fear of dropping a barbell on their head keeps some people from gaining strength. Fear. It's a tiny four letter word, but it's a big thing. It does take guts, and it does take sticktoittiveness to overcome, but the bottom line is that sometimes you just have to. If you want to be able to get from point a to point b, sometimes you have to face it head on.

You have to get to that place where you say, "Ok, self. We're going to deal with this, and it's not going to be pretty, but we're going to do it a step at a time." It is ok to talk to yourself and give ye olde pep talk. Do it, and then take the first step. I didn't say jump in, I said, take a step. I'm learning in my old age that jumping headlong into things is not a successful way to attempt anything. My most successful weight loss was not done by jumping in, it was a gradual wading into the weight loss pool. My large successes at CF came after slowly ramping up the number of days I worked out, and getting some solid work in over a period of months. My largest successes as a teacher came when I broke things into chunks and worked things in over a period of time. Slow and steady is just fine. There's nothing saying that things should be done overnight, so why force that on yourself? But the point is, just try. Try to tackle something that you find so terrifying that it freezes you.

Is this post saying that I've become cured and I never wake up at night with fear wondering what the hell I'm going to do with the rest of my life? No. God no. I had my very first complete and utter breakdown the other day including the hysterical "What am I going to do with the rest of my life?" sobbing. But, that's ok. The point is that I'm getting there. I'm getting to the point where I'm seriously considering and weighing my options and realizing where I can go, and what I can do with the rest of my life and the FEAR isn't holding me completely in place. It may be making me feel like I'm walking through mud, but that's a far better feeling than the feeling of wearing concrete shoes I had before. It may take me another leap of faith and it may take some serious guts to put the wheel completely in motion, but I'm getting there. Baby steps you know. The bottom line is that I'm realizing I don't have to be completely afraid of this. This can be a good thing. Being unemployed is scary, but I have the time and the money to explore and to think and to really figure things out.

I realize that not everyone has job related fears right now. I realize others have fear in a lot of different areas. Some people it's work related, some people it's family, some people it's relationships, some people it's CF fear. No worries. Whatever it is that is holding you back, figure out a first step and go from there. Put a toe in the pool, and then maybe a foot, and after that maybe an ankle. It's scary and it takes guts, but tackling your fear head on may just be the best thing you ever do for yourself. Even if you realize the choices you've made are not the right ones, guess what. Now you know that. You've learned something and now there's never any second guessing. You've put the fear aside and you've learned and now you can go on with the rest of your life without reservation. Fear can be a silent killer if you let it. I think instead you should ride out and meet it.