Goals are limited by what we believe we are capable of. In an ideal world, we know that we have the potential to do anything we set our mind to, but unfortunately, our parameters for success end up being narrowed and defined by our self-doubt. Self-doubt is as simple as believing things about ourselves like, "I'm bad at running" or "I'm not strong/organized/free enough to ______." Our limitations are more often self-imposed than the absolute truth.
CrossFitters know that goals evolve and change, but what many don't know is that our goals are always based around our expectations of ourselves. CrossFit has the potential to transform us, but only if we are willing to develop the skills to meet our potential.
Before CrossFit, I had suffered from undiagnosed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for 14 years. In overcoming it, I developed grit and a growth mindset, two things that I credit with the successes I've achieved so far.
But once I was mentally strong, the difference between my physical capabilities and my mental capabilities bothered me. There was a dissonance between how I looked and performed and how I felt. The belief that I could be strong physically became the catalyst that led me to CrossFit.
This is a picture of me from the winter of 2013. It was before starting CrossFit, before I took on any kind of exercise routine or nutrition plan. (To answer the question you’re definitely asking, I’m logrolling, an obscure, but historic sport that I practiced in my days as an Aquatics Director.)
Goal: Gain muscle, get strong, look as strong as I felt.
I fell in love with CrossFit quickly and hard, relishing the idea that I would be learning and refining skills throughout my CrossFitting days, all while becoming strong and fast.
I knew that an exercise routine was going to challenge my mindset differently than overcoming PTSD. A mediocre athlete as a teenager, I found that I quickly reverted to old habits when the going got tough:
-I mentally gave up when movements that I was "bad" at came up, and
-I held back from going faster for fear of failing in front of other people.
Those old feelings of not being good enough cropped up enough to where I had to really examine why I was CrossFitting. Was it to prove how good I was, or was it to improve at something?
This was when I started to refine my mindset. I had practiced positive self-talk before, so rather than allowing my wavering self-confidence to dictate how I would perform, I was determined to simply do my best each workout and to focus on practicing vs competing. Using WODs to practice self-focus kept me CrossFitting when I may otherwise have given up.
New Goal: Stay in my own lane, focus on my practice goals, give good effort.
Two and Half Years CrossFitting
A positive mindset took me far. By focusing on what I wanted and believing that I was capable of it, I made many positive changes, including tracking my macros to get stronger. The results speak for themselves: I met every strength goal I set for myself in 2016.
But a belief I had long held, quietly, but insistently, was still holding me back. I did not believe that I was capable of the discipline required to be lean. I had become good about eating enough, but I was not putting any effort into accuracy of tracking or consistency. When I realized that I wanted to make a change, I turned to nutrition counseling to put me on the right track.
Vulnerability and trust were going to be the ingredients to my success. I devoted myself to doing what I was told with everything I had, and reminded myself on bad days to persist and trust in the process.
New Goal: Master discipline. Embrace vulnerability and trust the process.
The trick is this: if you want something, you must devote every fiber of your being to doing it. Dreams are not met half-assed or through short bursts of effort followed by long bouts of inactivity. Life is not a series of 1RM attempts. It is an ultra-marathon, run at a consistent speed over a long period of time. And if that sounds boring, it's because it mostly is. Change takes time.
Through positive self-talk, trust, vulnerability, and discipline, I am the fittest I have ever been. But more than body composition changes and PRs, what has changed the most is how I speak to myself about my goals and what I am capable of. Where before it was "I want to do a muscle-up," it is now, "I will do a muscle-up, and this is my plan for getting one by the end of next year."
Perhaps, like me, you see that you still have a long road ahead of you to become the fittest that you can. SMILE! Enjoy the process of becoming a better human being. Devote yourself to you. Remain open to how you are changing and how you must change to achieve your goals. Reach out when you're lost and are unsure of where to turn next. There is absolutely an answer for you, but you must ask the question in order to find it. Your evolution is worth it.