Time to Slow Down: Lessons from Crossfit

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I was supposed to write about the things that I don’t love about online teaching this week, as the second part of my series. But our school board recently voted to stay with online learning for the rest of the year, and my soul is feeling a little dead right now, and not in a good place to complain about something that is my reality for the next three months. We have the option to volunteer to return in small groups, but it seems very complicated and I am not sure what I will do next, so I am pushing that topic off for one more week while I try to get my head on straight with the ever-changing educational set-up this year. 

So instead, I want to write about my current relationship with fitness and crossfit. 

Over the past few months, I have noticed a shift in my performance and mentality at Crossfit. I have been doing Crossfit for almost six years this May, but lately I have been feeling OVER IT. I had Covid back in November, and have been struggling to get my cardio back ever since. I feel winded way more easily and move a lot slower than I used to. Prior to being sick, I had been modifying a lot of workouts because of nagging shoulder pain, but otherwise, I felt great. We had just tested all our lifts and I hit some PR’s on several of them. I felt strong! What made my current struggle so difficult was thinking about how well I was doing before, and feeling like I had lost so much ground. But after taking several weeks off being sick, and then traveling at Christmas, it made sense that I wasn’t performing where I used to be, yet my brain couldn’t let go of that standard I set months ago. 

What finally pushed me over the edge was a burpee workout a few weeks back. If you don’t do Crossfit and don’t have the privilege of knowing what a burpee is, you basically have to throw yourself on the ground, push yourself up, and then, just to add insult to injury, jump at the top. This particular workout had what felt like one zillion of those, plus some weight lifting reps, all which combined to make me feel particularly miserable one afternoon. As I was pitching my body to the floor, and scraping it back up again, I was also filling my head with a bunch of negative self talk: “Why is this so hard for you?” “You are finishing last, what is going on?” “You should be lifting heavier, or at least jumping over the bar instead of just stepping over it. Why aren’t you pushing yourself?” No wonder I wanted to lay down on the floor and cry!

I finished the workout, cleaned up my station, and left, feeling particularly agitated and dramatic. Maybe I should just quit for awhile. So I did what I always do when I feel upset; I got on the phone with someone, this time my cousin. 

“I just need to vent to you because I think I hate Crossfit, and I don’t understand why everything is so hard all the time, and I haven’t been enjoying it and I feel like I am terrible at it and don’t know what to do. I’m not having fun anymore. 

So we talked it out and came up with a plan. And it’s not revolutionary but it was for me, and maybe someone else needs to hear it. Maybe for you it isn’t the gym; maybe it’s parenting, or work, or whatever seems to be burning you out. But here it is: 

I gave myself permission to scale back. 

I aim for three days of Crossfit instead of four, and I am working on not feeling guilty about that. I am lifting lighter than I used to, and focusing on being proud of the fact that I am at the gym at all, and that I am showing up for myself in some capacity, even if it looks different than it used to. I also got a punch card at a yoga studio. Intense workouts are not making me feel great, but yoga feels fantastic. And for the most part, I feel so much better. 

This one was hard at first. I am a former athlete and a very goal oriented, competitive person. I love the part of Crossfit that has me track my weight for different lifts, work under time limits, and compete with people, so I felt like I was slacking off when I wasn’t lifting what my friends were, or going as fast as other people. But I forgot that I am not a robot; I am a human being and there are going to be seasons where I feel ready to go all out, and seasons where I just need to be nice to myself. My performance is going to look different than people around me for so many reasons. What is best for me now is not what is best for everyone. I need to change the voice in my head and just enjoy the fact that moving my body at all is great, and it’s ok that things are different in the gym. 

So here you go. Here is your permission, if you needed it, to do a little bit less. Say no to something. Take a break from making yourself perform your best at all times. That is exhausting. It is ok to recognize that you need a break, and then to take it. We are humans! 

Happy Sunday friends. Move if you need to move, rest if you need to rest, and be ok with wherever you are on the journey. 

a blonde woman in a gym lifting weights
Photo by Bear Canyon Crossfit

3 thoughts on “Time to Slow Down: Lessons from Crossfit

  1. I absolutely LOVED reading this because it’s where I’m at. And being able to accept it is a victory in itself. Good for you. Because “you” is the most important part of your journey.

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