Tuesday, November 27, 2018

CrossFit Makes Us Better

If I were to tell you CrossFit makes you better, I would understand if you assumed I was talking about improvements in the gym.   Most people see CrossFit as a workout routine.    CrossFit will make you better in the gym but it goes way beyond that.   CrossFit can change your life and make all aspects of your life better.

It is incredible that what you may only see as a workout routine can change and improve every aspect of your life.   It does this by not only changing you physically but by changing your very mindset.   Every day you go into the gym and you look up and the whiteboard, see what the workout of the day is and many days your heart drops as you think to yourself, "there is no way in Hell I can do that."   You think to yourself the workout is too long, it's going to be too intense, with movements that hurt or that you can't even do.    You do the warm-up, get instructions from your coach and get all of the necessary equipment set up and are just dreading what is coming up--sensing your impending doom.

Then 3...2...1...Go! The workout begins.   It's as bad as you imagined--often worse.  Then you reach the wall.  Your lower back is screaming at you.   Your lungs are about to explode.  Suddenly, you break through that imaginary wall and you keep motoring on.   People finish before you and encourage you to keep pushing.   Finally, you are finished and as you crash to the ground gasping for air people come up to give you fist-bumps and accolades.

Something happens as you lay there recovering.  You are transformed.  Physically, yes.  But even more so, emotionally, mentally and even to some part, spiritually.   You realize you accomplished something.  Yeah, it was only a workout but it was an accomplishment that part of your brain did not think it could do twenty minutes earlier.

This happens every day you go to the gym.  Day after day.  Accomplishment after accomplishment.   The workouts don't get easier but you realize you are doing them faster.   You're lifting more weight.  You are doing things you could not have done before, such as pull ups or rope climbs.  

Your sense of self-worth improves every day by crushing these workouts and you start looking for ways to improve outside of the gym.   Many time these improvements are things you could not have imagined doing before either due to lack of confidence or because you were just in a rut.

Gregg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, has said that CrossFit will either make your relationship better or be its demise.   You will either work on it to make the relationship better or you will realize you can do better.     CrossFit has improved my relationships by giving me the confidence and the realization that I needed to do improve at it and by pulling me out of the rut.  And now my marriage is as good as it's ever been in it's twenty-five years, if not at it's best.

One of the ways that got me into the gym every day and past the fear and trepidation that I faced in the workouts was simply by scheduling in my Google Calendar the days and times every week to go to the gym.   This took away the excuses of being too busy I would make I would make in order not to go.   In order to improve my nutrition, I put "Grocery Shopping" and "Meal Prep" on the calendar.  One day, as I was making adjustments to the calendar, that realization of me being the best possible version of myself needed to flow over into other aspects in my life.  I realized that if scheduling my workouts took away my excuse of being too busy worked then I should put down a "Date Night" with my wife, Abby, once a week.

That was a short four months ago and the returns of dedicating a couple of hours to Abby once a week have been incredible.    We are talking, sharing and tending to each other as never before.  We are like newlyweds but with the knowledge and wisdom that comes with twenty-five years of marriage.    We are spending so much time with each other it is making our kids jealous.   "Another date night?!?" is something we always hear.   Abby points out they will be out of the house soon and we will just be left with each other.

This sense of self-betterment has gone past just my relationship with my wife.    We now have a family movie night every Tuesday night where a different member of the family gets to pick what we are having for dinner and what movie we are going to watch.   So instead of going to our own corners of the house, we have eat together around the dining room table, talk and then watch a movie together.

It doesn't stop there.   I have time set aside for prayer, Bible reading and  confession in order to better my relationship with God.   I make it a purpose to call my mom at least once a week.  I even pick-up and clean up around the house much more than before.

CrossFit will not only teach you how to lift and how to squat in order to make you healthier and fitter.   It will give you the confidence you need to better all aspects of your life.    Yes, the physical aspects are wonder.   It's great to lose weight, improve your health, your nutrition and your mobility.    It's even greater when that passion to do better transfers over and you gain the joy of improving your relationships.  It is because of CrossFit and Abby and I are better.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Markers and Goals

Quite often when people are on a health and wellness journey like I am, they are told to set goals.   If their coach is good, they will tell them to set quantifiable goals.   For instance, instead of saying, "I want to do handstand push-ups" they will help you set your goal to "I want to do 5 non-kipping handstand push-ups" or instead of "I want to improve my deadlift" you should make your goal be "I want to set a new deadlift personal record of lifting 350 pounds."      So while my overall goal is to get healthy as I improve my fitness and enjoy every moment of it, I can still break my goals down to those smaller quantifiable goals but they are also in bigger, more overall goals.

One of CrossFit's fitness models is called the "Sickness-Wellness-Fitness Continuum."   The basic philosophy according to the journal article "What is Fitness" is "nearly every measurable value of health can be placed on a continuum that ranges from sickness to wellness to fitness."    So, a measure of sickness can be seen in high blood pressure, high body fat,  high cholesterol or a high A1C.   And the better those numbers are they healthier you are and the healthier you are the more fit you are going to be.

Currently, I am sick.  I have Type II diabetes, my HDL levels are too low and I am over weight.   So, health-wise, some of my goals are:

  • to get my A1C under 5.7 without being on medication.   
  • to get my HDL over 40 without medication 
  • to get my body fat under 20% 
  • to lose at least 45 pounds
Some of those goals have changed over the last 3 months.  I had to get off of the diabetes medication first.   My body fat and weight loss goals were much smaller, and more attainable.   For instance, instead of having the loft goal of losing 45 lbs, I sought to lose five pounds and get to 220, then 215, 210 and now I've hit a mile marker of getting under 200 pounds!

After getting "well" my next overall goal is to get "fit."  It has been by getting more fit, that I have become healthier after all.    As my health markers have gotten better my ability in the gym has also gotten better.    My run times have gotten faster.   My lifts have gotten heavier.  I am able to do more burpees.   I feel better at the end of workouts.  So, just as I have health goals, I have fitness goals.   And just like my health goals, they are lofty, but broken down into more attainable goals.
  • Twenty-unbroken pull-ups, but first, get A pull up
  • Twenty-Unbroken double-unders, but first, get A double under
  • Participate in a competition--but first, feel comfortable participating in The Open in February
I believe having goals are important in life.   They are ways to track that you are progressing as opposed to regressing.  The most important thing to remember while you are attaining these goals is to enjoy every moment.     You may think this is difficult when you are passing up chocolate donuts or dying during a workout because it can be a struggle; however, moving forward and attaining those goals makes everything worth it.