Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Part of my Crossfit Journey

Crossfit is a funny thing. It makes me feel like I’d rather jump into shark infested waters then finish this workout. And then in a matter of seconds, I’m contemplating punching those sharks in the face cause I’m off to conquer the world. The life lessons I’ve learned in the middle of a snatch far surpass any I’ve learned outside the gym. People say it takes someone’s whole life to figure out what kind of person they really are. I say, introduce them to Fran…. come pull up #15, they’ll know what they’re made of.

I think its safe to say that I’ve been a member of every single Crossfit club out there.
I’ve been a member of :
The Firebreathers Club
The I’m Just Doing This So I Can Eat Ice Cream And Not Get Fat Club
The I Define Myself As A Person By My Crossfit Numbers Club
And the I’m Tired Of Being A Little Sissy Girl, So I Crossfit Club

Recently, I’ve been the president of the I Define Myself By My Crossfit Numbers Club and I’ve been feeling pretty guilty about it. That is the reason I’m writing this ridiculous blog post. I want to know the password to, and be a member of, ANY Crossfit club I want... all without ever being disappointed in myself. And I’d love if all of you could do the same.

Let me break it down for you…

I’ve recently started attending Al -anon meetings. Al -anon is a program for families of alcoholics who come and share and learn how to look within themselves to solve all of life’s problems. I could go into all the ways it has exposed how jacked up I am, but then you’d know I’m not perfect… and I just can’t have that. Instead, I want to share with you what I’ve learned from Al-anon that has transferred directly over into my Crossfit world (because it really is a whole nother world).

There are three slogans from Al- anon that I say to myself pre, mid, and post wod.

#1. Keep it simple

I don’t know about you, but I will lose 8 kilograms before I ever even start my workout. I literally perspire… 8 kilograms of sweat…as I nervously break down and psychoanalyze every exercise in my head. However, my new and improved Al-anon self knows that I need not turn something small into the greatest feat of all time. Does that mean that I don’t take my workout seriously? No. It means that I keep things simple. I look at it as my workout… and nothing more. It is my workout that I am doing because I want to be healthy and happy all while looking good in Lululemon shorts. I do not look at it as a compilation of movements that individually tap into my self-conscious exposing all of my deepest darkest secrets and character flaws. Keep it simple.

#2. One day at a time

I want to be the best Olympic weightlifter and Crossfitter that ever walked the planet. I want to have a big butt and an 18 pack. And, in the midst of all that, I want to have a life. Can all of that happen in one day? If you say yes, contact me immediately. If you say no, perhaps you understand the concept of “one day at a time”.

I often get sick to my stomach when I realize how much work I have to do with my training. My legs need to be able to squat more than a toothpick with teddy bears tied to the ends, I need to be able string more pull ups together without it feeling like someone threw lava rocks at my forearms, and I need to lose the mindset that I would rather be stabbed in the eye with a hepatitis infected needle than run for more than 20 meters.

So, what can I do? I can focus on one day at a time. I can think about what it is that I need to do TODAY to make me better. I’m not going to worry about what I couldn’t do yesterday, and I’m not going to predict what I should be able to do tomorrow, because all of those thoughts will deter me from accomplishing what I can at this very moment. Lisbeth Darsh once said something that I will FOREVER remember.. “I will promise to do my best. My best will vary from day to day, from hour to hour, from minute to minute. But in that minute, I will do the very best I can”.

This means, that I can be apart of whatever Crossfit club I want, depending on what I’m feeling on that particular day. Whether it’s the I Have Period Cramps So I’m Going To Just Get Through This Workout Club, or the Get The Eff Out Of My Way Before I Snatch Your Face Off Club, it’s my choice… and I’m going to OWN that choice because I am working on focusing on one day at a time.

When you get caught up in the worry of what you didn’t do, what you couldn’t do and what you should be doing, remember to live your training life one day at a time.

#3. The serenity prayer

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”

Reread that about 5 times and try to understand what it is REALLY trying to say. Religious or not, this prayer can do wonders for those of us with a wandering and doubtful mind. This prayer reminds me that I am in control of one thing and one thing only: myself. I am in control of my performance, yes, but more importantly, I am in control of my thinking.

Recently, my non Al-anon self has been gazing the room mid workout to see how far behind I am. I train with the top level Invictus athletes, so it’s safe to say that I’m usually behind by a good amount. This is where I practice saying the serenity prayer. I practice acceptance that I cannot control how fast my teammates are throwing around ridiculous amounts of weight. More importantly, I practice acceptance that I cannot control someone else’s interpretation of why I am performing slower than those around me. What I can control is MY speed on the workout and MY interpretation of my performance. If I take away the pressure of trying to do well for others, and solely focus on myself, I begin to realize that in that moment, I’m doing pretty dang well. (Oh, the wonders that can do for a workout’s level of enjoyment!)

So, next time you are beating yourself up mid workout because you are 3 thrusters behind someone else, try to figure out what it is that you can control in that moment. Is it someone else? Or is it you?

Right now, in this very moment, I am feeling good about the next time I walk into the gym because I’ve found the slogans what work for me. The slogans that allow me to workout and be fit, all without turning into a crazy person who pulls her eyelashes out because she couldn’t dead lift 300lbs.

I have my slogans.. do you have yours?


  1. Sage... I could literally hear your voice in my head as I read this post... which means you're an amazing/talented writer/blogger. Also, it reminded me of how much I miss you! Btw, the serenity prayer works wonders for me too. <3 Jaz

  2. I love you, Sage Burgener! Way to put your thoughts out into the world -- with sass to boot!

    And I have to give credit where credit is due -- that mantra is a direct descendant of one of the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz: Always do your best, Never take anything personally, Don't make assumptions, and Be impeccable with your word. Those 4 Agreements have kept me great company for the past 15 years or so.

  3. great post. mantras are a great way to battle through a tough workout. I stick with the simple "stay in the fight" and "this will NOT get the best of me"

  4. SUPER GREAT POST! I love it!!! We were just talking about this very topic today at the gym, and I have a post written for our CF blog for Friday on mantra--have fun. Your dad told me "Geezers and math teachers don't have to post their times or weights" :) I got caught up in the numbers game too and lost all of the fun....fortunately, I took your dad's advice and found it again :)

  5. Perfect it is 1 RM test day for me on snatch and C&J!!!

  6. One of my faves from Al-anon ... "Fake it til you make it"

    Great life lessons to be learned from Al-anon and CrossFit alike. Mad props to you for sharing, sister.

  7. I face the wall the when I workout so I can't look at other people. Give it a shot.

    More importantly, don't forget that it's just exercise, and there is no winning. It's not a competition, and no serious athlete is able to max out and PR every single workout. Just not going to happen. Consistency wins, and by consistency, I mean, putting in the effort consistently. Bad workouts, like bad games, are just part of being an athlete. Chalk them up to having an off day, and move on.

  8. great post Sage -
    I have to say that there are strong similarities between 12 step programs and crossfit for me. the lessons learned in both are very applicable to life outside (the/a) (box/meeting).

  9. Great it!

  10. The only person I compete against is myself. It's nice to rock a workout but I also accept that other people may be better at any given exercise. The important thing for me is that I am improving my own performance, regardless of what other people around me are doing.

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. So well said...and something I can relate to everyday!

  13. Holy crap, Sage. Hope you're able to work through your stuff and just have fun again.

  14. great words... i crossfit for me first of all, secondly for my 18 yr old son who is going to the air force(bless his heart) & thirdly for my 5 year old daughter, in the hopes that i will be strong & healthy enough to see her get married and have babies...

  15. Amen to that!!
    I CF so I can continue to lift my 11 yr old son as he grows. He has cerebral palsy. I battle through wods to make myself a healthier, stronger person! I'm not a great athlete. I know that I'm not going to finish first, but I sure the hell am going to finish!!

  16. As the oldest lady Geezer in my box, I love this. I constantly have to fight not to compare myself to the younger ones. Only recently have I come to accept that it's ok as long as I am doing my best and improving on what I have. I just love it when they tell me, "Gee, I hope I can do what you're doing when I get to be your age," lol.

  17. I loved reading this post.

    My mantra "maximize your genetic potential". I have to remind myself that I cannot compete with people who picked stronger/faster/leaner parents.

    But at least I can be more fit than my own parents (cause they don't workout and don't eat healthy).

  18. May I put a cat amongst the pigeons here and suggest that sometimes it is by freeing the mind and just listening to the body that we really get to know ourselves best. Don't ever let mind control you. Be a passenger in the vehicle. Striving constantly to be something you simply are not is enough to kill you in the end. You are a perfect person afterall. Strive to do what gives you boundless energy and makes you feel on top of the world and if it's crossfit give it your all but if it isn't reconsider what will. I read your post on your heart. There was a lot in that.

  19. How sad you have created all this added drama, tension and anxiety in your life. You are working out for fitness. Yet you seem scared to death that you won't be able to keep up with the crowd around you or perform up to others standards. You have completely missed the point of fitness. Fitness is yours. You are your only competition. If you can't get it done for you, then YOU have a problem, and Crossfit is only going to compound it. Think about it. A lot of really insecure and lonely people do Crossfit. I'm glad you work out but please consider NOT buying into the whole lifestyle of it. It will lead you astray.