Happy Socks

A few months have gone by since I opened up about Damp Sock Days. I was doing all the right things: self care, self reflection, self talk. I was saying all the right things: I’m getting better, I’m looking after myself, I’m recovering, I’m present, I’m grateful.

I’m fine.

And those things were all true, and the worst of the sad days were behind me, but man was I tired. Tired of working on myself. Tired of trying to think differently. Tired of feeling like I had to fix myself. Tired of appearing better. Tired of constantly walking round with Damp Socks.

Tired of being tired.

Eventually, one simple sentence kicked me into action. One simple sentence gave me permission to ask for help. One simple sentence was all I needed to make a change.

“It’s not normal to be that tired”

This was said with no judgement, with no expectation, with no blame, instead with care and support and genuine concern. One simple sentence said as a statement of fact by an amazing human who loves me with all my flaws, with all my weird, with all of me.

So I went to the Doctor. I tearfully explained how I had been feeling. I held my nerve and explained I’d been doing ‘all the things’ and I was just so tired. That I felt anxious and agitated when I was back in the office around people. That it wasn’t right and I didn’t want to keep feeling like this.

She did blood tests – so many blood tests. She asked questions and checked things to rule out anything physically wrong, and she said to come back if everything was clear and we could talk about getting something to help how I was feeling.

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I was scared. I still wasn’t quite ready to admit defeat. I wasn’t sure I wanted to acknowledge this was something I couldn’t control. Even as all the tests came back clear, and I made another appointment, I wasn’t sure whether I was prepared to take drugs to feel better. Maybe I just needed to try harder? Even as I got a prescription for Anti-Depressants, I wasn’t sure I would go and get them. Even as I picked them up from the Chemist, I wasn’t sure I would take them.

In the end, I was just so tired.

I had to do something.

I’ve told very few people. I’m not particularly hiding it, but it’s not something that is easy to bring up. You don’t tell people that you had a headache in the morning so you took painkillers to help – you just carry on with your day. As much as I want to believe I am open and vulnerable, there is a still a sliver of judgment in the back of my mind, there is still a voice in my head that is concerned about other people’s opinions of me. There is still a worry that people will treat me differently, that people will look at me with pity rather than empathy, that they won’t understand and think that I just need to ‘think positively’, ‘show gratitude’, ‘be happy’.

That sliver of judgement is getting smaller. That voice is my head is getting quieter. That worry is getting proved wrong. I’ve said “I’ve actually started on Anti-Depressants” a handful of times and every time the response has been supportive, genuine, understanding.

“Gosh – I never realised what you were going through”

“Brave decision”

“I appreciate you telling me”

“Are they helping?”

Not one sense of judgement. Not one suggestion of failure. Not one indication I’m taking the easy way out. No pity. No negativity. No drama.

And yes – they are helping.

A lot.

After making it through the initial few weeks of nausea, my brain has now settled into a new normal. One where, not only do I have dry sock days most of the time, I even have dry fluffy sock days. The underlying layer of sad seems to have gone. I feel lighter, and happier, and am regaining my energy.

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I’m not suddenly leaping out of bed and running around the world doing things – but I am feeling as though I recover when I rest, that I can contemplate activities, and people, and can enjoy things rather than just surviving. That there is light at the end of the tunnel, that maybe I am not broken – that maybe there was a chemical imbalance that was making life harder than it needed to be.

I’m glad I admitted defeat and started taking ‘anti-sads’

I catch myself when I think this. I am glad, but I did not admit defeat. This was me not admitting defeat. This was me eventually getting to a point where I was determined to not stay in the same place, to give something that seemed a bit scary a go to see if I could move forward. This was me admitting that doing it on my own wasn’t working, and that I deserve to do more than just surviving. This was me admitting that to be who I want to be – someone who takes the world less seriously, someone that is light and engaged, someone who spends energy on the things that are important to me – I needed help. It wasn’t taking the easy way out, it wasn’t being lazy, it was being brave, and sensible, it was the right thing for me, and it is OK.

All of this means I am heading into 2022 with a sense of hope, a sense of excitement. If taking ‘anti-sads’ keeps my brain out of the mud while still allowing me to feel the highs and lows, 2022 is going to be a year of living. It might be a good year where more goes right than wrong, it might suck with more lows than highs, it might be great where I get to grow and and take leaps forward or it might just be another year. But whatever type of year it is, I can see the potential for experiences that I will be able to feel, potential to have energy to put into what I want to, potential to build memories of living not just surviving.

Without constantly damp socks, I can continue on my mission to be Fiercely, Fearlessly Me. To be stubbornly independent. To be kind and curious, light and engaged. To contribute emotionally and physically to an amazing relationship and home, to be a supporter as well as being supported, to have fun, play, laugh and be weird.

Bring it on.

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Hey there….

It’s been a while…the truth is,

I’ve been sad.

Not because I’ve survived a tragic event, not because I’ve suffered adversity, not because I’ve had to overcome hardship, not because I’ve been treated poorly, not even that anything bad has happened to me.

My life is good; I’m healthy, my friends and family are healthy, I have a wonderful home with a loving, supportive partner, adorable pets, a good job working with good people – there is no reason that I can find to explain it – but I’ve been sad.

Some days it’s a background of sad – as if I am walking around in damp socks, no-one else can really tell but I can’t get comfortable, the sunshine doesn’t seem to warm me up, and I can’t seem to shake it.

Some days it’s waves of sadness, often catching me off guard and dumping on me, knocking me over until I feel like I sit there stunned, trying to get up in time before the next wave hits. Sometimes I know it is coming, so I brace myself in the hope it won’t knock me down, but the constant bracing for impact leaves me stuck, unable to move forward.

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I’ve been sad.

I’ve been using all my energy to do the basics – go to work, go to the gym, do just enough to appear in the outside world. My partner has picked up everything else, keeping the household running, looking after me.

He’s reassured me that just doing the basics is enough. He does all the things, and has not once shown any resentment or frustration that I’m not pulling my weight. I couldn’t pull it off without him.

I’ve been sad,

and tired.

It has taken time, months even, just existing for me to get to the point I can start to get better, where I can start to put in the work and thoughts to find myself again. To get to the point where the background sad is only there sometimes, where the waves of sadness are the occasional ripple, no longer dumping on me. To get to the point where I have some energy again, where I can start to thing beyond the basics. To get to here.

I have to be careful though, it doesn’t take much to tip the scales, to overspend my energy reserves – I’m not “better” just yet. There is still the odd rogue wave – and when you aren’t expecting it, it can really floor you. Like hitting a pothole at just the wrong angle and it sending you headfirst into a fence. Worse when you thought you were on a smooth straightaway and had negotiated your way through all the speedbumps.

I am however now able to reflect a bit, to quietly allow myself to observe my thoughts and start to reorder them.

It turns out, that if I keep pushing myself when I start to feel overwhelmed I fall down this hole, and it takes a long time to get out of it – even if the stress that was overwhelming me disappears. I’m coming to learn that I am the only one that can sense that, and I am the only one that can stop that. I’m also realizing that whatever that limit is, is mine. It’s irrelevant if someone else can ‘cope’. It’s irrelevant if someone else could do it ‘better’. It’s irrelevant if someone else thinks I ‘should’.

My capacity and capabilities are mine, and I am the gatekeeper. It is up to me.

And on that note, I’m going to leave it there for today with the aim of having tomorrow as a dry sock day.

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Ahhh – that’s it!

Have Fun

Be fiercely, fearlessly me

Just me – @Plus64 Crusaders Competition

My last post was about losing sight of “my why” – of what is important to me, what I am trying to achieve, and how I value myself.

I spoke to a lot of people about where my headspace was, about how I was feeling, what I was saying to myself, and where I wanted to be. Taking the time to articulate this, to reflect and analyse and acknowledge those feelings is invaluable, and the only way to move forward. There was a group of amazing humans who helped me with that journey, and I am grateful that this crazy sport introduced me to them and I am proud to call them friends.

It was still a battle, it wasn’t a sudden – everything is fine now – but I made progress. Each time I spoke about it / thought about it gave the negative thoughts less power, and my true self more. I gave myself some time before tackling the next couple of workouts, and focused on the process. By the time I entered my scores, I was feeling content – I had done a thing. I had done a thing to the best of my ability on the day. I hadn’t given up. I was still a bit disappointed that I wasn’t ‘better’, but content that this was the reality, and that it was OK. I was focused on the process for the next round, and not letting myself get tied up in outcomes.

Round 2, and I genuinely enjoyed the workouts – they were tough, my body decided it had had enough, but I enjoyed them. I celebrated the wins – my wins – and didn’t compare them to anyone else.

  • I kept pushing longer than I thought I could – even though it was hard.
  • 5m handstand walks were not an issue – the work I’ve put into these paid off.
  • I did some muscle ups – and surprised myself.
  • I lifted close to my 1RM – and moved well.

I did check where I ended up on the leader-board at the end, and I was happy, with where I sit and more importantly with how I felt about that. I have definitely been fitter, stronger and been able to do more in the past. Sometimes it is still mentally challenging to not take that as a failure, but more often than not, I am able to recognize it for what it is, and why I am doing it. I was never in this to compete – just to do the thing and see where I am at.

I am an Average Crossfit Junkie, who loves seeing what my body is capable of, who relishes the connections with people I do it with, who wants to continue learning, and practicing, and doing.

What’s my why again?

A fresh reminder – I am still a work in progress.

A month or so ago, I signed up for the online qualifiers for a competition where the top 8 people in the Masters Division get an invite to National finals.

I’ve done the qualifiers a few years in a row now. The first year, I was in a division where the top 32 were invited to finals. I was 32nd – and went – and had an absolute blast! Last year, I didn’t make the first cut, but based on who had accepted, eventually did get an invite to go. The timing wasn’t quite right for me, so I declined. Roll on 2020, and I sign up again because I know I enjoy the push doing a competition gives me, a fair few of the Dawn Raiders crew are putting their names in the ring, and I want to be part of the community throwing down together. I thought that I was totally focused on the experience, that I was going into it not expecting anything, and wasn’t even thinking about qualifying.

But…

Once I crawled away from the rower after the first WOD, I immediately felt down on myself, and am struggling to shake the feelings.

I’m not good enough.

There is no way I could qualify.

Inner Me

Then, I watch the video, and it gets worse…

I look silly

How embarrassing

Inner Me

This is, of course, all ridiculous.

  • Being good at Crossfit is not my goal.
  • Qualifying for a competition is not my goal.
  • No-one is judging me.

The culture at +64 is all about putting in the mahi. Working hard, giving it your all, and being proud of what you can do. There are a lot of amazing, world class athletes there, but not once has my effort been compared to them. Not once have my accomplishments been belittled because someone else could lift more or do things I can’t. And in the nicest possible way, no-one cares about my results.

It’s one thing to know this in your mind, to think logically and objectively. It is quite another to feel it in your soul. At the moment my soul is making hard work of it, despite being surrounded by an amazing group of humans who are doing their best to pick me up, to support me, and letting me know I am not alone. I guess – as always – it comes down to me. To how I respond, to what I choose to take away from this. To me giving myself permission to acknowledge how I am feeling and to realize that it does not make me broken, it makes me human.

So, to inner me:

This way of thinking is ridiculous, but understandable. You aren’t inherently flawed, you just still have some things to work on. Your worth is not defined by how well you do at sport, or where you sit on a leader-board. People are not judging you based on your athletic ability, nor are they judging you for thinking this way. You have an army of people that have your back, that see your worth in how you treat people and in how you take up space in this world. You have an army of people who see you.

Have Fun: Enjoy the process and don’t worry about the outcome.

Be fiercely, fearlessly me: Be true to myself, be unapologetic about who I am, and embrace my weird.

Me

This is me.

This is me.

This is me wearing leggings and a sports bra. This is me after a brutal workout with my 6am Crew the Dawn Raiders at Plus 64 Fitness. This is me with no makeup, no fake tan, no filter, no flattering pose.

It was confronting just getting this photo taken – I almost chickened out – there were other people there, they would see me and I don’t feel good about the body in the photo. So you can only imagine how terrifying it is for me to post it for the world to see.

My goal, what I am aspiring for, is to be truly happy when I see a photo of myself in a crop top – and in summer – maybe even booty shorts.

I don’t want to attempt to achieve this by changing the body in the photo – for one thing, I’m old enough to know that no amount of change in the body will allow me to reach this goal. Instead, I’m going to work on seeing this as the 42 year old body of a specific human.

The body of a specific human who is kind, healthy, fit, strong, and grounded. The body of a specific human who is open, and vulnerable, empowered and gentle. The body of a specific human who knows who she is, what is important to her and lives a life that is true to that. The body of a specific human that doesn’t agonize over food, who doesn’t judge her worth based on what her body looks like. The body of a specific human who finds joy in life, and brings joy to others.

Most of the time this is not what what I see. Most of the time I don’t like what I see. Most of the time I judge the human inside the body based on what it looks like – and mostly I see it as too fat, too pale, too blah.

I am posting this in the full knowledge that making this change is something that is 100% down to me – that it is hard, will take time, and there will be one step back for every two steps forward.

I am posting this in pursuit of my 2020 Goal – “Be Fiercely Fearlessly Me” – focusing on doing things that are important to me, not getting drawn into what is important to other people and being proud of who I am, as I am.

I am posting this to remind myself that I committed to work on things that feed my happiness, and that facing this and working through it will ultimately make me happier.

I am also posting this to break the illusion that those of us who think like this are alone. I know that I am not, and if being this open, this vulnerable, gives one person another perspective, a sense of not being alone, the understanding that not everyone has it “all together”, it is an added bonus as I move through this personal journey.

This is me.

This is me in the middle of a workout. This is me not thinking about what I look like, and being 100% in the moment.

This is the body of a specific human that can dig deep, that doesn’t take the easy route, that works hard. This is the body of a specific human that is constantly improving, that is supportive of and supported by, an inspiring group of people that get up early to push their own limits without judgement.

This is the body of a specific human who is committed to embracing being me.

Privilege, understanding and vulnerability.

I’m departing from my usual topic today, and it’s about time.

Today, I want to put my voice to the current world movement calling for, emploring for, change and the growth of anti-racism.

I haven’t commented publicly on this because I’ve felt woefully ignorant, and very aware of my privilege.

I’m scared. Scared I’ll say the wrong thing, scared to admit the views I’ve had in the past, scared that I don’t understand the issues well enough to defend my position, scared that being open with my views invites criticism, scared that people will see me differently.

I am learning, that being in a position that these are the things that scare me is a sign of my privilege. I am learning that if I’m not prepared to be vocal, and face those fears, I do not have the character of the person I want to be. I am learning that this is important to me, and continuing to avoid the topic, continued apathy, doesn’t sit well with my soul.

As a Pakeha living in New Zealand, part of a wealthy family, I have been afforded every opportunity. There was never a question about going on to higher education after school, there was never a question of having high quality food, a lovely home, a loving environment. I knew this was all a privilege to have, that others weren’t so lucky and I never knowingly judged others that weren’t in this position, but I didn’t understand that this also gave me a privileged perspective of the world.

I didn’t understand why it is important to shout from the rooftops that Black Lives Matter. It’s not that I ever thought they didn’t, but my privilege meant that I thought a response of All Lives Matter was appropriate.

It’s not.

It’s only now, as I am trying to educate myself – and many thanks to the people out there helping me – that I realise that that response is never made by other marginalised groups. They aren’t shouting that they matter too. They inherently understand that right now, it is important to make sure everyone understands that Black Lives – and specifically Black Lives – Matter because they are being treated as though they don’t, by entire systems, by unconscious biases built up over centuries, by individuals and their actions and inactions.

I have so much to learn.

Balance, expectations and lock-down

Halfway through the year already, and I am well overdue for a check-in. There has been a lot going on – inside my head, in the box, and in the world.

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

The first few months of the year; and I’m really struggling with change at work, but finding my feet with Crossfit. I’m really focusing on my goals in the gym, including working on my headspace around competing – and feeling good about it. In contrast, I do not feel good about who I am at work, how I am reacting to some of the change, and feel as though I should be working more on me to be ‘better’.

I am running close to empty, but not recognizing it.

And then COVID-19 hit worldwide. In New Zealand, the government response was tough, and early. We went into country-wide lock-down at the end of March – working from home, gyms closed, everything apart from Supermarkets shut. Stay at home, isolate.

This was, for me, exactly what I needed. If this enforced period of slowing down hadn’t come along when it did, I imagine I would have fallen over. Instead of having the luxury of taking down-time in weekends, along with the rest of the country, it would have punched me in the face and floored me at the most inconvenient time.

This highlights the fact that I am still learning balance – I try to do all the things – but I can’t. I go all in, then crash. I focus on one thing, at the detriment of others, and I end up not liking where I am. I am in awe of the people who seem to be always improving, always learning, always achieving. I know that that’s not me, that I’m not wired to be able to do that without breaking, but it is tough to acknowledge that – and it leads to a feeling of not being enough. This is one of the aspects of my “Be fiercely, fearlessly me” goal – not only to embrace my weird but also to stop evaluating myself against others and learn that I am enough as I am.

Between the bombardment of ideas for personal growth so you don’t get bored with “all this spare time”, the expectations I put on myself around staying fit and active despite the gym being closed, and comparison against my workmates with how productive they are, and how hard they are working (while still learning a new language, and baking, and teaching their kids, and doing yoga, and renovating their house) – lock-down is giving me lots of opportunities to practice.

I’m not there yet, but I am becoming more aware and heading in the right direction.

Photo by Susanne Jutzeler on Pexels.com

I’m incredibly fortunate to still be working full time from home – it’s busy, and hard work, but I am certainly grateful that worrying about an income isn’t one of the things on my list.

I spend the first 6 weeks taking the weekends to sleep, to stretch, to Netflix and Chill. I distinctly plan to not do anything, and I need it. I start to slow down, to actually relax, and I begin to realise how wound up I was and how much I need this. I rebel against the idea I have to be productive, that I have to achieve, and I embrace the idea that I’m allowed to recharge and am enough exactly as I am.

It’s not plain sailing though, my brain keeps getting dragged back into “I should’s”. I see people spending time training in their back-yards, putting in extra time into skills, and strength, and mobility and feel guilty for not doing the same. I see amazing home gym setups and get caught up in thinking I need to buy gear and setting up my home space. Then, I manage to catch myself and think “Why?” I revisit my goals – Have fun, Move Well, Be Me.

The key to me having fun with Crossfit is going to classes, being part of something that is bigger than just my effort, the relaxed social aspect when people are milling about stretching, playing with skills, the banter, and the connection with other people that have surprisingly similar mental challenges. I don’t need a fancy home gym with all the equipment for this, I do need a connection to like minded people – a chat group fits the bill. It’s not quite the same, but it still hits those key points, and its pretty cool what you can do if you are prepared to think differently. I ran 1km time trials ‘with’ a buddy – totally remotely, all via messenger – and the boost I got from sending a 3-2-1 GO and knowing I had to share my time when I got back was real.

Goal Two – Move Well

That doesn’t mean be stronger, or fitter, or spend hours trying to hit some target – that means focusing on the process, making sure that what I do I do with purpose, and consideration, and form. My language changed from trying to continue to train during lock-down, to keeping moving. Wherever that left me in terms of “getting back” once the box was open again is fine, because even then it is about the process – having fun, moving well. If I am less fit. weaker and have to rebuild my skills, it is all just a bigger opportunity to enjoy the process and I already know how to get there.

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As I’ve said before, living these goals is an ongoing process. Its not as easy as ‘deciding’ and then expecting that you will automatically get it right from then on out. Its about awareness, taking the time to notice where you are and whether or not you need to reset, refocus. At times, I feel really solid in how I am, in who I am and others I get drawn into other people’s drive and lose the “me”. I am learning not to dwell on those times, or to chide myself for losing my focus, but to identify them, to try and understand what the trigger was, and to then move forward with being me, with growing towards my goals and doing what is important to this specific human.

The year ahead…

My brain has been pretty tired, and feeling just a little bruised, the last couple of months which means I’ve been hibernating and avoiding self analysis as much as possible.

New Years resolutions have never been my style, and because of my headspace, I left the idea of defining my 2020 goals to happen organically, mulling them over in the back of my mind, trying not to draw attention to them so that I wouldn’t freak out and cause them to disappear.

Not sure it is the healthiest strategy, but it was certainly effective. By the time I felt well enough to put them on paper, they jumped out at me and I felt passionate, and strong, and proud of them.

#NotJustCrossfit

But – what does it mean?

Move Well: Focus on healthy movement – both in the gym and out of it.

The aim isn’t to lift heavier, or spend more time in the gym doing ‘gym’ things. The goal is to train myself to move well, to allow my body to stretch, and move, and be strong and balanced, and healthy.

As a human I am designed to move – to walk, to run, to reach up, to bend down, to be active and adaptable.

Moving well means playing with my dog, as well as having a great Snatch. Moving well means shifting furniture, as well as doing pull-ups, and box jumps, and squats. Moving well means doing things the way my body is designed to do them, and not compromising long term health by taking shortcuts.

Have Fun: Enjoy the process and don’t worry about the outcome.

Do things because I enjoy doing them, not because I think I should, or because other people expect me to. That doesn’t mean not putting in the work, or focusing on short term gratification, but working on things that feed my happiness.

Working on mobility in itself is not fun, but I want to move well, I feel good when I am not in pain, and I enjoy being able to use by body. Handstand holds are not fun, but being able to Handstand walk is, and it is even more fun when you can do it well. Pushing myself to see what I can do beyond what is easy is fun, it doesn’t matter if that is more or less than someone else. The position on the leaderboard does not matter, but the process of competing, of putting myself outside my comfort zone, of challenging myself, is fun.

Eat Cake — Be goofy with my boyfriend — Hang out with friends — Play on a jungle gym — Say Yes — Laugh — Go to Concerts — Sing — Dance

Be fiercely, fearlessly me: Be true to myself, be unapologetic about who I am, and embrace my weird.

This excites me. This gives me fire. This makes me feel strong.

Be open to failure, be prepared for criticism, stick to my values, my beliefs, and do what is right for me. This goes for both inside the gym, and outside in the rest of life.

It means giving things a go even if I’m not going to be able to do it perfectly, or if people are watching and I think they are judging me. It means doing things that are right for me – scaling where I need to, focusing on things that will help me with my goals, not getting drawn into things because I feel I should, or other people are doing them – they have their goals, their reasons, their why, and I have mine.

It means taking the time to understand myself, to define what makes me me, and live that. It means being prepared to sit outside the group if that’s what’s needed to not compromise my sense of self. It means being happy in my own skin and embracing who I am wholeheartedly.

It means being proud of who I am, as I am.

So now what?

Start working towards these, in everyday life and in the gym.

Recognise that these are goals – I am definitely not there yet – and it is going to take lots of practice. These are goals for the ‘year’, not this week, not this month. It will take this long, possibly longer, but I can start, nothing is stopping me.

There are some schools of thought that you should keep your goals secret, keep them to yourself, and get on quietly with achieving them. I understand that, and agree with it in a lot of situations – it’s what I have done in the past – but this year, these goals, I am going to shout from the rooftops. I am going to be open about what they are, and why, and what I’m doing to achieve them. It’s the first step towards being fiercely, fearlessly me. If I can’t start by sharing my goal to be open to failure, prepared for criticism, and do what is right for me because I am scared of failure, wanting to avoid criticism, and wanting to hide, it’s going be be a very long road ahead.

I am starting now.

Now the dust has settled…

Just like that Crossfit Open 2020 is done. It’s been a couple of weeks, the dust has settled, I’ve had a break, and now it’s time for me to reflect.

Am I pleased I took part?

Unequivocally, yes.

I had fun.

I learnt some stuff.

I grew as a human.

What did I learn?

Keeping my goals, my why, front of mind, and using that to make decisions and direct my thinking is the one thing above all else that makes the biggest positive impact, not just to my performance, but to my life in general.

My headspace and mental game needs practice the same as any other skill. I am not going to get it perfect the first time, and it takes work – consistent, hard, work. But, just like the rest of Crossfit, if I put the work in I will get the reward, I will get better at it and I will get it right.

I am capable of re-framing my thoughts if I face my feelings, dissect them and focus on creating a solid mindset. When I do that, it is empowering, I am grounded, stronger, happier.

Not looking at the leaderboard was a good decision. It gave me the space to work on my mental game without being distracted by, or obsessed by, a number outside my control. I took that energy and put it into things that actually helped move the needle in the right direction.

Throwing down as part of Friday Night Lights at Plus 64 was fun. The vibe was awesome, the support amazing, and the sense of community genuine. These are my kind of people after all.

What’s next?

To be competitive, I need to be stronger.

This is not a surprise, but what is, is that I don’t plan to do anything about it. I don’t have to be competitive and I don’t have to get stronger.

Nothing about my why is about being competitive, so although this is a statement of fact, it’s not something I’m going to focus on. I am already measurably stronger than I was last year, and if I just continue to do the things that I’ve identified to pursue my goal, next year I will be stronger than I am now. That might mean I will be more competitive, but it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t. The reason I am doing this is because I enjoy the process, the outcome is irrelevant.

I’m really excited about doing things simply because I enjoy doing them, about having some fun while doing some Crossfit. I’m going to put some focus into getting reliably efficient at Muscle ups. Not because they are the weakest link – there are a million other things I would focus on if the goal was to get a better place on the whiteboard – but because I love gymnastics skills.

And that is enough.

Not everything associated with my headspace needs to lead to major epiphanies. Although everything can be taken as a learning opportunity – not everything has to be. It is definitely enough to do something in order to just do it, because I enjoy it, because I want to.

Another 2 down,1 to go…

20.4 is in the bank, and since I posted my self assessment from 20.2 I’ve done two open workouts, taken part in an individual competition, and started work on answering one of the tough questions I’ve posed myself. A post on “Why” is underway, but it is hard work – and is going to be a while.

In the meantime, I’ve been continuing day to day training – both physical and mental. The Crusaders Individual competition in Christchurch challenged my mindset. I was nervous of what others were going to think of me, that I would embarrass myself, that I would fail. To refocus on me, and my why, I again framed what success was going to look like for me. My main goal was to keep a positive mindset, to keep practicing strong thinking, to focus on me and my performance, and above all of that, have some fun. I had a self-enforced a leader-board blackout so I had no option but to evaluate how I’d gone in each WOD on my terms.

I had some significant wins:

  • I stuck to DB Jerks for shoulder to overhead when in the past, I’ve reverted to Push Press because I haven’t been able to get my brain to get into the right rhythm.
  • I pushed myself harder than I thought I could – and didn’t die. I did spend a good 3 minutes doing a great fish out of water imitation at the end of it though!
  • After failing a first attempt, I composed myself and lifted 5kg more than I had in training.

But most importantly, I enjoyed myself, was proud of my efforts, and stuck to what was important to me.

Two days later, and I’m ready to tackle the open. 20.3 was a matter of making sure I didn’t over-commit at any point while still getting on with doing the work to the best of my ability. The movement standard meant that I had to put 100% into each and every rep, and that’s what I did. Being a 2018 repeat gave me the perfect opportunity to compare me vs me – with a significant improvement – and meant I had a real feeling of accomplishment, and validation that my hard work does indeed pay off.

Not looking at the leaderboard is helping me stay in my own head, reducing the comparisons, and muting the inner critic. I’m starting to only focus on the things within my control, and feeling much better for it.

Fast forward to Friday and the 20.4 announcement. I’m really excited about the workout and, because of what the workout is, it’s not a strategic one for me. I’ll be able to lift the weight I can lift and its not going to make much of a difference how quickly (or slowly) I get there.

Then I get nervous – really nervous. Initially, I’m not sure why. Previously I would try and avoid the feeling, overcompensate by pretending I had everything together, and inevitably be disappointed in the resulting performance. But this time, I force myself to focus on what I’m feeling and try and unpick it.

  • It’s hard for me to put together a plan so I feel like I have no control.
  • I’m struggling to imagine how it’s going to feel so I don’t know how to prepare.
  • I’m comparing myself to the much stronger athletes in my heat so I lose focus on me.

Once I work out the cause of the nervousness, I realise I can combat it.

  • Make a plan – it doesn’t have to be the perfect plan, and it can change. Just have one to start with and adapt as I go.
  • Think – I might not know how I’m going to feel by the time I get to Pistols, and I might not know what’s going to happen when I do, but I do know how box jumps feel and I do know how to assess how I’m feeling mid wod, so focus on that.
  • Stay in my lane – play my own game and stick to thinking about the things within my control.

I feel better, still nervous, but excited, with a purpose and ready to attack what’s in front of me.

Part way through I notice myself looking up, seeing where other people are at, comparing, judging myself, so I refocus and repeat to myself to “stay in my lane”. It works. I come back to me and I feel determined, composed, and get back into my work.

Afterwards, I am happy with how I went, and when people ask me my response is “I’m stoked”….but there is something niggling away at me, there is something else there, I’m not elated. Again, I force myself to analyse the feeling, and then I work it out – I’m disappointed. Not in my performance, but that despite it being my best I’d like for it to be more.

I’m trying to re-frame this thought when I realise it’s OK, I’m allowed. I’m allowed to be disappointed. I am not berating myself about the fact I “should” have been better, I’m looking at it as a learning opportunity – what can I do to get better. I even allow myself to say this out loud the next time someone asks “I did all that I can expect of myself, it’s a bit disappointing that I’m not stronger, but that’s the long game and it was 100% my best for now”

Once again, I feel as though I am growing a lot over the period of the open – not in what I can do physically, although I am pushing the boundaries of what I thought my limits were – but in my mindset. I am taking some of the lessons and putting them into practice. I am acknowledging that, just like anything new, I am not going to get it right all the time, and that that is OK. I am challenging myself to face up to my feelings, and because of that, making positive steps forward. I am focusing on my why and getting satisfaction out of my performances as a result.

But just like getting physically stronger, this is a long game. It doesn’t finish when the open does. I need to keep pushing forward, answer those gnarly questions, continue practicing good thought patterns, and facing my inner critic.

I don’t want to be back here next year.