Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Mind Over Matter

Yesterday at  crossfit, I experienced a VERY interesting phenomena that's never really happened to me before...

Background: I am extremely hesitant with adding weight to workouts in any way, shape, or form. Especially when it  comes to WOD [Workout of the Day]'s, it's always difficult for me to know which weight I should do. The weight movements in WOD's are always compounded with additional movements [except if it's a "pump day" which isolates a specific weight lifting technique]. You need to strategize a little more since there's multiple factors to take into consideration.
....the point is....I always "play it safe"....VERY safe. I always aim for a lower weight to ensure I can do it and not fail. I have jokingly [and not jokingly] been told by crossfit coaches to add more weight to the bar for workouts, but it's definitely up to me and my confidence level more than anything. I just have an irrational fear of failure.

SO, yesterday at crossfit our WOD consisted of 21 reps-15 reps-9 reps of deadlifts and box jumps. From my chronic achilles issues that have been a major struggle for me since high school, BOX JUMPS ARE THE DEVIL. There are select few movements that I keep a high red flag radar on that amplify the difficulty of a workout for me, the ones that strain my achilles the most: box jumps, burpees, and jump roping in any way, shape or form.
Whenever these red flag movements show up in a WOD, I specifically scale back on the other movements a little more  than normal since the strain on my achilles is practically a handicap. At first I warmed up with a 95lb deadlift and thought "Okay...this is on the lighter side..." but I added some more weight to the point where I thought "Okay....this is a little heavier but still doable." In my mind I assumed I had added weight to get up to the 115lb mark, because in my mind everything else above that was WAY TOO HEAVY FOR ME AND TOO MUCH OF A STRETCH AND SHOULDN'T EVEN CONSIDER IT FOR A WORKOUT WITH 45 REPS.

I went through the workout, and yes it was a bitch. But it was a good bitch. I didn't injure myself or go out of my comfort zone, yet I didn't breeze through the workout either [not even close, hahaha].
...then as I was taking the weight off of my barbell, I thought "Wait a minute........lemme add up this weight again......"
...and that's when I realized I had TOTALLY miscounted - what I thought was 115lbs was actually 125lbs!!!!!! I had gone through the entire workout unknowingly with 10 extra pounds of weight, and what in my mind seemed like would've been CATASTROPHIC was actually completely doable....just because I was confident in myself  and felt good about it. And although 10 extra pounds isn't really a huge difference in weight, the significance behind doing a weight that I had completely ruled out of the question was a big deal to me.

And of course the weight itself isn't what I am or should be proud about - 125lbs to some people may seem like "HOLY SHIT THAT'S A LOT OF WEIGHT" but to tons of other people 125lbs seems like "PFFT THAT'S CHILD'S PLAY." That number is completely relative to the individual. If someone who thought they couldn't do more than 15lbs actually did 25lbs then that would be the exact same accomplishment.

In the end, the mind is a very powerful thing. You set your own standards of what you can or cannot do. I chose a weight based solely off how I felt warming up with it, rather than automatically putting myself in a category and saying "I can't do any more than this."

BUT a word of caution: especially when dealing with weights, TAKE DA BABY STEPS. I don't want anyone reading this [...if anyone actually DOES read it...] and then the next day saying "WELL I THINK I CAN DO 150lbs INSTEAD OF 100lbs SO IMMA DO IT." Definitely does NOT work that way. I have my crossfit coaches to thank a lot for my own progress. The right coaches/trainers KNOW WHAT THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT. If it's too much weight then it's too much weight. They'll tell you when to take a little jump and when to scale it back. Trust the process, they've been through it themselves!! And most of all, just trust that the longer you keep at it, the sooner you'll reach your goals :)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Rainy Days

I just read a great quote about mental health, but obviously it has a universal meaning [and thus can be applied to rugby]:

"Sunshine all the time makes a desert."

desert sun raccoon super mario 3

What a simple but true statement.

cat desert mine3 puss in boots pib3

Without the hard times, the slumps, the setbacks, the rejections...nothing grows. YOU don't grow. "Rainy days" may seem like downers [and they literally are when practice gets fucking canceled from them], but they're food for the soul. They develop character, work ethic, motivation, and so much more.

...I have personally had a lot of rainy days over the past few months...more than normal.

A lot of different obstacles have entered my life inside and outside of rugby. I have experienced loss, rejection, deception, illness...and even been in a huge car accident. All of these things and more have had a major impact on my self esteem and my energy level - two big things you need in order to succeed in rugby....or anywhere else!

Directly after the season, my body COMPLETELY collapsed in the form of getting sick. And not just a cold or even the flu....I was in bed for the night by 4:30pm for three weeks. I have NEVER been that sick in my entire life, and being stagnant/practically lifeless for that amount of time made bouncing back to crossfit and rugby training that much harder.

Now, I kinda need to rebuild the blocks and start from the beginning. I have to rebuild my fitness, even rebuild my confidence. Even when it seems like nothing good has come out of your situation, you've gotta find a way to figure out how you've grown from the experience.

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

...and all of this is MUCH easier said than done. It's really hard to pull yourself out of the dumps mentally or physically. You can easily get into a pattern of negative thinking and then never come out of it. You can easily say "I'll start tomorrow....I'll do it tomorrow....I can't do it because of ____, ____, and _____..."


The hardest part of creating change is STARTING. Whether it's rugby training, a nutrition plan, a new job, going back to school [I'm guilty of that one], or even just a new mindset, beginning and developing change is not only the hardest part but the part that deters people from changing the most.

If you're never faced with adversity, then in the end you're only hurting yourself. That doesn't mean go out of your way and make something bad happen [haha], but CHALLENGE YOURSELF. Get uncomfortable. Push your limits and boundaries. Don't be afraid of whether you can or cannot do it, even if you come up with a million excuses as to why you can't or shouldn't. Start with little goals and set a date to get them done by. Stick with it and establish discipline. Don't flip your life around to try and accomplish your goals, just start with baby steps.

The mind is a powerful thing. It can be your biggest blockade or it can be your biggest motivator....
.....you decide which it is.