I am so Proud…

CFNE! The fittest family in the world.

WOW!  What an amazing experience.  I have been wanting to write something to express how proud and happy I am to part of this little gym in Natick that just WON THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS, but every time I sit down to write a recap of the Games I feel like my words aren’t going to do justice to the emotions I have.  So please realize that this is only a fraction of my true feelings. 

I am SO PROUD of you guys!  And I am not talking just to the six members of the team (they know how proud I am of them, their accomplishments, and how they embody the word “Champions” in every sense).  I am proud of our alternates, JC and Ali, for being the strongest teammates anyone could hope for.  I am proud of our Master’s competitors, Elaine, Bubba and Big Bri for competing with heart and class.  I am proud of the 30 something members of our gym that travelled across the country to cheer us on in the Sea of Red.  Our fans were the loudest in the stadium and the Team and Masters will tell you how much that meant to their performance.  I am proud of the dozens of other members who watched us watched us online and sent their support through texts and emails.  I am proud of Heather, who was spectacular commentating for ESPN this weekend. 

Lastly, I am proud of CFNE as a whole…every member!  Sometimes it’s hard to realize how much every member effects the success of our affiliate.  I think Bubba nailed it when he said, “I am the lucky one to have gotten to train with the other CFNE athletes that push their envelope and set the bar as high as they can for the people around them. What you give to the WOD you give to the community and help build the culture of personal accomplishment that is the core of CFNE. 

It’s like an iceberg, the biggest, most important part isn’t the shiny tip sticking above the water, it’s what is not as visible but much more important beneath the surface.”

 I noticed this firsthand this past couple of days as our members have been smashing PR’s and getting after WODs like it’s their own personal Games.  There seems to be a new sense of hunger, desire and level of commitment that our victory has brought to everyone.  How awesome is that?  Forget resting on your success.  CFNE is hungrier than ever.  LOVE IT!

Biography is Not Destiny.

You are not your past.  You are better than that.  Don’t let yesterday’s events or today’s fears keep you from being the person you know you can be.  Your biography is not your destiny. 

Most of society believes that we are our past.  They believe who we are, and who we will become, has already been decided by our past.  For example, if you had a troubled past you are destined for a troubled future; if you have been successful in your youth you are destined for greatness.  Or in terms of CrossFit, if you’ve struggled with running, Olympic lifting, or dialing in your nutrition in the past, these will be your shortcomings for years to come.

But in reality we know this isn’t true.  All of us know examples that counter this; the blessed kid with nothing but sunshine and rainbows in front of him that somehow ends up in rehab.  Or the girl with nothing going for her, against all odds, ends up the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.  Or in terms of CrossFit, it’s the stories we see every month at CFNE; The fat guy that looses 80 lbs and goes on to win a 5k.  Or it’s the weak and un-athletic soccer mom that can now dead lift twice her bodyweight and do 30 pull ups. 

The truth is your past does not dictate your future.  As humans beings we have been given the ultimate power…The power of decision and choice.  You control who you are and who you will become, by the DECISIONS and ACTIONS you take TODAY. 

 Decide to be better at running, Olympic lifting or eating clean, and then ACT on those decisions.  You can be anything you chose to be, but you must believe in your decisions, and act upon those decisions with conviction.  Don’t fail into the trap of the many, that your past failures will predict future faults.  At CrossFit we know better.  We can be anything we decide, as long as we act.   Biography is not Destiny, your Destiny is up to YOU.

In 2011, Walk down the Path.

The end of the year is time to reflect on the past 12 months’ achievements and failures and set your sites on bigger and better things in the year to come.  New Year’s resolutions are a common tradition this time of year, but are usually created without much thought and long forgotten by Valentine’s Day.  Damn shame, because they are a seriously powerful tool that can set you up for success if created and followed up on correctly. 

All goals (personal, health/fitness, professional, etc…) should be created as S.M.A.R.T. Goals.  That is, they should be Specific, Measurable, Affirmative, Realistic and Time bound.  For example, instead of saying “I want to be stronger,” a SMART Goal would be “I will deadlift twice my bodyweight by June 1st, 2011.”  The SMART goal is not vague. You can measure it (there are numbers involved).  It is said in the affirmative state, “I will,” not “I want.”  It is realistic; if you currently have a 1.5x BW deadlift, this is completely within your grasp, and it is Time bound; give yourself a deadline.  

Once your SMART goals are in place, it is simply a matter of having singular focus on that goal.  Here is a little analogy to help you in your pursuit of a achieving your resolutions this year.  Imagine yourself standing on a long path.  At the end of this path is your goal.  Obviously you want to walk down the path towards your goal and here’s how you get there.  Dozens of times a day you are faced with decisions and these decisions will dictate whether you walk towards your goal or take a step away from it.  Make the choice to lift heavy today and take a step towards your goal.  Skip the workout and take a step back.  THERE IS NO STANDING STILL on this path.  Every decision, and every moment of your life, you are either taking one step closer or one step farther from your goal. 

Don’t be overwhelmed by the magnitude and multitude of your decisions.  Instead embrace the impact you can have on achieving your goals.  Be SMART, walk down the path, and make 2011 the best year of your life. 

Fitness Is Doubt

“Fitness Is..”
Article by Blair Morrison, Originally posted on CrossFitMobile.com

Fitness is…Slinking, creeping, unraveling doubt.

It’s a burden you know too well. That point halfway through a workout when the voice inside your head starts pounding against your eardrums, telling you you’re too tired, too sick, or too weak to go on. Or out in the world when you convince yourself you’re too fat to wear that dress, too old to play that sport, or too green to do that job. It’s a sensation so overwhelming that you find yourself practically submerged in it, like a liquid skepticism, viscous and disgusting. You rationalize, “Hey, it’s alright… it’s just the way things are. Those dresses are for skinny minnies, those sports are for the young bucks, and that job… well, I’ll bide my time and get there eventually.” But deep down you’re hating yourself, resenting your size, your age, your inexperience, or whatever relative weaknesses you have. You wish you were more fearless, more driven, and more secure, but life has taught you well your incapacities and it’s not your place to argue.

The truth is we’d much rather assume defeat than face our weaknesses head on—far better to avoid the mirror than risk a humiliating sidelong glimpse. In essence, doubt is a mechanism designed to protect our ego from this very confrontation. Years of experience and pain have honed our instincts to sidestep landmines of embarrassment and grief, conditioning us to be chronic under-estimators. On the whole we have grown habitually and pathetically risk-averse.

The problem with this way of living is twofold. First, we forget what it’s like to face a challenge, thus neglecting the skills needed to overcome it. Whichever way you slice it, life is hard and emotionally uncomfortable. It is never quick or easy, and it is harshly unapologetic. In order to truly grow we must be willing to live on the margins and step outside our comfort zone, in many cases risking failure. We need to tap into stores of courage and determination that most days lie collecting dust. If we don’t, they lose their potency and condemn us to chronic intimidation. Then on that day when we no longer have a choice, when we can’t avoid the issue or sidestep the mines any longer, we don’t have what it takes to survive. You find yourself on an operating table with 3 stints in your heart and no idea how you got there, no idea how to recover. Or you wake up geriatric at 55, unable to pick up your grandkids for fear you might pinch a nerve or slip a disc. Such is not the intended way.

Second, and perhaps more dangerously, we begin to identify more with what we can’t do than with what we can. This is because, in the absence of real confrontation, our doubts become our reality. It doesn’t matter how irrational or ill-conceived the reasoning, the man obsessed with his age looks older by the day; the woman refusing to try on the dress grows less and less likely to ever wear it. If we keep inundating ourselves with notions of inability, we will always struggle to improve. If halfway through every workout you keep telling yourself it can’t be done, chances are it never will be. Soon the mirror knows only negative reflections, having gone so long since showing any other. A productive life cannot be lived in such circumstances.

Granted, fixing this is easier said than done. Behind every sneaking doubt or hesitation there is some truth. But we cannot be defined by these limitations. They are merely yardsticks: Commit yourself to outgrowing them.

When I was a junior in high school I played cornerback for the varsity football team at 5’9, 145 lbs. I wasn’t particularly quick, strong, or tough, and I wasn’t the coach’s son. The only thing I really had going for me was my brain. I always knew where to be and when to be there, and on the not so infrequent occasion when someone else forgot where they were supposed to be, I could get him there too. The problem with being this aware was that I couldn’t fool myself into believing I was something that I wasn’t. Other guys may have convinced their 2nd string bodies they were all-state material, but I knew I was average. I knew I was small and slow and, most of the time, scared. These were facts. They defined my capabilities.

One day in practice our tight end (a 250 lb behemoth) caught an out route and turned upfield towards me. I had made plenty of tackles in my life and knew that going low was the safe play, but for whatever reason I went in high with no regard for life or limb. Somehow I connected just right and my 145 lb frame flipped his 250 lb one like a buttermilk pancake. I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t compute. The player I thought I was could never have made that play. Yet there I was, standing over the dragon slain.

It’s no different in society. People aren’t blind or misguided: they look in the mirror and know what they see. If it’s unpleasant they’ll trim it, tuck it, or wrap it in fancy paper, but deep down they know their shortcomings. Many are haunted by them. Some overcompensate—the 5 foot guy drives a Hummer, the incompetent boss screams about everyone else’s incompetence– but most simply avoid the issue entirely. Precious few address the fact that the doubt in their subconscious is rooted in truth. That guy is 5 feet tall. That boss is incompetent. Until something happens to change those facts no amount of compensation or avoidance will make them feel any better.

The only way to overcome doubt is to welcome it, face it, and test it. We have to invite our weaker sides onstage and see how fragile they truly are. For me it happened by accident, but more deliberate approaches are just as effective. Start by using your doubt as an indicator of where you need work. Rather than silently dreading the day when double unders come up in a WOD, do so many of them that you’d just as soon skip rope across the street as you would walk there. Rather than telling yourself you’re too old to keep up with the fire-breathers, re-define your limits and stop making excuses. Refuse to be intimidated by your weaknesses and you might discover that all this time you were drowning yourself in a 3-foot pool.

Until that hit 10 years ago, I was limited by my own under-estimation. Afterwards I was more aggressive, more decisive, and more effective. I promise that unless you risk your ego from time to time you will never overcome your current limits. They will fester and persist until that pallid reflection becomes real. Remember this the next time that voice starts pounding against your temples. Maybe the outcome isn’t so certain