The Mental Fix

As we inch closer to the final months of 2014, I’ve started to reflect on what I had planned to achieve this year. I will not meet my goal number for unbroken pull-ups, but I did achieve my Rx “Fran”
Pink Kettlebells

As we inch closer to the final months of 2014, I’ve started to reflect on what I had planned to achieve this year. I will not meet my goal number for unbroken pull-ups, but I did achieve my Rx “Fran” time. The back-squat weight that seemed so obtainable in the beginning of 2014 will probably be one of my new goals for 2015.

And that’s OK.

For every goal I did not meet, I have surpassed my expectations in another skill or movement I couldn’t dream of doing last January. In 2014, I will have competed in three competitions, gone to the Central East Regional, started a successful blog about CrossFit ) and have achieved the best physical condition of my adulthood. Of course, double-unders are still hit or miss.

My CrossFit experience has taught me the importance of setting realistic goals and the sometimes frustrating, gut-wrenching push it takes to reach them. And now that November is here, I’m ready to dial back on the gut wrenching and just enjoy the CrossFit experience for a month or two.

How many times this past year have I been so concerned about my WOD time that the pure joy of holding a barbell slipped past me? How many times have I overlooked the pleasure of snatching a kettlebell because I was worried I should have gone heavier?

For the last part of 2014, I’ve decided to switch up my goals. I’m putting aside the intense focus I have on physical progress and I’m flipping to the mental side. I’ve picked two new objectives that will clear away some bad habits and better prepare me for my 2015 ambitions.

1. Don’t Whine. Or Complain. Or Make Sissy Faces.

“If you can quit, quit. If you can’t quit, stop complaining — this is what you chose.” — J.A. Konrath

I don’t know when I picked up this habit, but when I see rowing, running or wall balls on the whiteboard, I screw up my face, let out a sigh and say, “That does not look like fun.” Or “I suck at running.” Or “I don’t want to do this.” (Or, occasionally, “I think my ankle is broken.”)

I actually like rowing, running and wall balls, and I don’t mind doing any of it. So why do I try to convince myself before the WOD even starts that it’s not going to go well?

And if I’m having an off day and nothing is going right, I tend to whine about how tired I am. Or how my wrist hurts. Or how I’m sore and I think my back is out of alignment. The truth is I’m a bit embarrassed when I can’t lift correctly, and I tend to prattle on about all the possible reasons that I can’t accomplish a decent snatch (something no one would have noticed if I hadn’t whined about it in the first place).

Here’s what I’m going to do: Shut up and do the best I can. If I’m trying to improve a weakness, like running, I’m no longer going to sabotage my progress by voicing my fears. I’m going to look at the whiteboard and say, “Let’s do it.”

We all have bad days. Sometimes it seems the bar is working against us rather than with us. My new solution is to shut up, take off some weight and work on form. Reviewing technique is never a waste of time, and once in a while, it just feels good to go light.

2. Treat Yourself as You Want Others to Treat You

I love to laugh. Through trial and error, I’ve learned that it’s usually safer to make fun of myself than other people.

During my first day in On Ramp, Coach asked us about our fitness background. Everyone offered up answers like P90X, soccer, running. My answer was, “Sitting on the couch and lifting the remote.” But that wasn’t necessarily true. In high school, I played softball and ran cross-country. I was the aerobics queen during college, and since then I had spent many hours on the treadmill.

My answer got a bit of a laugh. It also told everyone that I was starting from the bottom. I was expecting to be the slowest, weakest one in the group. And I was OK with that because I knew I was determined to change my life.

I was the slowest, weakest one in the group for a very long time. I continued to make jokes. If there was an AMRAP WOD in which I was pretty sure I could get five rounds in, I would tell the coach to go ahead and write “2 rounds” by my name. Or a chipper would get, “All right, tell me the time cap.”

But as I started to come in first once in a while, I began to question the low expectations I set for myself before the WOD. No one would remember my final score, but they might assume it really was only two rounds or I really did hit the time cap.

Suddenly, I regretted making fun of myself for so long. I was getting serious about my progress, and I wanted my coaches and fellow CrossFitters to take me seriously. I had been shortchanging myself with these comments. Why would anyone else push me to go harder or faster if they thought I wasn’t capable of doing it?

Here’s what I’m going to do: If I can’t say something nice about myself, I’m going to say nothing at all. You’d think it’d be easy, but it’s such a habit by now that a comment is out of my mouth before I even think about it.

In CrossFit, mental progress usually gets pushed aside for physical progress, but sometimes a mental adjustment can open the doors for physical development. By the time 2015 arrives, I will have cleared the way for a brand-new year of exceeding my own expectations — and the expectations of others.

Jennifer Charles discovered CrossFit West Nashville in March 2013 when she was trying to locate a Jazzercise facility that had gone out of business. She immediately fell in love. In March 2014, she started True Barbellion as a way to chronicle and share her daily efforts, frustrations and success with the sport of fitness. She hopes you’ll visit often and become part of her journey.

Follow True Barbellion on Facebook