The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said “Yes, life is hard to bear, but do not pretend to be so delicate.” To my mind, these words sum up a lot of the struggles and sorrows of life. Life is bound to hand you some kind of trial at one point or another, and it’s easy sometimes to just throw up your hands and be a victim. It’s easy to lose sight of your own strength and the tools you’ve been given to push through a difficulty.
Don’t worry; I’m not going to get all metaphysical here or anything. In fact, I find fitness is one of the most difficult areas to strike a balance between challenging myself and settling for my comfort zone. Lately, and especially after reading some of the inspiring articles by fellow writers here at Breaking Muscle (Danette “Dizzle” Rivera’s awesome article about the CrossFit Games Open comes to mind), I’ve really felt the desire to do something more, to push myself further. To be more concrete: I’ve become a CrossFit wannabe.
I’ve always been attracted to CrossFit, but I thought it was something I would have to just save for later in my life – you know, “after the kids are grown.” I found out CrossFit is totally doable for a busy parent who can really only commit to one gym visit per week. In fact, in my case it may even be ideal, since there’s a lot of flexibility and homework you can do as time permits.CrossFit is also great because it’s not highly technical, like other sports like martial arts (which I would also love to do someday). To my surprise and delight, it seems like CrossFit might actually be the best way to challenge myself at this point in my life.
I italicize that phrase because, although it’s good to challenge yourself, it’s also crucial to be realistic about your situation. I know if I were to attempt a really technical sport that required intensive training, it would only cause frustration. For me, the key is to find something that can keep me from hitting a plateau. A year of trying to recondition myself after pregnancy and delivery, CrossFit seems like a good step to take.
Nevertheless, despite my enthusiasm and desire to get started, three nagging excuses always rear their ugly faces. Here’s what they are and why they don’t hold water:
1. I Don’t Have the Time
When it comes to staying fit, this excuse can be valid in some rare cases. Mine is not one of them. Yes, I have a three-year-old and a one-year-old at home. Yes, I balance working from home with taking care of them. Yes, life is full of unexpected phone calls, errands, potty-training accidents, hungry tummies…and the list goes on. In the midst of all this, it can seem like there’s just no time for anything else.
But then I think about all the things that I do make time for on a frequent basis, and I start to see – wow, I really do have time. This is something I realized after my second pregnancy. It was four months after my daughter’s birth and I had this awesome energy boost after a few months of postpartum recovery. Somehow I was able to keep a clean house, run all the errands I needed to, have a lot of fun time with my daughters, sew, read, hike, cook, AND exercise every day. I worked out in ten-minute intervals if I had to. We went on family walks. I took spin classes at five in the morning, before the kids woke up. I became an exercise DVD connoisseur. And I felt better than ever.
The problem really isn’t that I don’t have time for exercise or a new program. It’s not like I have this huge box called “time,” and I can’t fit everything into it. The real problem is the way the pieces are arranged. I don’t need more time; I just need to rearrange the time I have.
2. I Don’t Have the Money
For general fitness this problem is just nothing but a lousy excuse. Everyone knows there are plenty of exercises you can do without expensive equipment, gym fees, or class costs. Push-ups, squats, burpees, what more do you need? But for this CrossFit situation there is definitely a cost factor involved. And the last thing I want is to commit money to something and then be unable to follow through with it.
The solution? It’s simple, obvious, even cliché. It actually resembles the “I Don’t Have the Time” solution. I took a look at how I spend money, and realized if I stopped the frivolous, unnecessary spending I do now (i.e., expensive coffee; foods I can easily make at home, but purchase in pre-packaged form; cute but unnecessary outfits for my daughters), I could save more than enough money to pay for it. The CrossFit location I plan to try has a free two-week trial period. It also seems very flexible about payment, and they don’t require contracts or anything like that.
3. I Don’t Have the Moves
Here we reach the bottom of the bottom, the real reason for all the other reasons. I’m a quiet, reserved person and have always been that way. I like to work out in the privacy of my home. When I think about punching things and lifting heavy stuff in front of other people I get nervous. What if I’m not strong enough as all the other people? What if I’m not as fast/in shape/muscular/etc.?
I’m sure most of you readers have already overcome this obstacle, but for those who haven’t, I feel your pain. Being self-conscious is actually one of the top reasons people don’t go to gyms, according to a survey by the American Council on Exercise. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good reason.
While it’s true working out in front of others can be intimidating, it’s also, and more importantly, a great way to make you accountable for your performance and training. At a good training facility, your coaches and peers are there to help you succeed and meet your goals, which is a huge motivator you don’t always get in other situations. That’s another thing that has really struck me about CrossFit, and one of the most attractive features to my mind.
So there you have it. What I discovered after examining all these problems is there really is no problem at all. Being a mother doesn’t have to keep you from attaining your own fitness goals. In fact, it’s great to know I have my own cheering section at home. All that’s left now is to take the next step.
Any good advice for beginners from CrossFitters out there?