Expanding Your Athletic Horizons (Athlete Journal 16)
“A mind that has been stretched by a new experience can never
go back to its old dimensions.”
What do you do when the thing you thought you loved is actually making you miserable? This is a question I asked myself at the end of my 2012 contest season in figure. It’s also a question I seriously have been contemplating again, with the start of the 2014 figure season upon me. And of course, everyone is asking, “What shows are you doing? When are you competing? Are you dieting? Are you prepping? Do you want to compete?” Blah, blah, blah.
The truth is, I’m not prepping. I’m not dieting. I don’t have any shows planned. And to answer the “do you want to compete” question - well, honestly, I don’t know. It’s not that I don’t love bodybuilding or figure, because I do. I have the utmost respect and regard for the men and women who choose to compete. And I owe a lot to the sport. Bodybuilding has helped make me into who I am. It’s taught me more about dedication, drive, and discipline than all of my other life experiences combined, and it’s part of the reason I’m such a formidable and strong athlete. Bodybuilding taught me about effort, and as a result, I am never afraid to work hard, to struggle, or to fight for my goals. But despite loving and respecting the practice, I’m still not sure if my head or my heart are interested in stepping on stage right now. It’s not that the sport has changed. It’s mostly that I have changed.
Two weekends ago, I attended the CrossFit weightlifting seminar, based on Mike Burgener’s curriculum, and am proud to say I received my certification. Part of what I loved so much about the weekend was being in a room of avid CrossFitters who love weightlifting as much as I do. Not only did I learn some invaluable knowledge about the Olympic lifts, which I can apply as an athlete to my own training, but I also learned about the application of the Olympic lifts in all avenues of sport, from CrossFit to general health and fitness. I also got to hear some incredible stories of how the instructors discovered CrossFit. They told us how it changed their lives, their beliefs about training, and what they knew about hard work. I heard about former endurance athletes who became CrossFitters, as well as former weightlifters, marathoners, football players, baseball players, bodybuilders - all were led to, and became engrossed in CrossFit.
One facet among all the stories told seemed to be paramount: everyone there stumbled into CrossFit because they felt stuck. Miserable. Frustrated. Bored. They were disinterested in their current athletic endeavors, just like I was. It's not that I didn't like competing in figure, or that I didn’t like the life I was living, I just felt like I was missing something in my training. A greater sense of meaning and excitement. New connections, new adventures, and new possibilities.
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” CrossFit is life-altering. I don’t say that to be cliché or to make the anti-CrossFit crowd throw up where they sit. I’m saying it because it’s true for me, relative to my life. Even if you don’t CrossFit and have no desire to, think about what I’m saying relative to your own athletic experience. Sport is meant to change you. And CrossFit has changed me. It's changed the fitness industry. It's changed perceptions about beauty, about strength. It has challenged my ideas about human potential and movement, about what I can and cannot do. It changed how I view training, recovery, and nutrition. It has challenged my ideas about the way things should work. About mental toughness, willpower, and strength. Had I never tried CrossFit, I wonder how much different my life would be today.
Life is too short to be miserable in your endeavors. I’m not saying I won’t compete in figure ever again - deep down, I believe I will. But I’m not sure when or where, and I’m okay with that. I’m training hard, gaining strength, and focusing on embracing the challenges and new experiences CrossFit is offering me. Even if you don't CrossFit and have no desire to, don’t shrink away from change or new possibilities. Don't buy into believing there is only one way. Be open-minded and embrace new ideas and methods, even if they fly in the face of the things you have come to know and believe. Remember, if it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you. And if we aren't changing, then we aren't progressing - and becoming stagnant is a sure path to mediocrity.
NOTE: I picked a different training session for today. I had a weekend long seminar I was attending, so I was busy from 9am until about 5pm nightly and I didn’t have much time during the day to get a workout in. I knew I’d be mentally done by the time I got home from the day long seminar. So I had to get up, get at it, get it done, and this is how it went down.
5am Training Session
- Run 800m
- 50 Kettlebell swings (35lbs)
- 12 minutes to snatch to a max - This was hard. I had 12 minutes to get my gear on (shoes, Rehbands, belt), tape my thumbs, and THEN attempt to snatch to a max. I was thrilled. My PR is 105. I hit 100 here today.
- Push press 5x5 on :60
- Good morning 5x5 on :60
30 minutes, rotate through the following stations:
- Minute 1: 200m Run
- Minute 2: 8 Heavy manmakers (I used 40lb dumbbells. I know everyone defines manmakers differently - I did these as renegade rows with a push up. So 1 rep was 1 push up off the dumbbells, then one row, each arm)
- Minute 3: 8 Burpee box jump overs (24” box)
- Minute 4: 250m Row
- Minute 5: 10 Pistols, each leg
- 4x10 Skin the cat
- 50 Double unders (I’m still perfecting these, so this is more for skill than anything else.)
- 4x10 Reverse hyper
Today’s Thought: “The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger
Allison Moyer is a nationally ranked NPC Figure Athlete, nationally and internationally published fitness model, an avid CrossFit athlete, BSN, C.P.T, C.S.N, C.N.W.C, and owner of Alli Fitness Systems and Predator Diet.