It’s three weeks before the 2016 Turkey Challenge (arguably one of Colorado’s toughest CrossFit competitions). I am registered on a pro team and hope they will replace me…
Now, it’s two weeks before the 2016 Turkey Challenge. It looks like I won’t be replaced… Oh no! Fear settles in about the competition. I decide to commit: I will try my best.
One week before the Turkey Challenge – I am SO nervous. What am I doing? I haven’t competed in two years, and I am 7 months post-surgery on my wrist. My subconscious croaks: “This is dumb. Drop out.” Yet consciously, I tell myself, “I am in it now – stay positive.”
DAY 1 of the Turkey Challenge CrossFit competition:
My heart rate is off the charts. I am beyond nervous. Looking around, I compare myself to other athletes, “shit, I wish I was stronger…”
“I am strong!” I repeat over and over in my head. “STOP comparing yourself… it does you no good.”
Looking at the schedule, I see Workout #1 will challenge me physically and mentally. We practiced the movements a week ago in our home gym – I failed many times working to snatch 55 lbs with my left arm. I pump myself up: “You’ve got this… just go nice and smooth,” I repeat to myself” “Don’t worry about anyone else. Focus… Focus.” After I finish the workout with my teammate, I’m happy to learn we didn’t come in last. Success!
After our team completes all our events, we end the day in second place – we are pumped. Just one more day…
DAY 2 of the Turkey Challenge:
Day Two at the Challenge: I feel as anxious as I did the previous day. My heart rate is up, my stomach hurts, and I don’t want to compete. Our first workout starts at 11:00am. I feel fine because we practiced the movements before the competition. As the competition starts, I tell myself to stop worrying… 3, 2, 1, GO! We are off smoothly with burpees and deadlifts. Things fall apart fast when I hit the pull up bar. I start to panic. Why am I failing on pull-ups? What is happening? I crack mentally and feel tears swelling in my eyes. My ego is loud, telling me not to cry and to keep going. Another part of me scans the room looking for an exit. I fail and break down for the first time in a CrossFit competition.
I feel awful. I let down my team. I’m embarrassed. I call my husband and cry for 10 minutes. After regaining my composure [somewhat], I get off the phone, wipe my tears, and continue my day. Failure happens – and – it’s okay.
In CrossFit, and in recovery, failure is bound to happen: how you get up and learn from your failure is the gold found in each of these challenging moments. In my personal recovery, I was forced to release myself from perfectionism. My illness was competitive, obsessive, and my ego was its primary internal driver. These characteristics translated well in CrossFit; but unlike an internal struggle that knows no bounds, the strong external challenges of CrossFit help me fail and release internal perceptions and self-judgments.
In all, competing in the Turkey Challenge helped me gain mental strength and emotional/physical toughness. I faced many fears and learned about myself through difficult external competition. CrossFit parallels my eating disorder recovery in a number of ways. This weekend, I learned to stop comparing myself to others and to other/younger versions of myself. I am not a “sick bulimic” anymore… that’s in the past. Because I now spend less time in the gym, I am no longer the “obsessive CrossFitter” I was in the first days of recovery. Here in the present, I am just ME – and it feels great. As we go through life, we tend to compare ourselves to younger versions of ourselves or to “ideal” versions of ourselves. We need to STOP, break from the loop, and direct our energy inward for positive growth. You and I are exactly where we need to be…
My most important lesson (from this competition and from my time in CrossFit): the happier I am in my body and the further I am in my recovery, the less aggressive I am in my workouts and in my self-comparisons to others. CrossFit no longer fills a void in my life; instead, it teaches me to focus on strength, not “skinniness.” CrossFit welcomed me into a positive community and helped me build new self-awareness and different life-purpose. As my recovery continues, my need for CrossFit diminishes. I continue accepting my body, letting go of pain, and healing old wounds. I am thankful for the lessons learned in CrossFit. While I may never partake in another Pro competition, I am grateful for the unstated goal of CrossFit [or any sport really]: personal obstacles are vanquished through practice, toughness, and occasionally a few tears.
Thank you to the Turkey Challenge for helping me face my fears, sit in defeat, stand up with confidence, focus on my values, and acknowledge my ego. I learned so much from competing, and with my hard-fought lessons, I’m happy to say its time to carry these perspectives on to new challenges!
Stop comparing myself to other versions of myself.
Failure is okay – it was bound to happy. I am human
The happier I am in my body and the further along I am in my recovery the less aggressive I am in my workouts and in CrossFit. I am no longer using CrossFit to till a void.