Lessons I Learned Waiting to Throw Up

I learned an important lesson today. I learned it at the CrossFit gym. CrossFit is functional strength training. Very simply put, you do a certain number of exercises (like pull ups followed by sit ups) for time. It’s intense as well as dense, it kicks your butt and it makes you want to stop and hurl. And guess what? It’s pretty addicting.

Here’s why it’s addicting. Because by pushing yourself to your absolute limits you realize that you can emerge out the other side. You can do more and be more than you ever thought was possible. And that makes you stronger both physically and mentally.

I began to think about my “normal” workouts. I’d push myself until I was tired and I felt like I’d “done well” then I’d stop. But I rarely pushed myself to the absolute limit of my being.

Today I did.

Today I wanted to give up. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to lie on the floor and go no farther.

I knew that my instructor would see that I had given it my all, that I was spent, that I simply could not do another anything. I waited for him to say, “good job today, you’re done” and release me from it.

What he did surprised me. He gave me a bucket and he said, “Throw up in this bucket and then do more.” I actually wanted to cry. What I did was ask him how many times a day people called him an asshole. He laughed. So did I.

Then I did more.

Then I wanted to quit again. I was light headed. I couldn’t breathe. He helped me through some breathing exercises then he told me to do more.

So I did.

He said, “only four more and then you’re done” and I really thought he was going to let me stop. But I realized that I didn’t want to stop. And he knew that too. But I knew I simply couldn’t take it.

But I could. I did four more.

Then he told me to go on to the next exercise and that I needed to do them faster and squat lower.

At some point between wanting to hurl and wanting to break out in tears, I came through the other side.

It still hurt and I still felt like crap but I knew I would finish. He had pushed me through the wall. He showed me that beyond my absolute limits there was more. That I had more.

Enlightening. Addicting.

And when I realized that deep down I did have more, it became easier. Somehow the 5th set of exercises was easier than the 3rd and the 4th. I was training my brain as well as my body. My brain could tell my body and my body would obey. He told me to do five more. I did six and smirked at him. He smiled. I thought, damn, he won. But I realized, of course, that I had won.

As I do, I took this lesson beyond the gym and into life. I came to realize that in some areas of my life I was selling myself short. That I was capable of so much more. That often I gave up too soon.

Sometimes change and growth is easy, but sometimes it’s not.

And when it’s not, ask yourself just how badly you want it. When the going gets tough are you willing to push through, to “use the bucket” and keep going and come out the other side into what you really want? Or will you give up and live your life in your own status quo? In the mediocrity of your desires?

Today I still want what I wanted yesterday out of life. The difference between then and now, between that workout and today, is that I know I have it in me. That beyond my seemingly unequivocal limits is enough reserve, enough extra strength, to reach my goals.

You have it in you too. Dig deep, go the extra mile.  Stand on top of your mountain.  Reach your dream.


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4 Responses to Lessons I Learned Waiting to Throw Up

  1. admin October 10, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    Thanks for that great advice Shelby! Yes, I couldn’t do that workout time after time. And in fact, today’s was much more “reasonable”. I also cross train with running and long distance swimming which gives me some longer endurance workouts.

    Sounds like you are well experienced with CrossFit! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Tim Sparks October 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    Wow… Thanks for this. This is what I needed right now. This applies to life in general. We are capable of more than we think.

    Great inspiration. We are running a kickstarter campaign right now and its crazy. Things seem tough but we have to keep pushing. No regrets!

    • admin October 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

      So glad that my near death experience helps others (smile!). Good luck with the campaign and keep on pushing through!

  3. Shelby October 9, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    What a fun adventure in your workout! Appropriate fitness training should reveal in you something deeper, stronger, and more resiliant than you ever realized. And CrossFit is great at that. However, make sure your workouts vary in intensity. Not every workout should be for time, or totally balls to the wall, even though that can be addicting at first. If they are always for time and form begins to fail, they are not “functional.” Your body needs to train at different speeds, different intensities, and with different movements. Way to go breaking through mental blocks and thank you for another great blog post!

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