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.
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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