Many of you out there in the "Internet Realm" who follow my blog don't know me personally, so I feel that it's necessary to give a bit of background before diving into the "heart" of this post.
I started CrossFit about 3 years ago, and progressed on about an "average" level. I was instantly addicted due to the constant improvement across a wide range of movements, and I aspired to one day reach the "Competition" level. I've been competitive and athletic my entire life, so this gave me a new outlet for my competitive spirit to fly free.
I started Weightlifting (in addition to CF) about 2 years ago, and quickly fell in love with it. I'm very flexible and this gave me an advantage in movements like the Snatch. I made "okay" progress over the next year and a half. Nothing spectacular, but steady and consistent progress - so I was happy and content.
My strengths are Weightlifting (Single Reps w/ recovery in between - very different from most CF Weightlifting Conditioning WODS) and lengthy-but-light-weight-MetCons, while my weaknesses are gymnastics movements and lifting heavy weights for more than 1 or 2 reps. (I can lift MUCH more for 1 - 2 reps, or if given time to recover between reps than I can if I were asked to lift a weight multiple times without rest.)
Okay, now for the "meat and potatoes" of this post -
Up until about 8 months ago, I was making steady progress and thriving both mentally and physically on the consistent improvement in most areas. Then "IT" Happened.
"IT" will be different for everyone, but in all cases it's something that happens in your life that sets you back (a little or sometimes a LOT), and you have little to no control over whatever this thing may be.
The "IT" in my life was thyroid problems. My energy levels started to fall, I could no longer go as long or as hard, and some days it took everything I had just to get out of bed. Then, my strength started to decrease, and that was the last straw for me - I marched my butt to the Dr. to find out what in the heck was going on. The diagnosis was an Autonomically functioning Thyroid Nodule. I had a "hyper-thyroid" condition, and the options to fix it were to nuke the nodule w/ radiation or have surgery to remove the nodule along with (at least) half of my thyroid. I opted for the "nuke it" option because there was a better chance that my thyroid would recover long-term and that I wouldn't have to go on Synthroid. I was warned that when they "nuked" the nodule, it would likely also affect my thyroid function for several months, up to a year, and that I would probably become "Hypo" until my thyroid regulated itself. If it failed to regulate itself in an acceptable amount of time, I would have to go on medication to get my Thyroid levels where they needed to be. Sooo, at the end of August, I had my Thyroid "nuked".
Since then, my performance in the gym has continued to decline, but at an even faster rate. I now officially have "hypo-thyroidism", and my levels are getting worse every month (not better).
Initially, I kept a positive attitude. I knew that this was a temporary setback, and as soon as I got "IT" straightened out, everything would return to normal. I suffered through discouraging workout after discouraging workout, but did my best to keep plugging away.
Over the last two months, however, my workout frequency has decreased significantly more. It got so hard (mentally!) to drag myself to the gym when I was no longer seeing steady progress, but was instead seeing a steady decline in my performance and strength. I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream, I wanted to throw myself down on the floor and have a temper tantrum. I just wanted to feel better and perform better, and get back to where I was. I felt like I was being forcibly pushed backwards in time to the level I was at when I first started CrossFit and Weightlifting. And I had worked SO HARD for the progress that it was really hard to see it ripped away by "IT".
Every workout, I would compare my results to my previous PR's (set before "IT" happened), and got more and more discouraged - because numbers just don't lie - I was getting worse, not better. My Fran is much slower, I can't string even half the pullups together that I used to be able to, I can't Snatch or C&J my max anymore for even 1 rep, I get winded and have to rest after just a few thrusters or box jumps or burpees.
In addition to all of this, I had FINALLY conquered the HUGE milestones of HS Pushups (off of an abmat) and RX Ring Dips prior to "IT". These are things that I had struggled with and worked on religiously for months and months to get, and was overjoyed when I finally "got" them. I realized about a month ago that I can no longer do either movement. And trust me, it's NOT for lack of giving it everything I had just to try to get 1 single solitary rep. I just am THAT much weaker.
So for the last two months, I've gradually been getting more and more discouraged and it's been harder and harder to force myself to workout because I'm fighting with my own head. I'll tell myself that "I feel GREAT today, and I'm going to kick this workout's butt!" and then 5 minutes into it I realize that I have no energy at all left, and I finish it, look up my previous time, and realize that I got nowhere close to kicking that workout's butt, regardless of my good intentions.
I FINALLY realized just today that I've been my own worst enemy. I've been de-moralizing myself and setting myself up for failure by comparing my Current Performance/Strength Level to my Performance/Strength Level from before "IT". I'm basically comparing apples to oranges, whether I want to admit it or not. I am NOT the same athlete that I was 6 months ago, through no fault of my own - but I need to accept that, re-assess where I am NOW, and try to improve from my current position. That means setting new goals, focusing on the here and now, and forgetting about what I may or may not have been capable of 6 months ago.
What brought on this realization? I was reminded of the Serenity Prayer:
"God, Grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, COURAGE to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference."
The realization of what I had been doing hit me like a lightning bolt. I need to trust that I will never be burdened with more than I've been given the ability to handle, and know that everything really does happen for a reason, even if I never figure out just what that reason is.
So I am going to do my best to simply accept that I am where I am in terms of strength and conditioning, and there is absolutely nothing that I can do to change where I am right now at this moment. It's out of my hands.
And while I won't be able to change my performance & strength levels overnight, or return them instantaneously to where they used to be, I do have the ability to change my the way that I look at the situation, my focus, and my goals.
So over the next month, I am going to update my "Current 1RM" and all of my performance measurement metrics so that they reflect where I am right now. I will no longer refer to any of my previous benchmarks in my training logs or on my website because that was the past, and this is the present, and I need to stop dwelling on the past if I ever want to be able to move forward.
Going forward, I will measure my progress against these current numbers, rather than where I was when I was at my "peak" 6 months ago. I hope that this shift in the way that I look at things will help me to be less discouraged at the end of my workouts, and to appreciate that I still have the ability to do the things that I love, even if I may not be able to (presently) do them as well as I used to. And that's okay with me!
So if you have recently faced a setback as a result of an "IT" in your life, it may help if you stop dwelling on the past, re-evaluate where you are in the present, and make goals & plans for the future based on your current situation. Whatever the "IT" is in your life that may have sidelined or de-railed you - You can overcome it if you are able to stop focusing on how things were before "IT", accept how things are now, and move forward from your current position.
I'll end this post with one of my favorite quotes:
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude,
to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the
education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than
what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance,
giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The
remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will
embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact
that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only
thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I
am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.
And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.” ~Charles R.
And now, after that HEAVY post, here's a little something to make you Smile before you leave! (Cause who doesn't love cute puppies?!?)