Real Talk: The Long Road to Understanding Priorities
I started CrossFit at the beginning of October in 2012. I had no idea what I was in for in my life by making this choice. At the time I was working at physical therapy clinic doing admin work. One of my co-worker first told me about her husband’s CrossFit gym and what CrossFit was, and how much it cost! Lawdy, no. There was no way my cheap ass could afford that! After that, my other co-workers and I would start working out on our lunch breaks. Our work environment was essentially a gym, so during lunch we would look up the workouts on the CrossFit gym’s website, and do a light, modified, cheaper version of CrossFit. Needless to say, about 7 months later, I found myself NEEDING to join a CrossFit gym. I craved the real deal. So, I worked it out financially and made it happen. That’s where this story starts. My debut into the CrossFit world.
It’s important to insert here that there was a short time here for me of routine “shit-togetherness”. I was working a consistent job sitting at a desk with totally manageable expectations and schedule. I went to bed and woke up at the same time every day. I meal prepped every week, and ate my food at the exact same time every day. My workout was 5-6 times a week at the exact same time. I knew what to expected each and every day and I pushed my workouts HARD. I make so much progress, I felt amazing, and great, and I was totally romanticized with CrossFit. This “in love” experience ruled my life, and felt glorious, amazing, everything I ever wanted. As we all know, that “in love” feeling eventually fades, and what’s left is hard working, daily grind.
Shortly after I started CrossFitting, in the fall of 2014 at the age of 30, I left my job and started a full time teaching credential program. I had been doing all the leg work, applying and hoping to get into this program for about 4 years. Finally, I had everything turned in, had been accepted, and quit my job to start this post-baccalaureate program in the hopes of transforming my career and future.
Right before I dove into this program, I had a premonition. I felt almost like I wanted to back out of it. Like I should stay in my nice, cozy, full-time, reliable, comfy job that I was decently good at and could build a small future in. I knew that moving into the credential program would mean that what lay ahead of me in the next phases of my life was going to be hard, unpredictable, challenging, painful, cruel, horrific, and life altering. I don’t know how I knew that, but I just did. And I recoiled at the idea of making this leap. I dreaded it. The day I left my job I drove away bawling, and spent the next week of “vacation” in mourning about what comforts I had just left behind, and what discomforts lay just ahead. I knew this next part of my life was going to hurt.
Bye-bye “shit-togetherness”. Hello total chaos.
Soon after I entered the program, like in a matter of weeks, I realized that traditional teaching in public or private classrooms wasn’t for me. After abandoning my job and everything else to get into this program, I didn’t know how to handle that information. I’m not a quitter. So I just tried to ignore it. I plugged on for the next two years to complete the credential program, no matter what was thrown my way. I was horribly miserable for 2 years, and almost even was kicked out. By the time the program was over, I was jobless, divorced for a second time by the age of 32, had left my long time family religion, was depressed, gaining weight, and hardly working out. Everything in my life had unraveled in such a short time, just like I knew it would, and I was utterly lost.
During those two years I had taken my CrossFit Level 1 and started coaching. I just wanted so badly to keep my connection with CrossFit as I could feel it fading away while I struggled with the credential program. By the end of the program, the ONLY thing I was sure of was that I loved coaching CrossFit. In the midst of it all, CrossFit was my one anchor and passion that I was sure of. I had no idea how to make it a career, if it was even possible, or what opportunities were out there. I had zero idea. I just knew that I loved it and I needed to try to make it happen. At this point, what else did I have to lose.
So I abandoned all other pursuits (I didn’t really have anything left anyway) and put all my eggs into the coaching basket. I was coaching classes and coaching seasonal water polo at a local high school, and continued to do that for about 2 years before I was able to apply for a business license, and open a new chapter of my career. One that followed even more massive failure, horrible wrong choices, ignorant determination in the wrong direction. It was a chapter I may not have been quite ready for at the time, but I moved forward nonetheless.
Through this whole crazy experience I’ve realized one theme that is very important to me now, that I remind myself of every damn day. There is a time and a season for all things to come to a close and for other things to start new. And occasionally, for somethings to re-start again.
When I think about this, I’m reminded of what's truly important and best for my life right now. I love working out, CrossFit, coaching, all of it, and that will never change. There have been several times in my life where my workouts and performance were able to be center stage, and I was able to give it my heart and soul. And I KNOW there will be another phase in my life where again that will take place. However, right now, I’m still putting my entire life and psyche back together after my phase of unraveling, and that is that experience that is center stage right now.
It’s been 5 years since I started that teaching credential program, and since I had that premonition. This, right now, and since then, is the discomfort that was awaiting me. I have no idea how long this phase of life will last, or how long I’ll have to endure getting torn apart and unraveled. And it’s been hard, more than I can describe in words, it has taken almost everything from me. In the darkest parts, I thought it would all be over. I have experienced times where I’ve seen no future for myself, and I’ve felt irreversibly trapped. Today, I am hopeful that the life and future I’ve dreamed of is attainable for me.
This phase of life has been the most brutal phase I’ve ever faced. But it’s temporary, and I can see that clearly now. Someday I will be as fit and healthy as I want to be, workout as hard as I want to, and compete again. I still hang onto as much workout time as I can, I still meal prep, I still try. But I understand that some days, its okay to not try, because I’m giving my absolute all to other very important areas of my life so that I can continue to survive. And that’s just how it has to be for now. Just for now, and not for always.
I guess I write this and share this insight from my journey because I hear clients say often how they used to be skinnier, or used to be more fit, and look how far they’ve fallen away from that. I intimately relate to that feeling and have to work through those kinds of thoughts with myself. If you think or feel that way I challenge you to ask yourself what priorities are you making right now that have caused this shift in your life? Making your health and fitness a priority is important, but it can be luxury at times. Maybe it isn’t your top #1 anymore like it was when you were in college, or when you were an athlete. Now you're an adult, so maybe health and fitness drops down to #3 or #4 on your list. Maybe even at crucial times it drops waaay low on the list. It is natural for the prioritization of health and fitness to fluctuate on your list as life continues to throw it’s usual curve calls at you. It’s normal to have to always have to strive to make it a priority. That’s OK! Don’t stop trying. Your phase of life will change, and so will your priorities.
It’s NORMAL! It’s NATURAL! Repeat that to yourself.
What are you prioritizing? A job promotion? A new relationship? An ending relationship? Your mental health? Recovering after having a baby? (Ladies, this is a big one. You’re a real goddess. Give yourself as much time as you need to heal.) Yeah, that’s all pretty damn normal and expected. That ever changing pace of life means that putting your workout time, your diet, your self care at the top of the list is an ever shifting battle. That’s just how life goes. Once you start trying to make it more of a priority, it can feel like everything gets in the way - from thoughts in your head, to push back from friends and partners, to life just trying to interfere. Again, normal. Natural.
Keep trying to manage your thoughts and feelings about it. Recruit whoever and whatever you can to help you support all efforts of growth! The good news is that the more you do it, the easier it gets. So that even when life gets terribly, and unreasonably cruel, you will continue to adjust and somehow make health and fitness a priority, if not so high up on the list. Even looking ahead to a time you can bring it back up to the top of the list, is a form of making it a priority. You can make it a priority, you will, and life will then make another shift on you. We all experience it. There’s no need to beat yourself up about it, especially when you’re probably already going through something difficult. Repeat this to yourself: It’s normal, it’s natural.