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Learning to Love It

April 6, 2012

If I could get the rest of the (non-athletic) world to understand one thing about my diet and training it is how much I really love it. I mean it. I love it. I do this because it makes me feel whole, it is part of who I am. I mean, yes workouts are hard and demanding and take a lot of time. But, honestly, I get excited thinking about intense workouts. Making time to workout is making time to take care of myself, but not just because I have to, but also because I want to.

So how do I learn to love it? I can only partially answer that question. As I said recently to a crossfit friend, some people already get it, others never will. But I titled this post learning to love it, because I feel like even I relearn every year to love the intensity and frequency that I workout at. Most winters, I back off working out. I work out four or five times a week, and lighter workouts. In fact, world class athletes often do something similar. The body needs rest time, not only the day here or there in the training plan, but some real sustained rest time in the year as well. And when I come back, I relearn to commit myself. Something happens as I amp up the consistency, amp up the routine. I relearn to associate working out with the feeling of success I get, the endorphins pumping through my body, the feeling of finding new personal limits, the splendid exhaustion at the end of a hard workout. And as I keep at my routine, I get to the point where that’s what I think about when I think about working out. I get to the point where before I think about how much it will hurt, I first think about how good it will feel. And so it gets easier to keep at it.

Two recent examples really illustrate this point, one with my diet and one with my workouts. So first the diet illustration. The other day I went to lunch at Karyn’s Cooked in downtown Chicago (amazing vegan restaurant for anyone local — my husband also loved it and he’s a meat eater!). At the end of lunch, my husband ordered a piece of chocolate cake. He wanted to taste what vegan chocolate was like. Now, when I first cut sugar out of my diet, I would have sat there and stared at the cake, tempted. I’m never temped to get sweets on my own, but for a long time, if they were in front of me, I was tempted. But this time? I wasn’t bothered by the cake. It wasn’t something I missed. It wasn’t even something I had to think about. And I realized I’m at a point where I don’t really miss the sugar. I don’t miss the grains. I don’t miss the bread. I mean, sure, I do sometimes miss the convenience of just throwing peanut butter on toast and running out the door, breakfast in hand. But convenience aside, it doesn’t really feel like I’m giving anything up anymore. I love how I feel, I love the foods I eat, I love how much energy I have. Eating a really clean diet has just become part of who I am. And it’s something I love. It’s not something that is a chore anymore.

The other example is a crossfit WOD. On Tuesday this week, my crossfit box did “John Rankel,” a workout named for a marine. The workout was 20 minutes, as many rounds as possible: 6 deadlifts (225 lbs), 7 burpee pullups, 10 kettlebell swings (50 lbs), and run 200 meters. I was signed up for a rowing class that day, but I saw that workout posted and thought “wow, that sounds really intense, and fun!” And so I rearranged my schedule a bit so I could make it to the noon crossfit class to try the workout. I had never done burpee pullups before, so I had no idea how they would go — for burpee pullups, you do a burpee, and on the jump you grab the pullup bar and do a pullup. I am glad I made it in for that WOD. I remember the second time I went out the door for my run thinking “remind me why I thought this was going to be fun?” But by the end, I felt just amazing. I wasn’t sure how I would do on burpee pullups, but I got through five whole rounds of the WOD, meaning I got in 35 burpee pullups. For someone who still struggles with normal pullups, I’d say that’s not bad. And the bar I was using was 8’2″ off the ground, so I had to be sure to get in a good jump to get up there! Everyone at the gym struggled with this WOD, but there was tremendous energy as we all pushed ourselves on. That shared energy is part of what I was looking forward to. And the shared sense of accomplishment when we all collapsed to the ground after Eric called time at the end. We looked at each other, breathing hard, sweaty, legs sore, and knew we had all tested our personal limits. And those are the moments that I learn to love. And why it gets easier as I keep going back.

226 days till Ironman Arizona.


From → diet, training

One Comment
  1. Beth Kozura permalink

    The more I do Jeff, the more I like it and want more! Happy Training!

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