One of the most common questions friends ask me about CrossFit when they are contemplating trying it is, “Should I get in better shape first, or should I just start.”
My advice every single time: JUST START.
But starting a new fitness routine is HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARD. And this isn’t just a conundrum if you’re contemplating CrossFit. I think lots of us find reasons to put off starting new fitness routine even though we want to be in better shape. Heck, I put off CrossFit for almost an entire year before I walked in the doors based on intimidation alone. I could actually be a really successful rationalizer if I wanted a second job:
*I will start once I get some new work out clothes so I don’t look like an ass.
*I will start on Monday so I can get the week started right.
*I will start next week when my life isn’t so crazy because I don’t want to flake right away. Better to set myself up for success!
*I will start after I go grocery shopping and my fridge only has healthy food in it. Having crap food will defeat the purpose so I better eat all the Nutella instead to get rid of it.
*I will start when (insert friend’s name here) starts. We’ll do it together! I’ll just wait for her. She needs motivation too and I’m a good friend. I don’t want to ditch her.
*I will start first thing tomorrow. Seriously. I mean it. Tomorrow.
I could go on, but for the sake of brevity (HA!) I will leave it at that.
On the off chance that you are struggling in that space between “Wanting To Workout” and “Actually Working Out”, I thought I would throw out some Jedi Mind Tricks that helped me turn my fitness desires into habits:
1. Be Where You Are
There is no right and wrong place to be when it comes to fitness. You are where you are in the moment, and guess what? That’s okay. No one is making a judgment about it but you, so take a minute to let yourself off the hook if you have gotten out of a regular routine. Trust me, I understand how hard this is. But you MUST do it.
Interest and participation in fitness endeavors waxes and wanes through every season of life, but the thing that stays the same is that everyone has to start at the beginning. And if your beginning looks different than someone else’s beginning — who cares? It’s a start.
2. Stop Focusing On Where You Think You Should Be
This whole Be Where You Are business sounds all well and good until you realize it means you need to let go of “where you should be.” Please note, this an entirely different destination from “where you would like to be.” It’s a small difference, but a tricky one.
If you only remember one thing from this entire post, let it be this: You are not in competition with the fittest version of yourself. Just because you used to play sports regularly, or ran marathons, or nailed hot yoga LIKE A BOSS at one point and time doesn’t mean that if you aren’t there now you are a total loser. Why do we do this to ourselves? It’s unproductive logic that doesn’t help us get where we want to go.
I get it, maybe in high school you ran a 6 minute mile and now you only want to run if there are zombies chasing you. Oh how fast we fall! But if you were anything like me you should also remind yourself that in high school you made poor fashion decisions, dated boys that were not cool enough for you at the time, and generally had questionable judgment also — so really, why compare?
3. Let Your Fitness Goals Be Commensurate With Your Life Goals
A regular fitness routine is a lifestyle choice that will always need to be managed. For some of you, your current Fitness Management Strategy might be just ignore it and hope it goes away. But I suspect those of you who want to ignore it, also might be guilty of the old Compare-O game we were just talking about. But what if instead of wondering why you don’t feel motivated to *insert endeavor that one of your friends is currently doing/loving/raving about* you spent that time pursuing something that actually worked with YOUR life?
I think of this a lot now that we are seriously thinking about having kids. I’m not a person who thinks when you have kids that fitness should be immediately placed on the back burner, but come on! The first year of my child’s life is probably not going to be filled with me preparing for CrossFit competitions, no matter how bad-ass that sounds! And that’s okay. Your life and your fitness strategy need be in alignment or you won’t be successful. So look at what season of your life you are in and make some goals based on THAT, instead of some arbitrary marker that sounds good.
4. Recognize That Fitness is More About Time Management Than Skill
My friend Liz wrote a couple of great posts a while back about the amount of “Life Commitment” (and time commitment) it takes to train for an Ironman. This one was particularly enlightening. She’s a straight shooter, that Liz. But she speaks the truth, you all. ANY fitness endeavor (bad-ass Ironman or trip to the yoga studio or CrossFit every week) is nothing more than a life commitment that you CHOOSE. (Or don’t choose! Yep, that’s okay too.)
Maybe you have been choosing to prioritize your family the past few years and spending 8-10 hours a week running doesn’t make sense. Maybe you have been prioritizing super hot date nights with your new love interest and have been opting for romantic restaurants instead of the gym. All of these lifestyle choices are valid. But they are choices, and it’s okay to own them. But when you want to try something new and get fit, understand that you will need to make space in your life to do it right.
(Sidebar: Best decision Garrett and I ever made was to CrossFit together. It’s the lazy man’s way of getting fit while keeping the romance alive. He’s always bragging about my snatch! Ok sorry, I couldn’t resist a snatch joke.)
5. Act Like You Own The Joint
Lastly, we need to talk about the intimidation factor, since it something that I am well-versed in. I really think when it comes to confidence, there is no better advice than Fake it ’til you make it. End of story. Yes it’s hard, but the only way out is through!
When I first started running I remember with every step I took thinking “Oh my god it’s so obvious that I suck at this and everyone is laughing at me for even trying, I should probably just quit.” Now that I run pretty frequently and feel confident doing so, do you know how often I stop and laugh at a fellow runner for not being as bad ass as I am?
Um, how about NEVER.
Mostly because I am too busy focusing on my own breathing and posture and pace and I do way too much sucking wind to even notice what others are doing. True Story. Nobody knows you are doing something new but you. So show up and tell yourself you’ve got this! This is old hat! And before you know it, it will be. Find a confident mantra and repeat it. Repeat it until you believe it.
So that’s my two cents. What Jedi Mind Tricks do you employ when starting something new?