Embracing The Suck

8 mile run with @homesweetsarah -- there was, ahem, a lot of embracing.

Tough work out at the gym last night.

For my ego.

The first 15 minutes? Pull up practice.

There was a time in the recent past where I was actually close to figuring out how to do an actual, legit, unassisted pullup. Last night I had to use the heaviest band and it was a complete struggle to do them strict.

The metcon? One I used to love:

15 Minute AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible)
10 Box Jump Overs (20 inch box)
15 Kettlebell Swings (53 lb KB)
25 Double Unders

For the record, these are some of my favorite exercises that don’t involve lifting.

Ok then.

I started the box jump overs on my 20 inch box and on the fourth rep I almost bit it. Like shin-goudging screw up. Luckily I was able to move in a way that saved me from that uglyness, but it was a really close call. The fifth rep I missed again. The 6th rep I barely got up there. I looked up at the clock and less than a minute had passed. I knew this was only going to get harder, so I made the call to scale it and do step ups for the box jump overs.


Onto the Kettlebell swings. I LOVE A HEAVY KETTLEBELL!!! 53 is a good weight for me, but with the lower back stuff I’ve had going on in the last two weeks I wanted to play things conservative. I had grabbed a 45lb Kettlebell and figured I would bang out all the swings for recovery in this workout. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA WRONG. I did the first 10 and they were sort of exhausting. Then I finished the last 5 and moved over to my jump rope.

For some reason double unders are my thing. It took me a while to get them, but once I finally did I’ve just really never lost the rhythm. I think they are super fun and man, what a great exercise! Great cardio with all of the jumping, a great leg workout (and if you don’t believe that, just try jumping rope after 150 wall balls, OY! Clearly I’m having CrossFit Games Open PTSD. :)) And they are also an awesome shoulder burner. You don’t realize what a great shoulder workout jumping rope is until you do double unders, I don’t think. So these are my jam! I was ready to go! And then I could hardly string 5 together. The other fun thing about double unders worth mentioning of course, is that when you miss — you actually whip yourself.

So there I was, minutes in, totally failing and continuing to just whip myself over and over. And honest to god I have never seen 15 minutes move slower. The workout just went on forever and ever, and it felt like I was moving from one Station of Suck to the next. Each one was this painful reminder of what I *used to* be able to do. And it suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked.

The upside? I still got a good workout (OBVIOUSLY.) And I made it home with shins and lower back in tact (albeit with a few jump rope whip marks on my arms and legs.) But I spent most of the night trying to shake this ghost of Fitness Levels Past. I’m still not sure how to shake it. And it’s nagging at me like toddler. So I need your advice. Probably everyone who reads this has been through something like this. Whether you have gotten injured or had a baby. Whether you’ve put on a few pounds, or taken a break from your physical activity. I know that collectively, there is a lot of motivation out there about getting back on the horse. How do you do it? What works? How do you keep your ego at bay? WHAAAAAAT IS YOUR SEEEEEEEEECRET?

Will you share? For me, and for anyone else who may need some advice on this topic today? Because I am needing a good pep talk, friends.

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23 Responses to Embracing The Suck

  1. Susannah says:

    Hey, Holly! First, it was really good that you modified cuz an injury would just put you back so please give yourself lots of credit for that. I can relate – I do Pilates and with a 30 pound regain, mostly in my belly and hips, it is so tempting to think about how the moves used to feel and how my body used to look when_I glance in the mirror to check my form.
    I am just being strict and simple by saying to myself, “this will feel and look different in June and by next Jan…..completely different!” (I’m a slow loser).
    So that’s my story, we absolutely have to be kind and supportive to ourselves. And the next workout may be totally kickass because life is silly 🙂

  2. Danielle says:

    Those double under welts are the worst! As if anyone needed the reminder that they missed a few reps. I’m hoping to get back at it after baby arrives this Spring and I’m honestly not sure how I’ll handle starting over again. I think focusing on where I was when I stopped and what it felt like to have that strength/ability (SO amazing!!) will be motivation to keep going back. Keep after it! You showed up and that is half the battle.

  3. When I have a bad workout (a bad run, in my case, usually) I just try to think, “Well, there’s only one way to go from here…up!” It’s the bad workouts that keep us coming back to do better. And hey, at the end of the day (do I sound like a Real Housewife?) you got out there and did it. Ain’t no shame in that!

  4. Steph says:

    Tomorrow is a new day. You did more box jumps than you would have if you stayed home. Don’t be so hard on yourself…..you rock! Ps I have my own du whip marks from today and it was f-ing cold….ooowwwwie.

  5. Jessica says:

    When I get out of my fitness grove I usually give myself two weeks to work out and for each one to suck. The first week often does but by the middle of the second week I’m usually feeling a bit of progress – either I’m not as out of breath as I was or I feel like my body knows what it wants to do, or something. So I give myself permission to suck at first and focus only on the positive that I made it to the gym at all. And by the end of that time I’m usually hungry enough for progress that I’ll keep coming back and the workouts get easier from there.

    So hey, you made it back! That’s what I’d focus on here! Good job! 😀

  6. Kelly says:

    Just keep showing up. For now, set lower expectations for yourself. Lift lighter and tell yourself you have to keep moving, no breaks. Accomplish things that you know you can and feel good about it. You showed up. You can get through any work out on that board, any of them, some way, some how. Ride the wave, it will get better. I go through the same, I have recently been plagued by a stress fracture in my foot and a low back thing. Working my way out of the hole, slowly but surely! Not every day will be a good day but the good ones sure feel good.

  7. Oh, Holly! I feel this. I SO feel this. I’ve spent the last three years comparing the now-me to the previously-fitter-and-thinner-and-ever-so-much-better me.

    And that is not nice.

    And I stopped it recently.

    But it took work. somuchworksomuchworksomuchwork

    Here’s where I landed. Maybe this will help you. Maybe not. I send these words with so much love for you and your complete and utter awesomeness.

    The first thing is that none of US are comparing you to you. We are so fucking psyched to know you right at this moment. The faster, double-undering Holly isn’t better than this-right-now-Holly — she was just good at double-unders.

    OK. Here’s the other thing I talked to myself about. A lot.

    Your body can only do what it can do. That’s one of the beauties, for me, of working out: it’s totally objective. I can do it or I can’t — and it has nothing to do with my value as a human or how much anyone (else) loves me. So I had to get real with loving myself ALL THE TIME, whether I was fast and fit, or slow and not feeling my best. Because my body can only do what it can do. It’s like being mad at my body because my left hand is bigger than my right… or I wear size 9 shoes… or I have a mole on my left cheek. those characteristics are objective: I have them. And they’re neither good nor bad, they just are.

    So the way you can/can’t do box jump overs and double unders right now just… is. It doesn’t make you any less awesome than you are.

    I know how much is sucks. I can’t even tell you the number of tears I’ve shed over “how I used to look” and “what I used to be able to do.” But in the last few weeks, I decided to be proud of those “used to” things because I FUCKING DID THAT — and to focus on getting good workouts now, at the fitness level I have now — without using “old/better me” as a bat to beat up on myself. Life is long, and we will all do many things and be good at many things.

    You are loved so much by so many people. I don’t give two figs if you can do double-unders, and I would happily get whipped alongside you when they’re not working and celebrate like a maniac when they’re commonplace for you again. Because I just like to be around you.

    OK. That was really long and mostly sappy. But you asked, and I mean every word.


  8. Jillian says:

    So, I just started back at Cross Fit after about 1 year and 5 months. I am going through the elements class and relearning everything from scratch. On the first day, I was supposed to do power cleans with a medicine ball and could not get it. I could not do a wall ball with the 10 lb ball without dropping it because it was too heavy. I can’t do more than a few real pushups, and I used to be able to do 20. I keep telling myself that “this too will pass” and that I created this situation by not working out for an entire year. I’m getting through it by focusing on proper form and accepting that this is just a point in a long fitness journey of highs and lows.

  9. Seriously, I feel like I could have written this! After having back surgery this summer every single trip to the gym has been an emotional roller coaster. WHY IS IT TAKING SO LONG? couldn’t possibly have gone through my head more times than it did once I got sign-off to start working out again.

    Now I’m back to loving every single minute and NOT comparing post-surgery Caity to pre-surgery Caity. Why? I’m doing different things. I went from lifting & circuit training exclusively to each week including physical therapy, circuit workouts, yoga, pilates, and boxing. I’m having a blast and I look better than I did a year ago. Sometimes you just need to shake things up!!

  10. Linda Sand says:

    You can only live in the now. If you can stop trying to live in the past, the now becomes so much more enjoyable. This advice comes from an old lady who will never again be able to do what she used to be able to do.

  11. K says:

    Something that I usually do when I’m feeling lowly about a work-out and/or remembering what I used to be able to do whenever (the benchmark always shifts in my head..):

    I look around (I’m usually in a group class setting) at all of the other bodies in the room. I look at how differently they’re shaped and how capable they all are in their own way. My body IS capable–and of so much! I’m not judging or scrutinizing them, so it’s not okay to scrutinize myself. Self-kindness takes practice.

  12. ~T says:

    Oh this post just spoke to me today. I made it to the gym 6 days in a row after taking 4 years off. 4 years ago I was 80 pounds lighter, more muscular, and running races. Now I can barely squeak out a mile at a brisk walk and it’s so depressing. Or it was depressing until I left the gym yesterday and thought to myself “well that just completely sucked, but I WILL make improvement tomorrow”. The change comes so slowly, but it seems that writing down what I’ve accomplished (even the totally shitty workouts), give me hope to move forward and create small changes that snowball into big improvements in the matter of weeks. You’ve been in a good space before and you’ll be back in a good space (even if it’s different, and it will be different) this time around. Now go get it!

  13. Erica says:

    As long as I don’t crap my pants, I consider it a good day. Luckily the old pelvic floor is getting stronger but really, it’s all about going easy on yourself. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

  14. Lizscott says:

    Ugh, the worst, right? I just try go remind myself that it doesn’t get better by avoiding it and so I have to keep showing up And accept my punishment (as it were)

  15. Sue OBryan says:

    Oh my dear Holly! Your timing could not have been better, thank you for your post and boy do I feel your pain. I recently took 2 months off Crossfit due to simple laziness and giving up car for bike and not thrilled with hopping on bike at 5 a.m. in the dark (it’s only a mile but still). So . . . when our “founders” shirts arrived (I am a founding member of our box)I was finally shamed into showing up. That was yesterday. I was completely out of breath after the work out, which involved various line drills. Then on to the kbs. I too love a heavy kb but 1 pud crushed me in 9 reps. So I switched to the baby. THEN double unders. I had gotten pretty good but could not string 3 together . . . all of a sudden I started feeling my throat close up . . . and I started crying!!!!! Coach gave a hug and not surprisingly the whole gang chipped in with encouragement because that’s just how xfit peeps are . . . but I was miserable! Then toes to bar, front squats and squat cleans. It was just brutal. But today I feel good mentally that I showed up and tried. One day at a time, gal! Embrace the suck! Love your blog!

  16. Maureen says:

    Holly, it seems like you are in good company! We have all felt this way, whether by letting our fitness levels drop, or by gaining back weight we lost. Not beating myself up about this kind of thing is something I have worked really hard at. Some things that help me, I keep repeating to myself “Accept the reality of where you are”-I read this years ago, and this is a mantra that helps me let go of what used to be, and focus on the now.

    The other phrase? Not sure where I heard it but I love it-“you just lapped everyone on the couch”. Not that it is a competition, but it makes me smile when I say it to myself. Because I could easily BE the person on the couch!

  17. Ellen says:

    Holy crap, I uber second all that Mel said above. And just know that you’re not alone. Tonight just before the wod, my BFF mentioned her goal time. And I said, “Eh, my goal was just to be here, anything above and beyond that is pure bonus.” And that’s my new mindset after having once boasted a sub 5 Fran time and 3:45 Grace and lots of other awesome crossfit feats (well awesome for a former super fat girl). The point is, now is not then. I’m not in the same place, I’ve gained some weight, I’m working too much, I have other life stress. Nobody is to say I (we) won’t get there again, but today ain’t that day. You kicked ass because you were there and you took your jump rope lashings like a pro. I adore you and all your suck-embracing done in a public forum for our consideration.

  18. Ummmmm you actually like double unders???? You cray 🙂 Also swinging a 53 lbs kettlebell blows my mind, you are a beast!

    I feel like I’m always restarting with my diet. It’s like how many times can I lose the same 10 lbs over and over again? And how many times can I stuff my face with food that I know will give me the worst tummy ache ever? I will keep trying not to fall off the wagon, but to pretend I’m not going to for the rest of my life is obviously unrealistic.

    But getting back on track is always worth it, even when it totally sucks! Healthy living is an ongoing battle, sometimes it will be easy, sometimes it will be hard, but you just have to keep recommitting. You can do it!

  19. Ashley says:

    I’ve been struggling with the same feeling lately. Baby is 9 months old and I feel like I should be able to pick up where I left off a year ago, but it’s not working.

    So far, I’m trying reading inspirational books, blogs, etc and setting beginner ish goal and feeling like a champ when I nail them. Nothing wrong with starting slow, right?

    • Holly says:

      Definitely nothing wrong with it. Now if I could just get my ego on the same page! 🙂 Thanks for the tips!