You can read a book in one of two ways. The first, is how I have read books for most of my life (until recently), which is by reading to finish the book as quickly as possible. As if, just the act of finishing the book was the accomplishment. Staring at my bookshelf one day, I read the title of each book and tried to think about what I had taken away from each one. What did I learn? How am I better now because of reading it? I was shocked to find that I barely remembered reading some of them or at best, could only come up with one takeaway from the exhaustive list of titles now cluttering up my shelves. After this realization, I vowed to read books differently. I wanted to truly enjoy and soak up every chapter, page and letter from what I was reading; this is the second way to read a book.
The “second way of reading” is a perspective that can be applied again and again towards most of the things we consume. We play our favorite song repeatedly, memorizing every verse and beat. The best movies have our full attention, completely absorbed in how the story line unfolds, keeping us entranced and allow us to escaped from the outside world, only to throw us right back out once the credits roll. As humans, we love or even live to build. We build families, careers, businesses, and experiences... the list is endless. As you read this right now you are in the middle of your own journey, building whatever might be most important to you in this moment. You might be 25 and just starting to build your career or maybe you are 65, and about to retire and build experiences and relationships with your grandchildren. No matter who you are or where you are, you are building, growing, and moving forward towards something.
Just like a book, life and fitness can be approached in two ways. Unfortunately, I think you know which way a lot of people go about each. As a CrossFit trainer, I spend my days watching people march along their fitness journey. Each week I meet someone new who is eager to start their journey and each week I see many of these individuals reading to finish the book instead of enjoying every page. Unfortunately, unlike a book, fitness has no last page. You will (or should) be trying to improve your fitness in some capacity for the rest of your life. When you realize that fitness is a lifelong journey and not necessarily a means to an end, you can see how trying to enjoy and appreciate every minute of it would make sense. Imagine for a moment that I handed you a magical book that grew in length every time you read a page. With no end in sight and no place to rush to, how would you start reading then?
Fitness as it stands now is plagued with 30 day fixes. The industry has created this mindset that fitness has an end date. Once completed, a fitness plaque would arrive in the mail and you could display it proudly in your living room like a high school letterman jacket. In reality, fitness is never completely achieved and will always require more work to be done. This may sound defeating but I would argue the opposite. Humans love and live to build. That is why video games are so addicting to young people. It is the thrill of leveling up and the thrill of the journey. Even mythology is designed around this idea. It is the hero’s struggle, perseverance, and sometimes unrecognizable progress that enthralls us the most; it is not the end that is the most glorious or riveting to us. It is the climb. Humans thrive off of purpose. Purpose gives us a reason to live, a reason to keep going. Yet so many people walk through the doors of the gym and immediately feel defeated because they believe that they have yet to reach this mystical state of “fitness”; an industry produced static, devoid of growth, and stagnant place of being that does not exist. We base our self worth on our position on the leaderboard or the number of abs we see in the mirror when what we should be focusing on is something without a number at all, like heart and hustle.
What will make this experience the most fulfilling and successful is the realization that it is the climb that is the most enjoyable, not the summit. This premise, is demonstrated in process and completion of goals. We spend an exorbitant amount of time trying to reach our goal and when we finally get there, the moment passes by and we quickly have a new goal in our sights. Often, too little or no credit is given to the growth you just accomplished while obtaining your goal because you have already set your mind on the next goal, the next thing you cannot do, and the place you are not. If only you realized that all of your days are spent in “the process” of reaching that “place” and more credit was given to that portion of the journey, then maybe you would not be so worried about where you are not, yet.
For those that know me well, you have probably heard me say this a hundred times, but I will repeat it again because I believe it will always be relevant; you can either do something or you can do nothing, and if you do nothing you will never get anywhere. If you are discouraged, angry, pissed off, and disappointed that you are not where you think you should be, please take a second and realize that if you are reading this article then you are in the “doing something camp”. The important aspect you may be missing, is that your are undervaluing the doing part. This part is the one you will spend the majority of your life in, so shouldn’t you enjoy it? Appreciate it? Value the effort you have put into it?
You can workout in one of two ways. The first, is by checking the box. Working out for the sake of saying that you worked out, like reading to have as big of bookshelf as possible. The second way is showing up early to “warm up” with friends, giving it your all during the work out, dishing out sweaty high fives and yelps of encouragement to your fellow athletes, and hanging around afterwards because the gym is the best part or your day. You would not want this part to end and if it did, you would have wished that you enjoyed the part in the middle a little more.
So what is the point? It is simple. Enjoy the process, because it never ends. Judge yourself on things that actually matter, like how you treat yourself and other people. Value effort over your waistline. Remember why you started CrossFit in the first place and if it was not to win the CrossFit Games, then who cares how much your squat is! Can you pick up your grandkids when you are 80? That is something worth caring about!
Until next week…
Edited by: Sarah Eden