We’re about to embark on the 2015 CrossFit Games Open in just a few short days. I’ve been trying not to put too much mental emphasis on these next five weeks, but just keep my focus on the quality of my training. It seems at least once daily someone will ask, “are you ready?” I’m more ready than I’ve ever been, but it remains to be seen how that readiness aligns with the unknown tasks that will be laid out for us.
The 2015 Games season brings with it some significant changes from CrossFit Headquarters. They’ve referred to these changes an “evolution,” which I think is an appropriate term. I have competed since 2011- the first year that there was an online qualification process and the first year of mass participation in the CrossFit competition season. It was the user friendly, accessible format that lead me to participate in competition in the first place. The Open has been a time to feel a sense of community within our gyms and globally.
This year I’ve heard some of the grumbling about the changes and read a number of great articles addressing the concerns and reactions of aspiring athletes who have felt disappointed by HQ’s changes. HQ intervention or not, the game is constantly changing for everybody. Every one of us who desires to compete in CrossFit has to respond to a moving target- the programming is always a challenge and the field of talent incredibly deep. This ever-changing landscape highlights the importance of recognizing your work and your worth irrespective of external competition results. Sometimes you have to sit down and assess whether you really did the things that would be necessary to achieve your stated goal.
My experience has shown me (I’m probably stating the obvious here) that being a Regionals or Games level competitor is no longer something that can be prepared for with less than 100% (or close to that) commitment. Even with full commitment, some people simply aren’t going to make it. In 2011, I prepared and qualified for Regionals by participating in regular one hour CrossFit classes, doing standard, general population programming. That would be laughable in 2015. Every year the pool of athletes vying for these spots is more specialized to excel in the sport, more highly trained, more expertly coached and better prepared. The shift was palpable in Carson last year. When I decided to compete again this season it was with the knowledge that I would have to work harder and smarter than in the past. I don’t think that’s unique at all, it’s going to continue to take more and better for people to compete at the highest levels in CrossFit. You have to put in the work. It might be more difficult than you ever imagined, and maybe even require a little bit of luck on your side. As far as I’m concerned, everyone is on the bubble.
Lately it seems like an inordinate number of women around me are either pregnant or new moms. This is awesome for me, as I love babies and pregnant women. It’s possibly annoying for them, because I tend to gush, make a big deal, and I instantly become that irritating woman who wants to tell all her pregnancy and parenting stories. Sorry.
It hurts my heart when I hear pregnant women and new moms get down on themselves about their fitness level and their changed/changing body. Let me tell you something: your body is performing a miracle. I know it’s not a miracle in the sense that it can’t be explained by simple biology, but I don’t care about that, it’s a miracle! You are growing a beautiful life, bringing it forth into this world and nourishing it with your body. I don’t care what gym you walk into or which athlete is there, you are the baddest mother in the place.
I understand the struggle. When I was young I worked out at local gym and I remember watching a pregnant woman run throughout her pregnancy. When I say ran, I mean she was really moving and when I say pregnant I mean she looked ready to deliver any day, a bit like this lady. Honestly I didn’t give much thought to it at the time, but it did establish a subconscious expectation, and years later I assumed I would continue my regular workout routine throughout my pregnancy, too. Funny thing is, I’m not her. For me, the full workout regiment didn’t feel right. If there’s ever a time women can drop any rigid standards for their appearance, please let it be while they are having and nurturing babies! One of the greatest things I have gained from my experience with pregnancy and fitness and now as the mother of a school aged child who trains as a competitive athlete, is to let go of the rigidity. It seems contradictory because training requires such consistency and discipline. However, fluidity and flexibility lead to balance.
Parenting will show you time and again what you can do with all your plans and expectations. A newborn is a quick reality check. I will admit, I was uptight about a lot of things when my son was born (I think I recorded the details of every feeding and each bit of excrement for at least a week). One thing I was not uptight about was “getting my body back” and for that I am grateful. First of all, what is getting your body back? I mean really, there’s no going back, it’s a different body. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, carrying, delivering and nurturing a child changes you. That’s a good thing. Why experience life just to remain exactly the same? It took me a number of years after becoming a mom before fitness returned to a more prominent place in my life. When I returned to it, it felt like I was regaining a sense of my own identity partially separate from my identity as “mother.” I’m sure many women very happily don’t take a break from their training when they have kids, and that timing is a very personal thing. Either way, fitness/training/exercise should be an affirming and enjoyable part of your life, not a tool to beat yourself up- especially as a new mom.
Priorities will change and that’s ok because you know what? If you put your fitness on the back burner, it will come back! You have an entire lifetime to continue to pursue the fittest version of yourself, but your babies are only little for a short time. There’s never a day that I think to myself, “man, I wish I had gotten a six pack faster after my son was born.” There are plenty of days I think, “What a beautiful time in our lives, each stage has gone by so fast!” Fitness can be an incredibly rewarding part of your parenting life, enjoy where you are and give yourself the respect you deserve throughout the process.