I'd been stuck in a rut for months. It seemed like I was in a perfect storm of suck--I'd hit a period of extreme stress both in Warcry and at my day job (who knew working full time and starting a business might get hectic, right?), I was working on fixing a poorly-healed old injury and it fell into the "it'll get worse before it gets better" category of recovery, and every little problem seemed to be compounding all my other little problems into one big bad cluster of doom.
Metcons -- never really my best subject, even if they are good for me -- were burning me out. Stress and stupid hours were leading to a cascade of bad diet decisions. Sleep: hah! What's that?
My body felt fatigued and failing while my mind was just plain exhausted. I was struggling to take my own advice and even get into the damn gym at all, which of course made it that much worse.
I needed to halt my death-spiral. Time for a change.
I decided to take a new approach. I went over to Lift Big Eat Big's site and found a 6-week OLY/Powerlifting program. Lifting is like the dessert of CrossFit to me; my favorite part. A few weeks focused on just that seemed like a nice palate cleanse.
In brief, it was four nights a week of a helluva lot of barbell work plus some accessory movements. Each session took between an hour and an hour and a half depending on what it was and how aggressive I was being. It kicked my ass. I felt sore in a way I hadn't since I started CrossFit for the first time. One session stands out in my mind--I happened to have the box to myself at some odd hour, and had to get through 5x5 deadlifts at 90% towards the end of the workout. It's a good thing no one else was around. I learned a lot about how creative the profanity-center of my brain could be.
After it was over I started retesting my old benchmarks. Tacked +20lbs onto my CF Total, my squats and cleans jumped like crazy, and I haven't had a chance to reassess my overhead game at maximum yet but it certainly feels a lot better in the WODs. Plus I guess I can wobble my way through pistols now? That's new.
Then a weird thing happened. After a week back doing CrossFit, I swore that I was dropping body fat percentage like crazy, which is something I have historically had a lot of trouble doing. So I started keeping track. Two weeks in and yup--it's a noticeable thing (no I will still not share topless progress photos). Seeing as I haven't made any major dietary changes, I was marginally concerned about a tapeworm at first, but the working theory between Coach Jared and I is that the extra muscle from the lifting cycle raised my caloric-burn baseline, and now the HIIT nature of the WODs is paying off big time. Enough that I'm thinking I might start a "3 month crossfit + 1 month powerlifting" approach to my long-term training if this keeps up. I don't think that's exactly a new concept, but it's new to me, and I quite like how it's working so far.
Now, I have no idea if this progress will continue for long. I have no idea if it will "rebound" on me in a few weeks. I've gained and lost progress before. But here's the thing -- when I look at my personal fitness over a span of years instead of weeks or months, it's been steadily trending towards "better." And now, laboriously, I'm finally getting to my point:
You can't have a short-term perspective on your personal fitness.
That's something I have definitely failed at in the past. Look, I made graphs:
Personally, my long-term experience looks a lot more like this:
We want to have that precious timeline element. Diets and resolutions come in "30-day" or "six-week" packages. It makes sense to us that someone will offer a "10-day cleanse" (please, don't) because 10 is such a nice round number, and I can totally see myself being cleansed in 10 days. Gym memberships are by the month. It's easy to imagine a completely new me after a whole month of magic transformation time, let alone what could happen in six months. We all set (often helpfully!) finite goals. "Run X pace by X date" and "lift X more pounds in three months." None of this is a bad thing (well, again, maybe the cleanse). But it can really cause a mental crash-and-burn when reality doesn't want to line up with these nice, rational numbers we've got in our heads.
Here's the thing: your body doesn't care. Your athletic performance, your muscle and fat content, your physical appearance, and overall health are the results of a series of interactions that are happening constantly, forever. If we aren't thinking past the next finish line, we're setting ourselves up for failure. Or at the very least discouragement and confusion.
"Keep Earning It" was not a random selection for Warcry's motto. It's a reminder, to myself and hopefully to you, to always keep the big picture in mind. It means that we have to recognize that there is no magic finish line that we'll cross and be "done." No one gets to a point where they've done their lifetime quota of pushups and then they just get to be fit forever. Fitness, if you want it to be more than another forgotten New Year's Resolution, is a lifestyle change, not a checklist.
So get up and stay active, and try not to get discouraged by the bumps. Add variety. Try something new. Buy our very excellent equipment (sorry, couldn't help it). Because look, taking a guess here, but I'm willing to bet that between now and your deathbed, you're going to have a bad week. You're going to lose some "sick gainz" (brah!) every once in a while, and you may not even be able to figure out why. You're going to twist and ankle or break a wrist or have some other random life event and it's going to set you back. And hopefully you'll even indulge a bit around the holidays some years and maybe wish you hadn't afterwards.
When it happens, whatever it is, remember the long view. It's not about the week -- psh, you're going to do 52 more of those this year, you'll be ok -- it's about the trend. It's a much longer scale, but if you keep pushing then I promise, it'll keep going up.
Keep Earning It.