Rolling with the Punches


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

No. It was just not a good week. I met my coach on the Friday afternoon and in the course of that conversation he asked me what got me out of bed in the morning. My answer: “The alarm.”

“No, really.” “Really.”

I do have that filter problem; and on that day, that was the true answer. I had meant to wake up and train, but instead I woke up, had no desire to train, hit the snooze button and slept in another two hours. Same as I’d done the day before. Rolled out of bed when getting out any later would have meant being unacceptably late.

Motivation problems: not something I normally have. But it was just one of those weeks where nothing seemed to go my way, and I just didn’t feel like dealing.

The difference, of course, was all in my head. Yeah I may have been seeing “red” at a so-called partner not acting like a partner (the attitude is the worst), or maybe I was upset at uncovering yet more messes in various places. But every mess is a chance to redecorate; so what gives?

I think it was a combination of disappointment at having to withdraw from a competition I really had wanted to participate in, and also rehab combined with [some] training stress, and a lot of work stress, took its toll. Your body literally can’t tell the difference between physical stress and emotional stress; stress is just stress. So this year, unlike the end of last year when I was so run into the ground I’d just keep pushing through, I listened to my body and rested it.

Now I’m not going to lie. When I got to the competition field to cheer on my friends, I actually almost wanted to cry. Had no idea it would be that emotional for me; but it was. There is no doubt in my mind that pulling out was the right decision; several of the moves on offer would definitely have hurt my recently-injured shoulder which has been healing with all the rapidity I would want (read: it will be 100% in 2-3 weeks if I keep not being stupid).

But damn; that was painful to watch other girls out there and I wanted to be throwing down with them!

FOMO much?

FOMO much?

The MC at one point was saying how most people train CrossFit 2-3 times a week; and these top girls out here trained 2-3 times a day, 5-6 days a week. I remember thinking: “Pffft; who has time for that? I don’t train that much.” Then I realised firstly ….. if you assume each session is an hour; I probably do train that much. And secondly: programming is [almost] everything.

I did have a fun time with a fellow [highly disruptive!] American on Saturday night. I’d gotten VIP tickets to the final of the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament, which was one of the most terrible soccer games I have ever seen in my life. And it had the worst open bar in the world. But it did allow me to experience the amusement of the most crazy security check I’d ever been through, since we had parking passes to park in the stadium, they did a very thorough verification process and bomb check of our vehicle. I’d seriously never experienced the like; and the best thing about it is that the South African Police can conduct such a security check with smiles on their faces.

World Cup it was not

World Cup it was not. Ghana eventually won in a shootout.

Why I normally wake up in the morning? It’s every day a new challenge; and we’re pushing and doing things we haven’t done before. That’s always exciting.

Why I normally train? That feeling of awesome when you finally learn a new skill, or just lie on the floor flopping about like a fish, knowing you’ve given the workout everything you’ve got. Recently (before the latest shoulder issue!), it’s been re-adding moves back to the repertoire: this week, ring pushups. I’ve been really going back to basics on some things: i.e. getting a freestanding handstand hold down before walking on my hands.

Now that is a great feeling: balance, upside down.

Like these guys!

Like these guys!

Observing the competition did give me some insights though. Firstly into which of the other girls is mentally strong, and who is not so strong. It’s not actually what I expected. Secondly, as always, the beauty of the community and all the lovely spirits on display. I love the people I’ve met through this sport; there’s no denying that.

So what’s the upshot of all this? I am normally happy as a clam. Actually as I write this, looking back on the week, it feels quite silly, actually. I guess everyone gets the blues from time to time; but mine normally last a day maximum, never a whole week!

The thing is this: I know it, and I say it all the time: there is what happens, and there is how you react to it. If someone else gives you attitude you don’t need to respond in kind. Change the game.

Reject the premise, change the game.

That was what I learned.

And also … if you’re addicted to the snooze button, don’t give yourself the option. Same thing with peanut butter. Best not to keep it in the house.

No mystery here: decide what’s important, commit to it, and don’t look back. In the words of my lovely friend Beatrix:

I will not be shackled by fear!

Crazy beautiful

Crazy beautiful

I try not to judge. I do. Especially ignorance (unless its wilful), or lifestyle choices. Not everyone wants to give up what I give up so I can run fast, jump high, and lift heavy things. To each his own. But if there’s two things in life I am utterly scornful of, it’s bigotry and fear.

One is disrespectful to others. The other is disrespectful to yourself.

Taking stupid risks is stupid, yeah. But not giving it your all in a workout? Not calling the prospect because you’re afraid of rejection. Not applying for the job you’re afraid might be a bit of a stretch?

I’m not advocating stupid. Just a reminder to assess if you’re really not ready or the time isn’t right, or if you’re just afraid of something. We’re all on a spectrum somewhere; and I catch myself not taking action out of fear pretty much daily. Then I fight it (sometimes). Just the same way I catch myself going 90% in a workout and I push harder.

So I had a bad week because I let myself. Lesson learned.

One more thing: nature abhors a vacuum. You’re either improving or you’re regressing. Same for sport; work; your relationship.

Every single choice you make leads you a step in one direction. Best to set the direction than to let your aimless steps take you a place you didn’t actually want to be. Although I say this, the irony of living in a strange land in a role I never actually wanted; the other moral of the story is that you don’t normally get a second chance so when something big comes and whacks you across the head, consider it.

Do you think Neo would have regretted it if he’d taken the blue pill?

Jozi boys chilling on a pig

Jozi boys chilling on a pig

Here’s another great anecdote I heard recently. I think the wise man was Hopi or the like; but some sort of person close to the land and spirituality. His companion felt something, and the wise man asked him what he felt.

“That was just the wind.”

No. You can only think of the wind because the wind is all that you know.”

And there you have it. It takes some sensitivity to understand the difference.

I repeat: reject the premise. Change the game.

  • “Sometimes a kick in the teeth is not a metaphor for anything else, it’s just a kick in the teeth.” – Mom
  • “Flavoured tequila will be the death of us all.” – Anita
  • “So what you’re really telling me is that IT guys can drink more than most people?” “More or less.” – Ellie & Rudolph
  • “Ellie’s moving to Joburg!” “I’m not surprised.” – Ingi & Dominic
  • “I wanna be an agent of destruction! Where do I sign up?” “Stick around a while. You may move up in the world.” – Ellie & Dominic
  • “Your strength is your weakness, in a way.” – Dale
  • “Change happens by understanding.” – Dale
  • “Well you look like you’re in good shape!” – Janine
  • “There is NO place else like it. There can’t be.” – Liz
  • “This workout had your name written all over it.” – Grant
  • “Well it’s either his sister; or his mother; or his girlfriend. And I don’t think it’s his mother.” – Elan

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