Stress, it almost feels like a buzz word these days. It seems like people are always under constant pressure from all around to do more, work me and be more. Stress can take a real toll on our bodies, both physically and emotionally. Let’s dive in and talk about different ways we can manage some stress and the effects that can have on our performance.
The Stress Family
The stress family is not one to mess with especially when it comes to performance, we’re talking about anxiety, fear, pressure, nervousness and panic. There are lots of theories out there on what causes these things to arise at the onset of performance but some common symptoms include, clammy palms, negative thoughts, profuse sweating, nausea, inability to focus, and/or trouble sleeping. None of these sound like a good time. Now that we know what it is let’s talk about some ways to manage this stress.
It Starts with Awareness
It is known that some amount of stress can be a really good thing. Going into a workout or an event can cause a bit of butterflies which then turns on our “fight or flight” response, and this is a good thing. It can aid in performance and help us crush that new clean PR. When this turns bad is when we start to doubt or fill our head with negative self talk. The first step is to be aware this is happening. Once you hear that little voice start talking take a second, breath and try to find out where this is coming from. Is this your body telling you, hey you haven’t slept, you at a cheeseburger at lunch, I’ve had no water and now you want to do this? Or are you not trusting yourself, filling yourself with and then starting to panic? If this is the case it’s time to change the story in your head and start crushing some PR’s.
Managing The Story
The first part is making sure you are doing the little things outside of the gym, sleeping, eating clean foods and managing your recovery. Once that’s taken care of we need to recognize the story in our head and understand that sometimes it really is just that, a story. If all things outside the gym are on point, then take time to analyze what you are telling yourself. Yes you can do most workouts, yes some days you just need to move, yes you are a really strong human; it’s about managing the negative thoughts that create too much stress.
One of the ways I’ve found to help with this is on my way to the gym. I like to play upbeat music that helps keep my mood light, some people I know like to rock out on their way, maybe toss in some car singing and steering wheel drum set. Once you’re at the gym dive straight in before you can have all the thoughts. If you’re there early find a foam roller or do some mobility work to get the kinks out. Once in the gym I like to laugh at the barbell like it’s my frenemy. You know that laugh you give when you’re like “oh you say I can’t, watch me.” If I follow this little routine, I don’t get super stressed about my fitness and it becomes a very welcome part of my day. To recap, recognize your stress symptoms, find a routine or mantra that works for you, and keep the workout routine going.
Building every day athletes. That is one of our main focuses at CrossFit Icehouse. Every day that a person walks into CrossFit Icehouse, the goal is to prepare them for life outside the gym when they leave. One of the ways that is accomplished is using functional movements in our workouts.
Functional movements mimic motor patters that are found in everyday life. For example, when you back squat, you are building up strength to get up off the toilet when you’re 80; deadlifting is picking something up off the ground; pressing is putting an object up on a top shelf. These are all things we do regularly inside and outside the gym, you just have to keep your eye open for them.
Functional movements are safe. Watching a CrossFit workout and saying it’s dangerous could be like telling someone they shouldn’t pick up the pencil they just dropped because isn’t not worth the risk. However, someone who bends over to pick up a pencil and has never been taught how to deadlift or squat properly, could throw their back out. That’s where CrossFit Icehouse comes in. We want you to move mechanically sound through a full range of motion to stay safe inside and outside the gym.
Functional movements are powerful and create a high neuroendocrine response. You are essentially doing more good for your body when you use functional movements. Functional movements allow you to move large loads, longer distances, quicker than isolation movements. They also create a larger physical and mental adaptation in your body. So, if you want to become healthier, and look and feel better, functional movements are the way to go.
Functional movements are fun! They allow you to challenge your full body in different ways and keep you moving. You are not just moving from machine to machine in a CrossFit workout, you are the machine doing the work. There is something very special about hearing how someone’s commitment to box step-ups has made going up a flight of stairs easier, or seeing the confidence radiate off of someone’s face when they PR their deadlift. These are all fun and exciting things that happen with functional movements.
So, next time you are struggling through a workout, or perhaps are fearing coming to the gym that day to complete a bunch of wall-balls, think about how those functional movements are going to make you better at life and help you become a better athlete outside the gym.
As our garage doors open for the season, we see lots more runners and bikers out and about now that the weather finally broke. There are a lot of reasons for that, maybe they are training for an upcoming race, or maybe they are trying to kick start their fitness again that may have slipped over the winter months. Whatever it is, that’s great that people are getting out there and moving! But what happens once that race day has come and gone? Or once that winter weight is gone and you rocked your 2 piece over Memorial Day at the lake?
A lot of people will start working out with some sort of a goal be it to just finish a 5k without dying, or to like what they see in the mirror a little more. But what people often lack are longer term goals, or any reason to keep them going to the gym or heading out for those runs once that initial box has been checked. As a former (extremely slow) marathon runner I was in that cycle for years of feeling better and looking better briefly, then quickly face planting off the wagon the day after whatever race I had trained for.
The days have become much easier to stay motivated because I have changed three things. They seem simple, but making the mental transition for all of them definitely took some time (especially #2). Here are my three tips on how to get on a healthy path, and actually enjoy the journey too!
Find something you actually want to do
I know I know, everyone says “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Blah Blah Blah. Well I’m here to tell you if you find something you love, you will still work your ass off, BUT you will actually want to do it.
I put in soooooo many miles training for races I didn’t really want to do because I thought that is what you are supposed to do. I liked weight training but it was lonely being in the weight room as a lady so I’d opt for the cardio bunny route because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. I HATED IT! I think a dreadmill (whoops, I mean treadmill) minute is maybe the longest minute known to mankind (only 2nd too a microwave minute). Finally a friend convinced me to try CrossFit, and I found what I had been missing since being a high school athlete almost instantly.
What I love is always having something to improve upon. There are still the boxes to check, but they are always followed up with bigger and more badass boxes to work towards! Oh you got pull ups figured out, now let’s work on muscle ups. You can run a half mile without stopping, now let’s work on getting that time a little better. You can do box jumps to 20″, let’s work towards 22″! There is always something more to improve upon in the gym, and your weight and pant size improve as side effect instead of being front and center.
Break up with your scale
This probably took a solid year to truly end that toxic relationship, but oh to be free! I have always had an “athletic” build, and had always been self conscious of it, because I am not supposed to weigh more than a buck twenty at 5′ 4″ (my soccer thighs probably account for half of that on their own). After that first year of CrossFit and the scale strike I finally realized that I was actually able to eat food instead of be on some ridiculous diet, and I fit into some of those ol’ college jean! And best yet I felt amazing!
Around that time I took a health assessment at work and my BMI came back as overweight… WHAT THE HELL?! I would get regular emails from my insurance company asking me “how my weight loss was coming.” SERIOUSLY? That one almost sent me running back to my scale but then I realized I can lift more, run faster, eat better, get better sleep, and actually FEEL good. That scale was full of crap and so was that health assessment. As hard as it can be, focus on how you FEEL instead of what you weigh! The fit of your clothes and the way you feel is a way better gauge than the numbers on a scale.
Surround yourself with like minded people
In a world where you are judged more for eating a healthy meal at lunch that for crushing a Big Mac, this can be challenging. BUT, if you can find some supportive folks to go through this fitness journey with, it will make it so much easier to stay accountable. Yes I know Planet Fitness costs $10 a month but when was the last time you went there? Does anyone give a shit when you don’t show up for a week? A month? A year? No. They actually prefer it (more pizza and bagels for to go around!)
Find a gym, a class, a biking club, SOMETHING that you enjoy and can do with supportive people that will help keep you accountable. There will always be days or weeks where things just aren’t going your way and you fall of the wagon or out of your routine. Having someone to say “missed you at this week’s ride” or “let’s catch up the 5:30 class tomorrow” can be what you need to make that day or week you missed not turn into a month or even year. The community at Icehouse is my favorite part, it’s so great to be surrounded by like minded folks both pushing you harder when you are there, and keeping you coming back for more when you are not.
I booked a flight the other day and just before you hit “complete order” there’s a little button that says,“no refund”. It really got me thinking about the gym and fitness in general. There is no return policy on this good ol’ life of ours, we don’t get a redo (beliefs pending on this one). I think Socrates said it best “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” This is one of my favorite quotes because it’s so true.
CrossFit gives us that path to explore what our bodies are capable,it gives us knowledge of how to use this very powerful machine. It seems the one thing getting in the way of finding our true human potential is in our mind. What if we took that out, what if we really got real with ourselves. Are you happy with where you are in fitness, career or life overall? If the answer to that is no, are you on the path to making it a yes? If the answer to that is no maybe it’s time to get there.
At CrossFit Icehouse, in this tiny box on the edge of downtown, that’s what we do. We help you find that path. All that you have to do is walk in the door. There is no return policy on life. We as a community, can help become as strong as you want to be.
This is written on the first night of the biggest competition in Fargo (which my counterpart is kicking some serious booty in). I see people from all over the map coming to Fargo ND to show their competitive side. It’s exciting, it’s fun to watch people lay it all out there for the sake of competition. Some have trained for months, even two to three times a day. Others this might be their first competition so they’re in it for the experience, to see where their training has taken them. It’s what makes CrossFit so great, if you choose you can test your fitness against those in your area, region or the world.
On the flip side of this I saw a post that rings true with what we believe in at CrossFit Icehouse, it was was a post by our good friends at CrossFit Allectus. Their post read “express your fitness” with a picture of some pretty serious wake boarding skills. It showed me that yes we work hard in the gym but it’s summer, so they tell me, and we should look for ways to express all this hard work we do. By now you might know that Courtney jumps out of airplanes as a form of relaxation and I myself prefer a 70-100 mile bike ride to bring me back to center. There are many reasons we as a community do this crazy thing called CrossFit. Whether it’s to keep up with kids in the back yard, climb routes in the black hills, jump out of air planes or with the goal of competing at the regional level. The choice is yours but whatever you chose, show it off. You work hard everyday, express your fitness to those around you, it’s contagious!
I can’t come to they gym I’m too Busy. The boss is here take this and look Busy. I have so much going on I’m just so Busy all the time.
This word is becoming like nails on the chalkboard to me. If it were important you would make time for it, that’s really all there is to it. Now don’t get me wrong you can’t make time for everything, I mean that’s what got you into this busy cycle in the first place. It seems in this hustle to do everything world we have forgotten how to politely say No (this could be a whole post on it’s own) so we have subbed “I”m sorry I’m just too busy.” If you are one of the busy people I challenge you to take a hard look at how much you’re really getting done being so busy. How many hours a day are you watching cat videos or reading all the mindless memes on Facebook. Is there time to binge watch the latest season on Netflix but no time to go to dinner with an old friend who may need to talk? Are you too busy to make time for yourself? When is the last time you checked in with yourself whether it be a quite room, a moment spent with a barbell or, if you’re one of those people, a long run.
Take this week and see if there is a way to be less busy and make time for the important things in life. Make time for you, your health and your sanity. Everyone around you will thank you for it.